Florida Man ≠ Hungary Man
A lot of people think that Viktor Orbán is a preview of what a Trump 2024 win would look like. Here's why that won't happen.
Hungary's top two weather experts have been fired over a mistaken weather forecast that sparked political uproar.
What had been billed "Europe's biggest fireworks display" had been organised for Saturday evening to celebrate St Stephen's Day - the national holiday,
But seven hours before the scheduled start, the government postponed the event, citing extreme weather warnings.
The weather, however, stayed calm - leading to the sackings of the head and deputy head of the weather service.
If it sounds a little extreme to be firing a meteorologist for a bad forecast instead of the person who decided to postpone the event seven hours early, well, that’s Hungary in 2022.
Viktor Orbán’s Hungary is just kinda like that, the kind of soft-peddled dictatorial nonsense.
Viktor Orbán has been the prime minister of Hungary twice. His current tenure began in 2010. He is not a heavy-handed tyrant; he has not led a military coup or appointed himself maximum leader. Instead, he follows the path of what he has called “illiberal democracy.” Combining populist rhetoric with machine politics, he and his party, Fidesz, have rotted Hungarian democracy from within by politicizing media regulation, buying or bankrupting independent media outlets, appointing judges who toe the party line, creating obstacles for opposition parties, and more. Hungary has not gone from democracy to dictatorship, but it has gone from democracy to democracy-ish. Freedom House rates it only partly free. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance’s ratings show declines in every democratic indicator since Fidesz took power.
I encourage you to read the entire thing, not just because of any Trumpian connections but just because it’s a road map for how things could get seriously sideways in our country.
Do I think the Orbán regime in Hungary is an appropriate look into what a Trump return to the White House would look like? Yes and no.
The idea that some of these things are things Trump would do is believable because he has done them before. He did install toadies in key positions (or tried to). He did pardon some of his political buddies (i.e. Roger Stone).
The idea that some of these things will happen is less certain and, frankly, unlikely. I don’t think any U.S. President will be able to “weaponize the Armed Forces” anytime soon (not that Trump didn’t try). I don’t think that the Trump Administration will be able to “bring law enforcement to heel” at the federal level; these are trained, sworn professional law enforcement who will do their job. Political leadership is what it is, but the agents will generally follow the law. Generally.
The other big difference between the Fidesz model and the MAGA model is who sits at the top of the pyramid. Orbán has been in politics for almost 35 years. He built Fidesz from nothing into the controlling party of Hungary. He has been Prime Minister for twelve years and served a four-year stint as Prime Minister eight years prior to this current reign.
Trump on the other hand is a failed businessman who inherited a lot of his money who went on to become a reality TV star and ultimately President because he ran against the worst Democratic nominee possible. There is nothing in Trump’s past that makes it seem like Trump is capable of any sort of competent leadership, much less the extensive leadership experience that Orbán has accumulated over thirty-five years.
While the Orbán model may be what MAGAworld, CPAC attendees, and Tucker Carlson want to see, it is not a model that Trump is capable of delivering. While there is a chance that Trump returns to the White House in 2024 (if he isn’t in prison), he just doesn’t have the skills to take the U.S. full Hungary.
But I caveat that with two things:
The coup that Trump virtually seems like he wants would be an entirely different model;
A more competent MAGA-type candidate would be very capable of delivering such a regime pivot.
But Donald Trump is not the guy who can do it just by winning an election.