Does Donald Trump Merely Express Widely Shared Attitudes, or Does He Also Amplify Them?

At 10:41 p.m. on election night, as the trajectory became apparent, New York Times writer Nick Confessore lamented that

It feels like we are at a historic turning point not only for our country, but what was once called Western Civilization. In Europe and the United States, we are now seeing a high tide of populist nationalism, rallying disaffected white people who are angry and opposed to the multicultural societies these countries have been becoming.

For this social psychologist, Donald Trump’s oft-expressed derogatory attitudes, such as towards immigrants, Muslims, and women, have left me pondering: Is he simply giving a voice to attitudes that are widely shared? Could we take this as an opportunity to engage and to educate? Does a friend of mine correctly “liken this time to a boil which needed to be lanced?” And might Trump now, as president-elect, develop a more grace-filled, reconciling tone?

Or, with his public platform, will Trump instead model and serve to legitimize the demeaning attitudes, thus increasing their prevalence? Will he make bullying more widely tolerated? (Already, I have heard anecdotes of minority students experiencing harassment, but we need systematic evidence: will intolerance measurably increase?)