An Ohio candidate for the U.S. Senate took a swipe at Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other Democratic politicians by suggesting that people with children should have more voting power than those of the “childless left.”
J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist and bestselling author who is seeking the Republican nomination for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, made the comments at a conservative conference organized by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Alexandria, Virginia.
In his speech, Vance took aim at the Democratic Party, saying it had “become controlled by people who don’t have children.” He noted that some of the party’s rising stars — specifically Vice President Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Buttigieg — don’t have children of their own. (Harris has two step-children.)
“Why is this just a normal fact of American life? That the leaders of our country should be people who don’t have a personal and direct stake in it via their own offspring, via their own children and grandchildren?” Vance asked after name-dropping the various Democratic politicians, whom he accused of stoking “cultural wars” and undermining “national pride.”
“I think the rejection of the American family is perhaps the most pernicious and most evil thing that the left has done in this country,” Vance said.
Vance asserted that his frustration with childless individuals was not with couples unable to have children because of medical or other reasons, but then added that “it’s something else to build a political movement invested, theoretically, in the future of this country, when not a single one of them actually has any physical commitment to the future of this country.”
He then asserted that Americans who are parents should have a “bigger say” in how democracy functions.
“The Democrats are talking about giving the vote to 16-year-olds. Let’s do this instead. Let’s give votes to all children in this country, but let’s give control over those votes to the parents of the children,” Vance said. “Doesn’t this mean that non-parents don’t have as much of a voice as parents? Doesn’t this mean that parents get a bigger say in how democracy functions? Yes.
“When you go to the polls in this country as a parent, you should have more power, you should have more of an ability to speak your voice in our Democratic republic, than people who don’t have kids,” he continued. “Let’s face the consequences and the reality; if you don’t have as much of an investment in the future of this country, maybe you shouldn’t get nearly the same voice.”
Vance, a self-acclaimed populist and the author of Hillbilly Elegy — a book that has been praised by political pundits on the right and by the neoliberal left as an alleged primer on “understanding” the culture and beliefs of economically insecure white voters in rural or exurban America and their support for Donald Trump — has ripped a page from the book of anti-gay Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, emphasizing the importance of promoting two-parent family households.
Like Orbán, Vance routinely attacks the cultural left for its transgressions (real and imagined) over the past century while also arguing that the United States should do more, policy-wise, to promote stable two-parent families that serve as the building block for society.
In his speech at the conference, he praised Orbán for promoting policies like giving loans to new married couples and forgiving those loans if the couple stayed together and had children.
“Why can’t we do that here?” he asked rhetorically. “Why can’t we actually promote family formation?”
In an interview with The Daily Caller, he asserted that “many of the most unhappy, and most miserable, and most angry people in our media are childless adults.”
He added that conservatives shouldn’t care about family formation simply to placate cultural elites who routinely disparage working-class and rural Americans, but because stronger families will lead to a stronger society where people are not as reliant on social safety net programs.
“We are not just worried about the lack of babies because it means our media is miserable and because it means our leaders are miserable. We’re worried about babies because babies are good, and a country that has children is a healthy country that’s worth living in,” Vance said. “We care about children because we’re not sociopaths.”
Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of the transportation secretary and former South Bend mayor, slammed Vance’s comments on Twitter, writing: “Bringing a child into this world can be a long, difficult and often heartbreaking process for any family. Shame on @JDVance1 for this tactless take. As a father, he should know better. As a wannabe Senator, it’s clear that empathy isn’t his strong suit.”
Bringing a child into this world can be a long, difficult and often heartbreaking process for any family. Shame on @JDVance1 for this tactless take. As a father, he should know better. As a wannabe Senator, it's clear that empathy isn't his strong suit. https://t.co/tEpeR7qX3Q
— Chasten Glezman Buttigieg (@Chasten) July 26, 2021
Chasten Buttigieg, who spoke with The Washington Post for a profile, revealed that as a gay couple, he and Pete have struggled to form their own family. They have put their name on adoption lists, participated in parenting workshops and “gotten close” to discussing baby names.
He even said that, two weeks ago, they received notice of a birth mother who wanted to put her baby up for adoption, and were trying to clear their schedules and arrange to travel to the hospital where she was giving birth when she informed them that she had changed her mind.
“It’s a really weird cycle of anger and frustration and hope,” Chasten Buttigieg told the Post of the couple’s effort to form their own family. “You think it’s finally happening and you get so excited, and then it’s gone.”
He added that he hopes to one day tell his future children, “We tried so hard for you. We waited so long for you.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!