As Melanie saw it, what she had posted about Obama was no different from what a New Hampshire state legislator and Trump campaign adviser had said about Hillary Clinton, that she “should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.” “If it’s time to lock me up, it’s time to lock up the world,” Melanie remembered thinking when she had heard that. ” she posted on Facebook a few days after she got home in March. “#STOPHILARYCLINTON #STOPBERNIESANDERS #SHUTUPMITTROMNEY.” In June, Melanie heard that Trump was holding a rally in an airplane hangar near Pittsburgh, so off she and Kevin went. “My crappy little corrupt community,” was how Melanie described it, speeding past houses with roofs sagging, porches tilting and buildings rotting into overgrown grass.
And so when she was released from the hospital with instructions to “maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she did what seemed to her not only healthy but also patriotic. “Lets build a winning team and GREAT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!! On a blazing Saturday afternoon, her red “Make America Great Again” hat bobbed amid the thousands streaming past hawkers selling “Trump that Bitch” T-shirts and “Bomb the Shit Out of ISIS” buttons and a man handing out pamphlets about the apocalypse. She slowed as she entered the tiny downtown of Brownsville, population 2,292 and shrinking. I don’t miss it one bit,” she said, speeding up again.
First he supported allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Then came the one that struck Melanie as the strangest and most sinister of all: allowing transgender people to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. “It’s like he wants to classify us — alpha, beta, gamma, delta,” she said, referring to the dystopian future described in the novel “Brave New World.” As she tried to understand it all, the best explanation she found was that Obama himself must be gay, a notion introduced and reinforced by all sorts of stories and photos and videos showing up in her Facebook feed. ” she had written — and the anti-anxiety pills she kept in a silver vial on her keychain. “Who would have believed that when we started this journey on June 16th of last year we — and I say we, because we are a team — would have received almost 14 million votes? At the time, her hips were still sore from a series of injections intended to calm her. But certainly not homicidal, and certainly not in need of a hospital stay. ” she yelled when Trump referred to “Crooked Hillary.” “Traitoooor! And when Trump was saying how great it was going to be on Election Day — “If you pull the right trigger, we’re going to have fun together! *** Kayakers row along the Monongahela River in front of Brownsville Marine Products, a barge factory in Brownsville, Pa., where Austin has spent most of her life. Williamson/The Washington Post) A month later, she was backing out of the driveway of her house, a gray-sided two-story, the same one in which she grew up.She was a 52-year-old woman who had worked 20 years for the railroad, had once been a Democrat and was now a Republican, and counted herself among the growing swath of people who occupied the fringes of American politics but were increasingly becoming part of the mainstream. She had gotten them in February, during a difficult time in her life, when she had been involuntarily hospitalized for several weeks after what she called a “rant,” a series of online postings that included one saying that Obama should be hanged and the White House fumigated and burned to the ground. “It never crossed my mind that I’m losing it,” she said several months after her release, and a big reason for this conviction was the rise of Donald Trump, who had talked about so many of the things she had come to believe — from Obama being a founder of the terrorist group ISIS, to Hillary Clinton being a co-founder, to the idea that U. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered in a White House plot involving a prostitute and a pillow. ” Her voice blended into the thunderous cheers, but as Trump began speaking, and people quieted down, hers became the lone voice calling out from the crowd. ” — Melanie was the one letting it rip from the back of the airplane hangar. It was late afternoon, and her check-engine light came on.“What’s so special about Melanie Austin that she had to be hauled away to the nuthouse?
” John didn’t answer, and after he left, in the early evening, Melanie put on a CD of Chuck Smith, a 1970s preacher she’d long admired who was best known for converting hippies to Christianity.
“It’s everywhere.” And then she began explaining, step by step, how she had come to believe that the first lady might actually be a man named Michael.
She figured it started with the Christian televangelists she had followed since the 1980s.
In particular, she loved John Hagee, who had said that the Antichrist would appear as a “blasphemer and a homosexual.” And Jerry Falwell, who had blamed the Sept.
11 attacks on “the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians.” “Also,” Melanie said, “Falwell disclosed that the first Christmas Bill and Hillary spent in the White House, Hillary collected ornaments from homosexuals all over the world.
Melanie Austin sits at her kitchen table at her home near Brownsville, Pa., on Aug. She is an enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter and is certain that he will win the election in November. Williamson/The Washington Post) In a living room in western Pennsylvania, the Republican National Convention was on TV, and Melanie Austin was getting impatient. ” she said, watching some billionaire talk about prosperity and tolerance. On the ottoman was her cellphone, her notes on the speakers so far — “LOCK HER UP!! “Donald’s here, babe.” Trump walked onto the stage, chanting “U-S-A! ” “That’s right, Donald — USA, baby,” Melanie said to the Republican nominee for president, who began his speech by marveling at all the Americans who had gotten him here. “I would, Donald.” *** The first time she had seen him, at a rally in June, she was just beginning to realize how many people saw the world the way she did, that she was one among millions.