|Brownsville, PA, where the old America continues to shrink.|
One cannot read this story in this morning's Washington Post without feeling sorry for its "protagonist," Melanie Austin. But my, how it tells a story of the brigades of Trump supporters.
In a living room in western Pennsylvania, the Republican National Convention was on TV, and Melanie Austin was getting impatient.
“Who’s that guy?” she said, watching some billionaire talk about prosperity and tolerance. “Prosperity and tolerance? Forget that sh--.”
She lit a cigarette. Her boyfriend, Kevin Lisovich, was next to her on the couch, drifting to sleep, a pillow over his head. On the ottoman was her cellphone, her notes on the speakers so far — “LOCK HER UP!!” she had written — and the anti-anxiety pills she kept in a silver vial on her keychain.
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. Like millions of others, she believed that President Obama was a Muslim. And like so many she had gotten to know online through social media, she also believed that he was likely gay, that Michelle Obama could be a man, and that the Obama children were possibly kidnapped from a family now searching for them.Wow. Read the whole story. It's sad and unsettling, mostly because it charts the path that an American could follow that would turn someone like Donald Trump into a hero when, by all accounts, most people should regard him as a cad.
Hillary Clinton was right to point out the "deplorable" nature of many of Trump's legions. Of course, better words could have been chosen. However, when this craziest of elections comes to its inevitable conclusion, I hope wiser minds write an obituary that addresses the worst of what has been revealed about America. Yes, we've suffered losses in higher-paid manufacturing jobs that non-college-educated men and women could, in the past, rely on. It's been hard on places like Brownsville, PA, as well as on farming communities across this nation that have abandoned the family farm in favor of agribusiness.
But that reckoning doesn't touch the hate and bile of the nativists, racists, homophobes, and misogynists who have always been a part of our American landscape since the days of our founding. It began with slavery, indentured servitude, and the exclusion of women from the body politic (and land ownership), and it hasn't ended. We have a lot to be held accountable for. Let that accounting begin now.
Note. The WaPo closed comments for this article. That was probably wise, but it says a lot about the volatility of our current politics, when we're afraid to unleash the hounds of public opinion around a story about a Donald Trump supporter. Heaven help us.