It’s time to do some Swiftie Sleuthing™.
Of the legions of fans devoted to pop culture dynamo Taylor Swift — who recently became the first woman to win album of the year three times at the Grammy Awards and dropped two rerecordings of her previously released hits in her heralded effort to gain control of her back catalog — a certain Massachusetts senator may be among the ranks.
Senator Ed Markey, who reestablished himself as a progressive champion during his reelection campaign last year in part because of the young activists who coalesced around him, released a Swift-inspired meme Tuesday on social media.
“We must pass the Build Back Better Act and take transformative action to address climate change,” Markey wrote. “We cannot allow this moment to be 2009 again. I was there, I remember it all too well.”
His tweet was a reference, of course, to Swift’s “All Too Well,” which she dropped last week in an extended, 10-minute version (after nearly a decade of her most devout fans begging her to do so) that was accompanied by a short film. The ballad is long believed to be about her relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal in 2010, and its potent lyrics (including about the scarf “from that very first week”) have spurred many fan theories and left a lasting mark.
The Malden Democrat, who wrote the Green New Deal with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, used the Swift reference to urge support for President Biden’s spending plan. Without the “full Build Back Better deal,” Markey tweeted, the “bipartisan infrastructure package doesn’t cut it on climate.”
However, the reaction online was as much about Markey’s reference to Swift than policy. One person declared, “ED MARKEY IS A SWIFTIE,” while another asked the lawmaker if he could, “launch a congressional inquiry to get the scarf back.” Someone else took the opportunity to photoshop the seemingly on-the-go senator into her “folklore” album cover.
More cynical observers went so far as to beg Markey to not use any more Swift lyrics. “Please do not make this man tweet at Manchin and Sinema, ‘This thing was a masterpiece ‘til you tore it all up,’” wrote one user.
It’s not the first time Markey and Swift have crossed paths. (He follows her on Instagram; she follows no one.) And the chart-topping artist has her own personal ties to the region. Let us dissect.
It was just over three years ago that Swift had a somewhat unexpected foray into politics, with her endorsement of two Democratic candidates who were running for election in Tennessee, including Phil Bredesen for Senate. He was going up against Marsha Blackburn, who had the support of then-President Trump and whose voting record on matters including equal pay for women and gay marriage Swift said “appall[ed] and terrifie[d]” her.
“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,” Swift wrote. Voter registration reportedly spiked in the state after her post. She went on to expand on her views and reasons for becoming vocal further in the 2020 documentary “Miss Americana.”
That following June, Swift penned a petition to “Support the Equality Act,” which she started to advocate for the equal rights and protections of LGBTQ+ people. Markey penned a lengthy response in support of the petition, writing that it “is past time” that the Senate pass the bill and that he has “witnessed time and time again that the resolve of the LGBTQ community will not be defeated.”
Swift featured his message and thanked him for his backing in her Instagram story. The legislation is currently stalled in the Senate.
Then last year, during a heated and sometimes contentious Senate race between Markey and Joseph P. Kennedy III, the connection between the senator and megastar again resurfaced.
Those in the region may remember when Swift dated Conor Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in 2012. The pair allegedly crashed a family wedding in Boston one weekend. When they were together, she wrote the song “Starlight” based on a picture she saw of his grandparents, Robert and Ethel Kennedy, for her album, “Red.”
But it was Markey who got the last word — or last tune — in the race. As he claimed victory in his re-election bid, his campaign blared out Swift’s “The Last Great American Dynasty,” during his Zoom victory party, a song about the heiress whose Watch Hill, R.I. mansion Swift purchased in 2013.
Taylor Swift predicted Ed Markey defeating Joe Kennedy and ending the Kennedy dynasty in her new song, The Last Great American Dynasty. in this essay I will-— it’s just meera (@meeracleshappen) September 2, 2020
And Swift, like Markey, endorsed Joe Biden for president over incumbent Donald Trump during the election. She said she backed the Biden-Harris ticket to give America a “chance to start the healing process it so desperately needs” — a notion the White House apparently did not like.
Following her endorsement, Olivia Troye, the former homeland security, counterterrorism, and coronavirus adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence, was playing Swift in her office at full volume one day when a colleague knocked on her door and asked if she was “trying to get fired,” Troye told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
“I don’t think she’s a fan of Trump’s,” the colleague continued. “And so, if somebody hears that, you should really watch your back. You should be careful on that.”
So can it be said for sure whether Markey is a Swiftie? His office could not be reached in time for comment, but we had “a marvelous time” breaking it all down.