Taylor Swift Explains How Sexual Assault Case Inspired Her to Get Political in 'Miss Americana' Doc

Netflix’s doc Taylor Swift: Miss Americana - Still 1 - Publicity -H 2020
Courtesy of Netflix

"I just thought to myself, 'Next time there is any opportunity to change anything, you better know what you stand for and what you want to say,'" the singer says as she chronicles her decision to speak out against Marsha Blackburn during the 2018 midterm elections.

Taylor Swift gets political in her new Netflix documentary Miss Americana.

Back in October 2018, the once-apolitical star broke her silence and wrote an Instagram post bashing Tennessee Republican and then-Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn. Prior to the post, Swift had been hesitant to speak out and was heavily criticized for not doing so, which she acknowledged in her post.

Her decision to speak out on politics is a major theme in the doc.

"I really, really care about my home state, and I know that in this point in time that my home state is a huge, hugely important part of this midterm election," she says while sitting in the back seat of a car.

Swift adds that she was "outraged" that Blackburn voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which tries to protect women from stalking, date rape and domestic violence. Blackburn also actively fights against the rights for the LGBTQ community.

As a country artist, Swift was told to not force her political beliefs on others. She reflects on the backlash the Dixie Chicks received when they spoke out against former President George W. Bush. "Throughout my whole career, label executives and publishers would just say, 'Don't be like the Dixie Chicks.' And I loved the Dixie Chicks," says Swift. "But a nice girl doesn't force their opinions on people."

Swift says she was "was so obsessed with not getting in trouble" that she chose to stay silent about her political beliefs.

Back in the car, Swift says that she has gotten to the point where she can't remain silent. The singer was ultimately inspired to pen the Instagram post breaking her political silence following her sexual assault case in Aug. 2017. Jurors in the U.S. District Court in Denver deliberated for less than four hours to find that ex-radio host David Mueller assaulted and battered Swift during a pre-concert meet-and-greet in June 2013. Per Swift's request, jurors awarded her $1 in damages.

"You don't feel a sense of any victory when you win because the process is so dehumanizing," she reflects about the trial.

One year after the trial, Swift admits that she "couldn't stop thinking about it." She adds, "I just thought to myself, 'Next time there is any opportunity to change anything, you better know what you stand for and what you want to say.'"

The doc returns to the 2018 midterm elections, and Swift reveals that she's decided to speak out against Blackburn. "It's not that I want to step into this, I just can't not at this point," she says while applying her makeup on a plane. "Something is different in my life — completely and unchangeably different — since the sexual assault trial and no man in my organization or in my family will ever understand what that was like."

Swift and her mother later confront a teammember and her father about speaking out. While the men argue that getting political is not in Swift's best interest, the singer states that she regrets not campaigning against Trump during the 2016 presidential election. "I'm saying right now that this is something that I know is right and you guys ... need to be on the right side of history," she says about endorsing Blackburn's Democratic competitor Phil Bredesen. "And if he doesn't win, at least I tried."

The singer's father admits he's "terrified" for her safety and the potential backlash, though a tearful Swift continues to argue that she can't stay silent. "I can't see another commercial and see her disguising these policies behind the words 'Tennessee Christian values,'" says Swift. "Those aren't Tennessee Christian values. I live in Tennessee. I am a Christian. That's not what we stand for."

Swift is later joined by her publicist, Tree Paine, who tells her that Trump could potentially lash out at her if she posts the letter. "Fuck that. I don't care," responds Swift. She adds, "If I get bad press for saying, 'Don’t put a homophobic racist in office,' then I get bad press for that."

Paine, Swift and her mother then toast with wine before Swift posts on Instagram. A relived Swift remains alone on a couch as she revels in her decision.

Despite Swift's endorsement, Blackburn still won the election. "I can't believe she gets to be the first female senator in Tennessee and she's Trump in a wig," Swift says. "She won by being ... the kind of female males want us to be in a horrendous 1950s world."

The doc also features a new original song called "Only the Young." She explains that the song, which plays during the closing credits, is about resisting the current political administration and shifting "the power in your direction by being bold enough, then it won't be like this forever."