The right is coming for Taylor Swift. They don't stand a chance

It doesn't matter who she's dating or what trolls say, she's reached a point in her career where she is untouchable

By Olivia Luppino


Published September 29, 2023 12:00PM (EDT)

Donna Kelce and Taylor Swift are seen during the first half of a game between the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Jason Hanna/Getty Images)
Donna Kelce and Taylor Swift are seen during the first half of a game between the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Jason Hanna/Getty Images)

It's hard to overstate Taylor Swift's power right now. This summer, she embarked on the first leg of her earth-shaking Eras Tour which is set to gross over $1 billion and generate $5 billion for the worldwide economy. The tour comes after Swift released three albums and three more re-recorded ones since the start of the pandemic, all of which took turns breaking streaming records. On any given night, hundreds who aren't one of the 70,000 lucky people with a ticket to her show stand outside the venue listening to the echoes of her three-hour, 44-song setlist. Throughout the tour, Swift was able to give each of her 50 truck drivers $100,000 bonuses and quietly donate to local food banks before each of her 52 performances. She inspired USA Today to hire a reporter whose sole job is to cover her every move. And, with just one Instagram story, she casually registered 35,000 voters.

She also maybe has a new boyfriend. 

As Swift enjoys some downtime before heading to Argentina, then Brazil, then Japan, then Australia, then Singapore and all across Europe, then back to the United States and Canada again, she took a trip to Kansas City to watch her rumored boyfriend Travis Kelce and the Chiefs defeat the Chicago Bears last Sunday. Swifties are excited. Patrick Mahomes is excited. Republicans? They're not excited. Apparently, it's because she's ugly.

Naturally, the right decided to wage war against the potential couple, but it's a tougher battle than they think.

Right-wing pundits need figures to rail against, so when Swift and Kelce created a media frenzy at Arrowhead Stadium, they found a way to make the merry union about themselves by attempting to turn the possible couple into the dreaded beta male boyfriend-blue haired girlfriend pair. Kelce (who is 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds and one of the best NFL tight ends of all time) is a "soy boy" who should "cut his d**k off, become a chick and endorse Joe Biden." Swift is "dumb and her music sucks," "mid," "homely" and a six out of 10. (Lauren Boebert of "Bettlejuice" audience fame, however, is a 10, it says in the same tweet.) 

While going after Taylor Swift is not advisable, I see how it happened. The NFL is historically a conservative organization with an even more conservative fan base, always ready to attack a player who steps out of line or kneels for racial injustice. Kelce is one of its best athletes — but with Bud Light and Pfizer COVID vaccine partnerships. Swift spoke out against Donald Trump, baked Biden Harris cookies one time and has had her unabashedly female and queer fanbase infiltrating football stadiums all summer. Naturally, the right decided to wage war against the potential couple, but it's a tougher battle than they think.

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If their accusations were true, it wouldn't matter. Kelce could be soft, and Swift could be ugly, and they would still be two valid people. The glaringly obvious fact, though, is that they're not either of those things. Right-wing trolls are facing a difficult feat with branding Taylor Swift as ugly and untalented when most people can tell that isn't the case. Latching onto something so inaccurate and weak just shows that the right has nothing of substance they can actually throw at Swift, so instead they've resorted to something as played out as critiquing a woman's physical appearance. 

When she speaks up, people listen.

It's not going to work. One thing about Taylor Swift is that she's not losing sleep over what right-wingers are saying about her on the internet anymore. In 2018, after years of suspicions that she was secretly a Republican because she wasn't overtly political, Swift endorsed the candidate running against Marsha Blackburn for Senate. This went against the long-abided advice of her team, who held The Chicks as an example of what happens when a woman in country music gets political. Swift survived, transcended one genre, and now mostly takes stands in the form of upbeat songs about how "shade never made anyone less gay" and encouraging fans to vote. This next-level success she has today she accomplished after navigating a polarized political climate. When she speaks up, people listen.

More importantly, there's nothing the right could do that could meaningfully affect Swift. She has an incredibly devoted fanbase, a sold-out tour that lasts until November 2024, which again, is going to make her a billionaire, and maybe even has a hot new boyfriend. You can't convince a Taylor Swift fan that she's ugly or untalented, and these days, they seem to run the world. After attending one NFL game, Swift increased Kelce's jersey sales by 400%, inspired the NFL to change their bio, boosted its ratings and spawned Chiefs-Swift crossover merch and a limited edition Heinz condiment based on a meme that came out of her KC appearance. The Empire State Building also got in on the joke, changing its colors in honor of the ketchup and (seemingly) ranch that the singer dipped her chicken nuggets into. Chiefs quarterback and two-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes didn't even make it off the field after the 41-10 win without being asked about the special guest in attendance. He and head coach Andy Reid were also asked about Swift in their post-game interviews. Bill Belichick, a coach of a team that wasn't even playing and who notoriously keeps his focus on football, also offered up a quote about Swift, saying, "I would say that Travis Kelce's had a lot of big catches in his career. This would be the biggest."

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I get that Swift is the center of the news cycle and Republicans hate when women have autonomy, but she is one person who is untouchable. As long as she can register thousands of voters by sharing a simple link to social media, she's also a threat. In this moment, Swift has amassed enough cultural power that angry men's opinions about her just don't matter, which just so happens to be something that she has worked toward her entire career. Between her frenzied fans, billion dollars and perfectly calculated every move, the right doesn't stand a chance and is backing themselves into an unpopular corner. Just ask Scooter Braun and Kanye West if they'd recommend going up against her. 

By Olivia Luppino

Olivia Luppino is a producer at Salon. Previously, she wrote about culture, fashion and lifestyle for The Cut and Popsugar.

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Commentary Conservatives Music Taylor Swift Travis Kelce