Hungarian Conservative

Rick Santorum: ‘I Give Hungary a Tremendous Amount of Credit for Standing Out in a Sea of Wokeism Here in Europe’

Tibor Illyés/MTI
In an exclusive interview with Hungarian Conservative, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum talked about a number of interesting topics, including the US Embassy's billboard campaign in Hungary, Hungary's role in defending traditional values in Europe, and the 2024 US Presidential election.

Rick Santorum served the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for two six-year terms in the US Senate between 1995 and 2007. He’s been one of the most prominent voices for social conservatism in the United States for decades now. Recently, he appeared at CPAC Hungary 2023 where he spoke of rarely-talked-about important issues, such as the rise of single-parent families and the legality of late-term abortion. At the event, he also talked to Hungarian Conservative in an exclusive interview.

In the Western media, Hungary is usually portrayed as an oppressive, autocratic country ruled by such a regime. Now that you’ve come here and visited us, what are your impressions? Do these portrayals hold any water? Is there any truth to them?

Well, you have to remember that the news media that described Hungary as such described Donald Trump as an authoritarian autocrat. They described me as someone who is radical, and out of the mainstream. You have to take everything that the mainstream media in the United States says with a grain of salt. I’ve had the opportunity to be in Budapest now three times, this is my third trip here, and I’m incredibly impressed with this country, impressed in particular with their adherence to traditional Western values, and that they understand the importance of family, they understand the importance of faith, and the importance of culture.

All of those things which are vitally important for a country, particularly one that is a small country in not the nicest neighbourhood, with respect to the war in Ukraine, and, obviously, the relationship with Russia, and a unique language. All of this is important for a country to have a national identity, and to stand for certain things, and I think this country has done an exemplary job, particularly, in my mind, standing up to the leftist bureaucrats in Brussels.

Every conservative in America should applaud Hungary for its firmness in standing up for traditional values.

Obviously, look, I don’t know any politician that I agree with on everything, I don’t agree with everything that Hungary does, but I respect the fact that they are doing what they believe is in the best interest of their country.

Have you heard about the billboard campaign the US Embassy is sponsoring, urging the Hungarian public to be more against Russia in the ongoing conflict? Is it under the purview of a foreign embassy to do such a thing?

I don’t think it is in the purview of a foreign embassy to be engaged in trying to influence public opinion, certainly not as boldly as that, in a country in which you have a mission. There are ways to have conversations with the government and express America’s position, and advocate, as we do as Americans, with all foreign governments. I can tell you, if a Republican administration was doing something like that, promoting, let’s say, traditional moral values in a country, the left would be pulling their hair out, and going crazy. It’s just not appropriate, and I’m disappointed to hear that that’s going on.

Rick Santorum speaking at CPAC 2013 in Harbor, Maryland. PHOTO: Commons Licence

Can we talk about your home state, Pennsylvania?


In last year’s Senate race, did you expect the Republican candidate, Dr Mehmet Oz, to win?

The Republican candidate should have won, but we ran into a lot of problems. He turned out not to be a particularly strong candidate; the fact that he was very closely tied to President Trump hurt him badly in Pennsylvania. Trump was a very divisive figure in the state of Pennsylvania, and I think, in the end, it caused our candidate a lot of problems.

Do you think it could be turned around by 2024?

I think Pennsylvania can certainly be won by a Republican, I’m not sure if it can be won by Donald Trump. That’s the key of, frankly, the race in general. Obviously, lots of things can happen between now and November of 2024, so it’s hard to make any predictions. But, as the race sits right now, it would be very difficult for Trump to win in Pennsylvania, but we’ll see how that turns out.

There’s this opinion that maybe just mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting weren’t explored to the same extent by the Republican Party as the Democrats. Do you think it’s too optimistic to say that would be enough to flip a large state like Pennsylvania?

The problem, again going back to Donald Trump, is that Donald Trump says you shouldn’t mail in your ballots. He basically makes us do the effort to match what the Democrats are doing, turning up people for an election, with one hand tied behind our back. It’s frustrating, but Donald Trump doesn’t easily change his positions.

Let’s talk about conservatism as a whole, as a global movement. What would be the five or three, whichever you choose, main agenda points for a global conservative movement? What are the most important issues to tackle right now?

To me,

we’re up against a leftist assault on the institutions that allow for a free economy and a civil society.

It’s an assault on faith, it’s an assault on the family, it’s an assault on economic freedom, on freedom of speech. All of the things that, if you look at it, Western republics are known for throughout history. Those are key facets, and the left wants to destroy all of them.

We have lots of areas where we have to engage and battle the left. And Hungary has been first and foremost in standing up for family, and family values, and they should be tremendously commended for doing so. Not buying into this LGBTQ stuff, and same-sex marriage, and all these redefinitions of cultural norms, and redefinitions of truth. I give Hungary a tremendous amount of credit for standing out in a sea of wokeism here in Europe, standing for its values. We need to engage with those who are fighting and winning, and support them in other areas too.

Related articles:

Orbán’s CPAC Speech: The Promise Hungary Holds for Western Conservative Parties
‘The Hungarian Approach to Governance is Much Saner than That of Its “Progressive” Western Critics’ — An Interview with Professor Daniel J. Mahoney
In an exclusive interview with Hungarian Conservative, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum talked about a number of interesting topics, including the US Embassy's billboard campaign in Hungary, Hungary's role in defending traditional values in Europe, and the 2024 US Presidential election.