Elsa Morante, the distinguished Italian novelist, spent the war years in what might be called internal exile, holed up, hungry, with her friend and later husband Alberto Moravia in a one-room hut in Sant'Agata (both Morante and Moravia were half Jewish). After Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were arrested and shot, hung upside down for all to see, Morante wrote about her countrymen that "all of Mussolini's faults were either tolerated or encouraged and applauded. Thus a people who tolerate the faults of their head of state are complicit with these faults. But if they encourage and applaud them as well, it is worse than being an accomplice, it makes them an accessory to these faults." Mussolini was, according to Morante, a mediocre man, a crude man, a man outside the culture. But Mussolini was also a perfect exemplar of the Italian people who, she claimed, were such that they would rather given their vote to a strong man than to a just man, and if they had to choose between their duty and heir profit -- even if they knew what their duty was -- they would choose their profit.
It is difficult not to see an analogy to our beloved country at this election season.