By Giuseppe T. Mazzone, NYU Alumni
This blog aims to explore relationships between the arts & diplomacy. Therefore, there’s nothing better than starting from Florence, Italy, a city at the heart of the Italian and European Renaissance, where natural and artistic beauty mix with pragmatic mercantile flavors and pragmatic political practice.
We start from the beautiful Villa La Pietra, a magnificent Villa built in the 15th century, on the hills dominating the Brunelleschi Dome on the way from Florence to Fiesole. Villa La Pietra was once the home of the Florentine Sassetti and Capponi families. More recently, it belonged to the late Lord Harold Acton, a historian of the Medicis’ period. Villa La Pietra belongs to New York University since 1994. We were there, mid-November 2014, as interested NYU Alumni, to attend a two day seminar on American politics organized by NYU Florence’s La Pietra Dialogues.
The seminar was open to the public and live streamed, showcasing traditional NYU hospitality and the University’s excellent use of modern technology. The conference focused on the recent U.S. mid-term congressional elections. In a few words: Republicans got majority control of both the House and the Senate in Washington DC; President Obama would act as a Lame Duck; Congress’s agenda would challenge the presidential agenda; however, President Obama might still make a compelling use of his executive powers; political initiative and the balance of power are at stake; American democracy is at work. What about the leading role of the U.S. in the international arena within the framework of the new “World Order”, just to quote the last, remarkable, book by Henry Kissinger, a master of American and international diplomacy?
Panelists offered their assessment of current political dynamics: bipartisanship; a clear-cut assessment of American voter behavior; trends and expectations; insights and perspectives; for the present and for the future, keeping the next presidential elections in mind. It was two days of clever and passionate debate; a frank exchange of views by and between a roster of excellent, carefully selected, panelists: journalists, academics, businessmen, pollsters, campaign managers, media communication strategists.
A panel discussion was followed by some open questions.