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The Imaginary Progressive Donald Trump

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One way of mainstreaming Donald Trump is to pretend that “I don’t think gay people should be subject to mass murder” is some sort of major concession to LGBT rights. Another strategy, which Ivanka Trump used last night, is to just outright lie and suggest that Trump is running on the Democratic platform rather than the Republican one:

And so, Trump continued, her father would “change labor laws that were put in place when women were not a significant portion of the workforce, focus on making quality child-care affordable and accessible for all.”

Trump went on to argue, correctly, that “policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties, they should be the norm” and then claimed that while “politicians talk about wage equality,” her father “has made it a practice his entire career” and promised that Donald “will fight for equal pay for equal work and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him.”

This portion of Ivanka’s speech was beautifully delivered, cogent, and mostly right on the money. It was also, with regard to her father, an enormous crock.

If Ivanka Trump is looking to be part of a two-for-one presidential team that brings our labor, economic, and social policies up to speed regarding women’s participation in the workforce, she should really get on the phone with Hillary Clinton. Clinton is the candidate running on policy proposals that would cap child-care spending at 10 percent of family income, boost pay for child-care workers, implement early childhood home visiting programs. and guarantee paid family leave — the basic building block of humane workplace policy that this country so embarrassingly lacks.

Ivanka certainly shouldn’t cast a vote for her father, a man who has not only shown zero interest in addressing any of the workplace inequities his daughter laid out, but whose campaign rests partly on the premise of returning America to the earlier era Ivanka described, in which women were treated as dependents, not as economic actors or as professionals or as equals in any realm.

In fact, just hours before Trump’s daughter took the stage, his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had given an interview in which he described Trump’s appeal to women lies with fact that “there are many women in this country who feel they can’t afford their lives; their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills.”

This is the Trump’s campaign vision of women — they are wives whose economic concerns extend only to their husband’s earning power.

And if you believe this is some sort of internal dispute — that there is substantive tension between Manafort’s vision and Ivanka’s view, and hers will win out — I would submit that every available piece of evidence supports the fact that Trump himself, and certainly the party he is leading into November, wants to return women to a subservient past, and actively obstruct policies that would better support them, or treat them as fully human.

If not for the recent changes at Salon, I would bet that two recent prep-school dropouts would already have published pieces using Ivanka Trump’s speech as evidence that her father is actually to Clinton’s left.

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