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Can't You See that the Overthrow of the Entire Planet's “Liberal Order” is their Goal?
The GOP does have a vision for America and beyond, as does the media aligned with them -- If you want to see that vision, look no further than the Eastern European nation of Hungary
The GOP has a vision for America and the rest of the “liberal” world.
Yes, in 2020 they abandoned altogether even the idea of having a Party platform, and appear about to do the same for 2024, but they do have a vision.
This is an election year and outside of being “against” teaching American history, “against” acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, and “against” voting rights for minorities the Party is still refusing to say what they’re “for.” (Other than the ever-vague “freedom!!!” slogan they love to trot out in opposition to everything from Medicare to masks, and in support of the “tourists” who attacked us on January 6th).
Nonetheless, the GOP does have a vision for America and the world, as does the media aligned with them. If you want to see that vision, look no further than the Eastern European nation of Hungary.
Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s leader right now, just showed us the GOP’s vision in what The Washington Post called “an unusual endorsement.”
“Viktor Orbán of Hungary truly loves his Country and wants safety for his people,” Trump said yesterday. “He is a strong leader and respected by all. He has my Complete support and Endorsement for reelection as Prime Minister!”
Bernie Sanders tweeted the translation yesterday: “Trump wants to do here what Orbán has done in Hungary: weaken democratic institutions, curb press freedom, and rewrite election laws to entrench his own party’s power. The threat to our democracy could not be clearer, and we must act boldly to protect it.”
Orbán considers democracy a weak and ineffective form of government, just as does Trump and the vast majority of elected Republicans across the country.
He has instead embraced the strongman style of grievance oligarchy now being emulated by neofascists in Brazil, India, The Philippines, Poland, and dozens of smaller nations around the world.
This is the vision the GOP has for America and the world, and they’re not embarrassed by it. Tucker Carlson recently did his Fox “News” show from Budapest and had Orbán on as a guest, all but offering him a lap dance on-air. The show was considered a high-water mark for the network by the conservative press, which hailed Orbán as a man with “liberty-oriented values that don’t veer into anarchy, strong principles, and a healthy nationalism.”
I wrote a Daily Rant about this last year, but, since it’s now clear this is the explicit and overt direction the Republican Party has chosen, Orbán’s story is worth revisiting and sharing.
Steve Bannon celebrated Orbán as “Trump before Trump,” and Casey Michel on the NBC News site Think noted: “From targeting migrants to inflaming an ethnonationalist base, from attacking the press to whipping up nativist conspiracies, from ushering in unprecedented corruption to tearing down basic democratic protections, Trumpism is increasingly indistinguishable from Orbánism.”
In August of 1989, my best friend Jerry Schneiderman and I spent the better part of a week sitting in outdoor cafes on the Buda side of the Danube River, eating extraordinary (and cheap!) food, staying in a grand old hotel, and generally exploring Budapest.
Two months earlier there had been massive pro-democracy demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people demanding that the Soviet Union let Hungary go. The summer we were there, over a quarter-million showed up in Heroes’ Square for the reinterment of the body of Imre Nagy, a hero of the ill-fated 1956 rebellion against the USSR.
The final speaker was 26-year-old Viktor Orbán, a rising politician who would soon be a member of Parliament. To an explosion of enthusiastic cheers, Orbán defied the Soviets (the only speaker to overtly do so) and openly called for “the swift withdrawal of Russian troops.”
Nine months later, in March of 1990 and with the approval of Mikhail Gorbachev, Hungary held its first real elections since 1945; in 1999, it joined NATO; and in 2004, it became a member of the European Union.
For 20 years, Hungary was a functioning democracy; today, it’s a corrupt neofascist oligarchy.
In the few short years after he was elected in 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, now fabulously wealthy by Hungarian standards and an oligarch himself, succeeded in transforming his nation’s government from a functioning European democracy into an autocratic and oligarchic regime of single-party rule.
Trump and the GOP want to do the same here and promote the same around the world.
Orbán took over the Fidesz Party, once a conventional “conservative” political party like the GOP, with the theme of restoring “Christian” purity and “making Hungary great again.” His rallies regularly draw tens of thousands.
He campaigned on building a wall across the entirety of Hungary’s southern border, a promise he has largely kept.
He altered the nation’s Constitution to do what we’d call gerrymandering and voter suppression in much the same way Texas and Georgia just did, ensuring that his party, Fidesz, would win a majority of the votes in pretty much every federal election well into the future.
He’s now packed the courts just like Trump and McConnell did, particularly Hungary’s equivalent of the Supreme Court, so thoroughly that legal challenges against him and his party go nowhere.
Last year Hungary passed laws requiring “conservative” sex education in schools (“gay is bad”) and banning any positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ people on TV. In public campaigns they’ve conflated homosexuality with pedophilia. The latest anti-gay law passed the Hungarian Parliament by a vote of 157 to 1.
Trump and the GOP want to do the same here.
Orbán’s party railed against teaching multiracialism and racial tolerance, instead rewriting grade school textbooks to say that refugees entering the country are a threat because “it can be problematic for different cultures to coexist.” Using this logic, he has locked up refugee children in cages, just like Trump did here.
