“Every legally cast vote should be counted,” she wrote. “Every illegally cast vote should not. This should not be controversial. This is not a partisan statement — free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy.” It was essentially a more polished, polite way of saying, “DEMOCRATS RIGGED THE ELECTION!!!111 HUNTER BIDEN’S LAPTOP!!!!!”
That’s precisely the position Ivanka has taken up in the Trump administration: Hers is a “polite violence,” as The New Republic called it, a palatable presentation of her father’s most monstrous policies. When she first joined the administration, there was some wishful thinking that Ivanka could act as a “moderating influence” on her father’s inclination toward nationalism and right-wing extremism, perhaps most clearly manifested in executive orders such as the Muslim travel and immigration ban. Ivanka herself cultivated this narrative, promising to focus on “women’s economic empowerment,” job creation, and paid family leave, publicly eschewing hot-button partisan issues.
Pretty soon, though, it became apparent that this was all an act. With her fashion business having fallen apart, Ivanka reimagined her personal brand as being less moderating influence and more MAGA Girl Boss. This is obvious in her election “fraud” tweet, as well as her recent proclamation that she is anti-abortion — definitely a departure from her rhetoric during Trump’s first presidential campaign in 2016, when she tried to get him to soften his attacks on Planned Parenthood.
But, now that her days of working in the White House are numbered and she has to “Find Something New,” what is Ivanka going to do? Will she return to the New York City social scene in which she once held an active role? Will she stay in D.C. and continue to play the political power game? Will she double down on her MAGA rhetoric and enter a totally new arena?
Before joining the White House, Ivanka had a short stint as a model, worked for the Trump Organization, wrote Women Who Work — a sort of “Live Laugh Love” encyclopedia for, um, “women who work” — and launched jewelry and fashion lines that are both now defunct. She also starred as a boardroom judge on her dad’s show The Apprentice. In her social life, she attended galas and fashion shows, cultivated an impressive art collection, and appeared in flattering magazine profiles. (I still, somehow, own a Seventeen magazine from 1997 with a teenage Ivanka on the cover and the coverline “celeb moms & daughters — Tyra! Ivanka! — tell what they share...and what they don’t.”)
Immediately prior to the 2016 election, Ivanka, along with her husband and fellow White House Senior Advisor, Jared Kushner, straddled different elements of New York society, mingling with business, media, and art-world people alike. Most of that social circle, though, has been vehemently anti-Trump for the last four years. But will that mean Ivanka can’t gain re-entry to her former life? There’s definitely hints that she is, at least, trying. ArtNet recently reported that she is “planning a return to New York to resume her art-collecting lifestyle,” and has maintained friendships with wealthy art-world figures while in the White House. In 2017, ArtNet reported that Ivanka and Jared Kushner’s art collection was worth somewhere between $5 and $25 million USD — a pretty vague, but not insignificant number.
It’s hard to say how “accepted” Ivanka will be in these circles now, and whether she will ever enjoy the type of uncomplicated, apolitical popularity she once did. Maybe that’s not what she wants anyway. After spending four years being increasingly political, why stop now? And yet, Ivanka is not known for her right-wing ideological rigour, like Tomi Lahren or Laura Ingraham. Instead, her allegiance seems to be exclusively to building her brand and achieving personal gain. In a recent interview with RealClearPolitics, she called herself “a pragmatist when it comes to everything,” which seems to reinforce this ethos. She has also identified as a “Trump-Republican,” which shows that she values personalities over policy. While her father is in office, her allegiance is to him — once he leaves (and he will leave), her allegiance will be to the persona of Ivanka Trump.
When it comes to her future, it seems her mission statement — whether or not she stays in politics — is, “I, Ivanka Trump, will do everything in my power to stay relevant and famous.” This is why it’s unsurprising that reality shows like Dancing with the Stars are already reportedly knocking on her door, and sources are saying she could easily have a primetime cable show.
This is one possible future we see for Ivanka: doing the foxtrot on Dancing with the Stars, a big book deal, and perhaps a talk show, all as politically milquetoast as can be so that she can put some distance between herself and the extremism of the Trump administration in the coming years. That way, she can rebrand as a “moderate” voice once again, the erstwhile lifestyle and career “expert” she tried to be years ago.
But don’t be fooled: This does not mean Ivanka’s political ambitions are out the window, it just means she is trying to put daylight between what she’s doing now — i.e. defending a soft coup — and her future aspirations. In fact, it will likely be a calculated way to get herself back into the conversation before 2024, since it’s been reported that Ivanka is interested in running for president one day. "She thinks she's going to be president of the United States," a former Trump advisor said, according to tell-all book Kushner, Inc. by Vicky Ward. "She thinks this is like the Kennedys, the Bushes, and now the Trumps."
And once she runs, it will be as a softer, more polite, more palatable version of Donald J. Trump — but likely with the same policies. A reality-TV president who runs on being a business-centric outsider but buys into every whim of the far-right? We’ve seen that one somewhere before.