Most first ladies tend to pick one or two causes to focus their work on during their husbands’ presidencies. Michelle Obama encouraged healthy eating
in school cafeterias; Hillary Clinton worked on health care and preserving historic sites, documents and objects; Betty Ford addressed the stigma of alcoholism and having equal opportunities for women. Now, First Lady Melania Trump is setting her focus on an anti- bullying initiative.
Melania has been the butt of several jokes over the course of Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency, from their awkward handshake when she introduced him at an event to when she seemingly plagiarized parts of a speech from Michelle Obama. It seems fitting that she choose a correlating issue as one of her first-lady initiatives.
As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, Melania visited a middle school in Michigan alongside Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to speak to students on Oct. 23, according to The Washington Post. There, she spoke to a class of sixth graders about the importance of respect, kindness and including others; according to a statement released by the White House, she also visited with seventh and eighth graders in the cafeteria to emphasize the idea that “No One Eats Alone,”encouraging students to sit with new friends during lunch.
The issue is something that Melania promised to tackle while on the campaign trail and she’s finally starting to get the initiative up and running. This is much unlike her husband, who made promise after promise while campaigning yet seems to have only racked up a number of failed attempts at following through on said policy proposals. Of course, it is Congress’ responsibility to create the legislation, however President Trump’s party makes up the majority of Congress but we can save that discussion for another time.
At the same time, there are some peculiarities about Melania’s visit with the middle schoolers. As reported by USA Today, the statement about her trip wasn’t released until after she had already left Washington, D.C. and only a small number of reporters followed her and DeVos.
The “No One Eats Alone” campaign that Melania spoke of is also an already-established one by the student-led organization Beyond Differences, whose focus is on ending social isolation.
One would think that Melania would want more than just a few reporters following her as she kickstarts her campaign against bullying, not to mention the fact that the Trump family seems to love media attention. Her emphasis on the “No One Eats Alone” concept, though she didn’t claim that it was her own idea, also couldn’t help but give me flashbacks to the Michelle Obama plagiarism incident.
There’s also a glaring amount of irony in Melania choosing such an initiative: she’s married to the biggest bully in the United States. Though it’s political in nature for opposing politicians to speak condescendingly towards one another or be somewhat less than polite, President Trump has taken this to a whole other level. From giving his political opponents nicknames such as “Crooked Hillary [Clinton]” and “Pocahontas” (for Elizabeth Warren), to referring to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” and bullying the NFL on Twitter, the president has a habit of belittling those around him.
At the end of the day, I’m in full support of Melania’s cause as First Lady; I believe that despite schools’ individual efforts to enforce anti-bullying programs, a nationwide initiative is needed for true change. However, I strongly advise that she first try to fight the bullying coming out of the Oval Office.