Trump Endorses Orbán

Source: The White House

Via WaPo: Trump offers unusual endorsement of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of parliamentary elections.

Former president Donald Trump made an unusual endorsement in a foreign election on Monday, offering his “Complete support” for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a right-wing populist leader accused of undermining the country’s democracy and moving toward autocracy during more than a decade in power.

Six opposition parties have coalesced around Hungarian opposition leader Peter Marki-Zay in a bid to oust Orban, who has championed “illiberal democracy” and become a pariah among European Union members, in parliamentary elections planned for the spring.

“Viktor Orbán of Hungary truly loves his Country and wants safety for his people,” Trump said in a statement. “He has done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming Election. He is a strong leader and respected by all. He has my Complete support and Endorsement for reelection as Prime Minister!”

In simple terms, Trump has endorsed the most authoritarian-leaning leader in the EU, one who has already driven his country out of being classifiable as democratic.

During the past decade, Fidesz, Orban’s political party, has introduced a new constitution that weakened judicial independence and human rights protections. Orban has also curbed the rights of journalists and expanded government control of the media.

In 2019, the Washington-based think tank Freedom House downgraded the status of Hungary’s democracy from “free” to “partly free” — a categorization shared by countries like Pakistan, Singapore, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.

His party was also able to manipulate the electoral system in such a way that a plurality can translate into a super-majority, which unlocks control of the country’s constitution. The system favors rural voters over urban.

In general, Orban, who is seen as an enemy of “wokeness” and for anti-LGBTQ positions, has been idolized by right-wing nationalists in the US:

Orban has become a darling of some on the right wing in the United States. Fox News host Tucker Carlson has praised Orban’s immigration policies, among others, and former Trump White House aide Stephen K. Bannon, has called him “the most significant guy on the scene right now.

The truly concerning part of all of this is that there is a faction of the Amerian right who would like to see orbanism in America.

Here are some other posts I have written on the topic of Hungary’s reversion to authoritarianism:

See, also, from this week this piece in the NYT: How the E.U. Allowed Hungary to Become an Illiberal Model.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    Dr. Taylor.

    Thank you for writing about this once again. One of the more under reported elements of our current political culture, is the number of right leaning American voters who openly crave for authoritarianism. I believe that number is much larger than currently as soon.

    Furthermore, many of us have believed that it is the only path forward for the current GOP. They are actively trying to create a minority rule country, and they are getting away with it

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  2. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Remember the idiots parading around Trump rallies with t-shirts that read: “I’D RATHER BE RUSSIAN THAN A DEMOCRAT.”

    2
  3. Kathy says:

    For once, something that turned to shit before trump touched it.

    4
  4. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Well, like Vladimir Putin, the other pin-up boy of the MAGAs, Orban is a “Christian” strongman who hates LGBTQ people. What could be better?

    4
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    there is a faction of the Amerian right who would like to see orbanism in America.

    I’m sure Hungary would welcome them with open arms.

    3
  6. Moosebreath says:

    “In simple terms, Trump has endorsed the most authoritarian-leaning leader in the EU, one who has already driven his country out of being classifiable as democratic.”

    And Trump would object to Orban based on this because…?

  7. Scott F. says:

    From Trump’s endorsement – TFG is using precisely the same language he uses to describe himself:
    “He [Orban] has done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming Election. He is a strong leader and respected by all.

    Trump’s narcissism in projection form.

    5
  8. Scott F. says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Furthermore, many of us have believed that it is the only path forward for the current GOP. They are actively trying to create a minority rule country, and they are getting away with it.

    Authoritarianism as the chosen path forward for Republicanism is the recurring theme of several recents posts at OTB. It’s quite the playbook:
    – GOP booster publications retcon the seditious conspiracy on January 6th by decrying the Democrats’ response.
    – GOP pundits and pols mischaracterize their Democratic opponents as an untenable, even evil, alternative.
    – Prominent Republican voices, including an ex-President, promote ends-justify-the-means Orbanism.
    – Election fraud is made a tenet of the GOP faith immune to contrary evidence.
    And there’s little the Democrats can do about it alone, while those reasonable Republicans (who we’re told still exist) cowardly hunker down.

    It was nice while it lasted…

    3
  9. @Moosebreath:

    And Trump would object to Orban based on this because…?

    It wasn’t suggesting that he would. I was just summarizing.

  10. restless says:

    My impression – and it’s only an impression, since I’m not a historian nor a reader of history – is that there was a sizable part of conservative America in the late 1930s that held Hitler in high regard.

