Italy must be popular in the fall. New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, was there and he returned to publish Italy Breaks Your Heart.
After a caveat about “theatrical pessimism,” he provides a few memorable observations, but no solutions: “You’re in a museum and an organic garden.” “Running Rome is a controlled emergency.”
He traveled by train and car while I traveled by bicycle yet we were in the same country. Much has changed in 12 years and not for the better unless you are a visitor who does not depend on smooth operation of the moving parts that make a country function.
“Hopelessness” was the first word used to describe the situation at a dinner party including a “celebrity chef” and lawyers, both young and old.
“Europe as an entity does not exist.”
“Excessive belief in democracy.”
“Berlusconi was part of the problem but by no means all of the problem.”
Pope Francis is a source of optimism. The shared values he espouses provide a sense of belonging, but he alone cannot change the Italian Parliament.
Failed government is not easy to solve and, like Bruni, it made me think a few years ahead in this country.
Unlike Bruni, however, we might have an answer conjured up at another dinner by Chiara Contessa di Niccone and me. Not only might it rescue Italy, there might be hope for the United States as well.
Both suffer from failed governments no matter what the party. Each would probably do better if its government at least did no harm.
Take a lesson from pro sports: trade them. We get the 1000 or so members of the Italian Parliament and they get our 535 Members of Congress plus a handful from the Executive Branch.
Will they be better? No, that is not the point.
The point is they will be unable to be worse.
Mostly they will be unable to speak the language and they will have no idea how their new systems operate.
Several years of no harm.
When they learn, we can trade them again. Italy’s rescue and ours.