When the Hungarian Helsinki Committee said “the indefinite detention of many vulnerable migrants, including families with small children, is cruel and inhuman,” Orbán said the influx of Syrian refugees seeking asylum “poses a security risk and endangers the continent’s Christian culture and identity.” He added, in true Trump/GOP style, “Immigration brings increased crime, especially crimes against women, and lets in the virus of terrorism.”
Five years and one week before Trump applauded American Nazis who rallied in Charlottesville and murdered Heather Heyer, a group of some 700 right-wing “patriots” held a torchlight parade that ended in front of the homes of Hungary’s largest minority group, chanting “We will set your homes on fire!” Orbán’s police watched without intervening. In 2013, Zsolt Bayer, one of the founders of Orbán’s party, had called the Roma “animals… unfit to live among people.” Like Trump, Orbán refused to condemn him or the violence.
Orbán has handed government contracts to his favored few, elevating an entire new class of pro-Orbán businessmen (it appears all are men) who have now seized almost complete control of the nation’s economy, as those who opposed him have lost their businesses, been forced to sell their companies, and often fled the country. Trump and the GOP want to finish the job of monopoly and oligarchy here.
Virtually all of Hungary’s press is now in the hands of oligarchs and corporations loyal to Orbán, with hard-right talk radio and television across the country singing his praises daily just like rightwing media here. Billboards and social media proclaim Orbán’s patriotism. His media allies are now reaching out to purchase media across the rest of Europe to spread his racist, right-wing message just like rightwingers here have largely taken control of our nation’s radio waves.
Orbán recently began dismantling the Hungarian Science Academy, replacing or simply firing scientists who acknowledge climate change, which, like Trump and the GOP, he has called “left-wing trickery made up by Barack Obama.”
The world, in particular the EU, has watched this rolling political nightmare with increasing alarm, and even the EU’s 2015 and 2018 attempts to essentially impeach Orbán have backfired, increasing his two reelection margins as his handmaids in the media proclaim him a victim of a European “deep state” and meddling foreigners, particularly George Soros (who, ironically, once paid for young Orbán to attend college in Britain).
In May 2020, the same month Rudy Giuliani said he had a former Ukrainian prosecutor willing to testify that Joe Biden was corrupt, Donald Trump invited Orbán to the White House for a state visit; Orbán became one of Trump’s two primary sources of information about how Ukraine opposed or tried to sabotage the U.S. president.
Orbán has fully reinvented Christianity in Hungary, embracing a hard-right movement within the Catholic Church and among protestant evangelicals, just like Trump and the GOP here.
The Central European University just moved out of Hungary in the face of a growing threat of violence against progressive religious organizations, a ban on classes, and the tight embrace of rightwing churches by the government. Its rector, Michael Ignatieff, said, “There’s just no doubt that this is organized as a way of saying that ‘Christianity’ means ‘white conservative Europe’. It’s a trope. Say the world ‘Christian’ and it says everything else that you want to say.”
Thus, Trump told Orbán, “You have been great with respect to Christian communities…and we appreciate that very much.”
In a rally three months before his White House meeting, Orbán said that countries that accept non-Christian or non-white refugees are producing “mixed-race nations,” a trope frequently used in American rightwing media today.
Women in Hungary have been marginalized since Orbán came to power, both in business and in government. As the Hungarian Spectrum notes: “According to him, Hungarian politics is built on ‘continual character assassination,’ which creates the kinds of brutal situations that ‘women cannot endure.’” As noted in The Guardian in 2018: “Orbán’s Fidesz party and its coalition partners the Christian Democrats have 133 MPs between them, of whom just 11 are women.”
Trump and the men of the GOP revel in attacking Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and other strong women; death threats are at a level never before seen in the US.
Orbán is now ruthlessly using his own nation’s diplomatic and criminal justice systems to aid foreign criminal oligarchs, having hired his own versions of corrupt senior officials like Bill Barr and Mike Pompeo. He has increasingly turned Hungary into a place of refuge for corrupt oligarchs and neofascists from other nations, most famously granting “asylum to convicted felon and former Prime Minister of Macedonia Nikola Gruevski” in 2018.
Will Trump and his corrupt children end up there if they fail here? It’s just down the road from where his wife was born, after all. And, just as Trump and his Republican supporters wanted reporters jailed who exposed or editorialized against him, Orbán is actually doing it.
As Zach Beauchamp writes for Vox, “At dawn on a Tuesday in May, the police took a man named András from his home in northeastern Hungary. His alleged crime? Writing a Facebook post that called the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, a “dictator.” Trump has repeatedly called for our nation’s First Amendment to be rewritten by the Courts or Congress so he could do the same.”
Orbán’s hard-right party is also reaching out to other white supremacist parties in Europe to forge alliances to overthrow the “liberal order” of the EU. Conservatives in America are taking notice and writing glowing pieces about him, as rightwing movements across the world draw inspiration from both Orbán and Trump.
And now the head of the Republican Party in the United States has officially endorsed Orbán and his party for reelection this year.
Which tells us everything we need to know about the GOP’s vision for America and the world’s “best future.”