Author and Republican Ohio senate candidate JD Vance blamed “the childless left” for the decline of the American family during a Friday speech.
In his remarks at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s (ISI) “The Future of American Political Economy” conference, he reframed the right-left cultural war as a class war, where American elites obsessed with credentialism and career-making have invested only in themselves, rather than investing in the country’s future by fostering healthy families and having children.
Prior to his speech, the Daily Caller also had the opportunity to ask Vance about his campaign and how he might go about empowering middle-class American families if elected.
“I’m going to take aim at the left, specifically the childless left. Because I think the rejection of the American family is perhaps the most pernicious and most evil thing that the left has done in this country,” Vance remarked at the ISI conference. Vance pointed out that aside from being members of the next generation of Democratic Party leaders, the one thing Vice President Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have in common is they do not have children of their own.
“Why is this just a normal fact of American life? That the leaders of our country should be people who don’t have a personal and direct stake in it via their own offspring?” Vance asked rhetorically.
At American Compass conference, JD Vance suggests giving parents an extra vote for each child under 18 they have. (Give each child a vote, “controlled” by the parents.) He also says The Atlantic and the Washington Post will mock him for this, so pretend I’m not here.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) July 24, 2021
Vance noted that his frustration with couples or adults who did not have children were not with people who were unable to do so because of medical and other reasons. After making that acknowledgement, Vance said, “But, it’s something else to build a political movement invested, theoretically, in the future of this country, when not a single one of them actually has any physical commitment to the future of this country.”
Vance then extended this phenomenon to the media as well, saying, “what you find consistently is that many of the most unhappy, and most miserable, and most angry people in our media are childless adults,” Vance said, “let’s just be honest about it.”
Vance went on to say that conservatives shouldn’t just care about family formation in the U.S. to cheer up the same left-wing elites who routinely disparaged everyday Americans. “We are not just worried about the lack of babies because it means our media is miserable and because it means our leaders are miserable. We’re worried about babies because babies are good, and a country that has children is a healthy country that’s worth living in,” said Vance.
“We care about children because we’re not sociopaths,” Vance told the audience, repeating a popular line from prior speeches that addressed the decline of the American family. (RELATED: Every ‘America First’ GOP Voter Should Be Watching This Potential Senate Candidate)
Recently, a number of Republican senators have released plans that would encourage larger and more stable American families, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. The Caller asked Vance, if elected, which one of these family plans Vance would be most likely to support.
“I like Josh Hawley’s the most based on the details I’ve seen, just because I think it is biased toward married parents, and one of the things we have to do is promote not just families, but healthy families. So, the more resources we can get to two-parent families, the better. I think there are good ideas in a lot of these plans, and the question really is how to get this stuff done.”
Vance had a few ideas of his own on how to encourage family creation in the U.S. During his speech at the ISI conference, he cited policies enacted in Hungary under President Viktor Orban where loans were provided to new married couples and then forgiven if they later stayed together and had children. “Why can’t we do that here?” Vance asked the audience.
Vance also addressed the opioid crisis, an issue that has plagued communities across heartland America and has personally affected Vance’s own family as well as numerous other Ohio families and communities. While the opioid crisis experienced a slowdown and even decline during the Trump administration, opioid overdose deaths surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic to the highest levels ever in 2020.
The Caller asked what could be done to put an end to the opioid crisis, and Vance argued that the main focus had to be to “get the southern border under control.”
“We obviously have to get people who are addicted into treatment, and hope that we can get them recovered. But, importantly, if you have four times as much fentanyl coming into the country today as you did this time last year, you’re going to have a lot of people dying of this poison,” Vance added.
“There’s no way to get around the fact that if you have a ton of a deadly drug in your community, its going to start killing people, and that’s why we have to get the southern border under control because a lot of it is being made overseas and then being shipped through our porous southern border.”
During his speech later that evening, Vance told the dinner attendees the story of an elderly woman he had met in Ohio, who he said was raising her grandson after losing her daughter to drug addiction. The number one issue this woman cares about, Vance said, was securing the southern border “because she doesn’t want the same poison that took her daughter from her, to take her grandbaby from her.”
Vance claimed that it was important for the Republican Party to not just talk about these issues on cable news, but to cement itself as the party of the middle class by actually delivering on policies that would protect American families from forces attempting to upend it.
The Caller asked Vance what he made of a growing number of Republican candidates running for office with middle- and working-class backgrounds.
Vance, who made the journey himself from a working class community in Ohio to Yale Law School, replied, “I think it’s a couple of things. The Republican Party is becoming a more working- and middle-class party, and understandably people want folks who they can identify with and take their interests to heart.”
“Unfortunately, because of how corrupt our elite university system is, I think people recognize that a lot of people who come from that elite corridor, and spend their entire life in it, are just not going to represent them super well,” Vance added. “I recognized first hand that a lot of the way we train members of our elite class is to not care that much about the country and the people who live in it.”
Younger members of the American elite, Vance told the Caller, “need to recognize that they can either choose to be part of the elite club, or they can choose to serve the gross majority of people who live in this country.”
“You need to decide. Do you want to be a member of that elite group, or do you actually want to do something good for the country,” said Vance.
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) July 22, 2021
Vance took some criticism following the release of his New York Times bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, but the attention and criticisms Vance has gotten since announcing his bid for senate in Ohio have been ratcheted up to eleven. He has become a common subject for opinion writers at several of the country’s largest newspapers. “There are a lot of negative stories about JD Vance” going around, Vance joked during his remarks at the ISI conference.
The Caller asked Vance how he and his family have adjusted to campaign life. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” Vance told the Caller, chuckling. “I think my wife knew what she was getting herself into when we decided to do this together. It definitely requires some sacrifices from the family, but we’re doing well.”
“Our youngest loves the campaign stuff. He loves to meet people, while the oldest is a little bit more shy” while out on the campaign trail with mom and dad, Vance added.
As Vance has entered the partisan political arena, liberals writing for the op-ed pages of the Washington Post haven’t been Vance’s only source of criticism. Vance has received criticism from neoconservatives, on the one hand, who condemn Vance’s embrace of Trump, and allegedly pro-Trump candidates for not being Trumpian enough.
Josh Mandel, another Ohio senate candidate, previously appeared on Mark Levin’s radio show and proclaimed, “we can no longer afford to elect Mitt Romneys, Liz Cheneys or these JD Vances.” Vance said that he had paid little mind to this line of attack from Mandel and others, saying “I’m going to run my own campaign because I think I have something to offer to the voters of Ohio.”
“I’m not going to get into mud fights with people who are too obsessed with me. That’s not the way I’m going to do business because, at the end of the day, its not about me, its not about Josh Mandel, its not about anybody else. It’s about the voters of Ohio,” Vance concluded. “I will say, if you look at the way the mainstream media has attacked me versus the other candidates, it’s pretty clear who they see as the biggest threat in this race.”