    Between that and the ‘not our monkey, not our circus’ attitude of the US to Europe, Roosevelt was kept from doing more than Lend-Lease to help the Allies when war broke out.

    Until Pearl Harbor.

    Is history rhyming again? Who is Japan in this iteration? Or are we Germany?

    1
  11. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I still read TAC in my ongoing effort to understand what the hell is wrong with some people. The TAC crowd are in love with Orban. Orban did welcome Dreher to Hungary with open arms.

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  12. @gVOR08: That Orban gets the support he does from a certain kind of American conservative concerns me greatly.

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  13. Jax says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: They approve because they assume that they’d be the “chosen ones” in that kind of system. It never occurs to them that it might not turn out that way.

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Orban did welcome Dreher to Hungary with open arms.

    I would like to think he stayed, but god doesn’t love me that much.

    1
  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Just as it never occurs to them that they might be subject to 2nd Amendment solutions.

    4
  16. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: OMG, yes!!! We have a natural gas company wanting to build a pipeline thru our ranch. The “public-facing” lady who does all the landowner contacting is a bright, cheery-sounding gal who often goes into TMI territory for someone I’ve never met in person. She was explaining to me some of the delays they’ve had (Native American artifacts found that required an entire re-route, etc etc), then goes on to bitch about “And the Biden Administration did this thing, and I’m just not sure where our country is heading, but at least Republicans have 2nd Amendment Solutions available!”

    Dead silence on my end of the phone. After she realized she might have done a bad (hysterical laughter trailing off, then “Hello? Are you still there?”), I asked her why she thought only Republicans had guns? I mean, I don’t know any Democrats who DON’T have guns. It apparently never once occurred to her that I might be Democrat AND I have guns. Which is funny, because I happen to know about half of the other landowners that gave them access are ALSO Democrat-leaning. We just don’t freakin advertise it by bragging about our 2nd Amendment Solutions.

    I have since been relieved of 20 minute TMI phone calls with the pipeline lady. 😛

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  17. JohnSF says:

    @restless:

    Roosevelt was kept from doing more than Lend-Lease to help the Allies when war broke out.

    Roosevelt was actually going a long way in helping the UK even before Pearl Harbor.
    If you dig in to the history of political loonie-ism in the US, you can find some arguing that this is evidence that Roosevelt was part of the great communist conspiracy led by Winston Churchill 🙂
    And also that the US should have concentrated on the obvious Great Power potential of Chiang Kai-Shek and the Koumintang. 🙁

    2
  18. CSK says:
  19. JohnSF says:

    The interesting question is: WHY?
    Given how transactional Trump generally is, what is in for him?
    Little or nothing, surely.
    So, again, why?
    Other characteristics of Trump: being an idiot,So, who is this derived from? he tends to pass straight through the opinions of whoever he has latched on to as a source of wisdom.
    Either in his circle of courtiers, or in the Trump-aligned media.
    So, who is this derived from?

    An interesting thing is, the Brexiteers in the UK also have a bit of an Orban crush.

    It goes back to the late 1990’s/early 2000’s surge in the animus of the US right re. the EU, over Kyoto etc (plus Iraq as a secondary factor also) and the Brexiteers linkage to the Republican Right ideosphere.
    In this Orban is seen as a useful weapon vs Brussels.
    Any grist to the mill.
    See also Le Pen, Poland, Catalonia, Greece, Five Star, Russia: anything, in the opinion of some parts of US Right, that can bash Brussels.

    The really stupid part of it is, Orban is painted as some sort of anti-EU, anti-“Liberal” crusader, when in reality his entire scam depends on EU subsidies, and the parasitism of his supporters on EU funding.

    There’s a reason “Hungexit” is a non-starter.

    3
  20. JohnSF says:

    edit?

  21. Jax says:

    @JohnSF: The Edit button logs off at 3 pm Eastern Standard time, but apparently goes out for a bit to eat, gets drunk with his buddies and occasionally shows back up between 6 and 8 PM, Mountain Standard time. After that, no Edit button til morning. 😛

    6
  22. Gavin says:

    @JohnSF:

    the Brexiteers in the UK also have a bit of an Orban crush

    One can only hope the continued inescapable ridiculous failure of Brexit will have an effect on how positively Orban is viewed not just by conservatives in the US but everywhere.

    The retreating tide strands all boats, and all that.

