On Friday, multiple outlets reported that author J.D. Vance had announced that he would not run for Senate in Ohio. As just one example, here is the way that CNN covered the writer’s statement.
Propelled by the success of his book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis, Vance became the go-to spokesperson for Appalachia and generally conservative voters during the presidential campaign of 2016.
Vance’s success has attracted critics. While self-identified as a conservative, he has criticized some of President Donald Trump’s policies and statements. He has also drawn fire from people who feel like his “boot strap” message is too simplistic and trivializes the challenges facing an entire region.
Regardless, I’m glad for J.D. Vance. I’m happy that someone wrote a book and parlayed that into a successful role doing other things. Far too often, we hand out book deals to quarterbacks, airplane pilots, dog handlers, and folks from other professions.
I’m happy that a pretty intelligent book entered the mainstream conversation the way that Hillbilly Elegy has. Sure, I have by gripes about the text, but it’s rare that books make much dent in pop culture these days. I’m ecstatic that people who aren’t hardcore readers mention Vance’s name to me.
I’m happy that he’s using the position and stature created by the book. Some folks might criticize his politics, but he’s involved in a nice way. He has neither retreated to an Ivory Tower nor has he cashed in (egregiously) on his success. He hasn’t churned out multiple books, he does do some television but he hasn’t created his own reality shows, and so forth.
All of which is to say that he ain’t running for office (for now) but I’m glad that he’s around.