Election season is going at full throttle in the United States, with multiple states having already held their primaries, where their citizens could cast the votes on who they want to see as the nominee of their respective parties. The outcome of the general election in the autumn will have tangible consequences everywhere around the world—that is why the Budapest-based think tank Center for Fundamental Rights is hosting an event series all about this year’s US presidential election. The first instalment of the series took place on Wednesday, 7 February, and the Center’s headquarters in the Buda side of Budapest.
The organizers were quite upfront about their preferences in the election. The event series is titled ‘We Win, They Lose — America’s Choice’. The first part of the title, as Operative Director Péter Törcsi pointed out, is a quote from Republican President Ronald Reagan, known for his quick wit, who gave this answer when asked about what was the outcome of the Cold War he was hoping for.
If anyone had any doubts about which side ‘We’ refers to in the title, they could look at the graphic displayed on stage in the background: you could see a mighty Republican elephant leaping over a Democrat donkey covered in rainbow colours.
If that was not enough,
Mr Törcsi, in his opening remarks, openly stated that he believes that a second Trump presidency would have very positive effects on US-Hungary relations,
which have been quite sour recently. Mr Törcsi also pointed out that the Hungarian side has always been open to smooth cooperation between the allies, and the current semi-adversarial relationship was brought on by the left-wing Biden administration’s foreign policy. The Director also expressed his hope that, among the actual American population, Hungary has ‘more allies than adversaries’.
The opening speech was followed by a panel discussion. The panel featured Bryen E. Leib, a political commentator from Florida and senior research fellow at the Center, Deputy State Secretary Márton Ugrósdy, and Magor Ernyei, director of international affairs at the Center. It was moderated by the Center’s geopolitical analyst Zoltán Kocskovics.
Mr Enyei expressed his hope that 2024 will be the year when ‘common sense finally triumphs,’
not just in the US, but also in Europe, where the European Parliamentary elections are held in the summer. Mr Leib assured all that Enyei, and Hungarians as a whole, are not alone in their opposition to the woke nonsense: there are plenty of people in America as well who share that sentiment.
Given the primary season in the US, Mr Ugrósdy talked about the unique American process (although, as the Hungarian panellists pointed out, the Hungarian opposition also hosted an American-style primary in 2021, with little success). The Deputy State Secretary told the audience that while it is the common people who get to cast their vote for their preferred candidates, the party establishments usually only put forward a few sufficiently funded viable candidates. However, Donald Trump in 2016 proved to be one of the rare cases of a true outsider, having never held public office or a military position before his bid, successfully winning the nomination despite facing opposition from the establishment.
Mr Leib was alone among the panellists in his opinion that Incumbent President Joe Biden would not actually be the nominee of his party in the autumn. There was another point of contention among the distinguished speakers on stage: Mr Ugrósdy claimed that the Democrat elite lives in a bubble, and therefore is not aware that there are economic and immigration crises in the country right now. However, Mr Leib disagreed, and said that they are in fact aware, which is why they are considering removing Biden from the top of their ticket.
Where there was agreement among all participants is that former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the only Republican challenger to Trump still in the race, has very little chance of success. They also agreed that she will likely lose her home state of South Carolina by a large margin as well. The speculation was that so-called ‘never Trumper’ donors are keeping her in the race just to hurt Trump.
On a darker note,
Mr Leib told the audience that were are in ‘dark waters,’ where the current administration in the US is going after the opposition challenger with criminal prosecutions.
Mr Enyei called this practice ‘unacceptable in a democracy,’ and warned that not only are they coming after Trump himself but Trump supporters as well. Mr Ugrósdy brought up the example of the new, left-wing Polish government’s political prosecutions as an example of a similar case.
However, the overall attitude of the panellists was positive throughout the evening, all of them having confidence that the conservative forces would triumph in both the US presidential election in the autumn and in the European Parliamentary elections in the summer as well.