SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — While Christmas carols are a well-known seasonal staple, for SOMA Action’s Financial Conflicts of Interest and Anti-Corruption Committee, they’ve become a fun way to raise political awareness.
For the past two years, SOMA Action, a local grassroots organization, has sung Christmas carols reworded with political satire to draw attention to what they say is President Donald Trump’s corrupt administration.
SOMA Action first formed after the 2016 election, according to Amy Higer, who is on the SOMA Action Board of Trustees and is chairwoman of the Financial Conflicts of Interest and Anti-Corruption Committee.
“It was part of the wave of progressive groups that citizens around the country created in response to the 2016 election,” Higer said. “Its overarching mission is to promote the dignity, rights and welfare of individuals in our communities, around our state and around the country.”
She added that the organization also advocates for more transparent and accountable government on all levels. SOMA Action currently has several hundred active members, with more than 1,600 Facebook page members. It was incorporated as a 501(c)(4) earlier this year.
Higer said the caroling was created, and became known as “Holiday Caroling with a Political Purpose,” after a full year of activism and protesting in 2017. The SOMA Action Financial Conflicts of Interest and Anti-Corruption Committee wanted to do something to lift its spirits. The group has already had two performances and has one more planned for this week.
“Instead of another traditional march or protest, we decided to write satirical lyrics to some old holiday favorites and sing them in public,” Higer said.
Some of the Christmas songs the group created and sang included “We Wish You a Good Impeachment,” “He’s Dreaming of a White Nation,” “Donald the Lyin’ Con Man” and “Vladimir Stop,” which was sung to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock”.
“Because we had so much fun, we wanted to revive the caroling this holiday season,” Higer said.
Thankfully, Higer said, the group had to rewrite the songs to reflect a new political climate.
“In the second year of the Trump presidency, we have created quite a new political climate, and we wanted songs that reflected how empowered and hopeful we now felt,” Higer said.
In its second year, SOMA Action worked tirelessly and canvassed, phone-banked, wrote postcards, held fundraisers and more to flip New Jersey’s red seats in the House of Representatives to blue seats.
“We were incredibly gratified to see the results of these efforts as four out five red N.J. House seats flipped from red to blue, so this year’s lyrics are a bit more upbeat,” Higer said.
Higer said the group still wants to remind listeners that the fight to change the course of the country must continue.
“We know we need to keep on going,” she said. “We have no intention of slowing.”
The group has a Holiday Resistance Caroling booklet that includes the lyrics to all 12 of this year’s songs, along with information about how local residents can become involved.
“We need all of us to make our government more responsive and accountable,” Higer said.
Valyrie Laedlein, SOMA Action member and creator of the Resistance Caroler Stocking Stuffer Lyric Booklet, said the songs give way for celebration.
“The songs celebrate recent House victories, while allowing us to laugh at — and scorn — the absurdities of this Administration,” Laedlein said in a press release.
The carolers will hold their final show on Friday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m. in front of the Maplewood Train Station.
“Rush hour caroling will have double the number of carolers and a significantly larger audience,” Higer said. “We can’t wait.”
Photos Courtesy of Amy Higer