It’s been three weeks since Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. The 2016 election made Donnie Junior, Ivanka, and even simple Eric Republican Party superstars, just because of who their father was. But today, they’re learning nepotism’s hardest lesson in real time, which is that your fortunes are irreparably linked to the success of said father.
So when Trump lost his reelection, the biggest losers were actually his three large adult children. Trump may still be a God-like figure in the Republican Party, but just how long that lasts after January 20 is anyone’s guess. For the Trump children’s fortunes, cracks are already starting to show.
Ivanka has been masterful at shaping the narrative. Despite her complete and utter uselessness and inability to control her insane and evil father, she has still been lauded continuously as a “moderating force” despite no evidence supporting this assessment whatsoever.
Ivanka has been able to shape the narrative about herself by using her favorite “a source familiar with Ivanka’s way of thinking” trope. Since daddy’s been in the bunker trying to get Republicans to change the results of the 2020 election for him, a new genre of Ivanka news story has flowered and bloomed—the “will they ever be welcomed back” piece. As in, to New York society.
But unlike some other Ivanka story genres, this is the type of piece the queen of narrative-shaping is clearly not able to shape. CNN ran a piece calling the pair a “once-golden power couple” and “a senior Republican” told CNN, "Wait until they realize no one is taking their calls.” Then The New York Times’ Ginia Bellafante wrote a piece headlined, “Will Manhattan’s Elite Really Spurn Ivanka and Jared (and Their Money?),” which ultimately made the point that if Ivanka is rich enough she can probably come back to New York City. Whether or not this assessment is true (it probably is), it speaks to the fact that Ivanka is no longer controlling the narrative about herself.
Meanwhile, the Trump boys have been busy during this post-election time amplifying their father’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud and dead people voting and anything else they can cook up. Junior was furious that his allegations of voter fraud were “censored” and took to Twitter to whine, “Twitter is censoring and flagging this of course why would we not want to find out if these things exist? If they don’t then we will find nothing and people could maybe regain some faith in the process which doesn’t exist now.” One of Junior’s favorite complaints is that he’s being discriminated against by tech platforms.
And then there’s the RNC. Jim Acosta wrote on CNN.com that "Don Jr. and Kimberly [Guilfoyle, his girlfriend] have an eye on the RNC, through themselves taking over or somebody close to them taking over.” And Politico reported that Guilfoyle, “at one fundraiser, offered a lap dance to the donor who gave the most money.”
Clearly the powers that be were not excited by a Don Junior RNC takeover. Over the weekend, Maggie Haberman wrote in the Times that Ronna McDaniel was using the possibility of a Don Junior RNC as a threat, noting “Most strikingly, she told one party leader that if the committee does not rally to her, she will be succeeded by somebody even closer to the president,” such as Junior or Guilfoyle.”
It sure sounds like the RNC has qualms about being headed by the president’s large adult son. Of course, Junior is unavailable right now; he’s busy quarantining in his cabin. After saying that COVID deaths “were almost nothing” on October 30, he recently tested positive for the virus. Junior posted an Instagram video where he said, “I may have a couple days of solo time and there’s only so many guns I can clean before that gets bored.” I think he means boring but who knows.
And then there’s Eric. Seven days after the election, he tweeted that Minnesota should go out and vote. It was a week after the election. This was obviously a scheduled tweet gone wrong, but when you already look like a moron, such mistakes don’t help your public perception.
As someone who has benefited mightily from nepotism, I can tell you exactly what the problem with nepotism is. You are only as important as the parent you are sucking the fame from. So as my famous parent got less famous, I myself got less and less relevant. This is what happens when you don’t earn your own success. The Trump kids are famous because of their dad’s power, but the further Trump gets from power, the less relevant the Trump kids become. Trump is still a major draw for the millions of people who voted for him and worship him, so his kids still have power with his supporters for now.
But how long this adoration lasts is anyone’s guess, and whether this adoration is enough to sustain an entire ecosystem of grifters is unclear. Will the conservative mailing list grift be enough to pay this family’s ever-mounting legal bills? Will Junior end up doing Holy Land tours and Jesus cruises with Mike Huckabee? Who knows. The point is, they have no standing with their public independent of their father. When he fades, they will too.