Donald Trump not only won the presidential election after many believed he couldn’t, but he won it with very little resources and about 1/2 as much funding as his rival, Hillary Clinton. One of Trump’s key factors in winning the election was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Kushner ran the campaign with a strong focus on social media and the use of micro-targeting data to unify messaging, fundraising and campaign decisions. In otherwords, Kushner ran the campaign like a Silicon Valley start-up. Kushner is a young, bright businessman and will be a strong influence on President-elect Trump for at least his next 4 years in office.
Trump’s campaign had no money, no people, organizational structure, but they won! Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, can take most of the credit for the win! In fact, if you didn’t know any better, you might think Kushner’s past sounds eerily similar to Trump’s or Ivanka’s.
Like Trump, Kushner grew up outside Manhattan: New Jersey in Kushner’s case, versus Trump’s Queens. Also like Trump, Kushner is the son of a man who created a real estate empire in his local market–Charles Kushner eventually controlled 25,000 apartments across the Northeast–and steeped his children in the family business. “My father never really believed in summer camp, so we’d come with him to the office,” Kushner says. “We’d go look at jobs, work on construction sites. It taught us real work.” Raised with three siblings in an observant Jewish home in Livingston, New Jersey, Kushner went to a private Jewish high school and then to Harvard (a 2006 book about college admissions would later single out Kushner as a prime example of how children of wealthy donors get preferential treatment; administrators quoted within that work later challenged its accuracy, calling it “distorted” and “false”). Next came New York University, for a joint J.D. and M.B.A.
During grad school Kushner interned for Manhattan’s longtime district attorney, Robert Morgenthau, before a family scandal upended his life. In 2004 Charles Kushner pleaded guilty to tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering.
Just 24, Jared, as the elder son, suddenly found himself charged with keeping the family together. He saw his mother most days and flew to Alabama to visit his father in prison on most weekends. He also developed a deeper bond with his brother, Josh, who had just started Harvard when the scandal broke.
“The whole thing taught me not to worry about the things you can’t control,” Kushner says. “You can control how you react and can try to make things happen as you want them to. I focus on doing my best to ensure the outcomes. And when it doesn’t go my way I have to work harder the next time.”
That applied to the family business, too, which Kushner now led. To start fresh, he took aim at Manhattan, just as Trump did 40 years before, determined to play in America’s most lucrative and competitive real estate market.
PART OF THE REASON Jared Kushner has engendered such public interest, besides the power he suddenly wields and the curiosity generated by his near-invisible media presence, is the paradoxes that he represents.
He brought the Silicon Valley ethos, which values openness and inclusiveness, to a campaign that promised closed borders, trade protection and religious exclusion. He is the scion of prodigious Democratic donors yet steered a Republican presidential campaign. A grandson of Holocaust survivors who serves a man who has advocated a ban on war refugees. A fact-driven lawyer whose chosen candidate called global warming a hoax, linked vaccines to autism and challenged President Obama’s citizenship. A media mogul in a campaign stoked by fake news. A devout Jew advising a president-elect embraced by the alt-right and supported by the KKK.
Kushner’s answers to these conflicts come down to one core conviction–his unflagging faith in Donald Trump. A faith that, ironically, given his role in the campaign, he defends with the “data” he’s accumulated about the man over a decade-plus relationship.
It’s unlikely that he can hold a formal position in the Trump White House. Nepotism laws established after President Kennedy made brother Bobby attorney general bar the president from giving government roles to relatives–including in-laws. Reports have stated that the administration is exploring every legal angle to get Kushner into the West Wing–including adding him as an unpaid advisor, though even that may be covered by the law, which was written to ensure fealty to the Constitution rather than the individual.
The bottomline is, Kushner will be a significant factor in the Trump administration, maybe not formally but certainly informally. Jared Kushner played a key role in getting Donald Trump elected as our next president using his bright, innovative and successful business skills intertwined with data-driven decisions and the use of social media marketing. You can be sure, Kushner will continue to use these same skills when it comes to giving advise to America’s future president Donald Trump.
And wouldn’t it be nice to see, especially when it comes to America’s budget, that Trump’s administration would focus on Kushner’s “maximizing the return for every dollar spent”? What a fresh idea!
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