by Park MacDougald
Wednesday, 4
May 2022
Reaction
08:25

Senator JD Vance will be a victory for the ‘New Right’

The author's win in Ohio is a step forward for Peter Thiel's group
by Park MacDougald
Credit: Getty

Last night, J.D. Vance — the 37-year-old, Peter Thiel-backed, Trump- and Tucker Carlson-endorsed, New York Times-bestselling author of Hillbilly Elegy recently quoted by Vanity Fair calling for a “de-woke-ification” of the federal government — won Ohio’s crowded Republican Senate primary. 

Vance’s victory is, among other things, a testament to the enduring power of Trump. A little over two weeks ago, Vance was stuck in third place, trailing his main rivals by double digits. But after receiving Trump’s endorsement on April 15 — despite having declared himself “Never-Trump” in 2016 — Vance shot into the lead. That Trump himself seemed confused over who he had endorsed — he touted the non-existent “JD Mandel” at a rally in Nebraska on Sunday — scarcely seemed to matter, especially given the strength of Vance’s support from Don, Jr.. 

The real Mandel, — not JD but Josh, a former Ohio treasurer and Tea Partier who reinvented himself as a firebreathing Trumpist — was crippled by late revelations that he’d been playing a double game, telling D.C. Republicans not to take his surrealist MAGA rhetoric too seriously even as he posted Twitter polls asking his followers whether “Muslim terrorists” or “Mexican gangbangers” would commit more crimes after crossing the border. Watching Mandel’s campaign, which often had the bizarre quality of a Sam Hyde comedy sketch, it was hard not to ask yourself, “He can’t possibly be this stupid, right?” He wasn’t, but he was too clever for his own good.  

Trump’s endorsement put Vance over the edge, but Vance is far from a straightforward Trumpist. Despite his opportunistic flirtations with low-IQ, red-meat politics, Vance is ultimately an intellectual, with deep connections to the young, ambitious, DC Republican brain trust — so much so that this was considered a liability. The greatest knock on him throughout the campaign was that he was a sort of parachute candidate, an Ivy League egghead with wacky ideas about industrial policy and “the regime” that would sound bizarre to Ohio voters. Those critiques have been proven wrong. “I’m f***ing retarded. I can’t call a race,” one DC political reporter told me after the results came in.

If and when Vance wins his Senate seat — which seems inevitable in a state that twice went for Trump by 8% — it will represent the most tangible victory yet for the so-called “New Right”, the movement of young, edgy, and cerebral conservatives loosely orbiting Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Thiel has donated some $13.5 million to Vance’s campaign and another $10 million to that of Blake Masters, a Senate candidate in Arizona.

Whether or not Vance can do anything once in government is a different question. A GOP strategist told me Vance will have few allies in the Senate, and joked that McConnell would assign him to the Committee on Aging — in other words, that Vance would be stuck with do-nothing assignments intended to box him out of real power. That may be, but few thought expected him to get this far in the first place. Vance is young, ambitious, and full of big ideas, with lots of plugged-in sympathizers. We’ll learn soon whether that’s enough to take on “the regime.”

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
14 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrea 0
Andrea 0
3 months ago

Why do you say he is a “parachute candidate”? He was born in Ohio and went to Ohio state, didn’t he?
(And I really liked Hillbilly Elegy)

Last edited 3 months ago by Andrea X
Warren T
Warren T
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrea 0

And the comment about low IQ voters?! As if anyone who believes in God, borders and that men and women are different is low IQ. How insulting.

Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
3 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

Low-IQ politics is not the same as low-IQ voters. Some political appeals are targeted at different parts of the human person, so I don’t see a problem with distinguishing “low-iq” politics in contradistinction to “intellectual” or “elite” politics.

Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrea 0

Perhaps because of his time in intellectual circles and his time in law school (Yale), Mithril Capital (San Francisco), and Revolution LLC (DC).
He has lived and worked in Ohio most of his adult life akaik though (including attending Ohio State), so I generally agree with your point.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 months ago

We may not quite be in a “regime” yet, but our institutions are most certainly laying the groundwork for one – I call it a rainbow police state for lack of any better term: a capricious system of governance built up from mock-sympathetic feelings toward social outliers. I’m glad that there are some politicians out there trying their best to stop its advance.

Warren T
Warren T
3 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

 “Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles.”

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
3 months ago

Robert Barnes is of the opinion that Vance started to climb in the polls after he was the only candidate in a debate who was not in favor of unlimited escalation in the Ukraine War, which rise had started before Trump endorsement. To admit that would be against the approved narrative of universal support for unlimited escalation of the war, so we can’t talk about it, though.

Russ W
Russ W
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

He has beliefs, principles, and I agree with most of them (same as the earlier commenter – differ on abortion and drug policy). Nice to see integrity in a politician.

Last edited 3 months ago by Russ W
Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

But you are talking about it, so what is your point? And who or what is ‘approving’ the narrative you don’t like?

Michael J
Michael J
3 months ago

The “dark enlightenment” thinkers such as Mencius Moldbug/Curtis Yarvin and others who have influenced Thiel and JD Vance have some good ideas and critiques even if their eventual solutions go off the deep end somewhat. It’s interesting to see it get more traction and even become “cool” as the counterculture to wokeism. The Vanity Fair article does a relatively good job of describing it.

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael J

I’m curious which of Curtis Yarvin’s ideas you consider “off the deep end”. They mostly seem eminently sensible to me, but perhaps that’s because I can swim.

Yarvin points out that Trump failed because he could not, or would not, or was simply incapable of doing what FDR did in the 1930s ie a root and branch reform / replacement of the bureaucracy, so that he could implement his mandate from the people.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
3 months ago

It would have helped the article to actually have mentioned what are Vance’s stances on the issues, and not just use tired labels -we are all so tired of worn-out labels on the single right – left axis.
https://jdvance.com/issues/
I don’t agree with Vance on abortion or drug policy, but on bigger issues like free speech and fighting the woke virus pandemic he says all the right things – wish I could vote for him.

Alan Groff
Alan Groff
3 months ago

One way to understand the intellectual foundation of the political divide is to compare the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Rene Girard to Georg Hegel and Michel Foucault.

The latter, the foundation for the left, is in a decadent phase typical of the late stages of the lifecycle. The former is more obscure and sometimes associated with those that seem less sophisticated, provides foundation for a new era that goes forward with a stream of time and human innovation.

Hegel’s a thinker who rejects independent Perception and Foucault’s follows to The logic call conclusion of extreme skepticism that rejects things as basic as biology and nature.

Wittgenstein is a thinker who moves philosophy out of the Kantian thinking domain on to ground where perception is once again possible and perception and rationality can be integrated.

Rene Girard provides anthropological grounding for sense and intuition as determinants of culture that are at least as important rationality.

Last edited 3 months ago by Alan Groff
Russ W
Russ W
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Groff

Lovely assessment, thanks. I hope late stage = soon to fall away if it’s own excess.

Last edited 3 months ago by Russ W