The Republican nominee’s ability to embrace — or manipulate — average Americans’ anxieties is inspiring more raw and rough rhetoric in politics, darker and more somber popular music, and in TV, movies and other arts, an edgier, more nervous set of characters and themes, says The Washington Post.
For generations, candidates could assume that voters wanted leaders who could reach consensus, says the Post. But Trump capitalized on the ideological polarization of the past two decades and the more recent cultural shift toward the kind of hot takes that go viral on social media.
Over the past year, Trump’s blunt, provocative rhetoric has morphed from outrageous to virtually ordinary for many Americans, says Frank Luntz, the longtime Republican consultant who uses focus groups of voters to analyze not only what they believe but also how they express it.
“Early on, people were horrified by his offensive statements,” Luntz says. “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.”
Teachers around the country are reporting not only a disturbing rise in the number of kids who mimic Trump’s insults, but also a burst of fear among immigrant children about the threat of deportation, even when their families are legal U.S. residents, says the Post.
Psychiatrists and counselors say people on both sides of the nation’s ideological divide are losing sleep and expressing concerns that are likely to extend beyond Election Day.
Bernard Vittone, a psychiatrist who runs the National Center for the Treatment of Phobias, Anxiety and Depression, says: "I’ve never had people come in like this, about four a week, coming in scared, actually frightened, about a candidate winning an election. They may hate Clinton, but they’re not scared of her. They may have hated Bush, they may have hated Obama, but they were never scared.”
Vittone says he normally treats such patients with cognitive behavioral therapy, in which “you try to get people to look at things more realistically. But in this case, I can’t really dispel their anxiety because they have facts and quotes from Trump that they spout back at me that totally nullify my attempts to ease their fear.” So the psychiatrist tends to treat Trump-fearing patients with anti-anxiety medication.
If you're upset but want to avoid meds, you can get an app with 'emergency election stress' meditations.