The 2016 presidential campaign has been an exceptionally nasty one, filled with negative rhetoric, mudslinging and some very dirty politics. But last month at the Republican National Convention, a silver lining emerged from the storm clouds over Cleveland.
We met the Trump Kids: Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany — four young adults who would be the apple of any parent’s eye. One by one, they infused a breath of fresh air into what has been a very depressing political season.
They deserve our highest praise for their professional demeanor throughout the runup to their father’s nomination — and especially at the convention, where they brought a personal, pragmatic and sincere tone to the often raucous proceedings.
Their accomplishment was even more remarkable because of the adversity they faced as children.
If it’s true that adversity is the precursor of success, then the Trump Kids are the poster children for the adage.
Donald Jr., 38, Ivanka, 34, and Eric, 32, are the children of Donald and Ivana Trump, whose 14-year marriage provided two years’ worth of sensational and occasionally lurid tabloid headlines before they divorced in 1992.
The kids attended boarding schools, but they were from New York, where it was impossible to avoid seeing their father’s infidelity and their parents’ rocky relationship displayed on every newsstand. The children were rich, but their childhood was tumultuous. They could easily have gone down the wrong path.
But if it’s true that adversity is the precursor of success, then the Trump Kids are the poster children for the adage. Donald Jr., married with five children, is a real estate developer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization. Ivanka, married with three children, is a celebrated businesswoman, author and model. Eric, who married in 2014, is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, the owner of Trump Winery and founder of the foundation that bears his name.
Despite their father’s often abrasive rhetoric, they — plus Tiffany, the 22-year-old daughter of Trump and his second wife, Marla Maples — have been articulate, quiet supporters. And all four delivered speeches in Cleveland this week that could establish them as leaders of their generation.
The Trump kids’ spouses have also become an important swatch of the family fabric — especially Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, who has become a trusted adviser to his father-in-law and no doubt will be an important part of the Trump campaign going forward.
Ivanka herself, meanwhile, has been described as “the quiet power behind the Trump throne” — and she more than proved it at the Republican convention when she stood before thousands to introduce her father. She was elegant, dignified and confident. Her speech was a brilliant testament to the values her father instilled in all four of his adult children. The Trump kids, like their father, are a force to contend with.
Being born into wealth is fate, and the Trump kids obviously had privileges and an access to resources that most kids didn’t have. But it’s what youngsters do with their resources that builds their destiny. The Trump kids have already had a tremendous impact on their father’s campaign. As Trump approached the announcement of his running mate, the kids flew to Indiana on an “intervention” mission to ensure he didn’t make an impulsive decision. Donald Trump clearly values his kids’ opinion, and he knows they will voice it tactfully, not publicly.
He also values his kids’ independence, as evidenced by Ivanka’s conversion to her husband’s Orthodox Jewish faith, an assimilation that was apparently seamless.
Every leader talks about the future of America, but we seldom hear from the next generation of leaders during an election cycle. In the last 24 years our three most recent presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, came to the White House with children too young to take an active role in the White House.
So it’s been unusual to see a candidate’s children go front and center. Certainly, this is the first time in a generation that we’ve seen it happen at a party convention.
Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, Jared Kushner and the entire Trump team deserve congratulations for their magnificent performance in Cleveland. Perhaps they will inspire their generation to get involved in our country’s future.
And with any luck, we’ll be saying the same thing in 20 or so years about another kid: Barron Trump, Donald and Melania Trump’s 10-year-old son.
For the time being, no matter what your feelings may be about Donald Trump, can we all agree on this?
If good kids are the yardstick by which one measures good parents, then Donald Trump and his wives have done remarkably well.