Portrait of a Young Man: Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District

By Michelle Railey

You know, somewhere along the line, there probably should have been a rule that liberal arts people (the “artsy-fartsy,” colloquially) shouldn’t mix politics with, well, probably anything. The problem with that, however, is that the liberal arts people so frequently have this habit of “thinking.” Quality of thought is, as ever, debatable, but— (as they say) mon Dieu! — the sheer quantity of it!

It simply makes one shake one’s head in wonder.

Well, it’s funny, you know, here was I, being all artsy and less-than-acceptably rich and commercially productive and all, when I decided (politics seeming to be somewhat of a favourite of mine) to care about this American Health Care Act debacle that has been so outstandingly au courant.

I very nearly choked on some of my books and art supplies! I social-media’d my intimes and I declared that this House Bill was, not to be overly dramatic, just awful, quel terribles! And then, after an energy-giving lunch of kale greens with avocado spread (paired with a simply sublime demitasse of hot water with lemon plus two grains of quinoa), well, I got straight to some real work.

I tweeted my legislator.

I had to rearrange my scarves and move the random hunks of clay and dance shoes and philosophical tomes (you know how that is!); oh, and I had to go to all the trouble of unbending from my customary apres-petit-dejeuner wall stand in order to find my iPhone (terrible things— just think of the poor, underpaid Chinese children making them! It’s just too, too much. Nearly).

But then, after all that fussing, I tweeted my legislator, Trey Hollingsworth, of Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District. I told him, quite politely, you know, to vote no on the AHCA (which sounds like an ’80s band, I know, dears, but it really isn’t).

And then, I waited for something— quelque chose— to happen: an invitation to his congressional office in Bloomington, perhaps; a white paper e-mailed with detailed reasoning on his position (whatever that might be). I waited and googled Mr. Hollingsworth (I also knitted an enchanting yak-yarn version of Le Corbusier’s futurist architecture. But, hasn’t everyone?) I set up an alert and everything (on Mr. Hollingsworth, not the yak-yarn.) And, my dears, you’ll never believe it! Representative Hollingsworth never, ever, ever put out a statement on his position on the bill.

Until today, that is, and the vote that had to be pulled because it didn’t have the votes. I damn near dropped my glass of absinthe! Worse, I very nearly spilt it on my most favorite copy of Rilke(you know the one; it’s the one all of us liberal arts majors like).

Well, once the non-vote didn’t happen, my very own representative, Trey Hollingsworth, decided to tweet a statement. Had I been wearing pearls, I would have clutched them, but you know…pearls.

Mr. Hollingsworth tweeted this: “Hoosiers sent me to Washington DC because it was readily apparent to them that DC is broken. That was proven today when career politicians failed to summon the courage to accomplish the very clear directive of the American people: repeal and replace the disastrous failure that is Obamacare. Now, more than ever, we need accountability and we need representatives thinking of their constituents, not their careers, to advance this nation towards freedom, safety, and prosperity. I remain steadfast and committed to full repeal of Obamacare and to installing term limits on Members of Congress.”

Can you even believe he capitalized the “M” in “members?” You know I hate to be judgmental but, well, occasionally you can tell who knows the difference between their White and Strunk and their AP Style Guide, if you know what I’m saying here. (And je suis que vous connaisez parce que )

Imagine my surprise that our good representative believed that the lack of courage lay in not carrying a vote through on a bill that was not going to pass instead of not commenting on a terrible, unpopular piece of legislation until it was safely not going to be called for a vote at all. Imagine my surprise to learn that the United States no longer had “freedom, safety, and prosperity,” although thanks to Cher Hollingsworth, we might be advancing towards it. (I think we can agree this is, in the colloquial, good news.)

Now, I’m all for a good “steadfast” now and again: inserting it into one’s social media “share” does seem to amp up the “I’m cool” quotient of any Millenial (are they still calling them that? I was re-reading Diderot and Bernard-Henri Lévy — among so many others— and am not sure…). So I think we all, artisans and le publique alike, can safely, enthusiastically say “Godspeed, Trey Hollingsworth, my good man!”

