Dear American friends, men and women both,
We are concerned by what you are going through after Donald Trump’s election and by its similarity to various aspects of our experience during Silvio Berlusconi’s time as prime minister of Italy. Naturally, there are enormous differences between our experiences and yours, due primarily to the fact that your country is much larger and more important than ours, and thus bears much more responsibility toward the world. What’s more, we ended up keeping Berlusconi for almost twenty years, over the course of which time our country slowly collapsed, crushed by corruption and populism. We hope that for you this remains an unthinkable prospect.
We made so many mistakes over those twenty years. I would like to mention a few of them in the hope that you may avoid them.
After the elections of 1994 (when Berlusconi was first elected, an outcome which many thought impossible) we fell into a depressive spiral, and many of us started to develop a bona fide obsession with anything that concerned our new prime minister. In these days, there is no need list off Trump’s brutalities—from his nepotism and his dream of a “Golden” House, to the obliteration of Michelle’s garden! We spent two decades being scandalized by everything that Berlusconi said and did and yet now we’re worse off than ever, with senseless populism at our door.
We’d like to say this, briefly: don’t go online (not even to read this missive) or at least do so as little as possible; avoid articles whose authors are too scandalized (often their outrage serves only to sell more copies of their paper and to upset their readers). Let us try to find capable and even-tempered people who can help us understand what exactly brought us all to this monstrous point. Let us reflect, discuss, organize, and create rational and effective initiatives to block the actions of this far-right government.
Berlusconi fell when the majority of Italians finally understood that his government was ineffective and harmful to them, and when the political opposition was able to bring his contradictions to light. Let us hope that in America this happens sooner rather than later.
Dear friends, we wish you a short four years and a long, relaxing Thanksgiving break.
Sandra Ozzola Ferri and Sandro Ferri, publishers