The joyless slog that is the 2016 presidential campaign is nothing if not consistent. Every single time you think "this can't possibly get any worse," it instead plummets to new lows.
So it is with a sense of dread that we wonder if it's finally gotten as bad as it can get with the release of audio footage of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragging about repeated sexual assaults against women.
And yet he had the nerve to suggest, in Sunday's debate, that he'd throw Hillary Clinton in prison. After being caught admitting he had committed a crime.
Let's be clear: Trump is not the first powerful man to ever misuse his wealth and influence to get away with assaulting women in such a selfish and predatory manner. We're not excusing it, in the past, the present or the future. Not from him or anyone else.
But maybe we've finally seen something from Trump that we weren't expecting: Honesty.
In many ways, the newly revealed depth of his vulgarity is an unguarded, unfiltered reflection of a man we've come to know and wish we never met: A crass, hateful bully, bragging about unacceptable behavior that would get most other men, lacking his wealth and fame, fired and imprisoned.
A number of prominent Republicans, such as U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, have since disavowed support of Trump and withdrawn their endorsements. But voters would be wise not to let these folks off the hook solely on the merits of a strongly-worded press release.
These fellow Republicans knew they were casting their lot with a foul-mouthed charlatan who had appealed to his supporters' bigotry and insulted women, African-Americans, Latinos, Syrians, Muslims, China, Mexico, babies, veterans and the disabled.
But his backers supported him anyway.
That's an object lesson in why blind partisanship is a perfect system for people who prefer to let others do their thinking for them, and how spectacularly that can backfire. Leaders of both parties and more to the point, their followers would be wise to learn and remember the lessons of 2016, and what happens when you put party before country, or before common sense.