Monday, June 12, 2017

Talking about Trump in Italy

I knew people would asked if I liked Trump. I was prepared to answer that with a resounding "NO!"

That was the easy part. Explaining why I don't like him, and how many other people don't like him, and how he ended up in power anyway was more difficult, partly for available vocabulary and partly because there's just too much to mention.

They don't really know how bad he is, and it makes sense that they don't.

There are noticeable similarities between Trump and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, but even though I know Berlusconi came off as kind of a buffoon, I didn't know much else about him. There might have been things he did right.

As it turns out, Berlusconi served through four governments; it required that much reorganizing. Then he was banned and would have gone to jail, but the sentence was commuted because of his age. Italy is now on its fourth prime minister since Berlusconi. There was some corruption and tax fraud, so they do get that.

The other key difference is that when their government is falling apart and reforming, so far it has not been something that has affected pensions and health care. I am sure there are effects that matter. Job creation could be huge, because the job markets there are very tough now and economic expansion can be easier with a stable, effective government. Also there are issues with the declining birth rate that could probably be aided through immigration or finding ways of retraining. I'm sure a good leader could be very helpful, but by and large the instability of the government does not automatically lead to instability in daily life.

(Still, a lot of what was once safe in Britain has changed, so you can never rule that out.)

Logically, if the US press spent more time on Clinton's emails than Trump not releasing tax returns, cheating workers, sexual harassment, collusion with Russia, racist incitement, pretended charitable giving that tended to benefit him and may sometimes have involved money laundering, and everything else, well, it's hardly surprising if the Italian press didn't cover it.

Much of that shouldn't matter nearly as much to them as it does to us, but some of it does. If Russia used similar techniques to try and sway British and French elections - not just US elections - that is something every country should be looking at.

The day after the election, a friend of mine in Poland sent a message to her American friends that we could come live with her. I appreciated that, but I wasn't sure how safe Poland would be. I did try and tell a cousin about that, and he didn't think an invasion of Poland was likely, but I think now he might have thought I meant Trump invading.

No, I do not see Trump invading Poland. However, Putin's actions in Ukraine, and Trump's initial denial of it, were discouraging enough. That is before Trump weakened US relations with NATO in general and Germany specifically, items definitely on Putin's wish list. Then when you consider how long Russian sources have been funding Trump golf courses, and his being brought to Russia in the '80s with that relationship apparently still existent despite numerous administrative changes, and not only many members of Trump's inner circle having Russian connections, but also Jill Stein who should have been pretty opposite, well, you have to wonder how many angles Russia is playing and to what end.

So, yes, I worry about Europe.

The other frequent question was whether people regretted voting for him.

I was able to talk a little about how farmers are suffering first, with their traditional labor sources being afraid of getting deported, and how that also affects the businesses where the immigrants shopped, with those customers being absent. I had to answer honestly that a lot of people are not feeling it yet, and will not care until it hurts them personally. That there are some people who probably are already suffering but still in denial about it again exceeded my vocabulary.

That leads us more into tomorrow's post, but let me close today by saying that I frequently saw the need of creating a primer on Trump that could succinctly cover all of the issues, and then translating that primer into Italian.

It could still happen.

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