The Right Way to Resist Trump?

University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales warned about a Trump presidency five years ago and was laughed at. But he came from Italy, and drew upon the Silvio Berlusconi parallels. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for a total of nine years, Zingales says, because of the incompetency of the opposition, and he warns us against making the same mistakes lest we create a Trump dynasty that will last long beyond his age or term limits would allow.

During the campaign, the opposition’s rabid obsession with his personality flaws, Zingales argues, increased sympathy among moderate voters, increased his popularity, and gave him free advertising. And this trend is continuing since his election, The vehement anti-Trump protests are 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 delegitimizes the future protests and exposes the bias of the opposition.”

The blueprint provided by the Italian experience — of the only two men to win electoral campaigns against Berlusconi — for how to defeat Trump relies on treating him as “an ordinary opponent”, focusing on issues rather than on his character. To ignore this advice would “crown Mr. Trump as the people’s leader of the fight against the Washington caste” and cripple the opposition’s ability to conduct a battle of principles. The Democrats

“should not do as the Republicans did after President Obama was elected. Their preconceived opposition to any of his initiatives poisoned the Washington well, fueling 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 new infrastructure investments.”

“Finally, the Democratic Party should also find a credible candidate among young leaders, one outside the party’s Brahmins. 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?”

Source: New York Times op-ed