John Shattuck writes: How is democracy hijacked? Viktor Orban, the strongman of Hungary, has shown the way, emulating Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Elected on a wave of fear and discontent, Orban attacked and undermined the media, the judiciary, civil society, the rule of law, and the protection of minority rights, consolidating his power by appealing to xenophobic extremism.
Orban is a forerunner of Donald Trump. He has used the European refugee crisis to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment, foreshadowing Trump’s pandering to the white supremacists and purveyors of hate whom he has thrust into the center of American politics.
Seven months into his presidency, Trump looks like an Orban mimic. He’s labeled journalists “enemies of the people” and assaulted the mainstream media as purveyors of “fake news”; challenged the independence of the judiciary and smeared the integrity of judges; attacked civil society by claiming massive voter fraud; presided over an increase in racism and hate crimes; and abused the power of the presidency by pressing the FBI to drop an investigation of his former national security adviser, then firing the FBI director for investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the presidential election.
Democracy in the United States may be more resilient than in Hungary, but Trump’s instability may make him more dangerous than Orban. [Continue reading…]