I’m sure we’d all agree how important family is to ensuring harmony within our everyday lives. The same, it would seem, applies to the Trumps.
Having said that, family harmony is never a given. No matter our good intentions, it can be an ongoing struggle to maintain a simmering boil among conflicting personalities. For some, it’s a welcome challenge; for others, like me, it can be toxic, even corrosive.
For many years now, I’ve enjoyed reading about the lives of others. Biographies allow me to step inside another’s journey in an effort to make sense of my own. Knowing the back story has also enhanced my understanding of the person whose life is under the microscope. Oftentimes, I come away feeling some measure of compassion.
Prior to the presidential election I read books written about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I learned details about them which impacted my vote. As with other biographies, I was particularly interested in their familial relationships. What effect did their parents have on their evolution as adults? What values, if any, were instilled in them at a young age? And how did they impact who they are today?
In some ways, Hillary’s middle-class life was something with which I could identify. Education and hard work were just as important in my life, even though the death of my father when I was one meant our family lived from meager paycheck to meager paycheck. With the help of Catholic nuns at the orphanage where my mom worked, we survived…just.
Hillary’s mom was farmed out to relatives at a young age. Through grit and determination she survived. The kindness of a teacher who, for a year, shared her lunch with the poverty-stricken youngster had a lasting impression. One that Hillary made a point to “pay forward.” During college she began the journey which would become her life long passion…helping others in need.
Hillary’s dad was a task master. Where her mom shrank from his bullying tactics, Hillary thrived. A talent that served her well as she wend her way through hostile territory…a world that catered to white men.
Trump learned that the world was a “dog eat dog” world from his father. But for the fact that Trump admired her for being a happy housewife, there’s little reference to his mother. While his dad taught him the value of a buck, Trump learned his hardcore values from others…the military school to which his father sent him to be disciplined, and Harry Cohn, the tough lawyer who ran legal interference for the mob. Trump likened Cohn to a surrogate father.
Although I was able to understand the trajectory of both their lives, I could more readily accept the unfolding of Hillary’s, including the flaws.
On the other hand Trump’s life remains an enigma, despite my knowing the facts. I can only surmise that his narrow purview of the world beyond Trump Tower is owing to his isolation, both physically and mentally.
Education, whether formal or informal, is the hallmark of smart decision-making.
Hillary is a product of all she gleaned from Wellesley. More than that, however, her college degree was a starting point from which she launched her broader education into the world at large. She never stopped learning and changing, without sacrificing her core principles based upon uplifting the downtrodden.
It’s obvious that Trump thinks little of educating himself, instead preferring to rely upon others for his “alternative facts.” Because of this he wallows in conspiracy theories. Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon gained valuable access to Trump because of this. Together, they are conspiring to reinvigorate the white man’s standard “make America great again.”
By example, we learn the act of living from our families. We needn’t adopt everything without question. Our lives are clean slates upon which we can write our own stories. The decision is ours.
In observing Trump’s family, it’s apparent they defer to him. Melania is Trump’s ideal woman…a happy housewife. According to him, his first wife Ivana’s growing business involvement contributed to his divorcing her.
It’s common knowledge that Trump had no hand in raising his children until they were of an age to learn about the family business. One has to wonder about the values they absorbed over the course of their lives. With the acquisition of wealth being their father’s singular focus, not to mention their having been raised by a single mother whose well being, and theirs, depended upon the beneficence of her husband, money must have been of major concern. Especially given the life style to which they’d become accustomed.
The Trump children have access to all the material pleasures their father’s empire, and now his presidential power, can afford them. Unfortunately, because of their public deference to him in all things, they, and Melania, will suffer the same pushback Trump receives from a less than adoring public. Those who will be affected the most because of their daily interaction with schoolmates are…son Baron and Trump’s grandchildren.
Does Trump care?
Will Melania, Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric confront Trump’s bullying to ensure that their own children do not inherit his destructive propensities and are, instead, instilled with indestructible moral compasses? Or will the Trump legacy continue to be one of self-aggrandizement, immorality and bald-faced lies?
…family toxicity at the presidential level.