In 2008 and 2012, Republican Congressman Ron Paul ran for president warning of the dangers of growing government and the Federal Reserve devaluing the dollar, among other issues.
While he never became president, his campaign was extremely popular, energizing many voters and especially young people.
Ron Paul’s message was libertarian. It was also populist.
So is Javier Milei’s message. The new president-elect of Argentina won in part by explaining how that country’s socialist government and central bank has weakened the peso.
Like Ron Paul, Milei talked to voters about why their money was worth so much less. He vowed to slash government and ditch their central bank.
Monetary policy isn’t exactly a sexy subject, but when Argentinians are looking at 150% inflation, they are ready to listen.
Third parties aside, in the US, you have the Democratic party that is always seeking to grow government and cares little about fiscal restraint. Meanwhile, there is an old Republican establishment that pretends to be for limited government but is never able (or willing?) to reduce it. You also have a newer nationalist Right that eagerly wants to adopt the Democrats’ big government philosophy and tactics and use the government for what they see as conservative ends.
Then you have a libertarian minority, comprised of leaders like Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Thomas Massie and others within the Republican party. Like Milei, these libertarians are definitely in the minority. Like Milei, they are also considered populists.
Populism means the little guy standing up to the big guy. Helping everyday people stand up for themselves against the elites, the government, or other powerful interests. One version of populism blames free trade and immigrants for the struggles of the working class. Those in this camp believe populists should be restraining these market forces to advance the people they seek to represent. It’s simply not true.
Libertarian populists blame elites in government and big business who work together to keep down the working class while enriching themselves.
That’s what Ron Paul did over a decade ago when America’s national debt was half of what it is today and he got significant traction. That’s what Javier Milei just did in Argentia and won. These populists are correctly identifying the true “bad guys” holding people back, and they’re providing a pathway to effectively fight back.
Don’t think it couldn’t happen again.