Trump's anything-goes campaign sets an alarming political precedent

Routine falsehoods, unfounded claims and inflammatory language have long been staples of Mr. Trump’s anything-goes campaign. But as the polls tighten and November nears, his behavior, and the implications for the country should he become president, are alarming veteran political observers — and leaving them deeply worried about the precedent being set, regardless of who wins the White House.

“It’s frightening,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. “Our politics, because of him, is descending to the level of a third-world country. There’s just nothing beneath him. And I don’t know why we would think he would change if he became president. That’s what’s really scary.”

Stephen Hess, who served in the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, could not even contemplate the prospect of Mr. Trump as commander in chief.

“It’s incredibly depressing,” Mr. Hess said of Mr. Trump. “He’s the most profoundly ignorant man I’ve ever seen at this level in terms of understanding the American presidency, and, even more troubling, he makes no effort to learn anything.”…

His critics fear that his norm-breaking campaign portends a political future in which candidates pay no penalty for unabashedly telling untruths, disregarding the public’s right to know, and lobbing racially charged accusations.