Dean Heller and JD Vance have a lot in common.
Both men attended private universities – Dean Heller received his business administration degree from the University of Southern California; JD Vance attended Yale Law School. Both men used their brief financial careers to support their political careers – Heller worked as a commercial banking consultant for Bank of America to pay his bills as he began his career as a member of the Assembly of the State, while Vance has worked as a venture capitalist and philanthropist, at least on paper, to polish his professional and political resume.
The similarities don’t end there.
Both men were once prominent Never Trumpers. Heller spent nine months categorically refusing to disclose who he voted for in the 2016 election, in much the same way he now refuses to say aloud who is president today. Vance’s Hillbilly elegy, meanwhile, originally published a few months before the 2016 election, would have explained the cultural dysfunctions that led poor white Americans to regard Donald Trump as their lord and savior (whether or not it depends on who you ask).
Both men are also running for a statewide Republican post – governor, in the case of Dean Heller, while JD Vance is running for the Ohio Senate. To be successful, they both need to rename each other quickly.
The problem for both is that less than a decade ago, it was largely assumed that there were two types of Republicans: successful conservative capitalist businessmen and voters who reluctantly supported them. Sure, some Republican voters might listen to people like Father Coughlin, Curtis Howe Springer, or Rush Limbaugh, but businessmen would safely and paternally keep conservative rhetoric grounded in political reality while nodding their heads (but not too obviously!) Towards their base.
When conservative capitalist businessmen needed to appeal to a national audience, they wore a good suit, stressed the importance of keeping taxes low and regulations favorable to business, advocated a strong defense of America, moms and apple pie, and usually left most of the social issues alone – think Mitt Romney. If they needed to appeal to their base more, perhaps they could openly support segregation, but stop before openly supporting the Klan’s politically unpopular hoods and the strange fruits needed to enforce segregation, similarly. way that some people today support the idea. strict immigration controls without supporting the nasty and politically unpopular work required to make immigration controls strict – like, for example, chasing unarmed migrants on horseback and sending them back across the Rio Grande.
(Don’t worry, the migrants were whipped with reins, not whips, so the border patrol did not violate Reno’s anti-whipping ordinance, and the the horses were made redundant, which at least solves this problem. Also, I’m sure there are other more humane ways to forcibly stop desperate families from moving to a better house than whipping them with leather bands on horseback – like, say, shooting them. with ball guns from all-terrain vehicles. But I digress.)
Of course, groups like the John Birch Society, a conspiratorial organization founded by a retired candy seller that encouraged its members to complain about Communist infiltrations in city government and school board meetings (the more things change, is not it?), were still there. The Klan too, by the way, as David Duke periodically reminded everyone. But even conservative brand names like William F. Buckley preferred to keep these movements at bay.
However, this approach still posed problems.
Sure, not many people trust angry conspiracy theorists, bloodthirsty racists, or very hypocritical bible snorers, let alone really like conservative businessmen either. They’re our bosses – or, more often than not, the great-grand-boss of our supervisor’s manager, twice dismissed from his post, depending on who drew the organizational chart last – and he’s a rare employee who likes really the person who exercises the power to fire half of it. of a department whenever they need to increase shareholder value by two percent in the next fiscal quarter.
It’s also difficult to be politically active without openly despising most of the people you need to talk to, especially when you’re the type of person who always has a few millions in the bank to fall back on. You don’t need to get involved, after all – why doesn’t anyone understand that you are doing them a favor, and not the other way around, when you offer to serve the public as an elected official? This is especially true when absolute losers and deadbeats show up at your events and ask you to force the government to do something on their behalf – you are clearly doing very well with the laws as they are, so why don’t they just make better choices like you did?
Even so, it’s not like your average Bircher, Klansman, or Evangelical is in a position to be picky. After all, they weren’t getting anyone elected – certainly not nationally, anyway – and the Democrats largely gave up on even trying to bring in a few of them after the Vietnam War was over.
