In true echo-chamber fashion, many left-leaning onlookers were quick to pile on Ivanka Trump for sitting in on an informal meeting between her father and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But as a conservative who wasn’t a fan of how Donald Trump ran his campaign, I have come to terms with a President Trump even as I’ve also posed critical questions about Ivanka. And now that Trump will be our president, I hope that liberal critics can practice empathy and begin the process of trying to unify the country. This Ivanka episode is a perfect case in point.
Let’s imagine if the tables were turned: would a picture of Chelsea Clinton in a similar, informal meeting with her mother Hillary Clinton have triggered such anger among the left-leaning mainstream media? This is highly unlikely, despite the fact that reports indicate multiple conflicts of interest taking place throughout Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State.
In fact, Chelsea Clinton may have used money from the Clinton Foundation to pay for her lavish, $3 million wedding. Yes, it may have been tacky for Ivanka’s team to promote the $10,800 gold bangle bracelet for sale under Ivanka’s fashion brand she wore during an interview her family did with “60 Minutes.” But at least she’s trying to earn money the honest way and not bilking charity money.
The Japan kerfuffle is the perfect illustration in tandem with the recent, one-sided sermon by members of the cast of Hamilton. Both of these episodes showed just how lacking in self-awareness so many liberals are (the cast of SNL brilliantly illustrated this in their recent bubble video).
So often liberals engage in a high-minded, preachy monologue rather than any attempt at dialogue or recognition Hillary Clinton lost for any legitimate reasons. Hamilton cast members chose to lecture Pence on diversity in America without acknowledging how the past eight years of shutting out Red State America has severely damaged diversity of thought.
Liberals have used this Ivanka episode to pull a red flag on possible conflicts of interest among Trump’s family members and his vast, global holdings. And indeed, POLITICO and Morning Consult polling showed that just three in 10 voters believe Trump’s children should be involved in his administration. And just one in four say certain Trump family members should get security clearances.
But similar, legitimate concerns were hardly recognized by the mainstream press when questions about pay-to-play schemes surfaced again and again with the Clinton clan throughout the 2016 campaign. It became far easier for many Clinton supporters, including Millennial women, to label vast swaths of the American population as simply “ignorant,” “redneck,” or “racist.”
I ultimately cast a protest vote for Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican who was an outspoken critic until the end of how Trump ran his campaign. There were many conservatives like Sen. Mike Lee (who’s on the short list for Trump’s Supreme Court no less!) and Mitt Romney (on the short list for Secretary of State) who felt the same way. But no matter how much we didn’t like Trump’s rhetoric and behavior we also recognized that the underlying policy concerns of his supporters were valid, and for that reason we couldn’t back Clinton.
No, Trump’s supporters aren’t xenophobic because they’re concerned about the effect of low-skilled immigrant labor on blue-collar American workers. No, they’re not sexist because they don’t believe that women should get special treatment instead of equal treatment. No they aren’t racist because they understand that the far deeper threat to Black Lives isn’t police but civilians (and that police aren’t more likely to lethally shoot black criminals than those of other races).
Of course journalists can exercise First Amendment rights, but without proper balance and context (e.g. critical thinking about the Clintons’ conflict of interest) this Ivanka flareup risks become just another episode where Trump’s supporters dig in further. This further creates a martyr complex for Team Trump (see Mark Cuban’s excellent diagnosis of that here). That’s the irony of Trump haters: the more they attack him and his family members, the more his supporters adore him. So if liberals really want to neutralize the Trump family, perhaps they should show Ivanka a little kindness.
Photo by david_shankbone
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for American Enterprise Institute scholar Edward Conard. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.