Magazine August 24, 2020, Issue

The Conservative Embrace of Hungary’s Viktor Orban Is Misguided

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban delivers his state-of-the-nation speech in February. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images)
Authoritarianism and corruption don’t become justifiable just because they are practiced by a nemesis of the Left

President Donald Trump’s emphasis on “winning” illustrates the perennial tension in politics between principles and impact. Too much ideological rigidity relegates conservatives to the role of standing “athwart history, yelling Stop.” In the effort to “defeat the enemy and enjoy the spoils,” in contrast, principles and ideas become irrelevant — what matters is brute force. However, there are better examples of the perils of conservative politics focused on “winning” than Donald Trump. After all, Trump has not really fought the liberal and progressive Left as much as he has trolled it and wound it up. In contrast, Hungary’s Prime Minister

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This article appears as “Orban Plays with Fire” in the August 24, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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