On Monday, the White House announced its list of official State of the Union guests: 13 Americans who serve as in-person surrogates for the president’s policy agendas. The youngest of the bunch, 11-year-old Joshua Trump, received a plus-one from the First Lady because, as the White House states, “Joshua has been bullied in school due to his last name.”
The invitation of Joshua Trump is the latest initiative of Melania Trump’s Be Best campaign, in which the First Lady “encourage[s] everyone to be kind to each other and treat each other with respect in everyday life and on social media.” Trump certainly empathizes with the sixth-grader from Wilmington, Delaware: In October, four months after visiting detained children wearing the “I don’t really care, do you?” jacket, she told ABC News that she believes she is “the most bullied person on the world.”
Joshua Trump, who “loves animals and hopes to pursue a related career in the future,” is a child in a tough spot, one of a reported 4,788 Americans living with an unfortunate surname in a highly polarized political moment. In December, Joshua reportedly stopped using his last name at school, and his parents homeschooled him at one point because of his classmates’ bullying.
Since its announcement in May 2018, Melania Trump’s signature anti-bullying measure has been known more for its gaffes than its policy achievements, from its stock-font logo, to its questionable grammar, to Melania’s Be Best trip to Nairobi in which she wore a pith helmet reminiscent of British colonizers. (Not to mention the fact that her husband uses the mantle of the presidency — frequently, if not primarily — to make fun of people online.) But the SOTU invitation does clarify her anti-bullying initiative: The First Lady wants Americans to stop being mean to everyone named Trump.