Like most rational human beings, I’m not the biggest fan of Donald Trump. As Hillary Clinton recently pointed out in a tweet, he is taking over the Republican party–the party of Lincoln–and pouncing on conservative America’s fear. His rhetoric is not only fueled by hatred and ignorance, but also by misinformation and manipulation. And yet, Americans have flocked to him. He is being hailed as being “for the people” (despite his lifetime of privilege), and he’s seen as “for the American economy” (despite his recorded cheating of small businesses). And while part of me hopes that he is simply eschewing information he knows will get raucous cheers and support from his demographic, and even if he were–knock on wood–elected into office, he would never actually build a wall or force immigrants out, there’s no denying the fact that Donald Trump makes me very, very sad.
He makes me sad because he has somehow garnered enough supporters to become the Republican nominee. Supporters who seriously believe that this man, whose entire empire is built upon a loan from his father, will make America great again. Supporters who say nasty things about a hardworking woman, Hillary Clinton, while ignoring Trump’s numerous rape allegations. Supporters who claim he is an admirable, honest man, a man of God, despite his hurtful speech about Muslims and black Americans. I’m sad because there are people out there who laugh along with a powerful man as he publically makes fun of disabled people, women, journalists, and so much more. I’m sad because one of the world’s most well-known Evangelical Christians, Max Lucado, has publicly denounced Trump, and yet Christians are still claiming that he’s the one to make America Great (i.e. God-fearing) Again. But most of all, he makes me sad because he has successfully raised a strong, independent, intelligent woman who, for reasons unknown to me, is somehow so swayed by her father’s influence that she has become a proponent for his ways.
Last week, the Republican National Convention took place in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a place for angry shouts to “lock her up,” childish boos at a man *gasp* standing his ground, and unfortunately where Donald Trump officially accepted the Republican nomination for the Presidential race. Before he accepted though, his daughter, Ivanka Trump, took the stage to woo the crowd with her poise, grace, articulate speech, and basically call into question the fact that she somehow is related to Donald.
As a young girl, I would excitedly watch “Celebrity Apprentice” for the sole purpose of seeing Ivanka. To little me, she was perfect. Smart, savvy, kind, beautiful, and elegant. It was like watching Miss America do business. I didn’t care about the rest of the show, I wanted to see Ivanka, and I wanted to be Ivanka.
Now, though, I want Ivanka to be honest. If you heard, or even read about, her speech at the RNC you are perfectly aware that she brought up some very un-Republican topics such as equal pay for women, rights for working moms, and accessible childcare. Topics that are usually part of a democratic rhetoric. Topics that the Republican party has generally avoided, in favor of spewing their disdain for Hillary, or their right to bear arms. Topics that most millennial women are very much in favor of, and that have made many of those said women, regardless of their political affiliation, become very fond of Ivanka. What is strange, though, is that Ivanka has said that she does not identify with one specific end of the political spectrum over the other, saying “I do not consider myself categorically Republican or Democrat.”
And while this is all fine and good and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, political or otherwise, I can’t help but think that Ivanka Trump, like so many other young women and men in this country, is tied down by something that doesn’t actually define her: her last name, and the history of that name.
The fact that Ivanka has kept her Trump name in tact, despite being happily married for seven years now, is slightly discomforting. Of course, I am all for women having the choice to change, or not change, their last name when they marry. But, the motive behind Ivanka keeping her maiden name is important here. Her father’s name is world-known. It’s the name that, quite literally, towers over this country, and the world. It’s the name that made her, and the name she owes her success to. I’m sure she’s smart, and that if she weren’t a Trump, she would still be successful, but let’s be honest here, working for her father is 99% of what made her her. If keeping her name is any indication of the familial obligation Ivanka feels, then it can safely be assumed that familial ties are also what has brought her into the Republican realm.
The dangers of this association, and her warm representation of her father, are numerous. By standing up and giving her speech, while very poignant, Ivanka Trump has forever married her ideals and morals with that of her father’s. Now, young millennial voters who have been torn about this election, and young women voters who have usually identified as Republican before Donald Trump have feel unsure about their ballot. Now all of these voters will have the (wrongful) notion that perhaps Donald himself won’t be so bad, after all, look at his modern, independent daughter! So what Ivanka has done is manipulate that population of on-the-fence voters into thinking that standing on their own convictions isn’t as important as sticking by your family, your name, or your party.
This week, at the Democratic National Convention, speeches are markedly different than those at the Republican National Convention. Just Monday night, appearances by celebrities, the First Lady of the United States, and more have given the event an air of importance and seriousness. Gender equality, love, unity, love, female empowerment, the already-greatness of America, and yes, more love, were some of the most powerful topics. Topics that, you may notice, Ivanka Trump seems to be a strong believer in. Michelle Obama seamlessly weaved in touching tales of an America where her daughters can dream of becoming President, closely echoing Ivanka’s stance on motherhood and closing the wage gap. If the RNC was shrowded in undertones of hate, discrimination, and making America great again, then the DNC was shouting from the rooftops about love, inclusion, and the greatness that America has already has already achieved. A tone that closely matches Ivanka Trump’s speech, nevermind that she was apparently at the wrong convention.
Even though Ivanka’s speech was a refreshing change of the negativity presented at the Republican National Convention, her presence and her stances are strategic. She is trying to balance her own beliefs with those of her father’s, and while wanting to stand by your family is an admirable trait, in this case it is also extremely treacherous. She is giving false hope to Republican voters, and trying to force herself to fit into a box she clearly wasn’t made to be in. And while I definitely share the sentiment with Senator Cory Booker that “in America, love always trumps hate,” I also know that love has to fight a little bit to win the battle over hate. And right now, we need to stand by our own convictions, whether or not they are the same convictions our family may have.
Ivanka Trump is still very much a fabulous, smart, poised woman in my opinion. But, she is also a cautionary tale: at what point does it become dangerous and misleading to let your name, or your religion or family history decide your voting habits? Because now is the time to stand up for what you believe, and stand strong. Our nation is on the brink of becoming a completely different place, depending on what happens in November, and we all have the opportunity to do what we can about that. So don’t just vote Republican because you’re Christian, and don’t just vote Democratic because you want to close the wage gap. Look at the party platforms. Watch speeches. Look at the Green Party, the Libertarian Party. Whatever you do, don’t be the Ivanka Trump of your family, because it is very obvious that while she may technically be cut from the same cloth as Donald, she is far from being a name-calling, discriminatory bully. If your beliefs differ from your family’s, then own it. I promise, at the end of the day, you’ll feel better about yourself.