There are four aspects of the political “new normal” benefitting Trump. These aspects were absent or much less consequential 20-25 years ago than they are today. All of them benefit the unorthodox Trump candidacy, which is the utlimate product of this new political environment.
First, social media, which did not exist twenty years ago. In politics, it operates on the assumption that “Everyone is entitled to my opinion!” Trump is King Troll of Twitter, castigating “horrible” people, recently that “dope” Mitt Romney.
Second, reality television, which did not exist twenty years ago. This is how Trump created his media “brand” and became known to millions. It’s a new pathway to political stardom for a person with zero experience in political office.
Third, cable “opinion” news, which only began about twenty years ago. Sensational opinions draw viewers and profits to Fox News, MSNBC and CNN nowadays. Trump brings in viewers, so he gets all the airtime he wants on these venues, vastly eclipsing his opponents in media exposure on these channels.
Fourth, national talk radio, which was just being pioneered by Rush Limbaugh twenty years ago. Now there are many big mouths, most leaning right with big audiences, giving Trump all the airtime he wants, again eclipsing his rivals.
Has this improved our politics? This “new normal” should dispel the illusion that history is progressive — that we in our society and our politics are more enlightened than those unfortunate humans who lived before us.