Josh Hammer: Vice President J.D. Vance

The perspectives and thoughts expressed in this op-ed are the exclusive purview of the author.

Donald Trump has locked up the necessary delegates for the Republican presidential nomination, which means it’s time for every political junkie’s favorite quadrennial game: Veepstakes!

Every four years, commentators, political consultants and elected officials all chime in with their takes on whom a presidential candidate’s running mate should be. Perhaps the candidate ought to select a veep from a swing state. Perhaps the candidate ought to select someone who fits a certain demographic box. Maybe the candidate ought to pick someone with a very similar political philosophy — or perhaps someone whose ideological bona fides assuage any lingering concerns that party loyalists might harbor about the man at the top of the ticket. Or maybe it’s really as easy as picking someone whom the presidential nominee simply likes and vibes with on a personal level.

There is no shortage of factors to consider. In 2024, the conversation really only pertains to former (and perhaps future) President Donald Trump; Democrats and their doddering Delawarean dolt at the top of the ticket, President Joe Biden, are stuck with cackler-in-chief Kamala Harris. Democrats are hemorrhaging minority voter support at breakneck pace, and they cannot afford to risk a greater exodus of Black voters by unceremoniously dumping a Black woman from their ticket.

Ultimately, the vice presidential pick should be selected by paying some consideration to the above factors, but above all it is imperative to assess the contenders a little less robotically. We’re talking about human beings, after all. As dumbed down as it may seem, it actually is crucial to select someone who has the right “vibe” — or, to put it a little more technically, best captures the prevailing zeitgeist.

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All of that is why Trump should select as his running mate the precocious freshman U.S. senator from Ohio, J.D. Vance.

Let’s start with demographics. As a 39-year-old millennial, Vance presents a stark generational contrast with either of the two parties’ presidential nominees. The fact that he is so young, so well spoken, and so willing and eager to criticize the many mistakes of his decadent predecessors is inspiring. Vance speaks for the broader frustration so many young, disaffected Americans have with the baby boomers: They spent like drunken sailors, sold out American manufacturing to China, and wasted tremendous blood and treasure with their failed nation-building boondoggles. Vance doesn’t just believe all this — he physically embodies it.

Next, consider geography and the political map. Vance is from Ohio, an increasingly red state. But Vance’s fellow Buckeye State senator, the highly vulnerable Democrat Sherrod Brown, is on the ballot this November. Putting Vance on the ticket would assuredly boost Ohio Republican turnout in general, thereby helping propel Bernie Moreno, Brown’s opponent, in a race that could be crucial for flipping the Senate to Republican control. More generally, Vance, the author of the critically acclaimed memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” represents the white working class that is the GOP’s backbone. He would do more than anyone else pick to help replicate Trump’s Rust Belt romp of 2016, where he won Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, and nearly pulled off a shocking upset in Minnesota.

In terms of political philosophy, one would be hard-pressed to find a better spokesman and practitioner of MAGA-style nationalist populist conservatism than J.D. Vance. But whereas Trump can sometimes go wobbly on his own professed agenda — see the First Step Act jailbreak of 2018, or his unfortunate recent flip on TikTok — Vance is a sturdier proponent. He has been a formidable champion of a national conservative agenda since he arrived in the Senate, taking the lead on railway safety legislation after the East Palestine derailment disaster and penning an unusually erudite Washington Post op-ed explaining why U.S. Steel must remain in American hands — both stances that offended delicate libertarian sensibilities. Vance is a clarion voice for a realist, national interest-based foreign policy, shrewdly opposing escalation in eastern Ukraine while simultaneously backing Israel in its war against a shared enemy.

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And yes, Trump is said to genuinely enjoy Vance’s personal company. Simply put, Trump likes hanging out with the guy. That could never really have been said about Trump’s relationship with former Vice President Mike Pence.

There are certainly other intriguing possibilities: Trump is said to be considering Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), possible constitutional problems arising from their mutual Florida residency notwithstanding. But if he really wants to hit a home run, and if he wants to pick the man most in touch with this American moment, then it has to be J.D. Vance.

To find out more about Josh Hammer and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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