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The Right Resistance: Report from Florence – Making beauty a lasting virtue along with political victory

If you’ve ever been in a naturally scenic place just before dawn and had difficulty telling where the sky ended and the earth began, you may understand what it felt like for a Renaissance art lover (yours truly) to experience Florence, Italy, for the first time.

In Florence, you simply can’t discern where the art stops and the city begins. It’s like one and the same since everywhere you look is something that merits more than a simple glance.


To suggest that there is a plethora of art works everywhere you look in the center of Florence is an understatement. Even the facades of buildings and residences are cleverly covered with masterpieces that one would expect to be in a museum someplace rather than attached to a mere structure in what is known as the capital of the High Renaissance. Indeed, Florence contains so much art the city could conceivably be deemed to be one huge museum in itself.


It's overwhelming and wonderful at the same time, though your smart phone’s video and photo features could experience overload when you’re there – or just as bad, run out of battery. It wouldn’t be a good thing to be capturing the iconic David statue (by Michelangelo) in all its grandeur only to be cut short by a technical problem.


Florence was the fifth and final stop on our whirlwind tour of the northern Mediterranean which included Rome, Naples (Pompeii), Barcelona and then Palma De Mallorca (Spain), where we still enjoyed the region’s history but took a bit of a break from facts and names by focusing on tasting (and drinking) Spanish wine and sampling cuisine while exploring the stop’s shopping offerings. It was good to take a break from the heavier content, since trying to work-in Florence in one stop was pure exhaustion.


Where to begin? That’s a nice problem to have when touring a legendary place for the first time, and Florence is about as legendary as they come. Not as historic as Rome or Pompeii (Naples), in Northern Italy, there, your brain is overstimulated by beauty as well as facts.


From Wikipedia, “Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era. It is considered by many academics to have been the birthplace of the Renaissance, becoming a major artistic, cultural, commercial, political, economic and financial center. During this time, Florence rose to a position of enormous influence in Italy, Europe, and beyond. Its turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city served as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. The Florentine dialect forms the base of standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini.


“The city attracts millions of tourists each year, and UNESCO declared the Historic Centre of Florence a World Heritage Site in 1982. The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, Forbes ranked it as one of the most beautiful cities in the world in 2010…


“Florence originated as a Roman city, and later, after a long period as a flourishing trading and banking medieval commune, it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. It was politically, economically, and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world from the 14th to 16th centuries…”


Again, like with the other Italian (and Spanish) locales we found ourselves in, history dominates in Florence. Not as old as Rome itself – or as notorious for being destroyed as was Pompeii – Florence became noteworthy because of the individuals who made it famous. All of the Renaissance masters were either from there or based there, and the influence and dominance of the legendary Medici family is seen everywhere in Florence. The Medicis were apparently enthralled with their own sense of self-importance, but their “arrogance” sure left a lasting impression for future generations to gawk at.


I must confess, I first became interested in Renaissance and Baroque art by taking a course at UCLA to fulfill a general education requirement to graduate. Basically, I chose the class because it was held on a part of the campus that was easy to access and its time slot fit my schedule. I didn’t know the first thing about art much less the Renaissance period or Florence itself. I met a friend in the class (who knew considerably more than I did on the topic) and I joked to her that, to me, the David statue should’ve been known as “The big naked guy”.


Needless to say, my appreciation grew considerably as the weeks went by, though I’ll admit it was extremely difficult for me to tell the difference between the paintings and sculptures themselves (except for David, of course – who could mess that one up?) and which master originally created them. I do recall that my favorite artists were Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo de Vinci, all of whom have extensive relation to Florence and whose works I particularly sought out during our visit there (and obviously in Rome, too).


I also remember the professor who taught the class, a woman with a thick but very pleasant British accent who described the art with a flourish that I can still hear in my head to this day. One such painting – which I can’t remember which one – she described in this way… “And at the bottom of the work (the artist) depicts souls descending into hell to burn for all eternity, and eternity is a LONG time, folks.”


