What’s the Deal with Kids These Days?

As goes Argentina… so goes America? Maybe Doug Casey was right all those years ago when he implored Yanks to venture southward, past the point of being slurred a “gringo,” to where they’d be welcomed as “Yanquis.”

The tango-touting nation just elected—one second, I have to quadruple check to make sure I’m reading this correctly—a “self-described anarcho-capitalist” as president. How about that: La Albiceleste meets black and gold!

“Javier Milei crushes Argentine left, becomes world’s first libertarian head of state,” declares Fox News, though first may be putting it a bit too high. The Calvin Coolidge fan club would like a word.

Perfunctory libertarian disclaimer: Ron Paul Institute Executive Director Daniel McAdams challenges the notion Milei is a real libertarian. He talks too neocon-ish on foreign policy. Reason magazine also excoriates the mop-top Rothbardian for being too militant on drug prohibition.

Purity quibbles aside, it’s remarkable Milei won the presidency of South America’s third largest economy, especially without the backing of its entrenched political machine. How he did it is even more extraordinary: Milei mustered legions of young—yes, young, as in twentysomethings—to his cause of slicing the gristle off the Argentinian state.

Vox reports: “Ahead of a previous round of voting in October, polls indicated almost 50 percent of voters 29 and younger backed Milei.” This unruly demo is comprised mostly of men, which must come as a withering shock to the female libertarian community—all six of them.

That Milei—a showboating provocateur who dresses as a Marvel movie villain and brags about binning entire bureaucracies like he was vacuuming his car, including the Central Bank (swooooooon)—attracted such a fledgling following, and not a pink-haired non-binary socialist, should put the American left on high alert.

Why should be obvious to anyone raised on South Park. Bombastic political candidates make for great protest votes. The biggest, baddest, and orangest example of the century is, of course, Donald Trump, who rose to political prominence offending elite sensitivities. “**** Your Feelings” was just as much the original Trump slogan as “Build the Wall.” Indulgent liberal caterwauling over every sentence, word, and noun belched between Trump’s tangelo lips made him the rebellious choice, especially against a schoomarmish bag lady.

Trump’s only presidential victory was helped along by a wide-open social-mediascape. That irreverent feeling dissipated before 2020, along with a pandemic that sapped the fun out of social life. By the time the general election rolled around, Trump was a far too familiar figure in American life to be the same middle digit to our Imperial District. Even his tweets, I’m saddened to say, had lost their glycerinic power to draw liberal tears.

But in our accelerated culture, where three years feels like thirteen, the political clime has changed. In 2023, almost four years after the Summer of Floyd’s racial paroxysms, seven years after the #MeToo manhunt, nine years after Obergefell, and seemingly countless years of pronoun policing, the establishment is begging—absolutely begging—for a jolting reminder of domestic distemper. Or, at the very least, Babylon on the Potomac is in desperate need of decadence deflation. If you think I’m overstating our capital’s conceit, just read Shawn McCreesh’s dispatch about a ram-packed Cafe Milano fête for ABC journalist Jonathan Karl’s “third” Trump book.

Like in Argentina, young voters could lead the disaffected charge next year. A spate of new polling shows Trump edging Biden out with Americans age 18-34. Of course, the results could be chalked up to psephologists gaming the outcomes to bolster Trump in the GOP primary, thereby boosting his chances of being the nominee while simultaneously helping Joe Biden, whose chances are best against his former opponent. *Deep breath.* Conspiracies really drain lung capacity when you have to spell them out!

It could all be a fluke—which my inner Mr. Skinner makes me believe. Or it could point to a simmering angst, an inchoate desire to do what the young and restless have always done: épater la bourgeoisie. “We are foolish to underestimate the allure of this nihilistic freedom,” Rusty Reno said of Hamas’s sanguinary assault against Israel. The same deep-seated need to act out, push boundaries, raise eyebrows, freak the norms, cause pearl clutching, and make a statement still exists in an American youth that’s grown up in the most wealthy and technologically plush time in human history.

For more of this hotspur dynamic, see the most astonishing poll of the year, which showed Generation Z males less socially liberal than millennials. Atlantic scribe Derek Thompson frettingly sums up the results as: “Gen Z men are less liberal and feminist than [m]illennials and perhaps even show a significant decline in support for gay marriage.”

Gen Z’s fairer sex still hold conventional leftist views, including the idea that any “sex” is fairer and that sex and gender are heteronormative constructs imposed by oppressive… *blah blah blah.* Even trying to satirize bluestocking liberal prattle is exhausting.

Regardless, the implication of these nonage probes comes as a surprise. The left failed at converting half of the rising voting bloc. Or, if you’re more cynical, Zoomer dudes may be down-the-line liberals but they’re playing pollsters for fools, and might punch their ballots for Trump, or even go full Tim Leary, opting for RFK Jr., or Cornel West, just to be puckish spoilers.

“Settled” mores never sit so settled with successive generations. “Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret,” said Horace. Gen. TikTok may have never seen a pitchfork in real life, but they don’t need a three-tined tool to poke a hole in political assumptions. All they need is that timeless fear of every regnant regime: the sweet irreverent defiance of youth.

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Taylor Lewis

Taylor Lewis writes from Virginia.

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