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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 21-05-2022 00:13

The Milei Experience

Like a long-distance runner who starts sprinting as soon as the whistle blows, Javier Milei has started his presidential campaign much earlier than anybody else.

The most famous lunatic of literature, Don Quixote, plunged into his ridiculous “adventures” due to the illusions he suffered. The errors committed came from projecting into the real world things which were only in his head, believing the non-existent to be real or in the existence of the unreal. But something in Don Quixote’s outlook shows us that ideas are fundamental to the reality of every person and not the reverse. In reality, ideas serve to organise our world and define where we stand facing those around us. Despite the character created by Cervantes passing into history as a romantic hero fighting for an ideal, in reality he was a humorous personage ridiculed in the immortal work.

As happened in the adventures of the man of La Mancha, wherever the name of Javier Milei appears, everything starts to form part of his world. Wherever he goes, he commands attention like a clown in flames – in front of whom everything comes to a halt. We stop zapping our television sets, we lend an ear to listen to him rant on the radio, we stop to watch a video on the social networks and, should we see him speaking in some corner, we would also stop to enjoy the colourful spectacle. It’s natural enough that a decadent Argentina should showcase personalities like his, telling people what they want to hear yet somewhat distanced from reality – a discourse which seems plausible in theory but impracticable.

This phenomenon exposes the irrational at times, permitting us to analyse the qualities and evaluate the dynamics of a crisis, however disconcerting that might be. The disruptive is what stands out and generates psychic processes which spring to light. The disruption runs under the sales tag of “experiences.” Just as dinners in a posh place, travel to exotic destinations or risk sports are marketed, so is the “Milei Experience.”

The worst of these “experiences” is how ephemeral they are. Because just as the exotic and the unexplored are one-off experiences, over and above ceasing to be something unknown, they are often presented as something to be done but not repeated. The Milei Experience can lead us to get to know it, love it and buy it, but finally not repeat it or take it back to the shop within a short time of having acquired it. Because it has ceased to be an experience and become a consumer durable dependent on many factors, among others, its adaptability to the everyday life of people.

Milei, who entered public life a short while ago, has as his mentor a businessman dedicated to the airport business and who (so they say) is highly amused by how his figure and discourse have become installed, and how his ambition grows every day. Many forecast a comfortable third place for Milei or even coming within reach of the run-off, and they would be right if the elections were in the next three months. But since they are not, it is probable that we will have to see how he goes about adjusting to new scenarios. We would even enjoy the growth of “Milei Presidente” if the elections were in the next three months but as they will not be brought ahead, it is highly probable that from here to election day his image will fall and trail off.

Like a long-distance runner who starts sprinting as soon as the whistle blows, Milei has started his campaign much earlier than anybody else, thus making any equality of conditions for the presidential race impossible. Midterm elections, such as the ones that gave Milei the central place he enjoys today, are always more open to new figures with the voters looking for somebody to represent their dissatisfaction. But they hardly ever give them the responsibility of running a country with such ease.

Furthermore, he will not waste time in piling up errors to mar his image. For example, we saw him exalted and losing his cool at the Book Fair, jumping up and down like a monkey trying to attract attention. Nevertheless, we can agree that hunger, poverty, inflation and crime require rather more than a disruptive personality jumping up and down on a stage. Despite their annoyance, people know that we need a multidisciplinary team with the vocation to govern, not by impulse but with hard facts. Could Milei really be that man?

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Eduardo Reina

Eduardo Reina

Consultor especializado en Comunicación Institucional y Política, Asuntos Públicos y Gubernamentales, Manejo de crisis y Relaciones con los Medios. Magister en Comunicación y Marketing Político en la Universidad del Salvador (USAL). Postgraduate Business and Management por la Universidad de California Ext. Berkeley, EEUU. Es docente universitario en UCA y USAL.

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