Whatever happens from here on, sooner or later we will all have to say a heartfelt “thank you” to Nicola Zingaretti: to this traditional political leader, as “grey” as one gets nowadays, whom nobody could ever imagine having his picture taken in his underwear, pouting his lips, making a show of kissing a rosary, or waving his arms frantically from a balcony in Piazza Venezia. He has been reviled and mocked for his placid smile, treated as an example of the worst kind of mediocrity, and talked about as merely the less-famous brother of the actor who played Inspector Montalbano on TV. It’s true, we all know he’s no Togliatti. They don’t make party leaders like they used to anymore—back when we were all a bit smarter than nowadays.
We’ll have to thank him, and the PD: yes, the PD, the party that has been dysfunctional from the start, torn up in conflict and bleeding support, dominated by the unimpressive figures of opportunists and traitors to the great causes, a party which many have accused of being responsible for all evils past, present and future, and have for some time now, on several occasions, been written off as dead.
This lame and quarrelsome party, which doesn’t feature the “digital democracy” of 50,000 secret and faceless activists (about whom only the Casaleggio & Associates IT company knows everything) who apparently have a greater say than the other millions of voters and the representatives they elected according to the rules of the Italian Constitution.
This party, which relies on “old-school” congresses and primary elections that involve nearly two million people—old guys, deluded dreamers and washed-up revolutionaries, as everyone knows—to elect its secretary. A party that has governing bodies where people know the issues at stake and who agrees with what, who is in the majority and who in the minority, who wants to stay and who wants to leave, without needing to pay any royalties to Casaleggio & Associates.
A party that everyone says is unreliable, which everyone is itching to take a shot at, like the pianist in the saloon in an old Western, who annoys someone no matter what he happens to play: whether they find the PD too accommodating, or too inflexible, they condemn it all the same. A party that supposedly serves no purpose, a stumbling block on the path to the magnificent destiny of the capital-L Left.
And yet, all of a sudden, everyone is begging it to make this great sacrifice to save Italian democracy. Let’s think about that for a moment.
We should be grateful to Zingaretti and the PD, just as they are, for the daredevil leap into the unknown they have agreed to attempt: to kiss the proverbial toad, to try to come to an agreement with people who have helped poison the life of our society for 14 months now, in a desperate attempt to tame their subversive impulses. Zingaretti and the PD will have their work cut out for them. Will this be a government that will make the air more breathable, one that will put an end to one of the worst chapters in the history of Italian politics?
As of now, the PD’s future partners are still boasting about what they’ve done over the past 14 months, with no reservations. They are not ashamed of their signatures on the dotted line of all the measures taken by their Interior Minister to prolong the suffering of nameless shipwreck survivors, and they are proud of the shield they built around the same character to keep him from having to answer for his crimes before the judiciary—a man whom the outgoing/incoming prime minister has only recently and belatedly described as the public danger he is.
They will have their work cut out for them, indeed. How can one trust a sect that claims they are “a monolith” while there’s plenty of backstabbing going on behind the scenes, one which preaches direct democracy, but entrusts the choices that truly matter to a comedian who likes to express himself in oracular utterances from his well-guarded seaside mansions—and who behaves like an Eastern despot, periodically humiliating the “political leader” that he himself crowned?
Meanwhile, the same “political leader” (a term most likely coined to distinguish him from the “comedic leader”) is issuing ultimatums and obliquely suggesting the “correct” choice to the one-click voters to whose judgment he is ostensibly submitting, after already making firm commitments to the Head of State. And even more—he’d also like to put back into power a notorious adventurer whose history of lying would make Pinocchio blush, in order to increase his own power, or just to have a fight for its own sake. And that’s not all—after fighting to the last breath to protect his own job title, he shamelessly accuses others of only caring about government seats.
Who will be able to cut through the tangles of the endless duplicitous Newspeak that keeps coming out of their mouths?
Zingaretti and the PD will have their work cut out for them. For instance, someone will have to keep an eye on the candidate for Minister of Education, the little-known Senator Morra, who today has taken up the mantle of a defender of constitutional propriety—but who, back when Grillo was cancelling the vote to select the M5S candidate for mayor of Genoa and asking everyone to trust him even if they didn’t understand his decision, had this to say: “The awareness of the limits of our ability to understand, to grasp, to comprehend rationally, leads us more and more to recognize, beside rational intelligence, an ability to understand by trust, to ‘intuit.’ My intuition tells me to trust Beppe, like on many other occasions.”
It was such a paean to anti-intellectualism and apology for empty gregariousness as had hardly been uttered before. Thank you, Zingaretti. You have taken on a great risk. We must all hope that your bet turns out to be a winning one, and this leap into the unknown doesn’t cause you to lose your soul—whatever “Rousseau” says.