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Javier Milei Boldly Proclaimed Uncomfortable Truths In Davos

Javier Milei gives speech
Image CreditNationalPost/YouTube

Freedom lovers and American conservatives should look to Milei and hope he succeeds, setting an example for others.


Freedom has a new champion, and his name is Javier Milei. The new president of Argentina took his act to Davos last week and, as always, pulled no punches. Without naming names, he assailed the erosion of property rights and increased reliance on the state that the World Economic Forum (WEF) has been advocating for. It was a fantastic speech that demonstrated an impeccable grasp of the ways freedom is being attacked and what must be done to defend it. It was both bold and astute, but not so filled with jargon that it was difficult to understand.  

With the Republican Party lining up behind a 77-year-old who already lost an election, and the already squishy Tories set to get swamped by Labour, Anglo-American conservatism is near its post-war nadir. Thankfully, its foundational principles have spread beyond their countries of origin, and Milei appears up to the challenge of defending them.

Milei’s excellence has three interlocking strands that all conservatives, and frankly, all leaders, should seek to emulate. First, he understands which policies will make a long-standing and structural improvement, and then he actually keeps his promises and delivers on them. While American conservatives screech about an overreaching bureaucracy and government spending, Milei goes to work at dismantling the inefficient and bloated government. He already consolidated 18 government ministries down to nine and refused to renew the contracts of 5,000 government workers.

Deregulation and the devaluation of the peso are necessary steps to revitalize the economy, but if Milei succeeds at institutionalizing his changes and creating a culture of efficiency and sleekness that can outlast his presidency, it will be the structural changes he makes to the government that will be most important. Even an amazing executive can only do so much if he leaves broken systems in place. Milei is not the first to understand this conceptually, but he is one of the few to act on it.

Second, Milei is fearless. He is confident that truth is on his side, and he does what he thinks is right no matter how many left-wing elites brand him a fascist or other absurd labels. Stateside, many elected Republicans, including Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Mike DeWine, continue to quiver with fear at the thought of being called a transphobe for saying that men cannot become women or play women’s sports.

But Milei is not so easy to break. A large union protest was being planned against his agenda, and instead of caving, he proclaimed that all protesters would have their welfare benefits taken away. The protest ended up being small and insignificant. Milei will not win all of his battles, the courts are already taking issue with some of his reforms, but he will fight, in both word and deed.

Milei is also unafraid of going into hostile territory to articulate his vision. During the campaign, he would go on TV and rail against the evils of collectivism, often shocking the anchor across from him with his bold and bombastic style. And at Davos, he not only braved the ultimate lion’s den for free marketeers, he delivered a succinct but effective speech that rebutted the WEF’s usual agenda.

This relates to the third element of Milei’s strategy and one that American conservatives will need to learn from most to have any chance of defeating the flatterers and charlatans of all political stripes. Milei communicates openly and honestly with his people, and he is knowledgeable enough to articulate his views persuasively.

Milei has said, “I prefer to tell you an uncomfortable truth rather than a comfortable lie,” and he conceded some problems would get worse before they got better. Milei’s economic philosophy may not map onto traditional populism, but he is a populist in the sense that he trusts his people enough to tell them the truth.

Most American politicians, even principled conservatives like Ron DeSantis, are generally unwilling to match this level of candor. A large reason for DeSantis’s failed campaign was his convoluted strategy of attacking Trump. He feared alienating Trump’s supporters so much that he didn’t try to peel them away despite Trump’s enormous lead. He would hit Trump on failing to keep promises or for entering office as a lame duck, but rarely attack Trump’s moral failings, including his post-election conduct.

A Milei-style campaign with brutal honesty and bombastic rants probably still would have lost, but it at least could have been the start of bringing the GOP in a better direction. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan both used election losses to springboard greater success for the conservative movement down the line.

There is precedent for a truth-telling campaign succeeding in modern Republican politics. In 2016, Donald Trump was willing to tell uncomfortable truths about immigration, China, and forever wars in the Middle East. People listened, and he won. Unfortunately, between the bureaucracy’s fervent opposition to everything he did and his own unfocused and impulsive personality, Trump was unable to make the structural reforms needed to shrink the government. Yet his campaign showed that there is an audience in America ready to listen to the uncomfortable truths.

For now, freedom lovers should look to Milei and hope he succeeds, setting an example for others. Milei is what populism looks like at its best, leading his people to greater freedom and explaining his vision to them each step of the way. He tells them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Javier Milei tells the uncomfortable truths.

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