Unless you have been on an internet cleanse or have really closed your echo chamber, there’s no chance you haven’t heard that Taylor Swift has kicked off her latest tour, “Eras” which features music and costumes from all her different albums and styles throughout her long career (17 years since her first tour and album). Swift’s concert is three hours long and features elaborate costume and stage changes to transport her audience to the points in time from each of her highlighted “eras.”
With so many different faces for one person, it reminds me of the state of the many-faced Republican primary field. So which Taylor Swift era best fits the Republican presidential hopefuls (both announced and rumored)?
Nikki Haley: Fearless
“Fearless” is Swift’s second album and no matter how well-liked it is, no fan would count it as her best. In her eras tour, Swift performs, “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” from this album which is perfect for Haley who is clearly in the race looking not so much to be president but to be the top pick as running mate for whoever wins the nomination. In the words of Fearless era Taylor Swift and probably Nikki Haley on Trump’s voicemail: Been here all along so why can’t you see you belong with me.
Vivek Ramaswamy: Folklore
“Folklore” is the least well-known of Taylor Swift’s albums and the most obscure of her eras. Despite being one of the least popular of her releases, Swift features seven of the album’s songs in her Eras set including “Last Great American Dynasty” showing her affection for her first album released under an independent label. Vivek is definitely the dark horse candidate of the current Republican field and his self-funded campaign is a passion project that no one really asked for. Vivek focuses mostly on the current cultural crisis in America which mirrors Folklore’s thematic focus on the stories that define us. Folklore meet Wokelore.
Mike Pence: Debut “Taylor Swift”
Taylor Swift’s self titled debut album was so long ago it’s hard to remember the people we were when it came out. Swift sings a different song from this album at each Era’s concert and sometimes doesn’t feature one at all. At the time of her debut, she was still a country music singer and opening for Rascal Flatts. Much like this era, Pence is more of a bittersweet memory than he is a true candidate for President. Pence is a reminder of what we once had and the betrayals and heartbreaks and life lessons that brought us to where we are now. He is an interlude. Mike Pence is “Just Another Picture to Burn.”
Mike Pompeo: Red
Red is the album where Taylor Swift really became the artist we know today. The album, much like its name, is very passionate and is a declaration of war on those who have broken her heart. The Eras tour features “22,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” and the eight minute version of “All Too Well.” Red is theatrical, bright and familiar. Mike Pompeo is the most hawkish of the Republican hopefuls and physically the loudest. His booming presence is definitely the warring kind of leadership. Hell hath no fury like a Pompeo scorned. Mike Pompeo’s foreign policy will be like driving a new maserati down a dead end street. Faster than the wind, passionate as sin, [lives] ended so suddenly.
Kristi Noem: 1989
“1989” is widely considered the best of Taylor Swift’s albums. Before “1989”, Taylor Swift fandom was more niche and relegated primarily to young teenage girls. When “1989” dropped, the world saw who she was and the pop icon she had become. “1989” was by far the best produced album in Swift’s entire discography and featured credits from some of the best artists in the industry. As an era, this was one of strategic collaboration, blockbuster marketing, and girl gangs. The tour features songs including “Shake it Off” and “Wildest Dreams.” The world wasn’t ready for Taylor and she took us all by storm. Kristi Noem is not likely to be the nominee in 2024 but she is definitely a viable rising star and she might be someone’s running mate and maybe a future nominee. The strongest record in the country on COVID policy, Noem has stood stronger than most for American values despite the hate she faced all the while. If anyone is the head of the Republican Girl Gang, it’s Kristi Noem.
Tim Scott: Lover
“Lover” is Taylor Swift’s least critically acclaimed album but most aesthetically pleasing. She kicks off her Eras tour set with songs from Lover to showcase the beautiful rainbow pastels which make up the visuals for the album and the planned tour (which never happened because of COVID). “Lover” is by far the prettiest era but the least substantive. The album’s single “Me” was an actual flop (unheard of for Swift) and the album was trying so hard to be political that it missed authenticity entirely. Between “Miss Americana” and “Calm Down” Lover is an era of bad politics and lack of self awareness. Tim Scott is a perfect match for Lover. He looks great. He’s a young Senator of a minority race from the south with a big smile. But there isn’t much substance below the surface. Scott is a breed of politician the right no longer has time to entertain. His brand is the “politics as seen on tv” style which gives politicians a bad name. The people who sing his praises are primarily rich donors and not the grassroots movement much like acclaim for Lover. Tim Scott is exactly the kind of candidate who’d think “leaving the Christmas lights up until January” is a rebellious idea.
Ron DeSantis: Midnights
“Midnights” is Taylor Swift’s newest album and definitely the best one to come along in a long time. The “Midnights” era has a lot of layers. It’s a historical rewrite. While “Midnights” is the era of now – a lot of the hits off the album are built off the major songs from her prior albums. The Eras tour features the songs “Anti-Hero,” ‘Karma,” and “Bejeweled” among other big hits. All deep purple and starlight, “Midnights” is somehow equal parts cloak and dagger and spotlight. Ron DeSantis is (or was once) the rising star of the right. Currently in a feud with President Trump and many of the Trump voting base, DeSantis is slipping in popularity no matter how bejeweled he may think he is. But he still has a big chance at being the Republican of “now” if he can right the ship and remember where he came from. The base still has hope for Ron that he might step back and realize, “it’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me.”
Donald Trump: Reputation
Reputation is the boldest of Taylor Swift’s career. The take-no-prisoners album is definitely her era of retribution. The album is all about haters, liars and traitors and taking back the throne. Taylor Swift has never gone as hard as she went on Reputation. The aesthetic is dark and powerful with splashes of red. The sound is heavy on the base and fast paced lyrics. The Eras tour features “Ready for it?” “Don’t Blame Me” and “Look What You Made Me Do.” Donald Trump is the candidate coming for the hegemony. He is not playing nice. He is not going to go quietly into the night. He is going to fight back. Donald Trump is the only candidate that seems to grasp the severity of the situation in America right now. The left is doing everything they can to stop him. But Trump is not going to sit down and pretend like this the same kind of election as it’s always been. The old guard can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Cause it’s dead.