Taylor Swift, Gender Roles, and the Midterm Elections

BuzzFeed: Voter Registration Spikes After Taylor Swift Post About Politics
After deliberately avoiding public political statements throughout much of her career, Taylor Swift recently posted on Instagram that she would be voting for Democrat Phil Bredesen in the upcoming U.S. Senate race in Tennessee. According to Vote.org, voter registration went up across the country after Swift’s post, as well as in Tennessee. “Vote.org saw [Tennessee] registrations spike specifically since Taylor’s post,” Vote.org Communications Director Kamari Guthrie told BuzzFeed. In the 36 hours after the post, the organization saw nearly as many new voters register in Tennessee (2,144) as during the entire month of September (2,811) and more than double the number from August (951). Swift’s support for Bredesen could push more young people to the polls. According to recent PRRI data, “While three-quarters (75 percent) of seniors (ages 65 and older) say they are absolutely certain to vote in the election, just about four in ten (41 percent) young Americans (ages 18-29) say the same.”
Kavanaugh Controversy Divides His Place of Worship
A recent article in The Washington Post reports on divisions among members of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Washington, D.C. church that Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his family attend. One longtime parishioner says, “What exists in the country exists in our neighborhood, and in our church. And now you kind of wonder when you see people: ‘Where do they stand?’” According to reporter Michelle Boorstein, Kavanaugh has not been seen at the church since he was accused last month of sexually assaulting a fellow high school student in the 1980s. PRRI recently found that like Kavanaugh’s church, the country is deeply divided about the issues raised during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. PRRI’s survey revealed that 81 percent of Democrats, including 84 percent of women and 76 percent of men, say they would definitely not vote for someone accused of sexual harassment by multiple people. By contrast, only about a third (34 percent) of Republicans—including 41 percent of women and 28 percent of men—agree.
Brownstein: Gender Roles Still a Major Issue Across the U.S.
CNN’s Ronald Brownstein published an article on Tuesday that analyzes how different groups across the United States interpret gender roles. He writes, “The bitter nomination struggle revealed the persistence of deep differences among women, especially white women, about growing female assertiveness in society and the uprising against sexual harassment symbolized by the #MeToo movement.”Brownstein, citing a 2016 survey from PRRI/The Atlantic, continues, “In fall 2016, [PRRI] found that 45 percent of non-college white women—and a striking 58 percent of evangelical white women—agreed that ‘society is better off when men and women stick to the jobs and tasks they are naturally suited for.’ Only about one-fifth of college-educated white women, and one-fourth of African-American women, concurred.”
Civil Rights Leader William Barber Awarded MacArthur Grant
North Carolina pastor and national civil rights leader William Barber has been awarded a 2018 MacArthur “genius” grant. The Guardian notes, “The MacArthur Fellows Program annually gives a series of $625,000, no strings attached awards to people the institution finds to be extraordinarily talented and creative in many different fields.” Barber is the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro; the leader of the Poor People’s Campaign, which promotes fairer living standards for low income communities; and one of the founders of Moral Mondays, a nonviolent civil disobedience campaign that challenges voter suppression. Additionally, Barber is known as a champion for immigrants, working class Americans, and those with disabilities. The MacArthur Foundation writes:“Barber approaches social justice through the lens of the ethical and moral treatment of people as laid out in the Christian Bible, the Reconstruction and civil rights movements of the South, and the US Constitution,” adding, “He is effective at building unusually inclusive fusion coalitions that are multiracial and interfaith, reach across gender, age and class lines, and are dedicated to addressing poverty, inequality, and systemic racism.”
A Two-Year-Old Takes on Immigration Court
As immigration controls continue to tighten, The New York Times reports that “more children than ever are in government custody.” As a result, children as young as two years old can find themselves seated in court, where strangers decide their fate. The article highlights the journey of Fernanda Jacqueline Avila, a migrant child from Honduras. Fernanda appeared in immigration court alone after she and her maternal grandmother were detained at the border in late July. “Until a couple of months ago, most of the children never would have stayed in a shelter long enough to end up alone before a judge,” write reporters Vivian Yee and Miriam Jordan. A PRRI survey conducted in June 2018 found that Americans “largely reject the policy whereby families entering the country without permission are treated as criminals and children are separated from their parents. Only 22 percent of the public expresses support for this policy. More than seven in ten (71 percent) Americans oppose such a policy that would separate immigrant children from their parents.”