This has been a political campaign of surprises. Not only did Donald Trump win the Republican nomination against all expectations, but Hillary has turned out to be as weak a candidate as her husband had been strong.

Who would have guessed that many vets would enthusiastically support a candidate who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War by wrangling five deferments; who brags that his greatest sacrifice — “my own personal Vietnam,” as he put it in an interview with Howard Stern — was avoiding venereal disease; who demeans prisoners of war and assures us that he knows more than our generals about ISIS.

Who would have guessed that the candidate who Senator Mario Rubio calls “a con man,” a candidate whose companies suffered bankruptcy not four but six times, is viewed by many Republicans as a “successful businessman.”

Who would really believe that a candidate who contributed to all of Hillary Clinton’s past campaigns is really a Republican? Or a man who has been pro-choice and who has supported gun regulations is sincere when he now calls himself a conservative?

Having lied about President Obama being a Muslim, should we believe Mr. Trump when he claims to be a Christian evangelical? If he’s an evangelical, then I’m the King of England.

Should we believe him when he asserts that he always opposed the Iraq War in spite of recordings of him supporting an invasion just months before President Bush sent our troops into battle? Or that he didn’t know who David Duke is? Or that he never met Michael Bloomberg when we have photos of him playing golf with the former New York mayor?Should we believe anything he says? Anything? How do you explain that more Americans trust Trump (ok, not very many) than Hillary when our best non-partisan fact checker of political speech — — provides conclusive proof that Trump lies more than twice as often as Hillary. The simple truth of the matter is that he is more dishonest than the late Richard Nixon.

Former Republican senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire calls Trump a “sociopath.” General Colin Powell describes him as a “national disgrace.”

Is there any living American who really believes that Mr. Trump’s $25,000 contribution (made, illegally, by his own foundation and with other people’s money) to Florida’s attorney general, who had announced an investigation of Trump’s fake university, had nothing to do with persuading the attorney to drop the investigation?

Trump brags that he is strong. Like Putin and Saddam Hussein, who he has admired.

He lusts after Putin’s “82% favorability rating,” either unaware or uncaring that Putin’s 82% rating is based on assassinating critical reporters, muzzling a once-free press, and jailing his opponents.

No wonder Trump wants to tighten our libel laws to stifle criticism of himself. If you believe in our First Amendment freedom of the press, you better take a long, hard look at what Trump means by a “strong leader.”

Hillary may yet lose the election because her own penchant for privacy (“secrecy,” her critics call it) and occasional dishonesty has smothered enthusiasm among her supporters. If those supporters decide to sit this election out, then Mr. Trump will be our next president.

But even if he loses, this election will drag on and on and on. Trump has already said that the only way he can lose is if the election is rigged. And so, unlike Al Gore in 2000 and John McCain in 2008 who conceded to preserve the integrity of our democratic system, Trump is willing to tear the system down to preserve an ego the size of Texas.

Good luck, America.

— Historian Gary B. Ostrower has spent most of his teaching career at Alfred University, where he has been the Margaret and Barbara Hagar Professor of the Humanities. He has won numerous teaching awards.