Kanye picks a side as he stays in the political fray
Artists’ views shift to unexpected sides of political world
He and Taylor Swift have long been on opposite sides, but the Trump era has crystallized their views.
It’s the celebrity feud that will not die. Except this time, instead of Kanye West and Taylor Swift calling out each other in lyrics or taking shots in interviews, they’ve pulled opposing political 180s, seemingly swapping factions of their fan bases in the process. Call it an unforeseen effect of the Donald Trump era that Swift and West have become representatives of America’s political divide – in a way that nobody could have predicted nearly a decade ago, when the two stars’ fates collided onstage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. It was at the VMAs that West famously crashed Swift’s speech, sparking a feud that reignited in 2016 over West’s song “Famous.” And while both artists were never the most politically motivated of their peers at that point, they both had fairly distinct and opposing reputations – West as a liberal-leaning firebrand, declaring that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on live TV in 2005, donating money to Democratic candidates and occasionally rapping about racism and social justice, and Swift as Middle America’s sweetheart who purposefully stayed away from politics in her interviews. How different things are now. In the years since West declared he was running for president at the 2015 VMAs, he has latched on to an agitator he sees as a kindred spirit: President Donald Trump. As for Swift, she caught heat for declining to endorse a candidate during the 2016 election, which many interpreted as her silent approval of Trump. Yet after returning from her own hiatus after squabbling with West earlier that year, Swift increasingly shared her support for progressive-leaning causes and donating to charities supporting sexual assault victims after her 2017 groping trial and publicly backing the March for our Lives campaign, which seeks to end gun violence and promotes gun control. But it wasn’t until Sunday that Swift made the leap toward endorsing candidates. She posted a letter on Instagram supporting Tennessee’s Democratic congressional candidates while condemning racism and discrimination. Like so many other aspects of 2018, how fans feel about Kanye vs. Taylor likely comes down to how they feel about Trump. And as the same voices on the right that praise West begin to voice their newfound aversions to Swift, with other commenters claiming that Swift actually “cares more about black people” than West, the two artists are once again diametrically opposed, in a more bizarre way than fans ever could’ve expected.
TAYLOR SWIFT BY JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP; KANYE WEST BY EVAN AGOSTINI/AP;