I submitted this op-ed to a few publications way back in the beginning of December when there were many news reports criticizing Ivanka’s involvement in her father’s presidential transition. Melania was still regularly being reported on as the assumed First Lady Elect. Unfortunately, the New York Times and Washington Post didn’t want my opinion and passed it up. Then on December 20, a guy name Josh Zeitz published an article on Politico and said exactly what I had been saying since election day. You win this time Mr. Zeitz. I still really enjoyed my own take on the situation. As inauguration day looms, it is time I shared my opinion on the subject of Ivanka Trump, future First Lady of the United States.
Let me start off by saying I am not a fan of Donald Trump. In fact, I am very close to saying I downright hate him. I cried for almost two full days after I heard Hillary lost. Unfortunately, like the rest of America, I am stuck with the outcome of the Electoral College. The result was painful, but I, like many others, have been growing numb to the fact that he is our President Elect. Still, I have little respect for the man. However, if forced to pick something positive about Mr. Trump, I’ll quote Hillary’s perfect response to the town-hall debate question where she said:
“I respect his children. His children are incredibly able, and devoted. And I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that.”
I’m not sure if I agree with Secretary Clinton about all his children or what it says about him as a person, but I think we can all agree that his daughter, Ivanka, is the most able of the lot.Which brings me to the reason why I am writing this. Ivanka’s involvement with her father’s transition has been met with much criticism from media outlets. But is this really the argument we want to be having? There needs to be more discussion about Ivanka legitimately becoming First Lady. I have reservations that Melania is suited for the job. Several daughters have been FLOTUS, only one second wife (Nancy Reagan) has assumed the position, and certainly a third wife is unprecedented. While not ideal, Ivanka is the better woman for the job.
Historically speaking, unless the President is a widower, his wife is typically the best person for this role. But let’s not forget that there is nothing typical about President-elect Trump. We must not treat this as a normal presidency. Melania seems to have no interest in changing her lifestyle or serving Americans.Having daughters act as the First Lady is not unprecedented in America. Grant that the last time it happened the First Ladies were still being called the “White House Hostess”, and it was normally because the President’s wife is deceased. There have been numerous daughters to serve in this capacity. We first saw it happen with Martha “Patsy” Randolph, daughter of our third President, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson kept a promise to his wife that he would not remarry after her death. Thus, establishing the need for an alternative to having a wife as a First Lady. The most recent daughter to be FLOTUS was Margaret Woodrow Wilson who served between her mother’s death in 1914 and her father’s remarriage in 1915. It is a 100-year-old precedent, but a precedent nonetheless. After all, Trump has a flare for the archaic. It is not written that the wife must be serve as FLOTUS. The First Lady’s role is not defined in the constitution and has varied greatly over the years. The main role of the First Lady is to serve as a surrogate in the President’s absence. Even Chelsea Clinton filled in for her mother during the last year of Bill Clinton’s Presidency while Hillary was campaigning in New York for her senate seat. During that time, she accompanied her father on state dinners overseas, hosted White House ceremonies, and was at Camp David to support her dad during the Middle East Peace Conference. Obviously, there are some big differences. She was only 20 with no overseas business ventures, but surely, she could give some advice to her good friend, Ivanka. Ivanka Trump as FLOTUS is something to embrace and encourage, not criticize. What is the alternative at this point? Leave Melania in her gilded tower where she’s “happy”. The Donald is going to have Ivanka around whether we like it or not. He idolizes her. Make her also put her business in a blind trust to minimize conflicts of interest. (SIDENOTE: More recent reports indicate that she is transitioning out of her business, which was not the case when I first wrote this article in early December.) Allow her to be her dad’s confidant in the same regard that a presidential wife would typically serve. She claims to not prescribe to a political party. Her RNC speech could have easily been given at the DNC convention. Ivanka is the best person to bring moderate views to an otherwise scary outlook. She can reason with her father in a way that no one else can, presumably, not even his wife. She may be the only woman he genuinely respects. Will the Trump Family have fiscal benefits because of the election? Probably. Are there conflicts of interest? Definitely. These were known factors before the election, but this is the situation America voted for and what we are forced to deal with over the next four years. Ivanka as First Lady is the one Trump appointment that I can support.