In fact, the MAGA faithful flocked to the event to profess their admiration for the Hungarian miracle. Former Arizona candidate for governor Kari Lake recently declared on Steve Bannon’s show that “Hungary is doing things right.” One thing Orbán is apparently doing right is cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Friday morning, Lake announced at the conference that there was a simple solution to ending the Ukraine conflict — sellout Kyiv to the Russians. “The only way to stop this war,” she said, “is to turn off the money spigot. I say we should invest in protecting our borders, not Ukraine’s.”
In a video message presumably taped before his abrupt ouster, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson told the Americans who were in Budapest that they were “very brave” as the State Department was “keeping track, you went to a forbidden country.” Later that day Orbán hosted Lake, Gosar and more than a dozen other American conservative activists and politicians for a photo-op at his office, including the Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec and former Sen. Rick Santorum. Hungary, Orbán said, has become an “incubator where the conservative policies of the future are being tested.”
Despite the democratic erosion in Hungary and on the American right, the theme of freedom was omnipresent as various speakers denounced the European Union, among other things, as a totalitarian organization intent on inflicting gender policies on Hungary that would endanger the traditional family. Croatian parliamentarian Stephen Bartulica decried the “anti-Christian” elites in Brussels, while Roger Köppel of the far-right Swiss People’s Party likened the ideology of “woke culture” to National Socialism. The Hungarian historian Maria Schmidt stated, “We want to preserve our own culture, we want to hold on to our language, our roots, our traditions, our identity. We don’t tolerate people crawling under our duvets and interfering in our private lives.”
Throughout, the idea was clear: Liberalism is synonymous with tyranny. Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga, who spoke on Thursday, congratulated the delegates for successfully completing a dangerous journey — flying over authoritarian countries to reach Hungary, the only truly free country in Europe.
The fealty that leading American politicians are paying to Orbán as they troop to Budapest allows him to fortify his image in Hungary as an international statesman. Fully embracing the Republican Party is a gamble that will likely antagonize President Joe Biden, but it’s also one that could elevate Orbán should Trump return to the White House — allowing him to bypass his European detractors and exercise outsized influence.
The Biden administration, by contrast, has taken a fairly hostile approach to Orban’s Hungary, including terminating a Hungarian-American tax agreement in retaliation for Budapest preventing the EU from adopting a global minimum tax. It’s also gone to war with Biden’s ambassador, David Pressman, who regularly trolls the regime.
CPAC has been good for Orbán. A return by Trump would be even better. “A Republican president,” Balázs Orbán said, “is in Hungary’s interest.”