On the 20th January 2017 Donald Trump will officially become the 45th President of the United States (US). On that date, another title will be bestowed upon someone else; that being Melania Trump, who will become the First Lady. What I would like to know is, what type of First Lady will she be and how will she compare with First Ladies in the past? Let us proceed.
The position of First Lady
The position of the First Lady is not an elected one and only carries #ceremonial duties. She is seen on the whole as a host, an advisor and plays a key role in social activism.
It is important to note that since 1789, as reported on the Britannica website, "the role of the First Lady has changed considerably". In the modern era, First Ladies tend to get involved in political campaigns, promote #social causes and often represent the President at official ceremonies. However, despite this, the role of the First Lady has never been officially codified or defined.
A look to the past
However it is important to note that not all First Ladies have acted the same in their role as First Lady. In focusing only on the post-World War II period, there are some who have taken a very active role. One was Pat Nixon, the wife of Richard M. Nixon. As first lady she travelled "thousands of miles" according to the Britannica website, "giving speeches" and "greeting potential voters". In addition to inviting groups to the White House who had previously not been invited, long after she returned to private life she was named as one of the most-admired American women.
Another example is that of Nancy Raegan. Although admitting that she had "little influence" on her husband's decisions, the New York Times wrote that she "expanded the job of the First Lady". She was credited for influencing personnel decisions as well as setting her husband's travel schedule and #shaping his agenda.
There are those who have gone against their husbands whilst in the role, as was the case of Betty Ford, the wife of Gerard R. Ford. It was noted that during a press conference not too long after becoming First Lady, she openly expressed opinions that differed from her husband's on several important issues, namely that of abortion. This was also the case with Laura Welch Bush, who disagreed with her husband's (George W. Bush) position on the legality of abortion. There were those who were extremely popular as First Lady, that including Barbara Bush, the wife of George Bush Senior, who was "enormously popular" for her personal style. There were also those whose position was more withdrawn, an example being that of Mamie Eisenhower, the wife of Dwight D.
Eisenhower. It was claimed that she "did not significantly change the role of First Lady". Her press conferences were limited to social matters, she refused to take sides in the 1952 election and promoted a more "down-to-earth" style.
And now Melania
But despite all this, the question remains as to what role and position Melania Trump will take as First Lady? As the Telegraph newspaper noted, in being "accomplished", it is hoped that Melania can "shine a positive light" on her husband, Donald. The Telegraph stated that she has been portrayed as an "elegant businesswoman", destined to be "the perfect First Lady". But it has also been noted that Melania is known to be "happier on the sidelines" and "shies away" from the spotlight. Despite this, she has been described as being "devoted to her husband" and would do "whatever was necessary to help him".
However well or bad her husband does as President, I am sure time will tell how well Melania does. She can look to the past for inspiration and can put her own stamp on the position. It is hoped that she can be a positive force as First Lady and help her husband in any way that she can.