Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images For several years, Hungary has been the name American liberal intellectuals have given to their worst domestic nightmares. Hungary’s president, Viktor Orbán, has fashioned an apparently permanent majority for his conservative Fidesz Party by wielding the levers of the state to marginalize the social, political, and legal power of his opposition. American conservatives are now becoming fascinated in equal measure with Orbán’s Hungary. The liberal nightmare of an authoritarian America is becoming the conservative dream. Orbán’s attacks on liberal democracy long predate Donald Trump’s candidacy. Five years ago, Orbán delivered a famous speech denouncing liberal democracy (“liberal values today incorporate corruption, sex, and violence”) and promising an alternative. To the extent American conservatives paid Orbán any attention then, it was to denounce him, perhaps while throwing in a swipe at the Obama administration for failing to confront him forcefully enough. The Republican Party’s growing defense of Orbán is a window through which we can glimpse its slow descent into authoritarianism. Orbán’s political style, combining hyperbolic denunciations of Muslim immigrants with anti-Semitic tropes targeting George Soros as puppeteer, anticipated Trump’s by several years. He has won a place in the president’s circle of trust. Orbán,… Read full this story
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