Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has opened up about her controversial decision to stay silent during the high-stakes presidential election of 2016.
Swift, who appears this month on the coveted September issue of American Vogue, spoke at length with writer Abby Aguirre, discussing everything from her upcoming album, Lover, to sexism in the music industry.
But one of the most interesting parts came when the singer explained why she didn't endorse a presidential candidate publicly three years ago — a decision that prompted a whole meme called "Taylor Swift's silence is deafening."
“Unfortunately, in the 2016 election you had a political opponent who was weaponizing the idea of the celebrity endorsement," Swift told the magazine. "He was going around saying, ‘I’m a man of the people. I’m for you. I care about you.’ I just knew I wasn’t going to help."
Prior to 2016, it was very much part of Swift's brand to remain mum on politics.
However, after some far-right groups began supporting the star — like Andrew Anglin of the white supremacist Daily Stormer website, who once described her as a "pure Aryan goddess" — some people assumed her silence meant she supported those deranged views.
As a result of this assumed complicity, Swift was blasted by fellow celebs, including Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who said A-listers like her who chose not to speak out cared more about their brands.
At one point, Swift's fans began to pressure the artist to engage more with what was happening politically in the country.
But Swift told Vogue her decision to stay silent was also influenced by the damage done to her public image after Kim Kardashian West exposed her on Snapchat for allegedly lying about whether she signed off on certain lyrics of Kanye West's song "Famous."
"Also, you know, the summer before that election, all people were saying was, 'She’s calculated. She’s manipulative. She’s not what she seems. She’s a snake. She’s a liar,'" said Swift.
Swift maintained that her speaking out would not have been consequential in any major way, so she decided to stay silent.
"These are the same exact insults people were hurling at Hillary [Clinton]," she said. "Would I be an endorsement or would I be a liability? 'Look, snakes of a feather flock together. Look, the two lying women. The two nasty women.'
"Literally millions of people were telling me to disappear," she said. "So I disappeared. In many senses."
But recently, Swift appears to have found her political voice.
This year, she also released a song, "You Need to Calm Down," which called out anti-gay haters, while urging fans to write to their senators to support the Equality Act.