Donald Trump waged a campaign for president that was utterly appalling.
To be sure, political campaigns in general are notorious for being negative. But Trump took it down to a depth that we have never before seen.
His entire campaign consisted of nothing more than outrageous attacks and insults, over and over again, many of which, of course, were flat-out lies. Even to this day, Trump has offered almost nothing in terms of substantive policies.
Instead, his messages were filled with empty rage. He railed on and on about how everything in the nation is terrible. This is a disaster, that is a disaster, everything is a disaster. Our leaders are stupid. The entire system is rigged. Everything is corrupt.
Trump's contentions were all overblown hyperbole and complete nonsense. He never attempted to engage in any serious discussions about the legitimate issues facing our nation.
Trump's approach to his opposing candidates was to simply hurl at them one egregious insult after another. "Lyin' Ted," "little Marco," "low-energy Jeb," "crooked Hillary," and on and on. He never attempted to present the voters with a clear choice by delineating his policies and contrasting them with his opponents' policies.
During the general election, Trump did nothing but wage an abominable scorched-earth campaign against Hillary Clinton in the most vile of terms. He accused her of running a criminal enterprise, asserted that she belonged in jail, and attacked her for her husband's marital infidelities. Trump never attempted to compare and contrast his substantive positions against hers.
And guess what?
It worked. Trump won the election. His vacuous, vicious, dumbed-down, substance-free, burn-it-to-the-ground campaign actually prevailed.
This sets a terrible precedent. This is not how elections are supposed to be conducted. The whole point of elections in a democracy is for different candidates to present different ideas for governing in a clear manner so citizens can make an informed decision about the proper direction for the nation. Otherwise, elections have no meaning.
Trump, however, won the election by completely avoiding all substantive discussions, and instead by conducting ever greater sensationalized attacks against his opponents. And as we all know, nothing breeds success like success. So now, more and more Trump copycats will emerge of candidates running for office by waging ever more despicable attack campaigns.
This bodes ill for the nation. It is another step down in our gradual decline away from integrity, honor, and principles.
Trump may have won the election for himself, but he did so at a steep cost for everyone else.
It is a sad day for democracy in America.