Jared Kushner, born in 1981, is an unusual historical example of a Millennial with great power in the national government and State Department, similar to dictator’s sons in autocratic countries. President Donald Trump put his multi-millionaire son-in-law in charge of Middle East peace as his senior advisor, gave him State Department tasks such as organizing the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping or visiting Iraq even before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and reorganizing the federal government as an efficient business. Called the Shadow Secretary of State, real estate magnate Kushner has a law degree and MBA, but no training in any of government areas except his Harvard undergraduate degree in government. A Democrat, he had no campaign experience before Trump’s run for the presidency. Kushner competes with advisor Stephen Bannon for influence with the president, supposedly planting anti-Bannon on TV shows watched by the president. Kushner opposed the Muslim travel ban, removing environmental regulation, and access to bathrooms for transgender students and favored more intervention in the Middle East. These conflicts led Bannon to complain to Kushner, “Here’s the reason there’s no middle ground. You’re a Democrat.” [i]Commentators note that Trump’s worst mistakes happen when Kushner is away or observing Jewish Sabbath and that Kushner is his most trusted advisor, but Trump had a rocky start as president.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, also born in 1981 like her husband, also has influence on her father with the title of “Special Assistant to the President.” She spoke out in a restrained way for women’s and family issues, saying she wants to be a force for good. Social media in China refers to her as a goddess and follows her self-help guides; business woman Li Moya, 31, reported, “A lot of people think Ivanka is the real president. We think she has the brains, not her father.”[ii]
[i] Maggie Haberman and Jeremy Peters, “In Battle for Trump’s Heart and Mind, It’s Bannon vs. Kushner,” New York Times, April 6, 2017
[ii] Javier Hernandez, “The ‘Goddess’ Yi Wan Ka: ivanka Trump is a Hit in China,” New York Times, April 5, 2017.