Jennifer Holliday is singing a different tune. And if Democrats are smart, they will sing along.
A few days ago the Grammy- and Tony-award winning singer announced that she would be performing at the Inauguration Welcome Concert. And she made a decent case why: She had performed at similar events for past presidents who came from both sides of the aisle, and she wanted the event to be about welcoming everyone, creating unity, etc.
It all made sense, actually. Except for one key thing: Trump’s opponents have been using a boycott of the inauguration as key element of a growing resistance movement.
Some people screamed at Holliday. Others threatened her. Kevin Fallon took a different approach. In a Daily Beast article, he calmly and systematically laid out the reasons why Holliday’s performance would cause disappointment and distress among some of her most ardent fans.
It is certainly true that the values of an entertainer, the community she is professionally a part of — the theatre community — and her fans, specifically the gay community, do not have to align. Holliday does not owe gay fans a political opinion. It’s her right to perform at the inauguration, and it’s her right to allow that performance to stand for any or all of the values the president-elect stands for.
This isn’t a criticism of Holliday taking the gig. It is a personal and shared reaction to it by a group dismayed and disheartened about what that act means. It’s a crack in what had been a fierce and Teflon attachment to a performer, a role, what it represented, and the strength that it gave.
Holliday read the piece, considered Fallon’s well-reasoned and fair assessment of the situation, and then announced her decision to pull out of the performance:
“My only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT Community and to state unequivocally that I will not perform for the welcome concert or for any of the Inauguration festivities!”
Welcome to the resistance.
It turns out that the resistance is not just about freaking out every time our soon-to-be head of state and commander in chief tweets something offensive. And it’s not about pointing a virtual finger at his supporters and exclaiming, “Now do you see how bad this guy is?” Trump has ridiculed everyone from the parents of a dead soldier to a leader in the civil rights movement to a reporter with a physical disability. And his supporters still stand by him. He could give his inaugural address in Russian and they’d call to reopen the investigation into Hillary’s emails.
Progressivism has been on a steady march in America. Whether that march is blocked by a wall or merely slowed by a speedbump will depend largely on the way the Democrats choose to fight.
Yelling at Trump supporters is not going to work. We have ample evidence of that. What we need to do is further unify Democrats, and make sure that this unity leads to historic turnouts in the next few elections. There are more of us than there are of them. But that doesn’t mean anything unless we vote. Retweets are not going to win the next election. And the resistance won’t work unless we’re in it together.
Kevin Fallon could have attacked Jennifer Holliday. Instead, he used a reasoned case to pull her back into the fold. Now that she is on the right side of the fight, we need millions more like her. And many more like Kevin Fallon too.
Ardent Trump followers will always march to the tune of a different drummer. But on inauguration day, they will not be marching to the tune of Jennifer Holliday. We will.