Editor's note: This article was first published Oct. 19. We're bringing it back today for the midterm elections.
Since this article was written, Kanye West has announced he is "distancing" himself from politics.
My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!— ye (@kanyewest) October 30, 2018
LOS ANGELES (CIRCA) - The 2016 election blurred lines between entertainment and politics, turning some of the world’s biggest stars into influential political voices. And in 2018, Kanye West and Taylor Swift — known for their long-lasting and very public feud — are the latest stars to use their fame to get out the vote before the midterm elections on Nov. 6.
Beginning with his 2006 accusation that “(President) George (W.) Bush doesn’t care about black people,” West has been an outspoken political figure. The rapper went as far to announce his intention to run for president during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.
But Swift, who made the transition from country singer to pop star in 2014, remained politically agnostic for most of her career, with some speculating that her taking a hard stance in either direction would alienate a substantial portion of her fan base.
That fear became a reality for West after the rapper announced during a concert in November 2017 that, “I would’ve voted for Trump.”
The comment drew strong criticism from the rap community but West didn't back down. He met with then-President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016 and has continued to foster that relationship. Earlier this month, the rapper met with Trump for lunch at the White House.
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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈
Almost two years later, Swift has now entered the political limelight by voicing her support for Tennessee Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. In a post to her 112 million Instagram followers, Swift addressed her political silence.
"In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now … I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love."
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Something I wish I knew about when I was 18 and voting for the first time: ✨EARLY VOTING✨. It makes it so quick and easy to go and cast your vote before November 6. Early voting starts TODAY in Tennessee and goes to Nov 1 🇺🇸 You can check out your state’s early voting dates at the link in my bio
She went on to encourage young voters to visit Vote.org, which saw a “tidal wave of new voter registration” with over 400,000 new registrants, 65 percent of whom were under the age of 30. The post sparked backlash online, but Swift doubled down with a second post this week encouraging early voting.