May 20, 2022
Republicans believe that Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban has figured out the "secret sauce" to turn a republic into a hard-right oligarchy, and today they're in Budapest drinking deep from his insights on the fine points of destroying democracy.
Orban's Fidesz Party and the GOP in most Red States have become virtually indistinguishable.
Orban's Fidesz Party and the GOP in most Red States have become virtually indistinguishable, from cronies owning the media, to packing the courts, to rigging elections through purging voters and gerrymanders, to putting polluting businesses in charge of regulatory agencies.
Now both have their sights set on the American federal government. Seriously, both. Orban is now inserting himself into American Republican politics in a big way.
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.
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.
Republicans now want to do the same here, which will also promote the end of democracy around the rest of the world.
Republicans are trying to do the same here.
Orban's police watched the thugs, laughing and refusing to intervene, as Roma families fled their homes in terror. In 2013, Zsolt Bayer, one of the founders of Orban's party, had called the Roma "animals... unfit to live among people." Orban refused to condemn him or the violence, and life has become more and more difficult for racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. Not only are they routinely excluded from job markets, but are also frequently subject to violence at the hands of all-white "militias."
"Have your own media," he said. "It's the only way to point out the insanity of the progressive left. The problem is that the western media is adjusted to the leftist viewpoint. Those who taught reporters in universities already had progressive leftist principles."
"Of course, the GOP has its media allies but they can't compete with the mainstream liberal media. My friend, Tucker Carlson is the only one who puts himself out there. His show is the most popular. What does it mean? It means programs like his should be broadcasted day and night. Or as you say 24/7."
"Besides VICE News, journalists fromRolling Stone , Vox Media, and theNew Yorker were turned away from the conference on Thursday, despite repeated assurances from the American Conservative Union that access would be provided. Journalists from other non-Hungarian media outlets, including theGuardian andAssociated Press , tweeted that they had also been denied accreditation, despite months of requests."
Orban has helped wannabee theocrats fully reinvented Christianity in Hungary, embracing a hard-right movement within the Catholic Church and among protestant evangelicals. He recently reshaped Hungary's abortion laws to make it extremely difficult for a woman to terminate a pregnancy (and generally requiring a man's consent/signature to perform the procedure).
Orban'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.
Thus, Trump told Orban, "You have been great with respect to Christian communities...and we appreciate that very much."
Women in Hungary have been marginalized since Orban came to power,
Orban's speeches this week raise the question: Is he teaching the American GOP through his example, or are Republicans teaching him through their "replacement theory" and new laws banning books and classes on American history and civics?
Increasingly it appears that the answer is: "Putin's teaching them both."
This article was first published on The Hartmann Report.
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