JD Vance: Pat Buchanan’s heir

JD Vance (Vance campaign photo)

Let me start by saying that this blog is a blog by JD Vance stan. While nothing in this article is to be taken as an endorsement – TAC doesn’t do approvals – JD is my friend, I admire him, and if he showed up in Louisiana I would vote for him twice (and this being Louisiana, I could!). If you’re going to critique him in the comments section, of course I will – he’s a politician, after all – but be aware that there is a limit to my patience with what the critics say about him. My point is, try to avoid ad hominem. No one likes to hear their personal friends harshly criticized. Remember, there is a human being who moderates comments – a human who recognizes their professional obligation to let the commenters have their say, but also has a limited ability to stay tuned while their friend is. calumny.

Now to business. the Washington post has a big song about “JD Vance radicalization.” The reporter told me about it for about an hour some time ago. Although he only used a comment or two from me, and although it is very frustrating not to see all the positive things I have said about JD and his character, he does quoted me quite a bit. Either way, here’s the gist of the piece:

The beard is not a bad symbol for Vance’s campaign in the US Senate – or at least for the way this campaign is received. Much of the talk around racing centers around the idea that Vance is a modified or fraudulent person. Five years ago, Vance eloquently deciphered Donald Trump’s supporters for liberal elites, while lamenting the rise of Trump himself. Vance, whose mother is a recovering heroin user, has likened Trump to an opioid, calling it an “easy escape from the pain.” Now, since his race was announced, he’s turned on Trump and adopted a belligerent character at odds with the sensitive, bookish JD of his memoir. On Veterans Day, 48 hours after the Steubenville event, Vance tweeted that LeBron James – from Akron, Ohio – is “one of our nation’s most despicable public figures.” (James had joked that Kenosha, Wisconsin shooter Kyle Rittenhouse “ate lemon heads” before crying at the stand during his trial.) Watching Vance’s campaign, I felt him strain to deliver his arguments in a register of anger. It wasn’t just that the steel jobs had been offshored; they have been subcontracted by “idiots” in Washington, to countries which “hate us”.

Comments on Vance from Never-Trumpers and Liberals tend to be personally upset with his changing image. …

The reporter asked me about it. I don’t remember exactly what I told him – we spoke weeks ago as I was driving home from Birmingham – I’m pretty sure I explained JD’s change by citing The Great Awakening. You see, I completely reject the thesis that JD has become combative in trying to win the job. What people who say this conveniently ignore is the left’s hysterical reaction to Trump and how, during the four years of his presidency, the awakening has taken control of the heights of American institutions. Believe me, in 2016 I was much closer to JD Vance’s 2016 take on Trump than I am today … in which I still don’t care about Trump, but I do. far more concerned with the soft-totalitarian left. The Liberals and the Never Trumpers are so obsessed with Trump as a unique threat that they ignore what many of us see.

To his credit, the To post Journalist Simon van Zuylen-Wood understands what escapes Vance’s criticism:

The changes at the surface are indeed striking. Still, the more I looked at it, the more it seemed to me that the canon emerging from the “what happened to JD Vance” comment missed the point. Vance’s new political identity is not so much a facade or a reversal as it is an expression of an alienated worldview that is, in fact, consistent with his life story. And now there is an ideological focus for this worldview: Vance has become one of the main political avatars of an emerging populist intellectual persuasion that is shifting right on culture and left on economy. Known as national conservatism or sometimes “post-liberalism,” he is – broadly speaking – strongly Catholic, definitely anti-awakening, skeptical of big business, nationalist of trade and borders. , and flirting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. In Congress, his presence is minimal – represented mainly by the Senses. Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio – but on Fox News she has a champion in Tucker Carlson, on which Vance is a regular guest. And while the movement’s philosophers-kings spend a lot of time arguing online for internal schisms, the project is driven by a very real political gamble: As progressives weaken the Democratic Party with unpopular cultural attitudes, the right may s ‘engulf and eliminate the multiracial. working class voters.