Then, in 2016, Donald Trump proved (for such a strong definition of “proven” that one can support with a sample of n equal to 1) that it was in fact possible to win the White House by speaking as a Conservative radio talk show. host during sweep week. Since that election, the grassroots message has been loud and clear – either their Republican politicians will stand firmly in the foul trenches with them and speak out against Communist-Socialist propaganda in American schools or any other fashionable conspiracy theory. today. of the day maybe during public commentary, or they can fornicate right away. This includes in particular the 10 Republican congressional representatives who had the temerity to vote to impeach Trump after January 6, nine of whom were later reprimanded by their state or local parties and four of whom have main challengers endorsed by Trump.
That’s a problem for Heller and Vance, who both grew accustomed to wealth and relationships keeping them safe from the worst vicissitudes of Republican opinion as they pursued their careers. Now they must find a way to identify with and win the favor of some of the most stubborn and obnoxious people on the planet – the same people they sought to outrun and avoid when they signed up. at University.
When you look at your audience with thinly veiled contempt but still need something from them, the obvious approach is to embrace your inner HL Mencken and give the rubes exactly what you think they want, good and tough – which is exactly what Heller and Vance are. Make.
JD Vance, for example, cleaned up his Twitter timeline of most (but not quite) of its anti-Trump content and has since furiously filled its timeline with the backing of conspiracy theories and white supremacists. He also declared his support for Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) attempt to object to the certification of electoral votes on Jan.6. Most recently, in the span of a single 14-minute interview, he expressed his contempt for childless couples and opposed abortion. even in cases of rape and incest.
Dean Heller, meanwhile, has been working on improving his routine since telling Trump that “everything you touch turns to gold” on an Elko airport tarmac (because, see Elko is full of gold miners backing Trump, ha ha, get it?). Since launching his governorship campaign last Monday, he has repeatedly refused to acknowledge who won the last presidential election, and has even gone so far as to claim in an interview with the Las Vegas Review that the last time Nevada had a safe and secure election was when he was secretary of state – presumably this lack of faith extends to the election he won for representative to Congress in 2008 , 2010 and his successful senatorial race in 2012.
At his gubernatorial launch party, Heller also claimed he supported Texas anti-abortion law, although he later admitted that he “didn’t really know everything that was in that law. “. Apparently, reading the language of a single law before publicly supporting it is asking too much of anyone seeking to lead the constitutionally responsible branch of our state government to ensure that our laws are faithfully enforced.
This is a shame, because those who actually read the law know that, even if you oppose abortion, allowing anyone else to sue someone else for “aiding”, “inciting” or “intending” to. helping or encouraging anything, even an abortion, is a recipe for hyperlitigious disaster. Once the new enforcement mechanism – even if the defendant wins he doesn’t recoup legal fees, and if he loses he loses at least $ 10,000 – is explained to voters, they reflexively oppose it. . Meanwhile, supporters of the bill are frantically trying to prevent the first prosecutions authorized by the bill from going forward, lest it reach the Supreme Court and ultimately result in overturning. Bill.
Meanwhile, in Heller’s campaign launch ad, he portrays himself as a worker who welds and repairs his race cars (because, after all, you really get your nails dirty working as a politician for three decades. ), complains that the police are being funded (despite the fact that the recently unionized Highway Patrol got a pay raise) and that reported violent crime was “exploding” there (even violent crime has steadily declined over the years). over the past five years).
Dean Heller, like JD Vance, is trying to give Rubies exactly what he thinks they want – support for Trump’s big lie, a pledge to ban abortion in a state where sex work is legal, a plan to increase police funding in a state with police force unions and ever-increasing public safety budgets, and a fabricated image of himself as a ranch-slash-racecar driver -retired mechanic, instead of the 61-year-old USC Business School graduate who worked as a politician from 1990 until he lost for the first time in his political career in 2018.
The worst part is, unlike Vance’s sad, thirsty grip for 15 more minutes of fame, it might work well.
David Colborne has been active in the Libertarian Party for two decades. During this time, he blogged intermittently on his personal blog, ran twice as a libertarian candidate, and served on the executive committee of his state and county Libertarian Party chapters. He is now an IT manager, registered non-partisan voter and father of two sons. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidColborne or send him an e-mail at [email protected]com.