President Barack Obama.WhiteHouse.gov

The 2016 election has changed American politics forever. It is impossible to gauge just how disruptive of the old ways that Donald Trump was, and how he somehow managed to get away with insulting and lacerating people all the way to the top.

Muslims, blacks, veterans, immigrants, the disabled and women were all slandered and slashed in a desperate rush to the bottom in order to get to the top.

Such vulgar and bullying behavior had no place in a presidential campaign, yet somehow Trump seemed to float above it all.

Amazingly, the behavior was not only accepted but defended by so many who should have known better. Allowing a bully to have his way will prove a disastrous long term move for Republicans.

His behavior stands in utter contrast to the dignity and decorum of the couple who currently occupies the White House, Barack and Michelle Obama.

Obama will leave office with some of the highest ratings of any departing president, higher than Ronald Reagan or George Bush Senior. He is currently polling in the mid-50s.

Indeed, the more the 2016 election dissolved into a mudbath and a brawl that reflected badly on everyone, the more the Obamas shone by comparison.

Barack Obama greats Irish activist Billy Lawless.

Barack Obama greats Irish activist Billy Lawless.

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke of the way the Democrats should have fought the provocation.

Read more: Michelle Obama to make a run for top office after White House?

“They go low, we go high” she stated at the Democratic National Convention, and indeed the Obamas themselves showed how to go high not just during this election, but throughout their time in the White House.

Michelle Obama has become a star in her own right, perhaps the most popular political figure in the nation.  Her inspired contributions to the 2016 race were the highlights of the entire campaign. Who can forget her stemwinder at the convention?

There is no question that eight years ago America looked like it had leaped forward in every way with the election of Obama.

The notion of an African American with an exotic name, born to an 18-year-old single mother, becoming president of the United States seemed absurd, but it was a measure of the man and what he was able to accomplish.

Director of the CIA John Brennan and President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, at the White House.

Director of the CIA John Brennan and President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, at the White House.

During his time in the White House he avoided all scandals both personally and in his administration, the first president in decades to do so.

Despite having rabid enemies, they could never lay a finger on him for lack of integrity or a hint of seeking undue influence. Obama was scandal-free.

That is no easy task when you see what the GOP got up to when Hillary Clinton announced for president, with new investigations seemingly opening every week. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy inadvertently told the truth when he said the investigations were being done solely to impact her popularity.

Criminalizing political differences is one of the saddest developments in contemporary American politics.  Sooner or later the day of reckoning has to come about such misuse of power.

As yet there is no clear reporting on what the Obamas intend to do when they leave the White House, other than that they will stay in Washington to see their youngest daughter through high school.

Both are young enough, in their mid and late fifties, to continue to have a massive impact post-presidency. Given their dignified and successful time in the White House, the future is sure to be bright whatever they decide to do.

Read more: How did Donald Trump persuade so many white Americans to elect him?