In the United States of America, the “libertarian moment” -- if it ever existed -- was squelched by the populism, nationalism, and socialism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
However, in Latin America, it lives on.
“Latin Americans have grown tired of years of populism and socialism and have begun to demand changes in their respective countries,” Nelson Albino Jr. writes for the PanAm Post.
After decades of policies and parties that have hampered individual rights and economic growth for hundreds of millions of people, the change is a welcome sign of hope for the future. Crowds have turned against “years of leftist hegemony,” as The Economist put it.
A push for reform has been building in Brazil, where corruption scandals have been so connected to top-ranking officials that The New York Times dubbed it a “banana republic.” In Argentina, the surprising 2015 presidential victory of Mauricio Macri over Daniel Scioli was another hopeful sign that Latin America could escape left-wing authoritarian populism, as is the opposition’s triumph in Venezuela. Phantom success, built on commodity prices and filching from investment spending, has caught up to leftwing regimes that have since fallen, or struggled to retain power.
In Brazil, protests have been led by libertarians waving “Less Marx, More Mises” signs. The libertarian movement in Brazil seems to be more than a fluke, thus far.
What will happen remains to be seen. Foreign Policy detected a swing toward pragmatism in the region as far back as 2010. The libertarian moment could peter out before it’s even begun. Or get brushed to the wayside by a charismatic leader who rallies against corruption, but refuses to limit government power and action.
The regional mood can shift quickly. Regardless, libertarians in South America could effect rapid, and consequential, change if they can rout public corruption and offer robust economic growth. Otherwise, the libertarian moment will appear to be a fluke or a missed opportunity. That would be bad news for the respective countries and bad news for American libertarians in an increasingly unfriendly environment.