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J.D. Vance Will Not Run For Office

I knew this was coming, but now he’s made it public:

J.D. Vance, author of the bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, strongly considered seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Ohio next year, but has decided against a run, he said Thurdsay.

Vance, whose book describes his drug-addicted mother and absentee father in unsparing detail, concluded a run for office would put too much strain on his young family. His wife, Usha, a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, recently gave birth to their first child.

“I felt like I had to take a serious look at it because I care about the direction of the party, and people I respect encouraged me to run,” Vance told me. “But it would have been an objectively bad call for my family.”

He adds:

“You can’t sacrifice your family’s happiness to run for political office,” Vance told me. “If you’re willing to do that, you don’t belong in elected office and you don’t deserve your family.”

I can tell you that this is 100 percent genuine. This is not a smokescreen or a euphemism. He means it. J.D. and I talked about it during his decision-making process. He really, really wanted to do it, because he deeply believes he can make a difference, especially for the poor and the working class, from which he comes. But he is crazy about his wife and their baby boy, and did not want to make them suffer. I told him at the time that I hope he runs, because the GOP needs fresh new blood (““I’m a conservative, but I think the party has really lost touch with working- and middle-class Americans,” he told Molly Ball), but that family has to come first. That was also J.D.’s view, he told me then. He was praying a lot about what he should do, and talking a lot with Usha. We agreed that if she wasn’t 100 percent behind it, it was not a good idea. When a man is married, he no longer has the right to make big decisions for himself. He’s making them for, and with, his wife and kids.

When J.D. told me earlier this week about his decision against running, I told him that I was disappointed — oh man, was I disappointed! — but even more than that, that I was so proud of him for the decision he had made. The fact that the well being of his wife and son meant more to him than seeking political office means the world, especially in a cynical time like this. Having passed that test, when the day comes when he decides the time is right to make a Congressional run, he can be sure that he wants it for the right reasons. I don’t know about you, but I think that be they Republican or Democrat, the country would do well to be led by men and women who are devoted to God and family above their careers. If the day comes that we see J.D. Vance’s name on the ballot, we can have confidence that he’s a man who has his priorities in right order.

One more bit from Molly Ball’s Atlantic piece:

Though Vance decided the time wasn’t ripe, [GOP political consultant Jai] Chabria is convinced he has a future in politics. “I have never seen someone that has as much upside as he does,” Chabria told me. “I know he’s going to be relevant in a lot of different ways, because the party needs people like him.”

Absolutely. The guy is only 33, and he lives part time in Washington. If the Republican Party and the conservative movement doesn’t know that J.D. Vance and what he represents is its future — whether or not he ever seeks elected office — it ought to be put out of its misery right now.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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