JD Vance Surrenders to the Politics of Hate
Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance was already some way along a journey when he took the stage at the first “National Conservatism Conference” in July 2019.
In the runup to 2016, he had been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s candidacy. “I find him reprehensible,” he tweeted a month before the election. “Fellow Christians, everyone is watching us when we apologize for this man.”
Within three years, his views had evolved sufficiently to put him on the program of an event widely viewed as an attempt by right-wing pundits and scholars to erect an institutional structure—or at least some intellectual scaffolding—around the Trump phenomenon.
Earlier this year, just after announcing a run for U.S. Senate, he apologized to Ohio voters for having been “wrong about the guy.”
But only last week did the full force of Vance’s spiritual reversal become apparent: “I think our people hate the right people,” he told The American Conservative magazine.
“Our people” might be understood broadly as the Republican base, while those he sees as worthy of contempt might be understood broadly as leftists and members of the coastal elite. Reached for comment, his campaign press secretary affirmed that “JD Vance strongly believes that the political, financial and Big Tech elites…deserve nothing but our scorn and hatred.”
By suggesting that antipathy toward the correct out-group is itself a moral imperative, Vance was engaging a powerful political current that has recently resurfaced within the conservative movement. He is not the first to be swept up in it.
In 2016 and 2017, New York Post op-ed editor Sohrab Ahmari wrote a pair of long magazine articles sounding the alarm to people of faith about rising illiberalism at home and abroad. “Simply put,” he said in the second piece for Commentary magazine, “in the real-world experience of the 20th century, the Church, tradition, and religious minorities fared far better under liberal-democratic regimes than they did under illiberal alternatives.”
Two years later, Ahmari had had enough of all that. In a now-infamous broadside in the Christian journal First Things, he insisted that conservatives learn to see “politics as war and enmity,” that they shed their “great horror” of “the use of the public power to advance the common good,” and that they be willing “to fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils.”
At the very core of the new illiberal conservatism is a yen for power—and an unabashed willingness to use it to destroy one’s political opponents. Summing up the problem with libertarians and “establishment” conservatives in an essay last year, Hillsdale College’s David Azerrad assailed “the cowardice and accommodation in the face of leftist hegemony” exhibited by the “long list of enemies to the Right.” The more “manly” and
Article from Latest – Reason.com