Dallas, Texas, US – Over the last decade, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has consolidated energy over Hungary’s judiciary and press and chipped away on the nation’s democratic foundations. He has referred to as “ethnic homogeneity” the important thing to financial progress, and deployed the military and erected razor wire fences to cease Syrian refugees from getting into the nation.
Orban has championed a regulation banning educating LGBTQ matters in colleges, and in a speech in July, criticised creating peoples of ”mixed-race” and appeared to joke about Nazi fuel chambers, prompting a longtime adviser to name his feedback “pure Nazi” and “worthy of Goebbels”.
To critics all over the world, Orban’s Hungary is a cautionary story of demagoguery, authoritarianism and nationalism run amok. However to a whole lot of dyed-in-the-wool US Republicans listening to him converse at a Conservative Political Motion Convention (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, Orban’s Hungary is one thing else solely — a Christian, anti-woke, conservative utopia and an aspirational mannequin for what they need america to turn into.
“Orban was invited right here to talk as a result of his type of management needs to be a mannequin for america,” mentioned David Wall, a 23-year-old who works in forestry. Wall travelled about 270km (170 miles) from his residence in Oklahoma to Dallas.
Wall answered questions in a hallway of the flowery resort the place CPAC is being held. An exhibit room behind him was filled with largely white attendees and distributors hawking gadgets together with ‘Basic Bible Artwork’; conservative board video games together with ‘Swing State Steal, a celebration recreation of faux information and vote theft’; and all method of Donald Trump-themed merchandise from T-shirts to socks, sandals, baggage and skirts. The previous US president is because of converse on the conference on Sunday.
Wearing a blue jacket and trousers, Wall mentioned the media has been very unfair to Trump and Orban.
“The media and critics have unfairly labelled [Orban] as autocratic,” Wall mentioned. “Orban is getting issues completed and never bowing right down to the mob. I like that Orban, like Trump and [Florida Governor] Ron DeSantis, stands as much as the left. Individuals right here recognize that.
“Plenty of Republicans don’t do this to the extent that they need to,” Wall added.
Good friend of Trump
It isn’t the primary time Orban has spoken at a CPAC convention. He addressed an Worldwide CPAC gathering in Budapest, Hungary, in Might. Occasion organisers referred to as Orban’s Hungary “one of many engines of Conservative resistance to the woke revolution”.
In a recorded speech on the convention in Budapest, Trump referred to as Orban “a fantastic chief, a fantastic gentleman”.
Orban was a really early supporter of Trump, endorsing him for US president in 2016 and 2020. Trump endorsed Orban in his reelection marketing campaign this 12 months.
“Orban and Trump are like two peas in a pod, character smart and coverage smart,” Wall mentioned. “They need to defend the border and so they stand for conventional values.”
Jim Riddlesperger, a professor of political science at Texas Christian College in Forth Value, Texas, advised Al Jazeera that Orban’s values “are at variance to core values of American society”, however within the present US political local weather, it “is smart that CPAC invited him to talk”.
“I might guess that loads of CPAC of us in all probability know little about Orban, however they know President Donald Trump endorsed him earlier this 12 months”, Riddlesperger mentioned, “and they also say they help him.”
Trump stays extremely popular amongst Republicans. Virtually half of Republicans would vote for Trump within the 2024 Republican presidential major in accordance with a New York Occasions/Sienna School ballot from July. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has additionally been in contrast with Orban, completed second within the ballot with 25 %.
A number of CPAC attendees advised Al Jazeera they hoped Trump would run for US president in 2024 on a ticket with DeSantis as his vp.
Andrew Gawthorpe, a lecturer in US historical past at Leiden College within the Netherlands, says the Hungarian prime minister’s methods resonate with conservatives.
“Cultural/non secular conservatives completely do see [Orban] as an enormous instance to comply with”, Gawthorpe advised Al Jazeera in an e mail. “They love how he aggressively takes cultural and racial fights up with the left.”
Addressing the CPAC crowd in Dallas, Orban mentioned: “I’m an old style freedom fighter … the chief of a rustic underneath the siege of progressive liberals.”
In his speech, titled “How we Struggle,” Orban excoriated the media and non-governmental organisations. “They hate me and slander me as they hate you and slander you,” he mentioned to loud applause.
“We should handle migration, gender and the conflict of civilizations,” Orban mentioned. “In case you separate Western Civilisation from its Judeo-Christian heritage, the worst issues in historical past occur.”
“We have been the primary nation in Europe to cease unlawful migration,” Orban continued.
Texas resident Gene Lukacsy migrated from Hungary to the US in 1973. A retired engineer, Lukacsy calls himself a “huge fan of Orban” and hopes US Republicans will study from him.
“Orban is a powerful chief who tells you want it’s,” Lukascy mentioned. He is aware of that “simply letting immigrants into your nation will not be a great factor”.
“Their tradition is so totally different, bringing them into the nation doesn’t assist something,” Luckascy added.
Requested about Orban’s critics who say democracy has withered in Hungary underneath his management, Lukascy responded: “The liberal, trash media could be very expert at mendacity.”
Leslie Learn, an 85-year-old retired engineer from Dallas, admitted not following Orban’s insurance policies that carefully however mentioned he had learn studies of him being a “robust, conservative chief”.
“Trump has America First, and Orban has Hungary First. He desires Hungary to be impartial, proud and robust — a spot the place individuals can go to be free,” Learn mentioned.
Learn is a member of the Log Cabin Republicans, which payments itself because the nation’s largest Republican organisation devoted to representing LGBTQ conservatives.
After making clear he was talking for himself and never for the organisation, Learn mentioned he had not heard about Orban’s push to forestall LGBTQ matters from being mentioned in colleges.
“However what you hear within the information isn’t at all times true,” Learn claimed.
Final month, the European Fee started authorized proceedings in opposition to Hungary over the regulation, which was enacted final 12 months and bans the usage of supplies seen as selling homosexuality and gender change in colleges.
‘Signpost’ to a greater approach
A few of the far-right within the US see Orban’s model of racially-motivated populist politics as a path to political energy within the US — a rustic the place altering demographics are threatening Republican electoral possibilities, Riddlesperger mentioned.
Distinguished right-wing US political discuss present host Tucker Carlson, who broadcast an episode of his present from Hungary in 2021, has referred to as Orban’s management a “signpost to a greater approach” for the US.
“In case you care about Western civilisation and democracy and households and the ferocious assaults on all three of these issues by the leaders of our world establishments, it’s best to know what is going on right here proper now,” Carlson mentioned in 2021.
After praising Carlson throughout his speech in Dallas, Orban urged attendees to comply with Hungary’s lead and struggle for what he referred to as the way forward for Western civilisation.
“We Hungarians know methods to defeat the enemies of freedom on the political battlefield,” he mentioned.
Orban framed the struggle for political energy as existential.
“The world appears to be like to you for the longer term,” Orban advised his viewers in Texas. “The way forward for the West is in grave doubt.”