JD Vance ‘honored’ to receive endorsement from Marjorie Taylor Greene

It’s funny to think of 2016’s JD Vance. Back then, on the heels of his wildly successful memoir Hillbilly Elegy, he was a liberal darling, the media’s go-to intermediary between their ivory towers and the unwashed masses who mysteriously carried Donald Trump to power in November. Vance was a man of two worlds: trained at Yale, raised in Kentucky and building a powerful myth around him as the personification of a united America, while the country around him became increasingly divided.

It seems inevitable that Vance will consider this myth as one that people would vote for, but somewhere along the way he found an even more powerful ideological wave to ride: far-right nationalism, propelled by the eternal culture wars. that rage online every day. Vance, who is running for the Senate in his home state of Ohio on Tuesday eagerly accepted approval of far-right conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

While Vance was briefly the poster child for working-class kids who worked their way into a job at Peter Thiel’s venture capital firm, Greene may be best avatar for the hard right wing of the modern GOP: a Crossfit-addicted commuter obsessed with conspiracy theories, and openly hostile to any notion of compassion. GOP members, most recently Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, have tried to push back this moody fringe, reasoning correctly that it makes them all look bad. They are completely stuffed. Smarter party members like Mitch McConnell practiced willful ignorance of Greene and his ilk, profiting from their zeal while keeping the worst of their idiocy at arm’s length.

But it’s clear now that Vance has chosen the third path: join them. His transformation from clean shaven VC jumpsuit to the bearded culture, the war crusader was a definite choice, and the one he – and the aforementioned Thiel – clearly hope that it will bear fruit. Depressingly, he may be right: It’s entirely possible that Ohio voters would react better to a frantically Virtuous shit brand pointing out every conservative cause the biotech corp-fascist is smoothing over. Vance used to be.

The Washington Postin a long article on Vance’s transformationsummarized as follows:

Five years ago, Vance eloquently decoded Donald Trump supporters for liberal elites, while lamenting the rise of Trump himself. Vance, whose mother is a recovering heroin user, compared Trump to an opioid, calling it “an easy escape from pain.” Now, since announcing his race, he’s reversed on Trump and adopted a belligerent persona at odds with the sensitive, bookish JD of his memoir. On Veterans Day, 48 hours after the Steubenville event, Vance tweeted that LeBron James – of Akron, Ohio – is “one of our nation’s most despicable public figures.”

This radicalization, in other words, was not an impulsive decision, nor a real detour from the dominant consensus. The only way for a disciple of Peter Thiel to accept the the endorsement of someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene is if he thinks she holds more political power than John McCain’s faded wing of the party. This wing is now largely represented by tricked out characters like Mitt Romneywho think they can still inaugurate a gentle fascism without hurting too many feelings.

What’s left, then, are people willing to get dirty. There are the McConnell types, content to let the Tea Party and the America First Party and any flavor of white nationalists come and then run amok and solidify minority rule for the next decade, and there are the theorists declaimed, delusional and openly bigoted conspiracy like Greene. Vance clearly decided that to get elected he had to dumb down and join the latter, but it’s a safe bet that his commitment to the demented fringe is about as sincere as his personality in 2016.

“We’re gonna win this thing and take back scumbag country,” Vance tweeted as he accepted Greene’s endorsement. What scumbags, he does not specify. If he shaved his face again, he might see one of them looking at him in the mirror.

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