The Trump of Argentina Wins

by | Dec 7, 2023 | Opinion

The recent election of Argentinian President Javier Milei is a political earthquake as big as the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.

The anti-establishment movements in Argentina and the United States share remarkable similarities. Comparable movements have also been showing up in Italy, Greece, Finland, Holland, France, Germany, Hungary, and other countries.

The establishment model of high taxes, expensive welfare systems, lax migration enforcement, and large (often corrupt) bureaucracies has been the dominant Western pattern since the end of World War II.

Throughout the world, people are finding that the system no longer delivers on prosperity, safety, accountability, and protection of national interests.

Milei’s election is one more example of the popular repudiation of the traditionally dominant establishment.

Argentinians decided that their economy was a disaster, their government was out of control, and corruption was rampant. So, gambling on a new, bold, aggressive reformer made sense.

The inflation rate in Argentina is approaching 150 percent a year. Compare this to the current 3.2 percent annualized rate in the United States (which peaked at 9.1 percent last year). You can see why Argentinians would be unhappy. If our inflation rate increased 50-fold, the level of pain and public anger would be almost unimaginable.

Argentina has been badly governed since the 1946 election of Juan Peron (of “Evita” fame). Argentinians have gotten used to enduring economic and political conditions that would lead to a massive response in the United States. Now, Argentinians are clearly tired of failure.

As Eric Lyman wrote for Just the News:

“Like former President Donald Trump, the coiffed Milei is a one-time television personality and political outsider who rode into office on a wave of discontent with the political establishment.

“He has promised radical solutions to entrenched problems (he wants to dollarize the Argentinian economy, for example, and says he will privatize companies and dramatically slash government spending, illustrating that goal using a chainsaw on the campaign trail.)

“Milei has like Trump also suggested the country’s political elite has left behind the country and has questioned the integrity of its election system.”

Sonia Cavallo Runde is a lecturer at The Catholic University of America and co-author of “Argentina’s Economic Reforms of the 1990s in Contemporary and Historical Perspective.” Runde explained the dramatic scope of change Milei’s election represents for Argentina:

“Milei has a popular mandate, ideological clarity and, for now, the political will to overturn Argentina’s decadence.

“Argentines have awakened from 20 years of populism… Those 50 and older, have positive memories of the stable 90s, when Argentina enjoyed a decade of price stability, was receiving investments, open to trade, exporting industrial and agricultural goods, and, of course, enjoying macroeconomic stability and growth.

“The young subjected to 2 decades of Kirchnerist propaganda were surprisingly enthusiastic supporters of Milei who explained in the campaign that there is no prosperity or growth without free markets and that there is no stability without fiscal balance.

“Milei’s credibility stems from the simplicity of his statements. The message got through, 55% of the Argentine population gave Milei a mandate for change. Now the challenge is to create the political consensus to implement the tough but needed changes.”

Indeed, Milei’s direct language is in the tradition of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Trump. He argues, “Socialism is always and everywhere a violent, murderous, and impoverishing phenomenon.”

Barry Casselman captured Milei’s uniqueness as a political personality in his newsletter. Like Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Milei appeared in the political stage out of nowhere. As Casselman wrote, Milei is also “difficult to categorize:”

“He is a social conservative, an economic libertarian, and has been called an ‘anarcho-capitalist.’

“He admires Donald Trump, the late Hasidic leader [Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneersohn], the U.S.A., Israel, and free markets.

“He is pro-life and anti-climate extremism. He opposes current Argentine government regulations, and wants to replace the nearly bankrupt Argentine peso with the U.S. dollar. …

“With his trademark uncombed hair and leather jacket, he is a charismatic speaker who has a huge following among working class Argentinians.”

Milei’s rise has been amazing to watch. But he should take note: The establishment he is fighting will almost certainly defend itself with every tool available – including breaking the law.

It happened to President Trump, and it can happen to Milei, too.

Like Trump, Milei will discover that winning is just the beginning.

This article was adapted from Gingrich 360 – a multimedia production company based in Arlington, Virginia, featuring the work of Speaker Newt Gingrich and Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolicy and made available via RealClearWire.
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