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America First Wins

J.D. Vance was rewarded for his sensible stand against escalation in Ukraine.

J.D. Vance speaks at "Up From Chaos" in March.

J.D. Vance has taken a lot of heat for his views on foreign policy. He’s been willing to point out that the Beltway establishment cares much more about Ukraine’s eastern border than it does about America’s southern border, and to condemn that. The border he cares about is in Texas, not the Donbas, because Mexican fentanyl is killing his neighbors in Ohio. Vance joined the Marines to defend his home, and defend his home is what he seeks to do still.

Donald Trump noticed that Vance puts America and Americans first, and endorsed him in the state’s GOP Senate primary just a few weeks ago. Ohio Republicans noticed too, and gave him the victory last night. America First foreign policy wins.

Before all that, in late March, Vance took time off the campaign trail to make the case against escalation in Ukraine at TAC and American Moment’s “Up From Chaos” conference. Cynics and critics suggested that meant he cared more about what D.C. thought of him than Ohio. But that never made sense; fighting for the cause of restraint and prudence in foreign policy is no way to make friends in this town. No, what Vance understands is that the American leadership class is bad at multitasking and filled with greed. While they’ve been preoccupied with spreading democracy abroad and cashing in on the global financial system, they’ve forgotten about the American middle class, especially the workers of the industrial heartland like in Ohio. Vance spoke out against nuclear-armed war with Russia because he cares about the Ohioans who too often bear the brunt of the Beltway’s reckless policies.

Vance opened his remarks at “Up From Chaos” observing that candidates are advised by consultants not to talk about three issues central to the founding of this magazine: trade, immigration, and foreign policy. Too many important donors who support the status quo on these issues would take offense. While it is somewhat acceptable now, since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, to question orthodoxy on trade and immigration, Vance observed that he has found it uniquely dangerous to dissent on foreign policy. That is where he gets in trouble with elite supporters.

Yet he holds the line. And he won.

You can watch his full keynote address below. 

about the author

Emile Doak is the executive director of the American Ideas Institute, which publishes The American Conservative.  He is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he studied political philosophy and theology, and previously worked in education before returning to the field of his studies.  His writing has appeared in First Things, Front Porch Republic, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and elsewhere. A proud Virginian, Emile and his wife split their time between their hometown of Herndon and the Shenandoah Valley.

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