Da Lucca, Italia, 2

Luigi Zingales wrote on the opinion page for the International edition of the NYT and it probably appeared in the US but, if you missed the column most of it appears below and I urge you to read it.

 It seems that Zingales was prescient about Trump's rise to the highest position of power in our country as he puts it,  "having already seen this movie, starring Silvio Berlusconi... and he knew how it could unfold." The country focussed on personally attacking Berlusconi as it, "was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared... we saw this dynamic during the presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton was so focused on explaining how bad Mr. trump was that she too often didn't promote her own ideas, to make  the positive case for voting for her. The news media was so intent on ridiculing Mr. Trump's behavior that it ended up providing him with free advertising.

"Unfortunately, the dynamic has not ended with the election. Shortly after Mr. Trump gave his acceptance speech, protests sprang up all over America. What are these people protesting against? Whether we like it or not, Mr. Trump won legitimately. Denying that only feeds the perception that there are "legitimate" candidates and "illegitimate" ones, and a small elite decides which is which.

"These protests are also counterproductive. There will be plenty of reasons to complain during the Trump presidency, when really awful decisions are made. Why complain now, when no decision has been made? It delegitimises the future protests and exposes the bias of the opposition.

"Even the petition calling for members of the Electoral College to violate their mandate and not vote for Mr. Trump could play into the president elect's hands. The idea is misguided. What ground would we have then when Mr. Trump tricks the system to obtain what he wants? 

"The Italian experience provides a blueprint for how to defeat Mr. Trump. Only two men in Italy have won an electoral competition. Both treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focussed on the issues, not on his character.

"The Democratic Party should learn this lesson. It should not do as the Republicans did after President Obama was elected. Their preconceived opposition to any of his initiatives poisoned the Washington well, feeling the anti-establishment reaction (even if it was a successful electoral strategy for the party). There are plenty of Trump proposals that Democrats can agree with, like the new infrastructure investments... some details might be different but  it will add to the Democratic opposition if it tries to find the points in common, not just the differences.

"And an opposition focused on personality would crown Mr. Trump as the people's leader of the fight against the Washington caste. It would also weaken the opposition voice on the issues where it is important to conduct a battle of principles.

"Democrats should also offer Mr. Trump help against the Republican establishment, an offer that would reveal whether his populism is empty language or a real position. For example, with Mr. Trump's encouragement, the Republican platform called for reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which would separate investment and commercial banking. The Democrats should declare their support of this separation, a policy that many Republicans oppose. The last thing they should want is for Mr. Trump to use the Republican establishment as a fig leaf for his own failure, dumping on it the responsibility for blocking the popular reforms that he promised during the campaign and probably never intended to pass. That will only enlarge his image as a hero of the people shackled by the elites.

"Finally, the Democratic Party should also find a credible candidate among the young leaders, one outside the party's Brahmnins The news that Chelsea Clinton is considering running for office is the worst possible. If the Democratic Party is turning into a monarchy, how can it fight the autocratic tendencies in Mr. Trump?