Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Orbán and Trump’s meeting gives us a sneak peek into what Trump envisions for his second term as a powerful leader

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Viktor Orbán is bringing his plan to break down democracy to Mar-a-Lago.

The Hungarian leader first got into power through a fair election, but then started weakening the democracy by messing with the legal system, firing government workers, mixing politics with business, attacking the media, scaring opposition parties, and talking a lot about migration.

Former President Donald Trump has made it clear that he might try something similar in the United States if he wins another term. So, when Orbán visits Florida on Friday, the likely GOP nominee will probably be excited to exchange ideas.

Orbán isn’t meeting with the Biden administration. (A Biden official said no invite was sent for a meeting with the current US president and the Hungarian leader.) Instead, he’s choosing to meet the man he hopes will be the US president again next year. The two have a history of liking each other. The fact that one of Trump’s first moves as the presumptive GOP nominee is to meet with a European leader who doesn’t care much for democracy says a lot.

Trump sees Orbán as a strong leader who isn’t bothered by laws and rules – just like he wants to be. Orbán also often praises Russian President Vladimir Putin, just like Trump does. Orbán supports Trump’s promise to end the Ukraine war in a day if he’s elected, but only on Putin’s terms, which would reward Putin’s illegal invasion. Their friendship is also boosted by Orbán’s frequent compliments for Trump. At a rally in New Hampshire, Trump praised Orbán, giving us a scary glimpse into his own intentions. “Some people don’t like him because he’s too strong. It’s good to have a strong man at the head of a country,” Trump said.

Orbán’s far-right views, strong stance against immigration, Christian beliefs, and dislike for LGBTQ rights make him a role model for Trump’s followers who support “Make America Great Again.” Orbán has spoken at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an event for pro-Trump groups, and Hungary will host another CPAC conference next month.

In many ways, Orbán led a style of leadership that’s just like Trump’s long before the reality star turned president. Even though Hungary is in NATO and the European Union, Orbán often takes actions against the interests of western democracies, just like Trump. He has had conflicts with the EU over his anti-immigration policies and slowed Sweden’s entry into NATO, which finally happened this week.

Before meeting with Trump, Orbán supported Trump’s views on Ukraine, which pleased Putin and worried Kyiv about what a second Trump term would mean. Orbán said, “It is not gambling but actually betting on the only sensible chance, that we in Hungary bet on the return of President Trump.”

Trump’s opposition to sending more aid to Ukraine led House Republicans to block President Biden’s $60 billion package, causing frontline soldiers to ration bullets. Even though Trump is not president, he’s already influencing US policy in ways that help Putin.

In his State of the Union address, Biden criticized Trump for being hostile to NATO allies and friendly with the Russian leader. “My predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, ‘Do whatever the hell you want,’” Biden said. “A former American president actually said that, bowing down to a Russian leader. It’s outrageous. It’s dangerous. It’s unacceptable.”

Biden, who is warning that Trump would harm US democracy in a second term, quickly commented on Orbán’s visit to Florida. In a statement, Biden’s campaign scolded Trump for meeting “Hungarian dictator Viktor Orbán, notorious for eroding his own country’s democracy and cozying up to Vladimir Putin (sound familiar?)”

The contrast between Biden pledging to protect democracy and Trump warmly welcoming Orbán perfectly captures the political and global dilemma of America’s presidential election. Much of Europe is already worried about the possibility of Trump getting a second term, but in Budapest, at least, he’s seen as a friend, and his return would be celebrated.

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