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Letter: Trump has parallels with ex-Italian leader

Silvio Berlusconi attends a book launch in Rome

Silvio Berlusconi attends a book launch in Rome on Dec. 4, 2013. Credit: AP / Alessandra Tarantino


I read with great interest “Let’s count Trump virtues” [Opinion, March 6]. Columnist Michael Dobie succeeded in giving a good laundry list of why we should not vote for Donald Trump. Most of us are shocked at what is happening on our political landscape. However, Dobie didn’t address the real problem.

I call Trump the American Silvio Berlusconi, after the former Italian prime minister. I was shocked when Berlusconi — by creating the Forza Italia party, taking the name of a chant used by soccer fans — emerged as a leader in Italian politics and won elections.

It took me a while to understand that embarrassing victory, why the people spoke in that manner. I go to Italy frequently. It was anger, frustration, disappointments, betrayal, etc., that made Italian voters react with revulsion to the corrupt political establishment. Democracy is based on trust, and a great percentage of people have lost trust in the American political system.

It took 15 years for the Italian political establishment to come to terms with what was happening in Italy.

Pundits in the news media who have sold themselves to the political establishment argue that the angry people are merely blue-collar workers who are ignorant and are responding to theatricality. Probably there is that, too. However, most people are angry about a political system controlled by big money, lobbyists and interest groups.

Mario B. Mignone, Stony Brook

Editor’s note: The writer is the director of the Center for Italian Studies at Stony Brook University.