Yeah. JD Vance is not a hypocrite. He has learned a valuable lesson from the past five years. His view of the political world is, as the article says, coherent and part of a larger right-wing reaction. More from the Post piece (emphasis mine):

Vance’s Senate race is an almost perfect test of these ideas as Republican primary frontrunner, former state treasurer and tea maker Josh Mandel – who, according to a recent poll, is ahead of Vance by 6 points – is the traditional conservative candidate. tax cutters. To those watching the Vance-Mandel slugfest from a distance, it may sound like two contestants trying to spill over to the right; but the cracks between them are deep. The Club for Growth, known for its free market fanaticism, supports Mandel and has spent around $ 1.5 million on anti-Vance advertising. A TV spot highlights a tweet in which Vance says he “loved @MittRomney’s anti-Trump screed.” The narrator does not dwell on the rest of the message, which reads: “Too bad the party does anything but admit that the tax cuts on the supply side do nothing for its constituents.” Before Vance deleted his old anti-Trump tweets, he tended to attack Trump for abandoning his stated commitment to economic populism. In a 2020 interview with anti-establishment pundits Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti, Vance claimed that Trump’s big political failure was not his handling of the pandemic, but his corporate tax cut and his attempts to cancel Obamacare.

That’s the only thing conservative Ohio voters need to know: that The Club For Growth is behind Josh Mandel. Elect Mandel, and nothing changes. Eliminate Vance, and suddenly there is a threat to the Comfortable System. Mandel presents himself as a populist, but is ultimately the candidate for the Club For Growth. That tells you something. That tells you everything.

About the fact that Yale Law School graduate Vance is a hypocrite, he says:

“The mainstream elite society is boring, it’s completely thoughtless and it’s more and more bogus,” he told me. In other words: “I had to make a choice of sorts. “

He did – and in my opinion, he chose correctly. The play explains Vance’s pivot of criticizing the highlanders’ personal flaws that led to their chronic problems, which he did in Hillbilly elegy, to criticize the neoliberal system, characterized by free markets and “whatever” morality. These are two sides of the same criticism, says Vance: neither excludes the other, and in fact the calamity that has befallen so much of America, especially working-class America, has its consequences. roots in both camps. This is a version of a review we heard a generation earlier from Christopher Lasch – and not just Lasch. the To post said:

The political ancestor of this vision is probably Pat Buchanan, who denounced free trade and multiculturalism in the 1990s. But he also draws inspiration from the more moderate plans of the “Reformicon” of 10 years ago, as well. than older left currents, such as the anti-globalism of the WTO protests in Seattle. One unlikely text Vance cited is Elizabeth Warren’s book “The Two-Income Trap,” on the financial pressures families face when two parents enter the workforce.

If you are looking for it, elements of Vance’s current review were also in “Hillbilly Elegy”. People like his grandfather, who moved to southwest Ohio to work in the then bustling Armco Steel factory, strengthened the local social fabric as producers. A generation later, with the jobs gone, his mother and neighbors were not only isolated and angry but also, he writes, “consumers.”

Exactly! It was there in Hillbilly elegy from the start, this is why this whole “JD Vance is a hypocrite” talk is ridiculous and shows that many people only read the book by seeking to confirm their own prejudices. I love the way the Post reporter accompanies JD’s hometown sheriff and evokes standard criticism from the left. Hillbilly elegy (that Vance blamed the victims with a snob); the sheriff said no, he told the truth about the problems here.

It’s not a bad thing to have the Washington post anoint JD Vance as Pat Buchanan’s heir. It is also the truth. Vance’s candidacy gives Ohio voters a real choice, not an echo of Club For Growth conservatism dressed in a populist streak. As I told the Post reporter, JD made a breakthrough in realizing that the culture war is really a class war. A US senator who understands that it can go a long way in claiming uncharted territory in US politics – and owning the conservative future.

UPDATE: A friend told me that one of the fundamentalists at shitposting accused me of saying that I was worried about JD’s soul. Here’s how the Post quoted me:

Vance’s friends split the difference: They say he’s the same guy but he’s radicalized. “I think he’s gotten a lot more bitter and cynical – rightly so,” conservative blogger Rod Dreher told me. For Dreher, the change in tone is justified by the course of American politics over the past five years. “Trump has remained Trump – but the left has gone mad,” he wrote in an article defending Vance. Still, Dreher – who attended Vance’s baptism into the Catholic Church in 2019 – is worried that the toll campaign is weighing on his friend. “S – t-posting has become the signature style of young radical right-wingers, and I think it’s especially dangerous for Christians,” he told me.

FYI, I’m not worried about JD’s soul. I told the reporter that it was a temptation for me too, and for all of us who confuse this in public. It doesn’t surprise me that one of the fundamentalists distorts my work to try to break my friendship with JD.



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