What We Might Learn From Berlusconi About Trump

From a great op-ed by author Luigi Zingales, read some suggestions about avoiding a Berlusconi-like extended run for Donald Trump. The bombastic Silvio Berlusconi, who is remarkably similar to Donald Trump in terms of demeanor and political values, was the Prime Minister of Italy for nine years from 1994 – 2011.

Zingales says, “Mr. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity. His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different.”

Zingales points out that the only two opponents to defeat him, Romano Prodi and Mateo Renzi, both ignored his personality, treated him as a “regular candidate” and focused attention on what he actually did as a legislator instead. Perhaps this is an approach that progressive activists should take today and de-emphasize campaign rhetoric and focus on policy moves.