Since the election of Joe Biden last November to his inauguration in January, much focus has been put on the change in position of the First Lady. Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, has made it clear that she intends to change the pace of the role of the First Lady in American culture and politics, spear-heading a drastic change of that role from the last four years.
Melania Trump’s Role as First Lady
It’s no secret that during former President Trump’s term in office Melania was all but a ghost to the political world — making few statements, political appearances and starting few initiatives. The highlight of her time as First Lady was the Be Best campaign, started by the Trump administration in 2018, which aimed to combat mental health issues, cyberbullying, and drug use among America’s youth.
Outside of that forward-moving campaign, Melania Trump was more known for her controversies as First Lady, mainly surrounding accusations of plagiarism. In 2016, during her speech at the RNC, she blatantly plagiarized Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC speech. In 2018, during the launch of the Be Best campaign, Melania Trump was re-accused of plagiarism, this time taking influence from the FTC booklet written during the Obama administration in 2014 and re-released with minor adjustments in 2018.
But one of the more controversial choices Melania Trump made was on her trip in 2018 to McAllen, Texas to visit the center of family separation at the southern border. She wore a jacket with bold text written on the back reading “I really don’t care. Do U?” Although conservative media outlets backed her personnel’s claim that it was simply a jacket with no context to the situation, left-leaning outlets connected it to her trip, claiming she made a mockery of the serious and already controversial situation she was visiting.
In her final weeks as First Lady, Melania Trump came under fire for not inviting incoming First Lady Biden to the White House for a meeting, a standard tradition among First Ladies. That opportunity came and went, and as Joe Biden took office, Jill Biden went right to work.
Jill Biden’s Newfound Role as First Lady
From what we’ve seen so far, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden intends to shift gears in the role of the First Lady as fast as possible. Biden intends to be active, visible, and mission-oriented. Before she became an active First Lady, Dr. Biden made her priorities clear — to work with military families, cancer patients, and education in America.
Coming from her background in the latter, she got right to work by meeting with President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education, hosting leaders of teaching unions at the White House and met electronically with roughly 11,000 American educators. She even plans to keep her role as a professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
Another early priority for Dr. Biden was to reignite the Joining Forces initiative that she had a hand in creating in her time as Second Lady during the Obama administration. Joining Forces aims to support active-duty military members, military families, and veterans. This mission became more personal to Biden as photos of National Guard troops sleeping in a garage circulated following President Biden’s inauguration. Dr. Biden made a surprise trip to visit some of these troops, bringing them cookies and thanking them for their service as well as for keeping the Bidens safe during the inauguration.
To top off her early priorities, Dr. Biden has worked closely with Kim Thiboldeaux, head of the Cancer Support Community. Dr. Biden has taken a keen interest in cancer patients, writing notes to many with words of encouragement, especially as they live through the COVID-19 pandemic which has been a stressor on the medical industry for nearly a year.
Among what’s been mentioned so far here, it is clear that First Lady Dr. Jill Biden intends to be more visible throughout this process as well. She mirrors her husband in his mission to bring normalcy back to American politics, following the decided lack of in the Trump administration. In only her first few weeks, she’s made that mission real and her actions have provided insight toward her showing America, especially women, that there is quite a bit of good that one woman can do when she has the right mindset and motivation.