On August 4, American conservative leadership announced its support of Vladimir Putin’s model of government as an example for the United States to emulate. When CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) invited Hungarian leader Viktor Orban to be their opening speaker and then applauded him vigorously, they abandoned traditional American conservatism in favor of Moscow’s political leadership.
The content of the speech was designed to flatter the audience (“Hungary is the Lone Star State of Europe,” he said at the Texas gathering), but the symbolism of Mr. Orban’s presence is as fully anti-American as his rhetoric usually is. People like Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson have spoken glowingly of Mr. Putin’s imitator and ally, using him as a way of supporting the Russian model without fully admitting they were doing so. Now, giving Mr. Orban the opening speech, and Donald Trump the closing remarks, CPAC leaves no doubt that this was a wedding, not a flirtation.
Both leaders are already delivering substantive political support to Mr. Putin. Mr. Orban refuses to send aid to Ukraine, and forbids any such assistance to cross Hungarian soil. Mr. Trump has delivered Congressional opposition to Ukraine aid packages, though even some of his supporters have been moved to vote for the weaponry.
The pillars of the Moscow model are: 1) Wealth control – The prosperous must join the kleptocracy or be targeted. 2) Fake democracy – Voting is allowed, but the opposition is not allowed to succeed. 3) Media control – Outlets critical of the government are harassed, restricted, or closed. 4) “Existential threats” – Hyping the danger of a weak opponent or minority to justify harsh, unlimited government power.
I sincerely believe that patriotic Americans (of whatever political party) will not support this path. They only need to recognize it.
By Scott Corey