It is tempting to judge a man by his enemies, especially if his enemies are the sorts of people who should be the enemy of the decent. Logic seems to dictate that if the worst people are opposed to someone or some idea, then there must be some merit to that person or idea. The worst people operate exclusively from self-interest. What is good for the worst is probably not good for the rest, so therefore what is bad for the worst must be good for the rest, if only that it diminishes the worst.
The great lesson of the George W. Bush years is that the worst people can hate someone who deserves to be hated. Every far-left crank in America was howling in agony about the Bush administration. Their complaints were every bit as insane as the people making them, so decent people just assumed Bush was a good guy. It turns out that sometimes the enemy of your enemy is just another enemy. Bush, of course, was a disaster, the worst President in American history.
That is something to keep in mind now that J. D. Vance has decided to run for office in his former home state of Ohio. Vance was always something of a curiosity, having gone from humble beginnings to the managerial elite, but seeming to maintain a connection with his roots in the lower class. His book Hillbilly Elegy was a hit among the chattering classes, always looking for some authenticity. It was also popular with normal people who found it and Vance to be genuine and thoughtful.
Now Vance is seeking to ride the wave of populist enthusiasm and white fright to a political career. At first this would seem logical, but just a few years ago he was an anti-Trump guy, like all the people he now criticizes. It made sense back then. He was enjoying publicity from the sorts of people he spent his entire life trying to copy. He had gotten rich thanks largely to the fact these people helped him along as he went from the Marines to Yale Law then to Silicon Valley.
He is singing a different tune these days. He is on the Trump train and talking quite sensibly and credibly about the issues that concern white people. In fact, he sounds far more sensible than Trump. As a result, the worst people have started to attack him for his alleged apostacy. The gargoyle of neoconservatism, Mona Charen, came out last March with an attack on Vance, calling him and white people jackals. That is an interesting bit of projection from a blood-thirsty warmonger.
Now we have this post in the Atlantic from Tom Nichols, or as he prefers the commoners to refer to him, “Five Time Jeopardy Champion” Tom Nichols. For those unaware, Tom Nichols is America’s leading expert on being wrong about everything to do with foreign policy. From his perch on Twitter, when he is not reminding us that he is a super genius and a five time Jeopardy champion, he tells us that we have all let him down and no longer deserve a man like Tom Nichols.
Writing often betrays the image the writer projects and this no truer than in the case of Tom Nichols. He tries to portray himself as an intellectual tough guy, but his writing style suggests he is a hysterical teenage girl. It is not hard to imagine that Atlantic post being submitted on tear-stained paper with some of the “I’s” being dotted with little frowny faces. The post is supposed to be about Vance, but it really about Nichols and his hurt feelings about the populist rebellion.
Tom Nichols, like David French, is the sort of person the Founders warned about when discussing democracy. They pointed out that democracy attracts the worst people who then appeal to the worst instincts of the people. Liberal democracy is the playground of narcissistic fanatics whose only interest is in flattering themselves with the applause of the mobs. Suddenly, all of the worst people are bearing their fangs at J.D. Vance, so normal people naturally feel disposed towards him.
Of course, another quality of liberal democracy is that it spawns false opposition like a shark grows teeth. Just ten years ago Conservative Inc. spawned any number of imitators to steal the energy of the Tea Party. We see the same thing happening with the different populist groups. The usual suspects are furiously trying to co-opt the Nick Fuentes thing with boy-band quality alternatives. American Moment is what old Cloud People think young Dirt People will find compelling.
With that in mind, it is wise to be cautious about anyone in the ring claiming to speak for the great dispossessed. That is one lesson of Trump. Politics is like a high-end brothel where even the most virtuous are going to tempted. If Lucifer were tasked with creating a political system to stock Hell with souls, he would head to Washington to get tips from the masters. He would probably lose his soul in the bargain. The point is, even the best of men is no match for the worst of systems.
That said, Vance is making the sort of noises familiar to dissidents. He is clearly familiar with the dissident subculture as he has used phrases like “red pill” when describing his political transformation over the last five years. He hangs out with Tucker Carlson, and he is bankrolled by Peter Theil. Neither man can be called a dissident, but they are not lobbing R-bombs at us. Vance defended Nick Fuentes, who has not been favorable to J.D. Vance, which suggests Vance is more than just hologram.
Politics for dissidents is always about advancing dissident ideas, so judging Vance is all about his utility in that cause. Like Trump, he is willing to drag taboo subjects into the public domain, which is always good for dissidents. Unlike Trump he seems to have a better feel for his potential base. Vance is also a younger man who can speak to younger people, who do not respond to flag waving. Unlike Trump, Vance is not a man lamenting the loss of the past, but the loss of the present.
You never know what is in a man’s heart, so Vance’s sincerity remains a question, but he will be useful. Even if Vance is a dissident at heart and sweeps to a landslide victory, nothing changes for us politically. The same parasites will be calling white people jackals and pushing cultural genocide. There is no voting your way out of the defects of democracy, but democracy can be a bus dissidents ride to the next stop. As is always the case, the Vance phenomenon is an opportunity.
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