Trump paints troubling picture

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(CNN)Over the years, I have watched campaigns in third world countries in which one candidate accuses the other of being a criminal, sometimes even threatening to jail his opponent once elected. But I cannot recall this happening in any Western democracy until this week. The Republican convention has been colorful and chaotic, but above all, it has been consumed by a vigilante rage, complete with mock prosecutors, show trials and chanting mobs. The picture presented to the world has been of America as a banana republic.

We have descended so far so fast that it is sometimes difficult to remember that this is not normal. It was only eight years ago that the Republican nominee, John McCain, interrupted one of his supporters who claimed that Barack Obama was an Arab and thus suspicious to explain that his opponent was in fact "a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues."