The Ivanka Trump Guarantee

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In case you missed the sarcasm in the title, author Lindy West is not impressed with the First Daughter:

Ivanka Trump, first daughter, strode into Washington back in January with big promises: She was passionate about helping “working women,” she said, and she was going to close the gender wage gap even if it killed her.

Well, not if it killed her, not literally, but even if it mildly inconvenienced her, she was on it 110 percent, for the women. Well, not if it mildly inconvenienced her, she’s very busy, but definitely if there was a wage transparency policy already in place, she would not openly and glowingly support overturning it.

Well, unless her dad wanted to overturn it because doing so satisfied two of his top 10 vindictive fixations (constraining women’s independence and destroying the legacy of America’s first black president), but Ms. Trump would absolutely offer a better replacement solution, such as saying the words “child care credit” and “female entrepreneurs” repeatedly near a camera while wearing a blush-pink toggle coat. That, ladies, is the Ivanka Guarantee. Enjoy your money!

Ms. Trump’s self-professed commitment to corporate gender parity (about as milquetoast as feminism gets, but in Trump’s America, radicalism is relative) was trotted out incessantly during the campaign, especially as an antidote to her father’s self-professed commitment to nonconsensually sticking his hands on women’s genitals.

Yet, in a statement last week, Ms. Trump endorsed the decision to abandon an Obama-era initiative, set to go into effect next spring, requiring federal contractors and companies above a certain size to report salary data. “Ultimately,” Ms. Trump explained, “while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results.”

You’d think that a passionate anti-wage-gap crusader like Ms. Trump would relish a broad, ever-expanding data set illuminating her pet issue so that she could go after it with laser focus, but no. She is even more devoted than that. She hates the gender wage gap so much, she can’t even stand to know anything about it. Some heroes wear capelets.

Real question: Is anyone out there still waiting for Ivanka Trump to come through?

When Donald Trump was elected president last November, his elder daughter was portrayed as liberal America’s consolation prize, like a Christmas present from an absentee dad plunked on the doormat in February. Uh, this is what you Democrats are into, right? Women? Businesswomen? Your little woman projects? That’s still your thing, right?

She has played her role dutifully, pretending to care about women’s upward mobility just enough to soothe the complacent and provide plausible deniability for her father.

And, inexplicably — perhaps because hope has been thin on the ground since November — some people seem to be taken in. If Ms. Trump says she was dismayed by her father’s announced ban on transgender people in the military, well, I guess it’s true. What a nice moderate lady! If Ms. Trump says that America is no place for Nazis and white supremacists, are we going to tell her she’s wrong? She probably just forgot to mention that some of those Nazis and white supremacists were marching in explicit support of her father. That can happen. As a working mom myself, I know it can be hard to keep all these details straight!

The fact is, the only evidence we have of Ms. Trump’s supposed moderating effects and passion for progressive causes is her word. And, unfortunately for the entire planet, the word of a Trump isn’t worth very much.

A real advocate for women’s power and prosperity would be devastated by President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivalsprogram, which will shatter the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrant women and the people who depend on them. A real advocate for women’s autonomy would fight indefatigably for affordable health care and abortion access. A real advocate for women would care about gay women, trans women, black women, Muslim women, Jewish women and all the other women being dehumanized and imperiled by Trumpism’s fetish for calamity. If you are helping only certain women, then you do not actually care about women.

Ivanka Trump is never going to come through. Coming through isn’t her function. She is more a logo than a person, a scarecrow stuffed with branding, an heiress-turned-model-turned-multimillionaire’s-wife playacting as an authority on the challenges facing working women so that she can sell more pastel sheath dresses.

All that aside, even if Ms. Trump does sincerely care about the issues she purports to, the fact remains that her father is a stubborn, intractable toddler. No one has power over him. He doesn’t want to be moderated, even by his daughter.

Recently, in a blistering roast by Sarah Ellison in Vanity Fair, Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were cast as ineffectual dilettantes and Beltway laughingstocks, treating the nation like a vanity project, an ad campaign, a toy. Ms. Ellison wrote, of Ms. Trump, that if “her main value in Washington is her access to her father and she is unable to sway him, then she is simply a 35-year-old former real estate and retail executive in over her head.” Why do we pay her any attention at all?

Stop wondering which of these people will save us and when. There is not going to be a surprise silver lining to the Trump presidency — not from Ivanka Trump, not from Jared Kushner, not from Rex Tillerson, not from John Kelly. This is it. The Trump Doctrine is to say whatever makes you feel good and do whatever makes you the most money. And Ms. Trump isn’t anomalous; she’s emblematic. Don’t waste your time parsing what they say; spend it fighting what they do.

This piece was originally published at the New York Times.

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