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Sen. JD Vance addresses the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2024.

CNP/ via Reuters

JD Vance: Started from the bottom, now he’s here

From holler to white collar. That’s the unusual life arc of J.D. Vance, the 39-year-old junior senator from Ohio.

Born into extreme poverty in rural southern Ohio, he grew up in the holler – “the hollow” – surrounded by abuse, addiction, and despair. But he made it out: He joined the Marines, graduated from Yale Law School, and became a successful tech venture capitalist.

He recounted all of this in his bestselling 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” which became required reading after Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton spurred interest in the disaffection of white working-class America. In the book, Vance criticized a culture of victimhood and dependency among poor whites while also blasting the establishment’s condescension and neglect.

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U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), the latest House Republican nominee for House Speaker, reacts to former Speaker nominee and current House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) voting for Johnson during another round of voting to pick a new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2023.

REUTERS/Nathan Howard

Republicans set sights on divorce laws

A growing cadre of GOP social conservatives as senior as House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senator JD Vancesay no-fault divorce has undermined family stability, and they attribute a litany of social ills to it. Vance told high schoolers in California in 2022 that “even violent” marriages should continue in some cases. Johnson and his spouse, meanwhile, are in a covenant marriage, a rare legal institution available in only three states that essentially waives no-fault divorce rights preemptively.

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