Commentary: Students in Italy react to Trump's victory

A Syracuse student studying abroad captured responses from Italians following the initial shock of Donald Trump's presidential victory.

The outcome of the 2016 presidential election on Nov. 9 spewed a thick wave of disappointment and resentment across Syracuse University’s Florence campus. However, more than a month has passed and students are feeling a bit more optimistic than when the news first broke. 

“I’ve been more and more accepting that this is the reality we are going to face for the next four years,” said Josh Leiner, a history junior from Bates College studying with SU’s Abroad program.

Leiner was among the many students that were shocked by the election results and is still skeptical about President-elect Donald Trump’s ability to run our country.

“It is either going to be bad or catastrophic,” he said. “All we can do now is root for [him] to succeed because his success is our success. I think it is a positive thing to hear him out when appropriate and combat his ideas when necessary.”

The election has also fueled protests and riots across several college campuses and cities around the world.  While the First Amendment grants the right to a peaceful assembly, some of these protests have erupted violently resulting in vandalized cars, shootings, and arrests. SU public relations junior Alex Dorn said it is important to turn these aggravated protests into action in order to keep our country moving in the right direction.

“More than ever our country needs to stay united in order to take action because if we are divided, we will not be able to accomplish anything,” said Dorn. “Now is not the time to be complacent.”

Although abroad, students have not been able to escape the election even if they wanted to. The Italian media has also put a great deal of attention on both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. L’Espresso, an Italian magazine, has featured both candidates as their cover story several times. Most Italian media expressed a pro-Hillary bias and many Florentines see this as a very negative outcome for America.

Florentine native Cosimo Anichini, 25, said the election has proved the U.S. to be a deeply divided country.

“Donald Trump has been able to convince people who do not like the actual ‘establishment,’ who fear globalization, fear immigrants who may steal their work, and fear that someone could take away their right to possess a firearm,” Anichini said. “But they did not realize that Trump belonged to that same establishment.”

Film and English and textual studies senior Augie Cummings described how being abroad has made it difficult for him to accept this outcome.

“As an American, I feel like s--- because this is bad for the whole world. So much of our culture is exported and appreciated. Conversely, much of our ideals are hated too,” Cummings said. “But seeing it from the perspective of an Italian, this is going to hurt us.”

Donald Trump is often compared to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In 1993, Berlusconi created his own political “movement,” Forza Italia, and achieved much of his political advancement through media and commercial TV. The parallels between Berlusconi and Trump’s rhetoric and behavior are undeniable. Both are billionaire businessmen turned into politicians and the similarities between the media emphasis and scandals that surround both men have lead people the two are very much alike.

Another Florence native, Annalisa Mattou, 32, described how the media plays an integral role in how a country elects a political figure.

“American’s chose somebody they are used to seeing on TV,” Mattou said.

Mattou believes American’s elected Trump without considering how he may affect the country down the road.

“This is a choice of ignorance, bad information, and not really a good sense of the future,” she said.

The conversation surrounding Donald Trump’s future presidency does not end here, nor will it end anytime soon. Our country is in a vulnerable state where questions on what this election means for minorities and marginalized groups, what it means for the environment, and what it means for our country as a whole have surfaced.

Cummings said he believes these questions are going to help generate change and he is looking forward to making the best of this situation.

“I am excited to get more involved and that more people will get involved because this is going to be a big problem, for us and the world.” Cummings said. “Things are going to change, maybe permanently, maybe not, but enough that we have to pay attention.”

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