Editorial cartoon (8/4/2016)

Donald Trump's 2016 campaign for the presidency represented a new low in how candidates behave at election time.

Trump specialized in name-calling like never before. First it was to denigrate his Republican opponents with insulting descriptions.

Ted Cruz became "Lying Ted." Marco Rubio was characterized as "Little Marco." Jeb Bush was branded a low-energy guy. Ben Carson was pathological. Carly Fiorina was ridiculed for her looks.

And then, of course, his Democratic opponent became "Crooked Hillary."

There have been reams written about how polarizing all this name-calling has been to American politics. There's no respecting an opponent any longer. To insult is the new way to go.

Alas, this hasn't been confined to Trump. Probably because of his success, other Republican operatives are emulating their leader's coarseness — none more so than right here in Wisconsin.

No sooner had longtime campaign finance reform advocate Mike McCabe announced he was taking out papers to run for the Democratic nomination for governor than state GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman quickly branded him as "Phony Mike McCabe."

A few days earlier when Milwaukee-area businessman Andy Gronick announced his intention to do the same, Zimmerman quickly peppered him as an "out-of-touch con artist."

Why take the time to outline why Republicans believe the candidates aren't qualified to lead Wisconsin government when it's so much easier to just call them names?

Such is the state of our political discourse in 2017, and it promises to continue getting worse in the months and years ahead. 

Just another way Donald Trump has made America great again.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel

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Dave is editor emeritus of The Capital Times.