While it’s fashionable in some circles to compare Donald Trump and the modern-day GOP to Hitler or Mussolini and their fascist movements from the 20th century, what’s happening on the international stage right now is actually somewhat different and, once in power, far harder to stop or overthrow. Let's call it "21st Century NeoFascism"
The problem with the old 20th century fascism was that it was too brutal and militaristic: it offended voters’ democratic sensibilities, killed way too many people, and caused nearby nations to respond militarily to its perceived threat, ending in world wars.
This new politically manipulative system of 21st neofascism, still employs many of the same political and rhetorical tools old-fashioned fascists used to gain power - including white supremacy, scapegoating foreigners, religious superiority, ultra-nationalist hate, and a general embrace of corrupt crony capitalism.
But it does all of these Nazi-lite actions within a more populist wrapper, seemingly driven from the ground up, and acquiring elected power by clever manipulation of 1) social media, 2) ideologically aligned “news” outlets, 3) propaganda talk radio; 4) buying off politicians with shadow lobby money (legalized with the Citizens United ruling); and 5) mostly in MAGA run Republican states, rigging electoral systems with devices like voter-roll purges (again, legalized by the Trump Supreme Court in 2018), effectively activating mass voter suppression.
The Trump Republican Party is committed to the core crony capitalism tenant of, as Steve Bannon outlines: “Deconstructing the administrative state”: taking down the protective and supportive powers of government to increase the predatory power of rogue police, the morbidly rich, and the corporations that support monopolies and the 'natural authority of God's chosen few'."
Of course they still use the ugly race-baiting tactics of classic 20th century fascists, but do so in ways that are more socially and economically acceptable than building death camps or pushing people out of helicopters.
They wrap themselves in flag waiving pseudo-patriotism, use slogans hearkening to the country’s Manifest Destiny founders, rail against nonwhite refugees and immigrants instead of nonwhite citizens, and use their storm trooper violence more as 'street theatrics' - making it easier to dismiss as over exuberant "free speech."
Look to Orban's Hungary as the new MAGA Republican political model
This new modern era of 21st Century "neofascism" was pioneered by the current Prime Minister of Hungary - Viktor Orbán - who came to power in 1998 (and again in 2010) as a right wing authoritarian white nationalist after the fall of the Soviet Union liberated his nation.
“From targeting migrants to inflaming a white nationalist base, from attacking the press to whipping up nativist conspiracies, from ushering in unprecedented corruption to tearing down basic democratic protections, Trumpism is increasingly indistinguishable from Orbánism.”
Tellingly, Tucker Carlson recently did his Fox “News” show from Orbán’s Hungary and had Orbán on as a Fox News guest, all but offering him a full-body massage during the commercial breaks. The show was considered a high-water mark for Murdoch's network by the MAGA right wing press, which hailed Orbán as a man with “liberty-oriented values, strong principles, a healthy nationalism - and a leadership that doesn't veer into anarchy."
And now the GOP is looking to Hungary as an entirely new governing model for their future America, assuming Trump or one of his clones can con their way back into the White House.
Should the MAGA Republican Party simply relocate to Hungary?
Ronald Reagan gave the keynote address to the first Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 1974. Since then, every Republican president since Reagan has keynoted the conference at least once.
But that was yesterday’s CPAC; the new MAGA version just announced, around the same time Mike Pence gave his speech in Hungary last month praising Orbán in his usual ass-kissing style, that their 2022 meeting will be held in Budapest, Hungary - rather than the United States.
Trump and Orban: An Authoritarianism Bromance
When Orbán first campaigned for Hungary's Prime Minister, he ran on a slogan of making “Hungary great again,strengthening Christianity, and building a wall across Hungary’s southern border to keep out nonwhite, Muslim Syrian refugees." Today the wall is done and heavily policed by Hungarian border guards..
