Today J D Vance is an investment executive and principal at Mithril Capital Management in San Francisco and the author of a New York Times bestseller. He is only 32 but his autobiography Hillbilly Elegy is a bestseller!
Vance grew up in a poor family in the city of Middeltown, Ohio. His mother struggled with drug addiction and a series of broken relationship and he was raised by his grandparents. He writes of those days: 'I grew up poor, in the Rust Belt, in an Ohio steel town that has been hemorrhaging jobs and hope for as long as I can remember.'
Beyond Ohio his family roots were among the Scotch-Irish folk of Kentucky and Vance identifies
I may be white but I do not identify with the WASPs [White Anglo-Saxon Protestants] of the Northeast. Instead I identify with the millions of working class white Americans of Scots-Irish descent who have no college degrees.'
Those were the people among whom he grew up but he served in the Marines from 2003 to 2007 and was educated at Ohio State University and Yale Law School.
During the course of the American presidential election campaign we have heard much about the 'Rust Belt' and the 'Scots-Irish'.
I do not intend to comment on the election or the Trump phenomenon but I do want to highlight the fact that there are so many Americans, who identify as 'Scots-Irish' or 'Scotch-Irish'. They are certainly to be found in many of the post-industrial communities of the Rust Belt but also in Kentucky, Virginia and the Carolinas and down in the South as well. Indeed they are to be found in most states of the United States of America. Those who imagine that the term Scotch-Irish has disappeared are much mistaken.
Some years ago James Webb wrote about the Scotch-Irish in his book Born Fighting and now the story of a Scotch-Irish family has been told in Hillbilly Elegy. Moreover it is a story about which many people in America must want to read because his book has become a New York Times bestseller.