Nationalists Turn Their Lonely Eyes to Hungary

Dear Reader (including the flight attendant who was too good to be real),

Around this time last year, there was a big argument among a very small group of people about whether the whole Republican Party should be “burned down.” You can guess why some took the GOP Delenda Est point of view, so I won’t dwell on it. My view at the time was that, as a practical matter, it was a pretty silly debate. If you can’t actually do something, spending a lot of time fighting over whether it should be done is kind of pointless. I mean, the Fair Jessica and I often have fun arguing about how we would spend our lottery winnings, but until I finally pick the right numbers—and I will, oh yes, I will—there’s no reason to get too worked up about it. 

I bring this up only because I get the same feeling about the Hungary fetish on the right. Viktor Orbán stanning has been a thing on the right for a while. I’d say anti-anti-Orbánism has been around even longer. But this week things got turned up a notch because of Tucker Carlson’s visit. David writes very persuasively about all of that here.

But, as with the burn-it-all-down stuff last year, I find myself agreeing with David on the substance while thinking the best argument against adopting the Hungarian model is practical: It won’t work. Indeed, it can’t work. So pretending that Hungary illuminates the path forward is just a huge waste of everyone’s time. A relatively poor, ethnically homogeneous (98 percent of Hungarian citizens are ethnically Hungarian), landlocked country, about the size of Michigan with the population of Oregon, with less than a robust democratic tradition, isn’t just a bad (and dumb) model for the United States. It’s an impossible model for the United States.

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