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Which J.D. Vance Will We Meet Next?

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

“Are you a racist?” asks the young bearded man in the TV ad. “Do you hate Mexicans?”

“The media calls us racists for wanting to build Trump’s wall,” he says, sounding to my politically attuned ears a lot like The Donald himself.

“They censor us, but it doesn’t change the truth,” he continues. “Joe Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country.”

His tone softens a bit as he continues: “This issue is personal. I nearly lost my mother to the poison coming across our border …”

He closes like a classic demagogue, pitting “us” against “them.”

“I’m J.D. Vance and I approve this message because whatever THEY call us, WE will put America first.”

 

Sad. Compared to the J.D. that I used to know, this new version sounds like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has arrived.

As longtime readers may recall, I met Vance, now 37, in 2016, when I learned that we both had grown up in Middletown, Ohio, although more than 30 years apart.

In the interim, the booming factory town, where I earned enough at the local steel mill to pay for my college tuition, became a casualty of Rust Belt decline and a ferocious opioid plague.

Much of this animates the pages of his bestselling 2016 memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” Those who are surprised that he sounds so conservative now missed plenty of hints in the social problems recounted in his book.

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(c) 2022 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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