JD Vance on the Reasons He’s Running for Senate

BUCK: We do have, as promised, Mr. JD Vance with us now. He is the best-selling, ultramega best-selling author of the Hillbilly Elegy book and is running for Senate in the great state of Ohio. JD, thanks for being with us.

VANCE: Thanks for having me, guys. Good to see you.

BUCK: So I’ve been arguing for a while — and Clay’s right there with me from the very beginning of this — that freedom is under greater assault in this country right now than it has been in my lifetime. I think it’s worse than anything else that we have seen, because of the response to covid and the way that the government is overreaching all over the place. What do you think is the necessary…? What would be your prescription for how we start to effectively turn this thing around and get back to not a new normal, JD, but normal?

VANCE: Yeah. So, I think the only way to do it is to basically ignore and try to actively fight against the various orders that comes down. Look, there are red states that are trying to nullify various mandates that are coming down. I think there are gonna be business owners that just ignore the mandates. There are employees who are quitting en masse and I think putting real strain on some of our industries, especially the health care industry.

People push back against the idea that they’re being told what to put in their body with this vaccine. So I think the only real way to do it is to actually stop complying because the government is trying to enforce these things; of course they’re using private companies very often as sort of arms of the government.

But if these together are trying to enforce this on one in every 10,000 Americans, it’s gonna be a lot easier than if they have to do it in one in a hundred Americans. And I think to the extent that we can just ignore and fight against you these things through civil disobedience, that’s a probably the best way to get some of our fundamental rights right.

CLAY: JD, I appreciate you coming on with us. I loved your book Hillbilly Elegy. I’m curious. Now that you’re running for the Senate in Ohio, obviously you had a lot of fans in Hollywood, people who really enjoyed your book. Have they all kind of turned their back on you now that you’re running as a Republican in the Senate? Have you experienced any sort of freeze from that universe that otherwise had been really favorably disposed towards you?

VANCE: Yeah, most of them knew my politics. I’d say that the real freeze if there was any, was when the movie came out. I felt like there was this massive backlash from some of the Hollywood critic and elite set. So I think that most of the friends that I had in Hollywood I no longer have anyway.

But I’m sure that I’ll lose more more along the way. I joke with my wife sometimes that the moment when I know I’m about to win the Senate race is when Netflix actually deplatforms the movie.

BUCK: (laughing)

VANCE: So, hopefully that doesn’t actually happen, but we’ll see. Knock on wood.

CLAY: It’s funny you mention that because I could totally see it happening, and you can’t even come up with satire or hyperbole hardly now because you’ll be like, “Hey, this crazy thing could happen,” like they could pull the word “woman” out of an RBG quote —

BUCK: They just now are gonna do that.

CLAY: Yeah.

BUCK: They’ve heard this idea, and they may go forward with this. By the way, we’re speaking to JD Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, running for the Senate of the United States in Ohio, the great state of Ohio for the United States Senate. JD, the border right now, Clay and I are talking about it a lot today.

It feels like we’re not even really have the national conversation that we should, at least in my mind, about this, because I don’t believe the Democrats actually want the laws at our southern border to be enforced. I think that’s as a party now where they are and there’s just a fundamental dishonesty at work here where they act like this is something they’re trying to solve by stopping the inflow of illegal crossings. I don’t believe they actually want to stop it. I want to know what you think.

VANCE: I think that’s right. My view is that they love this crisis. They know that it’s good for their donors, and they know that it’s good for their effort to fundamentally remake the composition of the United States of America, and so they’re not trying to stop this at all. One of the most shameful things I think you can do as a leader is to crap on the people who are enforcing your orders, who are doing the things that you tell them to do.

And the way that Biden, that Harris, that Psaki, all of the leaders of the Biden administration basically flipped on Border Patrol agents who are doing an impossible job — of course, because Biden invited these people in en masse — it’s just really disgusting. It’s one of more depressing things that I’ve seen.

You know, the other thing that really worries me about this is it shows how much… As much as we have rightfully and somewhat successfully pushed back against the power of the mainstream press, they ’til have a lot of influence over the conversation because I think that if our country was being honest with itself, we would recognize this is a large-scale invasion.

This will fundamentally transform the economy and culture of the United States. It will also lead to the worsening of the drug epidemic, which is a really big deal in the state of Ohio. It’s just one of many stories, and I think that really this should be the story because of the effect it will have on the kind of country that we’re gonna have.

