Politics & Policy

Trump Should Have a Celebrity-Free Inauguration

Beyoncé sings at President Obama’s second inauguration, Janaury 23, 2013. (Reuters photo: Jason Reed)
By inviting talented unknowns to perform instead, the president-elect would send a powerful message.

Donald Trump is having a hard time lining up stars to perform at his inauguration.

Is anyone shocked?

Hollywood threw all its support to then-Senator Barack Obama eight years ago. This time around, it supported Hillary. It became commonplace to hear celebrities name-drop Hitler when referring to the president-elect.

TheWrap.com recently suggested Team Trump is bribing celebrities to perform during the inauguration festivities. True? Possibly. If so, it’s a big mistake.

Trump would do better to simply flip the script on celebrity cameos at presidential inaugurations. How? Don’t ask any stars to perform for him. Not one. No Beyoncé, Adele, or Cher. No progressive poets reciting celebratory verses or musicians offering paeans to power.

The message Trump would send is simple yet true: He doesn’t need Hollywood flattery. Trump forged his path to 270 electoral votes by connecting with everyday Americans. Even if you think he is as honest as a used-car salesman, those packed arenas (and his eventual win) suggest his message resonated with many Americans.

When he twisted Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan, “I’m with Her,” to “I’m with You,” crowds roared. It was a political masterstroke. Now, he can do it again. And he can do it by tapping the vast pool of talent available to him across the country.

We’re a nation teeming with talent, but for some reason we still reward only celebrity.

When was the last time you took in a local stage production, concert, or festival performance? Chances are you saw plenty of people with either raw, untrained talent or far more moxie than skill. Bet you winced once or twice. Maybe more. But you probably also heard or saw some very talented performers who aren’t household names. These talented artists are scattered all across America. They play at honkytonk bars and local chili cook-offs. Some make it all the way to mid-sized arenas.

They kill it night after night but no one knows their names.

We’re a nation teeming with talent, but for some reason we still reward only celebrity (which is a very different thing — see, for example, the Kardashian family). Team Trump should start scouring Middle America in search of hidden talents. Extend the biggest platform possible to them and see what happens.

If he does, Trump will show celebrities that he didn’t need their support during the campaign, and he doesn’t need them now. One can hope that the stars will take the message to heart. They may even reconsider their condescending attitude toward people who live in flyover country.

Of course, this all assumes Trump’s ego will allow him to take this course. That might be the biggest X factor. He could always enlist a predictable celebrity ringer or two, a Kid Rock here or a Ted Nugent there. Why not? Just keep the focus on the new kids. Give them the chance of a lifetime. After all, much of Trump’s campaign was built on telling Americans to give an unlikely candidate a chance; he should do the same for America’s unheralded performers at his inauguration.

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