During the 2016 US presidential campaign, surprisingly frequent analogies were being drawn between the Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump, and a couple of famous Italians – Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi. Reflecting upon what we call the “Italianization” of American politics, and mindful of what Michael Walzer once said of analogies and other symbols in the pages of PSQ, namely that they “tell us more than we can easily repeat,” we set out in this article to ask what it would mean, both for America’s domestic politics and for its transatlantic alliance network, were Italian symbols to be meaningfully invoked. We argue that to the extent either of the Italian “objective correlatives” makes any sense, it is Berlusconi not Mussolini. And while we think America’s system of checks and balances will render its domestic political institutions reasonably resistant to our Italian “tutorial,” we are far less sanguine when it comes to the health of the transatlantic community. At the very least, Trump as Berlusconi can be counted upon to “make America grate again,” and in so doing lead to a re-emergence of anti-Americanism in the transatlantic sphere.
- Transatlantic Relations