I confess I didn’t quite see what the connection is between “Obamacare” or its (unfortunate) repeal and the “installation” of term limits on capital-M members. Of Congress. But then, I carelessly tossed aside my Washi-tape reproduction of the Bayeux Tapestry and kept googling my very own congressman, Trey Hollingsworth.

He has 60 tweets to his official account: one could almost ask if he’s actually using it for anything at all other than a (so-called) status symbol. One would almost be tempted to think he didn’t regard it as a viable mode of communication, even if he is only 33 years old and social media is his generation’s very oxygen. My god, what is his staff even doing with their spare time?

According to the Internet, Mr. Hollingsworth has very few opinions (although that grew by one today when he decided – again, after the non-vote- to pipe up) that are publicly expressed. He is a Republican. He is a conservative Christian. He is opposed to public funding for abortion (so is the status quo Hyde amendment, but what of that?). He has voted against regulations (but has not gone on the record as to why); he has submitted a bill of his very own (oh, very good, our own steadfast Hollingsworth!) — called, mystifyingly, House Joint Resolution 23 (was “The Puppies and Motherhood Act in Favor of All Things Wholesome and Freedom-y” already taken?). It is a resolution suggesting that we amend the U.S. Constitution to institute term limits for the House and Senate. If one is looking, in a research-y sort of way, for his reasoning on what good that would do when staffers and lobbyists do not rotate out of government or how that might affect the balance of powers in government when the Supreme Court justices are not term-limited or, say, how a very generally expressed small government worldview paired with a vaguely originalist constitutional interpretation leads to a bill for an amendment to the Constitution, well, Representative Hollingworth’s website, campaign website, govtrack, Wikipedia, ballotpedia, and the Internet itself, is silent.

Now, me being a soft and artsy soul, well, it could be the case that Trey Hollingsworth is waiting for bills to appear on various “Issues” before he comments, writes (or, surely not, thinks) about them. The silence on immigration, education, business, the environment, finance, foreign affairs, taxation (I could go on, my pets, but I’m literally fatiguée)…The point is, if silence is a virtue, then Steadfast Mr. Hollingsworth is indeed our man (except for health care, on which he did, in fairness, express a viewpoint this evening).

It’s not what I myself would have chosen, but it’s so much Gibbon’s History of the Republic to me.

Well! The more I learned, the more I wanted to know (oh, liberal arts, you’re such a horrible master to your slaves!). Sadly, the accumulated writings, Facebook posts, Instagrams, Tweets, media reports, white papers, and op-eds of Ol’ Steadfast leave approximately everything to the imagination.

Being an absolute fiend for both arts and le politique, well, all I could think of after researching my dear Congressman was Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Man.

A little flat. A lot of style but very little substance. In fact, aside from social issues, no substance at all.


Portrait of a Young Man



See also: Tracking Trey Hollingsworth (FiveThirtyEight), Ballotpedia “Indiana’s Ninth,” Trey Hollingsworth “On The Issues,” Trey Hollingsworth (GovTrack), Vote for Trey (.com), Hollingsworth.House.Gov, The Representative on Twitter.


2 thoughts on “Portrait of a Young Man: Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District

  1. Carpetbagger – this carpetbagger has no business representing the 9th District of Indiana. This is a perfect example of the pernicious effect of MONEY IN POLITICS and the detriment that the CITIZENS UNITED ruling has had on our American political system.

  2. Trey is from Tennessee for those who don’t know. He spotted an open seat and wormed his way into the Republican nomination because no one knew who he was and his daddy spent a lot of money.Why did the 9th District vote for someone from Tennessee to represent them? I didn’t vote for him, so I don’t know – it makes no sense to me, especially when you pay attention to the fact that he says NOTHING when he speaks. Without money, and a lot of it, this Carpetbagger would never have a seat in the House of Representatives.

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