Here’s a video of a town hall held in Dubuque, Iowa, yesterday evening, by ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus member Rod Blum. In it, a crowd of the constituents who delivered Blum’s district to Donald Trump in November’s presidential election variously boo, shout down, and yell at their congressman while he struggles like mad to defend his vote for the American Health Care Act.
An irony, noted by the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe, is that Blum’s staff had carefully pre-screened the crowd to ensure only residents of the congressman’s home district were admitted, presumably on the assumption that the crowd would be friendlier to its second-term representative if it did not contain, for example, a bunch of liberal activists from Iowa City. In fact, only a few hours earlier, Blum had stormed angrily out of a TV interview when the reporter, KCRG’s Josh Scheinblum, challenged him on the pre-screening practice, asking Blum whether he would commit to similarly limiting his pool of political donors to the district he represents. Here’s a(n also very fun!) video of that:
So, in summary: A conservative congressman shamelessly cherry-picked the friendliest possible crowd for his empty performance of public accountability; that crowd nevertheless badgered him into a puddle of sputtering shit over his vote for an evil healthcare bill. The question is: Who is getting owned, here, and who is doing the owning?
The possibilities, as I see them, are:
- The crowd is owning Rod Blum.
- Because he carefully screened the crowd and got owned anyway, this is, in fact, an incredibly raw self-own by Blum.
- Blum voted for a nightmare healthcare bill that, when some marginally moderated version of it eventually and inevitably becomes law, will strip some real number of his constituents of their practical access to a level of healthcare that most of the people in the industrialized world take for granted, making their lives meaningfully harder, and all they can do in return is yell impotently at him and wave red cards from the bleachers, so therefore it is actually Blum who is doing the owning, here, and the crowd is being owned.
- The crowd voted for Blum, and for Donald Trump, and therefore has owned itself, savagely.
- American government is an empty, catastrophically busted performance of democracy, in which a common person has literally no political choice but to be owned and the only variable is the rawness of the own at any given moment, but in all cases we are all the ones being owned, by systems large enough and alien enough that you can call them pretty much whatever you like so long as you recognize that they are the ones doing basically all the owning around here and have been since long before any of us had a chance to recognize it.
Some of these may not be mutually exclusive, and I’m probably missing other possibilities.