It’s becoming clear that the real First Lady is not, in fact, the First Lady. Melania Trump’s decision to spend the majority of her time in New York with youngest son Barron coincides with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s recent purchase of a $6.6 million dollar home in D.C. The elite neighborhood of Kalorama is less than 15 minutes from the White House, an ideal location for a first daughter acting as First Lady.
With Ivanka’s recent announcement to step down from her positions in the Trump Organization, as well as her own fashion brand, she has taken real steps to eliminate conflicts of interest. Her seriousness about being involved with the administration is further backed by her plan to sell and restructure assets involved in the family business. Husband Jared Kushner is taking similar steps to prepare for his role as a White House Senior Advisor. Together, they are the nation’s new power couple.
The influence Ivanka will wield does not come as a surprise considering her role in her father’s presidential campaign. Ivanka was the one to introduce her father throughout the campaign; from when he first announced his candidacy to her introduction at the Republican National Convention. She’s the one he considers to be his most trusted advisor, and it’s a position she’ll continue to occupy. Compared to Melania’s obvious discomfort in the political sphere and infamous speech, the poised and well-spoken Ivanka is an obvious candidate for the role.
With plans to change the Office of the First Lady to the Office of the First Family, the Trump Administration signals the influence of the family. Such a change creates the possibility of dual positions for Melania and Ivanka, though it’s likely the latter will inevitably wield more power. Both women have indicated an interest in protecting the rights of children. However, with Melania’s plan for a 6-month leave of absence, it seems as though Ivanka will assume many of the traditional First Lady’s duties in the first few months of the presidency, including playing hostess. Perhaps her more valuable skill is calming down her father and balancing out his rashness with a calm and cultured presence.
Regardless of feelings towards the new president, Ivanka offers hope to American women. Her confidence in public comes from years of handling herself in the spotlight. A successful business woman in her own right, she understands what it means to juggle a hectic schedule and three of her own children. She’s serious about fighting for women’s rights including paid family leave, equal pay, and better child care structures. On these issues, she’s already taken action by working to gather support among members of Congress for childcare deductions and tax free childcare accounts for people making less than $500,000 a year.
Ivanka is not the first daughter in history to assume a larger role in the administration, though it’s been a few years. President Jefferson’s daughter, Martha, served as hostess starting in 1802 during her father’s presidency. The eldest daughter of President Andrew Johnson, sworn in 1865, often appeared at events as the president’s consort and oversaw all entertaining in the White House. More recently, Julie Nixon Eisenhower was an active defender of her father while in the public eye. Even with some precedent, it’s safe to say that Ivanka Trump will be a First Daughter unlike any before her.