Should Conservatives in America Applaud Giorgia Meloni? | Opinion

Conservatives are undoubtedly feeling outnumbered—and worse, without much of a voice—in the United States. Female conservatives, even more so. What's happening in Italy now may give conservatives—men and women, here and in Italy—a glimmer of cautious hope for the future.

Giorgia Meloni was just elected the first female prime minister in the history of Italy. Meloni, a 45 year-old mother, journalist, and politician, has been drawn to conservative ideas since her youth, eventually co-founding her political party, the Brothers of Italy, in 2011.

Meloni has been called a right-wing populist and an Italian nationalist, but her political positions largely represent everyday conservative ideas: she's anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia, and a huge proponent of nuclear families. She's for border security in Italy and has been accused of xenophobia because of it.

To be sure, Meloni has expressed some views that don't align with a traditional, conservative agenda—such as labeling Italian dictator Benito Mussolini "a good politician" in 1996. The Brothers of Italy also had early ties to far-right groups and recently suspended a candidate who praised Adolf Hitler on social media. But Meloni has disavowed Italian fascism and opposed other forms of dictatorship. She called for protests of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, over China's unethical treatment of Tibet.

The people of Italy seem drawn to Meloni's political stances and everywoman appeal as much as they are opposed to the direction Italy was headed under its previous leadership. Italy has struggled with youth unemployment and immigration issues. Young Italians are leaving the country even as migrants are flocking to it. Meloni has likened her beliefs to those of the Conservative Party in the U.K. and the Republican Party in the U.S. She even spoke at CPAC in Texas, in February.

The unprecedented fact that the Italian people elected Meloni, a conservative woman, showcases just how much conservatism appeals to people even as society appears to veer towards progressive ideas.

Giorgia Meloni
ROME, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 25: Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) holds a "Thank You Italy" sign during a press conference at the party electoral headquarters overnight, on September 25, 2022 in Rome, Italy. The snap election was triggered by the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi in July, following the collapse of his big-tent coalition of leftist, right-wing and centrist parties. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Rather than applaud her historic win, much of the media is already questioning Meloni's beliefs and abilities, and calling her a fascist. A Saturday Guardian piece called her "a danger to the democratic balance in Europe" due to her friendship with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The author labeled her a fascist because she's for "God, homeland, family." "Is Italy on the Verge of Returning to Fascism?" a Foreign Policy podcast wondered. A Saturday New York Times piece casually mentioned fascism 28 times.

Truth is, it's too early to tell what Meloni's Brothers of Italy government will do. A party that embraces center-right ideas that provide stability and value and puts its far-right associations in the part—if indeed Brothers of Italy has done so—could help address Italy's many crises. Meloni doesn't seem like a wolf in sheep's clothing, but only time will reveal her true beliefs and ability to govern.

In a speech a few years ago at the World Congress of Families, Meloni describes, in about 90 seconds, the precarious moment Western society inhabits. It is a moment, as she describes it, when progressive ideology is stripping away the values we hold dear—God, family, country—in order that we would become hollow, empty, and powerless.

Why is the family an enemy? Why is the family so frightening? There is a single answer to all these questions. Because it defines us. Because it is our identity. Because everything that defines us is now an enemy for those who would like us to no longer have an identity and to simply be perfect consumer slaves.

Meloni concluded with a paraphrase of a G.K. Chesterton quote that's become all too real today: "Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer," Meloni said. "That time has arrived. We are ready."

Whatever Meloni accomplishes, or fails to, the world should recognize and applaud this historic moment. And we should take note that Italy's first female prime minister is so aptly able to identify the progressive movement trying to tear Italy—and the United States—apart.

Nicole Russell is a mother of four who has worked in Republican politics. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and the Washington Examiner. She is an opinion columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.