Congress’s Biggest Taylor Swift Fan

Rep. Don Beyer, one of nearly 20 members of Congress fundraising at her Washington concerts this week, says he and his wife “basically raised our kids on Taylor Swift songs.”

National Journal
July 13, 2015, 7:38 a.m.

Taylor Swift will fill Na­tion­als Park for two nights this week, belt­ing out “Love Story” and “Bad Blood” in front of thou­sands of rev­er­ent fans with her lyr­ics etched in their memor­ies.

And in the crowd will be one con­gress­man-dad rock­ing out with as much en­thu­si­asm as any oth­er Swift die-hard.

Demo­crat­ic Rep. Don Bey­er of Vir­gin­ia, will at­tend Swift’s con­cert on Tues­day, as one of the nearly 20 mem­bers of Con­gress who have sched­uled fun­draisers at her Wash­ing­ton shows. But where­as oth­er law­makers may have or­gan­ized their events as a clev­er way to fill their war chests, for Bey­er, Swiftie-ness runs in the fam­ily: He’s a fan him­self, and his daugh­ter is the pro­pri­et­or of Twit­ter’s @Fem­in­istT­Swift.

The Fem­in­istTaylor­Swift ac­count, run by 23-year-old Clara Bey­er, went vir­al two years ago, to the sur­prise of the Bey­er clan, for whom Swift’s lyr­ics are “very much a part of the fab­ric of the fam­ily,” the House mem­ber said. Clara Bey­er’s tweets — less fre­quent now than when the ac­count was cre­ated — re­tool Swift’s lyr­ics so they have a strong pro-wo­man stance. (@Fem­in­istT­Swift’s cre­ation was a re­sponse to Swift’s now-out­dated as­ser­tion that she wasn’t a fem­in­ist. One early ex­ample: I don’t know about you / But I’m feel­ing 22 / cents un­der­paid on the dol­lar.)

Talk­ing about the artist with Na­tion­al Journ­al, Bey­er sounds like a dad who loves his daugh­ters — and to­geth­er they all love Taylor Swift. Driv­ing an hour to and from school with his now 20-year-old daugh­ter Grace, “it would be Taylor Swift songs the en­tire way there and back.”

He praises how very “sweet” and “ac­cess­ible” her song­writ­ing is — “you know, the dog nev­er dies” — and ref­er­ences down­right vin­tage Swift tunes like “Mary’s Song (Oh My My My),” which as he notes is “off the first al­bum.”

“We ba­sic­ally raised our kids on Taylor Swift songs,” Bey­er said.

The in­spir­a­tion for the Swift-con­cert fun­draiser came from his daugh­ters, he says, but it was also born of a de­sire to “find in­ter­est­ing ways for [donors] to de­liv­er the check,” and bring along their teen­age chil­dren, if they have them. The con­cert is something dif­fer­ent for “these poor gov­ern­ment-af­fairs people” who “spend so much time hav­ing lunches at Charlie Palmer’s,” Bey­er said.

Though the law­maker plans to watch the con­cert with the 15 to 20 people com­ing for the fun­draiser, his two young­est daugh­ters are at­tend­ing, too. Their tick­ets were birth­day presents from their par­ents, he said.

Bey­er said Swift’s ap­peal is mul­ti­gen­er­a­tion­al.

“If you’ve ever been cri­ti­cized and hated it “¦ she has a lot of dif­fer­ent songs over the years that al­most any­one can re­late to as, ‘Hey, I can re­mem­ber that phase of my life,’” Bey­er said, ref­er­en­cing “Mean” off Swift’s 2010 al­bum Speak Now.

And are there any les­sons mem­bers of Con­gress can take from “Mean”?

“Yes, it’s al­ways good to be nice to every­body. At the end of the song, she paints a pic­ture of the mean per­son sit­ting in a bar by him­self, sort of drown­ing in whisky and friend­less and bit­ter,” Bey­er said, “so we don’t want to end up there.”

And like many of the pop star’s fans, Bey­er is skep­tic­al about the ori­gins of Swift’s lyr­ics.

“I don’t ac­tu­ally per­son­ally be­lieve all the dif­fer­ent ro­mances,” he said. “I mean, maybe, but “¦ “

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