Those experienced with Renaissance art, and Florence, understand that much/most of it revolves around Biblical and Christian themes which dominate the subject matter. The Renaissance masters themselves were commissioned by individuals – like the Medici local rulers – to produce the works as part of an early but incredibly grand civic beautification project. The history is much too complex and detailed to relay here – or to fully grasp on an eight-hour tour of Florence like we had – but it’s enough to say that the leaders of the period were forward thinking men who didn’t mind spending money to make their surroundings appear as though they were fashioned in a dream.


Florence, as the Wikipedia blurb relayed, was also a political center and was the birthplace for a big chunk of modern political thought, particularly the musings of Niccolò Machiavelli whose observations in his work “The Prince” provides the basis for much of what political science students ingrained in their teeth-cutting years (at least that’s the way it used to be). Though it’s doubtful that tourists visit Florence because of Machiavelli, the man’s contributions are a key part of making the city’s reputation as strong and enduring as it remains today.


It shouldn’t be forgotten that, (from Wikipedia) “Machiavelli believed that public and private morality had to be understood as two different things in order to rule well. As a result, a ruler must be concerned not only with reputation, but also must be positively willing to act unscrupulously at the right times. Machiavelli believed that, for a ruler, it was better to be widely feared than to be greatly loved; a loved ruler retains authority by obligation, while a feared leader rules by fear of punishment.”


Doesn’t this sound a little bit like the way Donald J. Trump handles his politics? Fear and love are concepts Trump knows well and he maneuvers public opinion according to relationships – both good and bad. Don’t commentators say the Trump values loyalty above all? And isn’t Trump both feared and hated by his opposition?


All food for thought. But Florence itself, like our other stops on our European jaunt, offered many lessons for politician Trump in his quest to win the 2024 election and return to the presidency.


One such valuable truism is that personnel matters, and sometimes pitting rivals against each other will produce the best and longest lasting results. My Renaissance favorites, Leonardo de Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael weren’t, let’s say, fond of each other. Michelangelo accused Raphael of copying and appropriating his style and all three, though occupying different age groups, competed for commissioned work.


Yes, competition was great back then as well. And the masters had egos to match their tremendous gifts. They wanted fame for themselves – sounds very human, doesn’t it?


Donald Trump is usually regarded as a pretty good judge of character, but he also made a number of personnel decisions in his first term that came back to haunt him, starting with his initial decision to bring in Reince Priebus as co-chief of staff, thereby allowing the GOP establishment inside access to the seat of power.


There were other notable mistakes – Mike Pence? – but Trump swears he is more experienced and wiser this time and will not only bring in good hands to help with his MAGA work, but will also aggressively purge the bad apples from the deep state and bureaucracy. This is probably Trump’s biggest challenge if he wins a second term. As Machiavelli wrote about, corruption is deep in politics. Can Trump make his governing style work for him?


At the same time, Florence’s political leadership recognized the importance of “public works” projects and their influence on culture and public mood. Though it’s highly unlikely that Donald Trump could lead a new Renaissance in style, he could certainly re-institute patriotism and love of country and perhaps a restoration of American history (both good and bad) that has been utterly wrecked under the reign of senile Joe Biden.


Trump could also learn that there are no lasting dynasties in politics, and that the name Trump will only carry on so long as he is on the scene. Trump will eventually fade, but his MAGA movement and principles will endure if he can change the Republican party from within. As great and influential as the Medici family was in Florence, they too were eventually supplanted.


How did Reagan say it? That “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”


Too true. And the beauty and quality of Florence, Italy, was not passed down in the bloodstream, either. But fortunately, Florence’s art works themselves still amaze and astound more than half a Millenia after many of them were created. Hopefully, future leaders will allow future generations to enjoy them – and learn from them – as well.


History matters. Faith matters. Political skills matter. Trump can lead an American revival.

  • Joe Biden economy

  • inflation

  • Biden cognitive decline

  • gas prices,

  • Nancy Pelosi

  • Biden senile

  • January 6 Committee

  • Liz Cheney

  • Build Back Better

  • Joe Manchin

  • RINOs

  • Marjorie Taylor Green

  • Kevin McCarthy

  • Mitch McConnell

  • 2022 elections

  • Donald Trump

  • 2024 presidential election

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