His bestselling book “Hillbilly Elegy” and then the movie based on it made JD Vance a household name. He was the new kind of American underdog who made good. He rose from not knowing what fork to use at a dinner with law firm bigwigs to becoming a Yale Law graduate and making a good life for himself in the Midwest.
Then Vance rebranded. First, he entered the world of finance. That included being employed by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel and having his hedge fund helped along by Thiel. Then there has been politics. Initially, with a $10 million contribution by Thiel, his run for the US Senate from OH went well. He won the primary.
Now, though, as Bloomberg reports, that most recent version of his rebranding from a nobody to a somebody is being tested by inexperience. His far-right rhetoric isn’t playing among voters who want some moderation. Instead of continuing to dazzle he is tied in the polls with his progressive opponent Tim Ryan. In addition his fundraising hit a wall. Ryan’s war chest has $9.1 million. Vance’s $2.3 million.
What Vance is showcasing is political inexperience. He is playing to ideology, not the changing attitudes of voters.
It is uncertain if any more Thiel money can bail him out.
For those of us also from a hard-scrapple background like Vance’s this possible severe setback is sad. Has he gone from learning how the world – including that of an elite law school – operates to imposing his own notion of how it should work? That is, has he, like so many of those with privileged pedigrees, become arrogant? He could lose it all.
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