Why Trump won’t go away (even if you protest or complain)
The Trump presidency looks a lot like history repeating for us Italians. Here’s how we see the United States today and what Americans can learn from us
Having lived in a country where Silvio Berlusconi has been on and off prime minister for more than two decades, I’ve been watching the presidential campaign and then the Trump’s victory as a déjà vu. Of course, his victory caught me by surprise but, again, I’ve already had that very peculiar, ugly, bitter feeling: your reality, or at least what you call like this, is falling apart. You live in a country that you no longer recognize. You thought you knew what kind of people is around you but you were wrong. You knew there were bad and stupid people, of course, but then you got your reality check: they are not a minority. They are an awful lot, so many that they look like not only a majority, but the totality. You start to feel like a stranger in your own country: let’s be honest, you’ve been so wrong about Trump because you lived in a bubble. You feel sorry for your country, ashamed, angry, depressed.
I know the feeling because I’ve experienced it for a very, very, very long time.
Long story short, bad news is that it won’t be over soon, good news is that it will end.
When the presidential campaign was still on I read many american news outlets. At the beginning their editorial strategy was to treat him like a fool. Then they went nuts when it became clear that he was not such a weak candidate. He was able to outperform in many primary elections, he wasn’t disconnected at all from the people. Actually, he happened to be much more connected to the belly of the USA, at least much more than Hillary Clinton.
December 17th 2010
If I have to choose a day after which I decided I had enough of Berlusconi, I’d go for December 17th 2010.
That day looked like any other. I received a DM from a friend: “Use the #EUCO hashtag and you’ll be live tweeting on a giant screen during the Euro summit”. He knew how much I was against Berlusconi. I tweeted four or five translations of things he said, embarassing things, of course. I wasn’t making up anything, I wasn’t aggressive or plain sarcastic. It was him.
The situation became soon unbearable. When the Italian delegation arrived they had to shut down the tweetwall. The last image on it was one of my tweet. The name was recognizable. After a couple of hours I received another DM from the same friend. It said “You’re on some kind of political bulletin from Bruxelles”. “Ok, that is cool or weird, I don’t know yet” I thought. After half an hour the same friend wrote me “Now you’re on the Guardian and on the New York Times”.
Italians have been scratching graffiti on walls since at least the days of ancient Pompeii, but this week they did…thelede.blogs.nytimes.com
An experimental "tweet-wall" on giant TVs in the main hall of the EU summit in Brussels was shut down to avoid causing…www.theguardian.com
In a matter of hours the situation became really huge. A journalist asked me on Twitter how he could reach me. After an hour I was on the telephone with him. He seemed very simpathetic. I told him:
“I was just tweeting what he said, I wasn’t offending anyone. He said those horrible things. Did I do anything wrong?”. “No, no — he replied — and in fact from a legal point of view you’re fine. But politicians can’t stand anyone who remembers them the ugly things they have said or done”.
That was the day when I experienced the power of the net and when I got really scared at the same time. I suddenly went on stealth mode: I set my twitter profile on private and never checked it for some days. I only answered to private messages from friends. The day after I was on many italian newspapers. Unexpectedly I was getting the attention I wasn’t asking for. Everybody wants to be popular but that wasn’t exactly the way I’d like it to happen.
You have to understand that Berlusconi was everywhere back in those days. He was the most powerful italian man, no doubt. He could destroy me, just for revenge.
I walked the streets of my town thinking that everybody was staring at me. I was sure: the secret police was pounding me.
Of course, I was just panicking. Probably he wasn’t being even aware of what I did. He didn’t even know what Twitter was.
After three days I eventually thought it was enough and I got back to my usual routine. He wasn’t persecuting me, I wasn’t even on his radar.
I learned at least one thing from that experience: that I really needed to stop being obsessed by him. I needed to switch to something else, like… I don’t know. Anything not related to him.
After almost a year he resigned in the midst of an harsh economic crisis and after many sexual scandals.
Is Trump like Berlusconi?
When Trump announced he was running for president, italians thought “Well, we’ve already seen this movie”. For twenty years. Are Trump and Berlusconi similar in any way? Well, yes and no.
They both had quite the same business career and the same weird behaviours. Disrespect for women and political opponents, embarassing public appearances, ugly private habits. They both seem unfit to serve their respective countries in the highest ranks. But they both succeeded in their political attempts. They were very good at understanding people’s unwanted desires and then to exploit them for their political agenda.
Yet history does not repeat. They are different for many reasons, the most important one being the fact that Trump’s magnitude is much bigger that Berlusconi’s one.
We can say that Trump is Berlusconi to the nth degree.
He’s a worst liar than Berlusconi. He’s more often rude and offensive to anyone who stands in his way.
One thing they have in common, for sure: their marketing skills are the same. They know how to please and tease the audience. They both speak the same plain and easy language. Trump is even much more childish — he actually speaks like a kid, with the same basic language structure. Maybe he acts like this on purpose. Sad, very sad.
The big shift
We’re experiencing a new breed of politicians nowadays. Once they used to be from the middle of the spectrum while society was in many parts on the edges: they were elected also by extreme political parties (more in Europe than in the USA, I admit it) but, once in charge, they had to mediate and find compromises.
Now they are right on the edges, that means they are usually much more radical than their own voters. Think about it: Trump was elected also by moderate people and now he’s running irresponsibly the Free World.
It’s normal to be disoriented.
It’s not now, it’s what’s coming after
History is never the same and people are different, I know. But I can tell you what was the big shift operated by 20 years of Berlusconi: new generations that grew up thinking that lying is fine. Or worst: that you have to lie to get what you want. That you can basically fool with people and with the law. That you can be offensive and aggressive, you’re the right guy. That is normal to isolate and attack minorities, because the (white) majority is in danger. Really? Really.
Finally: they ask for your vote for a new hope and you’ll be given terror and fear.
The sad thing is that what Trump is doing to the whole society will last much longer than his government. He’s causing waves that will continue to break for years.
When will it end?
I’ve already seen this movie. He’s doing what he told he wanted to do. He doesn’t care about any opposition. You’re against him? You’ll be probably ignored or attacked.
Berlusconi resigned when it became clear he was morally corrupt and, most of all, that he couldn’t do much for a struggling country like Italy. He sold promises his currency was worthless but by the end of 2011.
Does any of these conditions apply to the USA today? It doesn’t look like this.
In any case, it’s the USA, not Italy. I’m not talking about good and bad countries. I’m just saying that times and people are different.
You Americans against Trump and the liberal media and whoever is against him can keep on blaming and condemning and yell at him. It’s healthy to do that because this is what democracy is also about.
In the end all this won’t help to tear him down. He’ll be probably gone for other reasons:
- He’ll find being president not as funny and rewarding as he thought
- He’ll be impeached for whatever we don’t know yet, probably never
- Twitter will finally decide to shut down his account and he’ll go nut
- He’ll be elected two times and thank you Twenty-second Amendment.
Either way, the Trump effect will last longer than Trump himself.