BY ELLIE LONGMAN-ROOD
On the 8th July 2017 all eyes were on Hamburg for the recent G20 meeting. This year, there was obvious focus on how the US would act at this event. As the discussions unfolded, however, it proved this would not be for reasons that would be favourable with the nation. During the G20 meeting, when President Trump had to step out for a talk with the President of Indonesia, his seat was taken by his daughter, Ivanka Trump. It is important to note that the issue does not lie with President Trump stepping out from the meeting itself. This may well have led to important discussion. However, leaving Ivanka to take his place during this time was an error. One that has unsurprisingly caused widespread controversy. However, in a media cycle that seems to shoot Trump down before he has left the gate, it is important to dig deeper behind the real issues in Ivanka taking her father’s seat at the G20 meeting.
It is extremely hard to ignore the lack of qualifications Ivanka Trump holds to suddenly take the President’s place at G20, even if it was for a small proportion of the meeting. While Ivanka may be highly educated with a degree at the Ivy league University of Pennsylvania, the degree was in business and provided little political knowledge or expertise. Many members of the press present commented on how Ivanka’s lack of knowledge left her unable to make any notable or lasting comments on the current topic of conversation, which was African health and migration. This outlines a key question around the Trump administration. Essentially, a key business mind does not always a politician make.
This opens the door to a much more emotive and moral issue around the seat at G20, and that is respect. Placing his daughter in his seat at G20, who had no political qualifications other than being her father’s advisor in the White House, undermined the meeting and the other world leaders present. To see this all you needed to do was glance at German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s face. A move Trump really cannot afford on an international scale after already removing the United States from the 2015 Paris agreement and his close ties with Russia. It would have been more in President Trump’s favour to play the absence by the book, by placing Vice President Mike Pence in his chair or the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. This would have been the accepted and more traditional response. Granted, the path always taken does not always hold the most virtue. But, we need to ask how many controversial and shocking moves President Trump has left in him before turning the democratic beacon that is America into international politics’ next laughing stock. Essentially, America, and the world, needed Trump to appear productive and respectful at the G20 meeting. Sadly, it was bring your daughter to work day.
However, it is significant to ask if we are really surprised by Trump. After granting Ivanka such a high scale political role, a move we haven’t seen from any other modern US President, was it only a matter of time before we started seeing her at these critical events? If so, how long can we really expect this to be accepted? In a country as fast paced and developed as the United States, we cannot stand and allow this policy of nepotism to lead and dominate the West. As someone who sits more to the right than left on the political spectrum, I have tried to see the logic and rationale behind Trump and his actions. Yet, even for someone who considers themselves right wing, this latest action at G20, proves Trump and his administration is simply stepping more toward ridiculous than justifiable.
So where does this leave us? Is there a way to regain America’s respect on the international stage? I know that I am not alone in believing this is possible. Yet, in the mean time, whether you are a fan of Trump or still standing with her, the promise of making America great again seems to be getting extremely distorted.