Nobody knows what the next four years will bring in American politics. The inauguration of #Donald Trump, an unorthodox and inexperienced President, on January 20th will give the country as a whole a challenge to face in the immediate future. For the Democrats in particular, the conundrum will be the find the appropriate tactics to confront a President whose calling card is division and whose actions are spontaneous.

Democrat Italian lessons

Yet, for all Trump’s unorthodoxy, the Democrats do have one example they can study to find the appropriate tactics to oppose the incoming President.

Former and disgraced Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seems to be the model on which the new American Presidency is based. He was unpredictable, unorthodox and had a running feud with the Italian Press. At the same time, he was loose with his use of language and obstinate when confronted with his contradictions.

The Democrats should consult Italian politicians to understand that the best opposition to Trump is not in attacking the man, but in challenging his political agenda, or lack of one. In fact, Berlusconi repeatedly defeated those politicians who confronted him on character, but there was one man who twice defeated him according to his agenda.

Former Italian Prime Minister, economist and European Commissioner Romano Prodi twice headed coalitions that successfully opposed Berlusconi at national elections and both times by presenting solid political agendas instead of basing the campaigns around Berlusconi’s eccentricities.

This must be the road to take for any Democrat reaction to the Trump’s electoral victory of November 8th.

This will not be easy in the short term for the Democrats, but it will be made easier if the incoming President continues on his erratic performances of making announcements on the run and fighting running battles with Republican politicians against Trump which could erode his support in Congress and the Senate.

Future opportunities

The Democratic Party also faces another conundrum in finding the right candidate to oppose Trump in 2020. Over the last 8 years the potential candidates were Barak Obama and particularly Hillary Clinton. For obvious reasons both are now out of the running for the next presidential race, as well as Bernie Sanders for reasons of his age.

This lack of strong candidates gives young ambitious Democrats the opportunity to raise their own profile and to tackle Trump in four years time. Yet, even in this case the Democratic Party may have to consider changing its traditional tactics.

First of all, even though in minority in both Houses, its politicians must fight hard political debates on every proposed law on which they disagree. Once again, this must be done on the basis of agendas and details and not simply because they originate from Donald Trump.

The presidential campaign showed that his hard core of supporters will defend him on almost any issue, whether on his public or private life, so these political battles must be fought and won in order to win back those voters who swung away from Clinton in the final phase of last year’s political race and who will once again decide the next election.

Who will run in 2020?

Furthermore, the Democrats must decide relatively quickly its next candidate for the White House and prepare for the presidential race much earlier than normal. It cannot be assumed, as some do, that Trump may not last the four years and so the plans to oppose him must be solid and realistic in opposition to his free style political style.

This opposition cannot be done simply in both Houses, but must be done over the long term by a credible and strong candidate for the presidential race in order to allow the public to know him or her and to be able to make a decision on the political agenda of the campaign.

The next four years will be a challenge for the Democratic Party, but they will also provide opportunities for them to form a solid foundation for future political victory.