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Taylor Swift: America is being gaslighted by Trump’s autocratic politics

The US pop star has told of her regret over not speaking out about politics in 2016, but that she intends to do what she can in 2020.

Taylor Swift has talked about US politics and Donald Trump (Richard Shotwell/AP)
Taylor Swift has talked about US politics and Donald Trump (Richard Shotwell/AP)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Taylor Swift has said that she believes America is being manipulated by Donald Trump’s autocratic politics, and has also told of her regret about not speaking out about politics sooner.

The US pop star said that she avoided speaking openly about her own political values back in 2016 – a move that was highly criticised – because she was going through a difficult time in her personal life, and because she did not feel educated enough.

Swift, 29, told The Guardian that she began to feel conflicted about her country’s politics when “all the dirtiest tricks in the book were used and it worked”.

The worst part of the timing of what happened in 2016 was I felt completely voiceless. Taylor Swift

“The thing I can’t get over right now is gaslighting the American public into being like, ‘If you hate the president, you hate America.’

“We’re a democracy – at least, we’re supposed to be – where you’re allowed to disagree, dissent, debate. I really think that he thinks this is an autocracy.”

Gaslighting is a term often used to describe a form of psychological manipulation, which is employed to create the feeling of doubt in a group or an individual to make them question their own perception and sanity in a bid to destabilise their own beliefs.

The music star was often criticised for not sharing her political opinions despite having a global platform, particularly in 2016 during Mr Trump and Hillary Clinton’s battle for the White House.

Swift said that her silence was partly because she had long been advised not to talk about politics, along with the rest of the country music community, following the backlash against the Dixie Chicks after they denounced George W Bush over the Iraq war.

Swift said: “I watched country music snuff that candle out. The most amazing group we had, just because they talked about politics. And they were getting death threats. They were made such an example that basically every country artist that came after that, every label tells you, ‘Just do not get involved, no matter what.'”

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Donald Trump (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Swift, who was going through a troubling time of her own in 2016 with high-profile feuds with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian and her mother’s cancer relapse, said that it was not the right time for her to get involved with politics.

“The worst part of the timing of what happened in 2016 was I felt completely voiceless,” she said. “I just felt like, oh God, who would want me? Honestly.”

Of potentially supporting Mrs Clinton’s campaign, the singer-songwriter said: “I just felt completely, ugh, just useless. And maybe even like a hindrance.”

She added: “I was just trying to protect my mental health – not read the news very much, go cast my vote, tell people to vote. I just knew what I could handle and I knew what I couldn’t.

“I was literally about to break. For a while.”

Swift said she did felt “really remorseful for not saying anything” at the time.

Swift finally broke her silence on politics in November 2018, when she revealed her backing for two Democratic candidates in the midterm elections.

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Taylor Swift launches her new album Lover on US TV programme Good Morning America (Evan Agostini/AP)

On the topic of politics in general, she said: “I hate to admit this, but I felt that I wasn’t educated enough on it. Because I hadn’t actively tried to learn about politics in a way that I felt was necessary for me, making statements that go out to hundreds of millions of people.”

However, Swift says she intends to do “everything she can for 2020”.

“I wanna figure out exactly how I can help, what are the most effective ways to help. ‘Cause this is just… This is not it.”

Swift has just released her seventh album, Lover.

PA

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