Not Ivanka or Don Jr, Barron has the best chance of advancing the Trump political dynasty
Trump's 2020 re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale has pegged the family as a political movement with the potential of transforming the Republican Party, and the president's 13-year-old son may play a key role
Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump's disruptive 2016 victory was unprecedented for a political outsider and sent shockwaves across the Washington establishment.
Now, Brad Parscale, manager of Trump's 2020 re-election campaign, has said the Trump family represents a political movement with the potential of transforming the Republican Party entirely. "I just think they're a dynasty," Parscale recently told reporters at the fall convention of the California Republican Party. “I think you see that from Don Jr. I think you see that from Ivanka. You see it from Jared. You see it from all.”
But are Trump's children 'Trump' enough to secure the highest office of the country and, by extension, build a political dynasty?
"Family dynasties are very rare in American politics, and those options were dismissed by voters twice in the last presidential election cycle," Stephen Farnsworth, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Mary Washington, told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).
"The unpopularity of George W. Bush at the end of his presidency made it nearly impossible for his brother to win the Republican nomination eight years later," he explained. "And the failure of Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 presidential election 16 years after her husband left office do not suggest that either party would be wise to encourage dynastic succession."
Moreover, "American presidential politics is the story of change," Professor Farnsworth added. "Presidents often win elections because they are notably different from the president before them."
According to him, Trump channeled the anger of many voters in 2016, while Obama never could connect all that well with white working-class voters. But Obama himself represented an optimistic and hopeful choice for change as he followed the war-weary presidency of George W. Bush.
"My guess is that the Trump children will have a hard time following their father – even the 16 year gap between the Bill Clinton presidency and the Hillary Clinton campaign was not enough separation, as her campaign was dogged by the allegations against Bill Clinton in the 1990s," he said.
When it comes to the prospects of Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka becoming the first female POTUS, the chances are thin, Dr. Mark Caleb Smith, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Political Science at Cedarville University, told MEAWW.
"First, there is the perception, fair or not, that whatever political presence she has is not because of her ability or talent, but her proximity to a powerful man--in this case, her father," he said, likening them to criticisms of Hillary Clinton in 2008 and in 2016. "Unless Ivanka Trump branches into a bigger, more independent role, she would not have strong credentials for a presidential candidate."
According to him, Ivanka does not necessarily have the same talents or appeal of her father. President Trump is bombastic, seeks conflict with his rivals, and courts controversy to distinguish himself from others. This has created, among Republicans, a serious amount of loyalty to Trump himself.
Meanwhile, Don Jr. seems to cultivate this image, appearing more and more like his father every day. He uses social media in a combative way, has cultivated extensive connections to conservative news outlets, and seems to appeal to voters, at least superficially, in a similar way as his father, Dr. Smith noted.
But this may work against him as his father has already created a fair bit of "Trump fatigue", the professor said, predicting that the "constant churning and drama surrounding the White House will likely wear on voters--even supporters."
"Signing up for more years of that, especially if there are quality alternatives, may be too much to ask of Republican voters in 2024," Dr. Smith added, thereby deeming it unlikely that either Ivanka or Don Jr. would secure the nomination in the short term.
In such a situation, some passage of time may help the family's political prospects -- and Barron Trump is probably in the best position to benefir from it.
Barron "would not be overtly connected to his father's presidency since he will be a child or young adult throughout this Trump Administration," according to Dr. Smith.
"He would gain some of the benefits of the family name but not the baggage, whatever that may be, of the politics," he continued. "If he carefully cultivated his image, achieved success at lower levels of office, and developed the needed political skills, he may have very good political opportunities."
However, one cannot ignore the fact that the 13-year-old Trump scion is "an unknown quantity," according to Michael A. Genovese, President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.
"What will we remember of the Trump presidency thirty years from now? Will he be tainted by that association? Will he be interested in a career in public affairs, or will he shun the spotlight?" Genovese told MEAWW.
That said, a democracy does not gravitate toward inherited power. As Dr. Smith puts it, there is an "inherent distrust of aristocracy" in the current political zeitgeist.
"Americans often are suspicious of those who seem entitled to power," the professor noted. "We, the people, choose our leaders. The biggest variable in all of this is that the voters just may not like the son or daughter as much as they liked the father. Even small differences are enough to lose close elections."