It’s Time To Stop Sympathizing With Ivanka Trump

by Lani Seelinger

For someone who didn't have an official role at the beginning of President Trump's term, his daughter Ivanka Trump sure has grabbed a lot headlines. First, she was hailed as the potential liberal savior in the White House — and then she wasn't. She had her father's ear more than anyone else, but it hasn't really come to anything in terms of policy. She positions herself as an influential woman in the White House, but she won't say she's a feminist. These are the reasons you've already heard for why it's time to stop sympathizing with Ivanka Trump, but they don't stop there. Way before she was in politics, Ivanka built her professional career in business — so let's talk about her business practices.

Last week, the The New Yorker, in cooperation with ProPublica and WNYC, published a report that found Ivanka and brother Donald Trump Jr. had barely avoided fraud charges over the way they had been selling condominiums in the Trump SoHo development. They reportedly slipped clear of an indictment after the longtime Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz visited Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who, according to the report, overruled the prosecutors who had been building a case against the Trumps.

It's become quite evident in the first nine months of his presidency that President Trump considers himself to be above the law — and this episode reveals that he also thinks it applies to the rest of his family. Ivanka and Don Jr., who were allegedly emailing each other in order to plan the false claims they would make to investors, reportedly had no qualms about committing the alleged fraud — and they didn't appear to take issue with the way in which their case was discarded to come forward about it.

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Their father has a history of reportedly sketchy business practices, so some would say it makes sense that they'd have picked up the tricks of the trade from him. Ivanka apparently hasn't stopped there in terms of business practices, however. Many Trump products, despite the president's declarations to the contrary, are made overseas — which is also true of Ivanka's.

Besides the clear evidence contradicting their claims on the matter, this isn't actually a problem in the globalized world that we live in. However, Ivanka's brand has now also been connected to a Chinese factory that reportedly abuses its workers' rights on the regular. Although it hasn't been confirmed that the factory was producing Ivanka Trump apparel while violating Chinese labor standards, it's still notable that Ivanka, for her own business, didn't seek out factories overseas with more humane working conditions.

Since the early days of the campaign, Ivanka has positioned herself as a champion for working women, both at home and abroad. In this case, though, she hasn't required that her company practice as she preaches — and, of course, this isn't the only instance of that same sort of hypocrisy. She's since become an advocate for paid maternity leave, but her company initially had no maternity leave policy.

"I went back to work one week after having my child, so that's just not something I'm used to," Ivanka reportedly said, when an employee asked about the company's policy. This tone-deaf response is yet more proof of her position of privilege, as the choice to leave a newborn baby at home is only possible when you have quality (and usually expensive) child care backing you up.

When the president released a budget proposal in May, then, it included language that would provide a six-week term of paid leave for new mothers — while cutting all sorts of other social programs that also go into birthing and raising a child. Ivanka, of course, had no comment. As a rule, she says, she doesn't criticize her father's actions in public, because she's "part of a team."

The team, of course, is her father's administration, which Ivanka certainly does play some part in — although sometimes, it's unclear exactly what. "Some people have created unrealistic expectations of what they expect from me," Ivanka told the Financial Times in an interview. This might have been true of the liberals who, soon after Trump's election, hoped that the president's beloved oldest daughter might be able to smooth over his roughest edges from the sidelines. Once she gained her own White House office, however, it gave more reason to hope that her position as a special assistant to the president might lead to some concrete achievements. Instead, she's suffered loss after loss in terms of advancing socially progressive policies she reportedly pushed for, or even in terms of blocking the most culturally conservative ones.

Her responses to criticism on that front vary, from her profoundly ironic comment about the unexpected "level of viciousness" in Washington to her repeated claims that quietly disagreeing with her father behind the scenes makes her more effective. She makes public appearances and statements on Twitter celebrating steps toward equal pay for women and LGBTQ rights, and then supports her father when he rolls back an Obama-era equal pay initiative and stays quiet while he bans trans people from serving in the military. On the outside, she's socially liberal, a fighter for women at home and all over the world. When it comes to actual results, though, she's very much her father's daughter.

Ivanka confirms whose side she's on daily, in case that was still unclear for anyone. This administration has made a habit of going after the nation's most vulnerable communities, from transgender people in the military to low-income Americans who could find themselves without health insurance. Ivanka, from her office in the White House, sees that, and she's still playing a role in that. Don't give her any sympathy. Instead, give her the same resistance that you're directing at the rest of the people around her.