Berlusconi and Trump

I believe the European political leader Donald Trump most resembles is not Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini but the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Luigi Zingales, an Italian professor at the University of Chicago, has some good advice for Americans on how to resist Donald Trump when he needs to be resisted, based on the efforts of the Italian Left to resist Berlusconi– some of which only strengthened him.

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.
The Italian experience provides a blueprint for how to defeat Mr. Trump. Only two men in Italy have won an electoral competition against Mr. Berlusconi: Romano Prodi and the current prime minister, Matteo Renzi (albeit only in a 2014 European election). Both of them treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focused on the issues, not on his character. In different ways, both of them are seen as outsiders, not as members of what in Italy is defined as the political caste.

The Democratic Party should learn this lesson…

Instead of elevating Trump to the level of inhuman monstrosity, fighting him on the issues (especially when he betrays his working-class supporters) is the way to go.