Mr. Gingrich’s ‘Big Trump’

Mr. Gingrich understands that Mr. Trump appears to be losing not because his message has failed to resonate with Americans but because he is a poor messenger.

.. “I don’t defend him [Trump] when he wanders off,” Mr. Gingrichrecently told ABC News. But “there’s a big Trump and there’s a little Trump,” he said, explaining that the big Trump is the one who has created issues that make “the establishment” very uncomfortable.

“The big Trump,” he said, “is a historic figure.”

.. With statements like that, Mr. Gingrich is positioning himself as the keeper of the Trump-campaign themes and, by extension, as the politician best able to mobilize Trump supporters going forward.

What is the long-term effect of Donald Trump?

“He is distinct only in being someone of such prominence saying such things. I think the real change was Facebook and Twitter in 2009. Trump is just a symptom.”

.. In this view, the Trump effect is not unique to the man, but is a natural, almost inevitable result of economic and social forces unleashed by swift, powerful technological change that had, even before Trump’s candidacy, made the country meaner, more confrontational and more divided.

.. Previous bursts of populism have usually burned through in less than a generation, fading away as economic expansion, war or political reform eased people’s sense of insecurity.

.. The tea party, the Occupy movement, and Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign all demonstrated a popular hunger for thoroughgoing change and a realignment of the political parties.

.. Buskirk, 47, said Trump’s blunt rhetoric and coarse language would have been startling decades ago but today only mirrors a society in which many people feel stifled by new limits on what can be said at work or school. “We’d all like a high level of public discourse,” he said, “but a 3 a.m. tweetstorm isn’t among my worries about the next generation.”

.. Trump supporters see not his coarseness or vulgarity, but a sense that an ordinary person can rise up and make a difference.”

.. and in a way, it’s even better for Trump if he loses because then his policies never have to be tested.”

.. Pop music, which often reflects the mood of the country, has been trending slower and darker, following a period of much more energetic hits around the start of the economic recovery in 2009

.. “This was the summer of unhappy popular music,” Ross said. “There’s an almost complete dearth of up-tempo, major-chord happiness. There’s no tempo right now in country, pop, R&B, anywhere.”

.. Ross said the current popularity of slow, low-energy songs is the most striking run of such music since the early 1980s — also a time of severe economic stress.

.. “There will never be a sports talk show called ‘You May Be Right,’ no TV roundtables called ‘Point Well Taken.’ ”

.. “Early on, people were horrified by his offensive statements,” Luntz said. “But as time went on, they came to enjoy it and absorb it. There’s no filter anymore. I hear Trump’s words over and over: ‘We have to keep them out.’ Trump has liberated their inner voice, and I’m shocked at what I hear now.”

.. Luntz sees no indication that the rougher rhetoric is a passing fad. “The more coarse language gets, the more coarse it stays,” he said. “We don’t go back. We don’t suddenly become civil and good to each other.”

In Luntz’s focus groups recently, the tone of disagreements has deteriorated into the kind of attacks that once would have silenced the room. “ ‘You’re an idiot’ has become relatively common,” he said. “It’s gotten to the point where I cannot stop people from yelling at each other.”

.. Luntz has seen a sharp increase in parents telling him that their children are using Trump-inspired smears at school. “It’s ‘Lyin’ Thomas’ and ‘Little David’ in fifth or sixth grade,”

.. One boy brought me his cellphone to show me Trump’s tweets. They know his insults by heart. hey’re scared.”

.. In a culture in which characters on reality-TV shows lash out at one another for sport, in a society in which bonds of trust have frayed as relationships become distanced from physical proximity, “along comes Donald Trump to give us permission to say out loud the things we’ve been saying anonymously online,”

.. “He’s closer to how a lot of people are living than Hillary Clinton. A lot of men talk exactly like Trump online; he’s just the first person to do that while running for president.”

.. “People are immersed in their own worlds now. We were already being horrible to each other on social media, so we were kind of ripe for someone to come along and further dehumanize us.”

.. Even before Trump came along, cable news had morphed from traditional reporting to “mainly people yelling at each other,” as McGrath put it.

.. “He has obliterated the idea that tone matters, . . . that there is such a thing as going too far. For the next person who tries it, it will seem less shocking because this has been accepted by the media who report it in detail (mostly without shock or complaint) and by the rest of us who grumble but keep watching.”

The Trump Afterlife

The Republican nominee’s base is senior citizens, not the testosterone-addled young. How many of them are actually ready to rumble at Roger Stone’s command? If the answer is “not very many,” then you could easily imagine Trump overplaying his hand in an anti-concession speech, and inadvertently revealing that his right-wing populism is more virtual, more reality-television, than the 1930s variety.