Why Dolly Parton Chooses to Stay Out of Politics

Dolly Parton has been famously apolitical for the entirety of her lengthy, successful career. She’s even turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom to avoid getting political. Her decision to stay neutral has something to do with the fact that she has fans on both ends of the political spectrum. But it also has something to do with her personal view on politics as a whole.

Dolly Parton posing on the CMAs red carpet. She's in a white dress with rhinestones. She's posing with her hands on her hips.
Dolly Parton | Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Why Dolly Parton stays out of politics

It’s no accident that Parton avoids politics. She gets asked about the subject pretty often in interviews. But she makes a point to, generally, take a neutral stance.

“Well, it is a choice, because I don’t like to get involved in politics, because first of all, I have as many Republican fans as I do Democrats,” she told USA Today in 2020. “I don’t want to offend anybody, I have a right to myself. Like God gave us free will, America gave us free speech, but you’ve got to be responsible for anything you say and do.”

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Not only does Parton want to avoid offending any fans, but she also has her own ideas about politics that aren’t constrained by the confines of one political party.

“Really I’m more about the person and about the message,” she said. “I like watching all of it. I watch Fox News. I watch CNN. It’s like I don’t even know what to believe, but I just watch it out of curiosity because it’s good television. Crazy, lunacy, but I just don’t get involved. I am not political, and I refuse to get caught up in political things. I just look at it, and I just think what I think. I’m just saying, ‘Good Lord, what are these people doing? Crazy. They don’t care about us.'”

Dolly Parton voices her opinions in her songs

Though Parton may view herself as an apolitical person, she still has opinions about hot-button issues. She expresses those thoughts in her songwriting.

“In my songwriting, I’ve never shied away from what is going on in the world,” she wrote in her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “I don’t voice issues publicly, myself. But in my songs, I can write about whatever I feel. That’s what I’m about. I can say what I need to say without having to march in the streets or make big public statements. I express in my own way what I believe other people need to hear and might not be able to write about their feelings.”

The Queen of Country occasionally speaks out about certain issues

While Parton has made a point to stay out of politics generally, she has, at times, spoken out about certain topics. In an interview with Billboard in 2020, Parton commented on the Black Lives Matter movement.

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“I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” she said. “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white a*ses are the only ones that matter? No!”  

Additionally, in an interview with Jad Abumrad in 2019 for the Dolly Parton’s America podcast, Parton was asked if she’d call herself a feminist. She said no. But, after some discussion, she agreed that she’s a feminist in practice, if not by name.

“I think that’s a good way of saying it,” she said. “I live it. I work it. And I think there’s power in it for me.”