CPAC Hungary is a disturbing window into a second Trump term

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An annual political conference in Hungary offered a chilling look at the future of American conservatism.

Known as CPAC Hungary, the conservative political action conference now in its third year is essentially Republicans’ gift to the Eastern European country. Modeled after its American prototype, the event has become an annual exhibition of right-wing whining and illiberal attacks lobbed by figures from various countries’ conservative movements.

This year’s speaker list offers a who’s who of far-right ideologues and grifters — from Hungary’s authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and several officials from his government to American conservatives such as Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and Senate candidate Kari Lake and extremist icons such as Dutch politician Geert Wilders (who’s uber-popular among white nationalists).

For Americans, CPAC Hungary is a window into the sort of society we could become if Donald Trump — who has praised Orban's dictatorial leadership style — is elected president this fall. The event spawned from the MAGA movement’s ongoing love affair with Orban, who has railed against “mixed-race” societies, helped rig elections to ensure his party remains in power, used his administration to target Hungary’s free press, denounced Muslim immigrants, and marginalized LGBTQ people, all in pursuit of his plan to make Hungary an “illiberal state.”

Rather than take a hard look at how that's all working out for Hungary, controversial CPAC Chair Matt Schlapp said his event would serve to counter American “lies that we hear about Viktor Orban and what’s going on here in Hungary.”

Orban returned the favor on Thursday, using his speech to frame his and Trump’s movements as part of a world war against progressivism.

The Hungarian strongman said elections in the United States and European Union this year are an opportunity to “defeat the progressive spirit,” according to The Associated Press.

Per the outlet:

Orban also addressed Trump’s criminal trials, encouraging Trump to “fight for his own truth not only in elections, but in the courts.” I'm pretty sure Trump didn't need Orban's urging to go that route, but it's nonetheless troubling to have a foreign leader stoking his worst impulses.

And much like his American conservative counterparts, Orban used war-like imagery to forecast the months ahead.

“Let’s saddle up, put on our armor, head to the battlefield and begin the election battle!” he said.

The irony in all this is that the same conservative movement that has grafted itself onto this repressive Hungarian regime has been arguing since 2008 that both Joe Biden and Barack Obama were somehow compromised by repressive regimes around the world.

Now, irony be damned, Republicans are enthralled with an openly illiberal government — and not very quietly hoping for something similar here after Election Day.

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