The Ivanka Dilemma

There are many traditions that the First Family is expected to uphold in the White House, and many that the press and public are expected to uphold as well. Some of them are funny, like picking the new dining set. Some of them are more serious, like how the children of the president are treated by the public and the press.

Historically, the children of the President have been off-limits to reporters and critics out of respect for the children’s privacy. Mr. Trump’s children appear to be a unique exception to the rule, however. His eldest daughter, Ivanka, is most often in the spotlight and most openly criticized by the press and the public alike. Viewed as a “turncoat” by many young liberals, the First Daughter is frequently criticized for standing by her father and failing to take an active role in preventing some of his more socially intrusive policies.

Despite heavy criticism, Ms. Trump and her husband Jared Kushner have played a significant role in protecting LGBTQ rights. Last week, a version of an executive order that would overturn President Obama’s executive orders that protected the LGBTQ community was leaked to the press. It appears that Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner prevented this executive order from being signed by the president. In addition, during the transition, Ms. Trump organized a meeting between her father and Al Gore and has continued to be vocal about protecting the environment.

While Ms. Trump plays a unique role as the first First Daughter to be directly involved in White House policy initiatives, she also has maintained some control over her fashion merchandising corporation, Ivanka Trump. Balancing her political life and her business has already caused some problems for the “self-made” business woman. Back in November, she faced blowback for promoting a golden bracelet she wore during a “60 Minutes” interview. Last week, Nordstrom discontinued her shoe line, citing a drop in sales of the product. Neiman Marcus discontinued her fine jewelry line as well for the same reason. The progressive group Grab Your Wallet is claiming victory after instructing its followers to boycott all Trump family products and stores that carry the merchandise.

Is it wrong for people to target the First Daughter for failing to stand up to her father, the President? Or should she be treated the same as all the previous children of the President? I would argue, that because she took on a roll in her father’s administration, rather than staying on the sidelines and continuing to run her business, she has “opted-in,” so to speak, to continuous scrutiny from the press and the public. However, her role in the administration is one that more progressives should be appreciative of because she and her husband actively work for (at least some) progressive causes. Even though “some” is not enough, it is certainly more than anyone else working in that White House with the ear of the President. While changing the system and the rules from within is never flashy, sometimes it’s the most pragmatic way to achieve progress.

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