Right wingers in the United States don’t often take an interest in what’s happening outside our borders. They do take an interest in goings-on abroad if tyrants and authoritarians are involved. Fox News (an entertainment and disinformation network) host Tucker Carlson admires authoritarians and their regimes. Sadly, it seems that many on the right admire such regimes, despite the fact that these regimes are void of the freedoms the right claims to hold so dear. This week, Carlson is broadcasting from Hungary’s capital, Budapest. Hungary is ruled by a cruel and corrupt authoritarian by the name of Viktor Orbán. Carlson and the far right are quite enamored of Orbán and what he’s done to destroy democracy in Hungary.
Philosophy professor Jason Stanley sums up the situation well: “Orbán destroyed Hungarian democratic institutions, taking over the courts and using them as a weapon against his opponents and to enrich his family and friends. There is no more independent media. State contracts enrich his family. The US far right is going over there to learn.” Political commentator David Frum also notes this: “It’s kind of funny that Orbán is so admired by so many Americans obsessed with the Clinton Foundation ‒ because corrupt foundations have been one of Orbán’s favorite means for grabbing control of other people’s assets.”
Too many of our compatriots don’t think that what’s happening in Hungary can happen here, and warnings about authoritarianism don’t yet resonate with many voters. On the other hand, too many of our compatriots, like Carlson and his ilk, see what’s happening in Hungary and actually want that for the United States. While most Americans don’t want to see our democracy fail, the internal threat from the right is very real. This is why it’s crucial that we turn out for every election, no matter how minor or unglamorous it may seem. Every election has consequences, and we must do all we can to prevent admirers of autocracy from gaining more power.