Michelle Obama vs. Melania Trump: Why the Current First Lady Hasn’t Stepped Into Her Role
From the moment President Donald Trump announced his intent to run for office, his wife, Melania Trump, has been an in and out presence on the campaign trail and now in her role as first lady. While former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama made massive strides for things like healthcare and wellness, the current first lady has done little more than making a few speeches and a couple of Easter egg hunts.
As her husband’s administration gets more tumultuous each day, it looks like the first lady is retreating into the background, leaving a role that she advocated for empty and untended. Why hasn’t Mrs. Trump stepped into the role she campaigned for?
Doing the job
Though it’s an unpaid role, being the first lady is a role that Mrs. Turmp advocated for. On the campaign trail, she told us, “Donald is a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. [He] is compassionate, thoughtful and giving. We need you, the voter, to go out and vote. We also ask you to bring your family, friends, neighbors to vote for President Donald Trump.”
Now that her husband is in the White House and shes got that coveted role of the first lady, she’s hiding out a Mar-a-Logo, canceling appearances, and even taking separate cars to various events.
Next: Running for cover
Hiding in the background
Ever since news broke that the president had an alleged affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels, the first lady has been scarcely seen. Obviously humiliated by the story, her spokesperson has often proclaimed that Mrs. Trump is focused on “being a mom.”
That’s all well and good, but being the first lady means you have to juggle motherhood with the other responsibilities. In an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, journalist Dahleen Glanton explained,
The American people deserve a first lady who sets an example as a strong woman able to tackle adversity head-on, not one who runs for cover and acts like a victim when the spotlight gets too hot. We want our first ladies to be determined, focused and committed to a cause, whether we agree with that cause or not. Sure, we like talking about the clothes she wears in public but it’s her work promoting the values she stands for that endears her to our hearts.
Next: Empty speeches
Stand for something
Though the first lady has stated that she is an advocate for countering cyberbullying;,she hasn’t done much to begin combating it. She is in no way responsible for her husband’s speech or social media pronouncements, speaking at a conference here and there is not helping anything.
As Glanton suggests, “The first lady has an opportunity to force social media companies to become better watchdogs against online harassment, encourage schools to adopt strong anti-bullying policies and take a more hands-on approach in creating programs that promote self-esteem as a means of standing up to bullies.”
Next: Standing for something
Knowing your role
For former first lady Michelle Obama who boasts two Ivy League degrees and a hefty resume full of executive positions, she knew that she had to find what she was most passionate about, and make it fit into the overall goals of the Obama Administration.
At an event hosted by BET’s CEO, Debra Lee called Leading Women Defined and moderated by former presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett, Michelle Obama advised, “Take some time to know what you care about and what you can do in the realm of the administration. You have to know what the goals of the administration are.”
Next: Leaning into the role
Learning to deliver a message
Michelle Obama talked about how she had to learn to speak to the masses on former President Barack Obama’s campaign trail. This meant she often couldn’t be as passionate as she wanted for fear that the media would suggest she was angry or scolding.
She explained, “I couldn’t count on my husband’s campaign to protect me; I had to protect myself. They were using me like I was a candidate and supporting me like I was a spouse. I had to learn how to deliver a message.”
Next: Getting the public’s attention
Gaining the public’s trust
Whether you agreed with the Obama Administration’s policies or not, the former first lady could always be counted on to add some intelligent commentary. However, before she could extend her wealth of knowledge to the country’s citizens, she had to gain the public’s trust.
In order to do so, she built a garden. She recalled, “The garden was a subversive act. It was the carrot. You can’t go in with guns blazing until people trust you.”
Next: Standing for women
Being your own leader
Many of the criticisms about the Trump Administration has been its treatment of women. From throwing out protections for women in the workplaces and on college campuses to the number of sexual assault allegations against the president, the issues are endless.
Without naming names, the former first lady urged women to continue to make strides and speak up for themselves. After all, she explained, “If we can’t advocate for ourselves, how do we pick a president who will advocate for us?”
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