CLAY: JD, your wife, I believe, is a former Supreme Court clerk of John Roberts, and one of the big discussion points of late has been the idea of expanding the Supreme Court. I know you also went to Yale Law School yourself. How serious of a concern do you think this is, and how important is it for members of the Senate — in which you’re hoping to one day being seated — to stand up against the idea of a Biden administration court packing?

VANCE: Well, it’s very important. It’s one of the reasons why I think we have to take back the Senate because right now the risk has sort of been delayed for at least I think the next 18 months. I don’t think they’re gonna make a real play to try to pack the Supreme Court again. But if they take back the Senate, they sure as hell will and that’s something we just can’t tolerate.

Look, the Democrats are completely shameless about the acquisition of power. And it’s one thing that, frankly, I think Republicans should learn a hard lesson from the past six months of Democrat governance is that when the Democrats get power, they try to fundamentally remake the institutions and the structure of our government.

Republicans, when we win, we try to pass a good law or two. The Democrats are just playing a totally different game. I think we have to wake up to that fact. To your point, if you fundamentally transform the Supreme Court, it’s gonna be hard to get much of anything done.

You fundamentally transform the Supreme Court, then you fundamentally transform the nature of our elections, then you transform the composition of the country who’s voting in those elections, and then you have permanent Democratic rule for the rest of our lives.

BUCK: JD, what do you think the next moves are from the Biden administration? One thing that we’ve been discussing here pretty regularly, it’s obvious. You look at the numbers; you see what the approval ratings have been. You see the multiple crises, whether the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, what’s happening right now at the border, the 30% rise in crime.

Which did occur, obviously, in the final year of the Trump administration but occurred because of a Democrat embrace and built movement with BLM. And you have a Biden administration now that seems like it’s just constantly trying to put out fires instead of make any real progress for the American people.

What do you think their next moves are? Do we just…? Are we gonna go into the election year here and it’s gonna be nonstop the insurrection talk? How can they try to convince the American voter that’s actually up for grabs that they’re not doing a terrible job?

VANCE: Yeah, it’s a good question. I don’t know how it could get worse. Maybe we should all hold our breath for a plague of locusts and fiery hail falling through the sky. I guess my instinct here is that they’re really gonna turn it up on the insurrection talk, and in particular on trying to I think censor information about what really happened on January 6th and really, I think, turning…

If you think of the vaccine mandate stuff, if you think of the mask mandates, if you think of the way that, yeah, of course there were some bad people on January 6th with be but there are a lot of people who were being held have committed no acts of violence. I really think the play here is to try to create a second class of citizenship among red America.

And make it hard to live a normal life, go to the grocery store, attend a political protest, go to church, even go to a ball game unless you do the things that the Democrats want you to do. And so I tend to think that’s where this is gonna go. That’s my intuition, at least. But who knows? Who knows what they have in store? It’s hard to imagine it getting much worse. But of course, it probably will.

CLAY: JD, you’re in a competitive Ohio primary for the Republican nomination. Donald Trump obviously has had a massive impact when it comes to endorsing candidates in the primary. Do you think that he will endorse you or someone else? Do you think he’ll weigh in? And do you hope yourself that President Trump runs again in 2024?

VANCE: Oh, I certainly think he will run, and I think he’ll win, and I hope that he does. And I think that’s pretty much up to him. And you hear about other Republicans. I think we do have a great bench. But at the end of the day, I was talking with my dad, who is a big, big Trump guy sort of from the moment he came down the escalator and we were talking about all these other great candidates.

I was like, “Well, I’m just curious, Dad. Tell me honestly: If any of these guys ran against Trump in the Republican primary in 2024, who would you vote for?” He said, “Oh, Trump.” I think that’s how a lot of Republican voters feel. So I think he would win and, frankly, I think he’d win by a massive margin in the general election too. You know, in this race, it’s interesting.

I think obviously Trump’s endorsement would be huge. The president would immediately change the nature of the game. I think I’ve got a good chance of getting it, but I also thinks there’s a chance that he completely stays out of it. I’ve heard from the president himself and also people in his inner circle that he’s letting the race develop. I think eventually he’s probably gonna weigh in, and I think I’ve got a good chance when he does, but we’ll see how it unfolds.

BUCK: JD Vance, everybody. JD, good luck to you as a candidate for Senate in Ohio — and, folks, if you haven’t picked up Hillbilly Elegy, go grab a copy. JD, thanks so much.

VANCE: Thanks for having me. Take care, guys.



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