Originally published: August 2, 2016
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that modern politics is a race to the bottom, with standards of discourse becoming increasingly strident, polarised and lacking in nuance.
A surge in racist incidents in Britain immediately after the Brexit vote, for example, suggested that extreme elements of society felt empowered to voice offensive views they had previously only shared among people they knew thought similarly. This has led some to ponder whether this is influencing or merely reflecting the views of voters.
The United States presidential election has provided many examples to support the race-to-the-bottom premise. Republican nominee Donald Trump, in particular, has characterised himself for making offensive comments that would have been unimaginable even just one presidential election cycle ago.
To quote just one example, Mr Trump suggested a United States-born judge’s Mexican ancestry disqualified him from adjudicating on a case in which he is involved. What is remarkable is that an openly racist comment like that only had a trivial effect on his popularity, which was back to normal within a week.