While many aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency undermine the sanctity of the office, nepotism is nothing new in American politics. From the country’s earliest years to modern day, presidents have involved family members in their campaigns and administrations. But just because it was commonplace doesn’t imply that it was widely accepted, then or now. In 1967, the Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute was introduced to stifle the practice. While the statue has been referenced, especially recently, the important distinction to note between the past and present is that Trump’s nepotism is made unique by his family being utterly unqualified for the positions they hold.
Nepotism began with our founding fathers, repeatedly invoked with underlying nostalgia for a time where politics was seemingly simpler. In 1797, incoming President John Adams appointed his son, John Quincy Adams, to be United States minister to Prussia. While at the time this decision was criticized, Quincy Adams had already served as minister to several countries under President Washington, and was an experienced and respected diplomat by the time of his own father’s presidency. Less than 200 years later in 1961, nepotism remained a part of the presidency. When John F. Kennedy became president and appointed his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, to U.S Attorney General, there was similar uproar to the Quincy Adams appointment, ultimately resulting in the aforementioned statute.
Often connected to Kennedy’s employment, the statute was introduced in 1967 to address nepotism in American politics. According to the “employment of relative – restrictions” code, “a public official may not appoint, employ, promote … to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving … any individual who is a relative of the public official.” While Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner aren’t technically paid in monetary sums — which is the argument for why the statue doesn’t apply — they are nevertheless ill-equipped to take on the role of adviser and senior adviser and undoubtedly profiting in other ways from their positions.
By placing unqualified relatives in some of the nation’s most important positions, Donald Trump has put our country in danger and allowed his family and friends to profit off the White House, showing us the dangers of nepotism.