    2
  23. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Wow, the lack of self-awareness is really quite incredible. For instance:

    For Dreher, there is always a precipice. In Hungary, Dreher told me, he was continually astonished by reminders—historical, architectural—of how glorious the Habsburg civilization had been, immediately before the First World War. He said, “I can’t get enough of it. To see how a civilization at the pinnacle of its power—cultural and technological power—can implode and destroy itself. I think I’m haunted by that all the time.”

    He’s so close, you know? So close.

    There’s another place where he says he doesn’t know a single conservative who wants gay people back in the closet. He should really get out more.

    4
  24. @CSK: Thanks for the link. While I have followed Dreher’s orbanphilia, I had missed that piece.

    I find Dreher to be an interesting type for a variety of reasons, but one that concerns me is that his type of thinking really is dangerous: he is so convinced of “culture” to protect what he sees as spiritual truths that he will support authoritarianism. A similar example in the public sphere is Sohrab Ahmari, whom I have intended to write about but have not yet done so.

    And that piece is pretty amazing in highlighting the utter intellectual inconsistency that is Dreher: so much of what he values only exists because of liberalism (if not progressivism)–at least of the type that would not have existed is religious, culturally conservative types had gotten their way (I am thinking here of his literary references, or really just his whole “life of the mind” existence–or, heck, just the way he self-promotes on Twitter). He is hardly following his own advice about retreating (and the piece correctly points out how he is doing the opposite, in fact).

    4
  25. One last Dreher observation: his anecdote about meeting the Pope continues to stun me. The hubris it takes to assume that the Pope gave him a blank stare because he knew Dreher’s book and was reacting to the fact that it got bad reviews from someone in the Vatican, rather than probably meaning that the Pope had no idea who he was, is just off the scales.

    (Ok, one other: around the same time there is a tweet of Dreher praying at some shrine–a tweet Dreher himself sent out. And all I could think of was for a guy who supposedly takes the Bible seriously, he was ignoring Jesus’ admonition not to pray in public like the hypocrites).

    10
  26. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Indeed. When you mention your book to the pope and he gives you a blank look in return, it takes solipsism to unparalleled lengths to believe he’s sympathizing with you about bad reviews.

    2
  27. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Well, I would be astonished at the lack of understanding people like Dreher have of their own religious traditions, except I know that all people are flawed in some way.

    For instance, it is well established that Christianity doesn’t need “culture” to protect it. It has operated great as counter-culture, flourished even. These guys so remind me of the Pharisees…

    1
  28. @Jay L Gischer:

    These guys so remind me of the Pharisees…

    Indeed.

    2
  29. Paine says:

    I always get a kick out of Trump’s endorsements. They come across as a page from some lame conservative Mad-Libs book: “So and so is strong on X, Y, and Z, takes a stand on A, and firmly believes B an C. He has my complete endorsement.”

    1
  30. grumpy realist says:

    Dreher is always running around looking for the next piece of evidence showing that we’re about to have a complete catastrophe. Multiple years ago he was freaking out just as much about Peak Oil and then about global warming. But now he’s totally forgot about that and it’s transgenders that art the Great Evil Bringing Down Western Civilisation.

    And yeah, Dreher’s a useful idiot for anyone who feeds him the horror stories he’s looking for. He’s very manipulable.

  31. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Wait a second, why did he meet the Pope? Did he convert again? Last I heard he was Greek Orthodox. Was this some kind of Italian Tourist Experience for him? See the Coliseum, eat at the best restaurants, meet the Pope?

    2
  32. just nutha says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: Yeah, I don’t get it either. An article I found in The New Yorker explains that he left Catholicism in 2006 in response to the child abuse scandals.

    Another interesting anecdote I found was this one:

    During one New Year’s visit, Dreher made bouillabaisse for his parents and his sister; they watched him cook the stew and let him serve it, then declined to eat any: they preferred meals made by a “country cook.”

    Wa! I still think he’s a horse’s bazzoo, but seeing the road he walked on at least a little helps sort out where he learned the trait from. Ouchies!

  33. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Dreher has no religious “traditions”.

    He has burnt through three already. He is a spiritual tourist. He is looking for a shield for his own personal philosophy.

    Giving himself over to a life altering understanding of peace, forgiveness, and understanding is anathema to Dreher: The man has grudges. Axes to grind. Looking for a cover to hide behind.

    Dollars to doughnuts he bails on orthodoxy too. He has established a pattern and trajectory.