On Thursday, Donald Trump’s well-known daughter, Ivanka Trump, gave a speech introducing her father to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The speech, which was certainly much more positive and uplifting than the “America is DOOMED” narrative her father spent the rest of the night spouting, has been widely hailed as a huge success. While her step-mother Melania certainly didn’t set the bar very high, there’s no doubt that Ivanka was an eloquent speaker who made an excellent case for her father’s would-be presidency.
Except, was it her father’s presidency that she was touting? As she went on about indebted college graduates and single mothers and their childcare woes, I had to wonder for a second if she was perhaps confusing Trump’s platform with that of Bernie Sanders. It’s a dichotomy that wasn’t lost on other listeners – CNN columnist Mel Robbins writes that Ivanka made her dad sound like a liberal democrat.
But I have a message for Ivanka: I’m not buying it. She’s not the one running for president, he is, and there is nothing on Donald Trump’s website that makes any mention of student debt, expanded childcare, the gender wage gap, or anything regarding working mothers, single or not. And regardless of how she claims her father runs his businesses, the fact is that everything Trump has said publicly about women can only be called sexist. I cannot believe that the man who has said, “…when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof,” and “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” has any interest in or concern for working women. He has also said of working moms, “She’s not giving me 100%. She’s giving me 84%, and 16% is going towards taking care of children.” Yeah, that sounds like the opinion of a real champion of gender equality.
Nothing Ivanka Trump says is going to make me forget the fact that her father argued, over and over, that a judge of Mexican descent was incapable of giving him a fair trial in the Trump University case, nor will I forget how he singled out a black man at one of his campaign rallies. These are not the actions of a man who is “colorblind and gender-neutral.”
The fact is that Trump has a long history of racism. As commentator Michael D’Antonio writes in Fortune magazine, in the 1970s Trump was called out for screening lease applicants for his apartment buildings based on race. Instead of trying to rectify the situation, he accused the courts of trying to force him to rent to “welfare recipients,” a code term for African-Americans. In the 1990s, Trump claimed that Native American gaming operations were tied to organized crime, a statement so ridiculous that Representative George Miller called it the most irresponsible thing he’d ever heard in 19 years on the Congressional gambling committee. And of course, Trump was one of the most ardent “birthers” during President’ Obama’s campaign for office. All of these things long precede his campaign for presidency, so anyone who believes that Trump is saying racist, sexist, and incendiary things just to make a splash and get himself noticed is kidding themselves.
We all have family members whose views are unpleasant or, sometimes, even abhorrent, but we still love them because they’re family. At the end of the day, though, Ivanka and her family are making a choice about appearing side by side with Trump, supporting him, helping him, promoting him. Ivanka had no obligation to give a speech at the RNC, so I can only assume, therefore, that her views align with her father’s. As far as I’m concerned, that makes her part of the problem. So yeah, Ivanka can talk about how great and fair and kind and generous her father is until she’s blue in the face, but I’m not buying it.