There is no question that President Donald Trump is a loyal family man, but his supporters voted for him and his platform – not his family members. As the Trump clan appear to gain more influence within the administration, the President risks cultivating considerable skepticism among many – especially those conservatives who are suspicious of the liberal tendencies of certain prominent Trump figures.
The president is often referred to as a populist. His apparent lack of political ideology and his unconventional approach to governing made him an attractive alternative to both his Republican primary opponents and his eventual Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Those traits followed him into the White House and have unsettled certain members of both parties. He is truly unique, among modern presidents.
One of Trump’s more popular pledges was that he would surround himself with people who were the best qualified to carry out the tasks appointed them. By and large, he has done so but a perception is developing that loyalty to family may be dictating his allocation of power at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Daughter Ivanka Trump now has an office in the White House, and she is known as a successful and confident liberal-leaning character. Her husband, Jared Kushner, has accumulated an array of portfolios within the administration, despite having no experience in such matters. Kushner, like his wife, has political leanings that have historically been more liberal than conservative.
According to a BBC report, Kushner acts as a senior advisor to the president and “has been tasked with no less a challenge than resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The report also describes him as the president’s “lead advisor” on relations with China, Canada, and Mexico, as well as “leading a bureaucracy-busting White House office whose ambitious remit ranges from reforming veterans’ care to combating US opioid abuse.”
That is a daunting range of responsibilities for anyone, let alone a young man with no political or diplomatic experience.
To date, there is nothing more than speculation, with regard to how much the president’s decisions are guided by his children or by Kushner, but certain conservative policies that once featured prominently have been slow to develop, if they have begun to develop at all. Obamacare has yet to be repealed; tax reform has barely entered the discussion phase and the famous – or infamous – “great, great wall” along the southern border has not yet been fully planned, much less constructed.
Trump’s opponents on the right conveniently ignore his assault upon government regulation, his moves toward the downsizing of central government and the progress he has already made against illegal immigration. Additionally, his first Supreme Court nominee – a selection warmly welcomed by conservatives – is now an Associate Justice. Less than 90 days into his presidency – and with almost no action, on the part of congressional Republicans – Trump has made a decent start.
In other areas, the Trump agenda has departed, somewhat, from what had been advertised; no plan for the destruction of ISIS has been formulated, and federal spending does not appear to be facing anything close to the scale of reductions necessary to keep deficits – and the national debt – under control.
Although none of these issues can be directly tied to the Trump family’s influence over policy, perception is everything. Trump advisor Steve Bannon has, reportedly, been weakened as a result of clashes with the president’s son-in-law and rumors swirl that Reince Priebus may also be on shaky ground. Conservatives who distrust the president see a policy agenda unfulfilled and an apparent power struggle, within Trump’s inner circle, between the rightwing politicos and the president’s own family members.
Jared Kushner is a man who, thus far, has avoided the limelight but – at some point – he will have to take responsibility for failures, or successes, in the policy areas now under his influence. The rise or fall of his fortunes as a close confidante of the president will tell us all we need to know about how Donald Trump will square America’s interests with his loyalty to family.