Once Orbán took power for the second time, his party pirated the nation’s constitution to do what we’d call voter gerrymandering, ensuring that they’d forever have a governing majority. He also packed Hungary’s courts with incompetent acolytes, so any challenges to his power or policies would simply die.
Not surprisingly the political and economic power of women in Hungary has been deeply marginalized since Orbán came to power, both in business and in government.
As the Hungarian Spectrum notes: “Orban's Hungarian politics is built on ‘continual character assassination,’ which creates the kinds of brutal situations that ‘women cannot endure'."
As recently noted in The UK Guardian: “Orbán’s Fidesz party and its coalition partners - the misnamed Christian Democrats - have 133 MPs between them, of whom just 11 are women.”
Orban has increasingly turned Hungary into a haven of refuge for corrupt oligarchs and neofascists from other nations, most famously granting “asylum to convicted felon and former Prime Minister of Macedonia Nikola Gruevski” in 2018.
As one never-Trump Republican stated on NBC News: "I wonder if Trump is getting a Hungarian visa? In many ways, Trump and Orbán are birds of an autocratic feather.”
During his current reign, Prime Minister Orbán has taken apart the Hungarian security apparatus and turned it into his own personal, private police force, much as Trump did with members of ICE or the Border Patrol during his presidency.
Hungary's business leadership has almost entirely been taken over by Orbán’s corrupt associates, who’ve become fabulously wealthy oligarchs (similar to Russia, Belarus, etc,) who now control every commercial and manufacturing sector worth any significant value.
While there’s still some independent press in Hungary, which bogusly lets Orbán and America's MAGA Republican Party claim Hungary is a democracy, all the major outlets and networks are owned by Orbán cronies - so the critical opposition press is tiny and highly marginalized.
Last month Hungary passed laws requiring “conservative only” sex education in schools - which means gay is evil while banning any positive portrayal of LGBTQ people on TV.
As the ultimate in corrupt crony capitalism privatization, Orban is now setting up a shadow government, creating private organizations he controls that are starting to take on many government functions regardless of who controls Hungary in the future.
And similar to Trump's big election lie, Hungary's elections, like in many nations run by corrupt dictators, will soon be largely meaningless.
Many Americans did a forgotten double-take when seven Republican US Senators, at the behest of Trump, visited Moscow on July 4th, 2018 and gushed to President Putin that, as Alabama’s Senator Richard Shelby told him, “I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth.”
These 7 Republican senators and 1 House member who went to Russia included: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas).
Putin Out; Orban In
But now, just a few months after his overwhelming democratic rejection at the ballot box, Trump and his MAGA GOP has abandoned Putin’s Russia as political inspiration and replaced their future political model with the 21st Century neofascism of Hungary's Victor Orban.
Orbán’s Hungary is now, if not officially then certainly unofficially, the new Eastern European working model for the future of Trump's domestic brand of MAGA neofascism that has seized control of the American Republican Party.
Note: Steve Bannon, pardoned by Trump for stealing money from Trump supporters for a 'built the wall" scam, made an announcement just a couple week ago: "for 'shock troops of pre-trained teams' to seize control of America after the 2024 election so there’s no turning back like last year" is ominously reminiscent of Orban’s return to power in Hungary in 2010 when he essentially did the same thing, giving his neofascist party total control of the voting process nationally.
Make no mistake andhold on to no illusions: Hungarian-style neofascism is now the GOP’s brand and they’re doubling down on it, believing to their desperate core that by the end of 2024 they can do to America what Orbán did to Hungary - and therefore never have to face the consequences or serious political opposition for the violent insurrection enacted by Trump's MAGA thugs on January 6, 2021 ever again.
In 2022 and 2024, Americans will need to make a most important political economic choice: 1) The continuation of an imperfect duopoly party corporate lobby money state like America is now, using the messy but healthy democratic process to slowly improve its lot, or 2) an Americanized version of a 21st century European neofascist state controlled by corrupt white supremacist oligarchs - lead by a predatory megalomaniac who cares about no one and nothing but his own power and wealth.