J.D. Vance's Bold Statecraft Strategy Of Not Being An 'Assh*le'

An unexpected strategy for the freshman senator.

Sen. J.D. Vance

(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

You’re forgiven if you didn’t expect freshman Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) to be a model of bipartisanism. After all, the Yale Law grad played “Mad Libs for bigots” on television in order to appeal to the far-right base, cited Alex Jones as a credible source (though he sensibly tried to back away from that one), is known as a Trump ass-kisser, describes rape and incest as inconvenient, does not support Ukraine, dog whistles to the right on domestic violence, and his “charity” work is just a bunch of Big Pharma lines. So, if you thought he’d start his career in Congress combatively, you probably aren’t alone.

But the awful, toxic train derailment in East Palestine in his home state has sparked the bipartisan spirit. Vance and his co-senator from Ohio, Democrat Sherrod Brown, have co-sponsored a bill dealing with railroad safety, as reported by Politico:

Brown and Vance’s new rail bill would require minimum train crews of two people, enact new safety standards for carrying hazardous materials and increase fines for railroads found at fault. That’s in addition to a series of bipartisan letters from both senators in response to the crash.

“He’s been nothing but cooperative on this. We’ve done a lot of letters together. We’re talking about a lot of things,” Brown said of his new colleague. “I operate under the assumption we’ll work together. [Former Senator Rob] Portman and I did a ton of things together, you know.”

Brown added that while Portman “has a different tone,” Vance has offered “nothing but encouragement.”

But this isn’t necessarily Vance’s endorsement of all things bipartisan. He has a unique outlook he describes thusly: “One of the things I’ve learned here is that it’s very easy to disagree with people so long as you’re not an asshole, and still get things done.” It’s like the lessons of kindergarten have finally taken root with Vance, “I certainly came in expecting the political environment to be so partisan, that it would be harder to get anything done,” Vance said. “In reality, so long as you’re not being a total jerk about it, I think it’s possible to do things.”

Just don’t be a total jerk. Maybe not poetic, but certainly good life advice.

Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.