Hungarian Conservative

‘Viktor Orbán speaks truth to power’ — An Interview with Republican Congressman Andy Harris

Republican congressman Andy Harris at the CPAC Hungary in Budapest, on 26 April 2024.
Tamás Gyurkovits/Hungarian Conservative
‘Viktor Orbán is the one standing up for the average European people, not their government,’ Republican Congressman Andy Harris pointed out in an interview with Hungarian Conservative on the sidelines of CPAC Hungary 2024.

Andy Harris, a Republican Congressman from Maryland and a member of the influential Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, recently sat down for an interview with Hungarian Conservative during his visit to Hungary as a speaker at CPAC Hungary. In the interview Harris discussed the phenomenon of left-wing opinion dictatorship, the role of Viktor Orbán within the right-wing movement, and his personal ties to Hungary.


Here we are at CPAC Hungary in Budapest, but prior to this, there was another right-wing gathering in Brussels, the National Conservatism Conference, which made headlines when one of the mayors of the Belgian capital’s districts attempted to ban it on spurious grounds. Have you heard about this in the United States? More importantly, were you surprised by it?

A lot of conservatives in America are aware of what happened at the National Conservatism Conference in Brussels, but to them this was nothing new. This has been happening on our college campuses for years now, where the administrations won’t host a conservative on campus because there might be a protest. Well, that’s what freedom of speech is all about, is actually have conflicting ideas in public, in the open, and to somehow suggest that you can’t have it because there might be a protest is completely against all the principles of freedom of speech. In the end, people see it from what it is. It’s government repression of thought.

And it is repulsive to people who live in societies where freedom of speech is actually something we respected. So again, was I surprised it happened? No, because this is the playbook of the left: to make up an excuse so that they can suppress conservative thought.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was keynote speaker at both NatCon and CPAC Hungary. In recent years, Orbán has risen as a prominent figure on the international right. How is the Hungarian prime minister perceived from overseas?

What I call the activist right within the American ranks, we look at what Viktor Orbán is doing and say: ‘Yes, he’s taking a stand!’ Like us, he’s standing up. So for instance, I’m a member of the House Freedom Caucus, as well as Keith Self or Paul Gosar (both gave speeches at CPAC Hungary 2024 – ed.) We are the people who believe that it’s not enough to simply hold these principles; you must also stand up for them, even when doing so is unpopular. So we look at Viktor Orbán and what he does in Europe and say: ‘Wow, this is hard!’ He’s the leader of one of the more than two dozen countries in the European Union, and sometimes he’s there by himself.

He speaks what the phrase is in English ‘truth to power,’

and the people end up being with him and they realize the false claims of their leadership in their country. That’s why they’re so worried about Viktor Orbán because the average person actually sees what he does and says: ‘Yeah, that’s right, wait a minute. Men are different from women. Marriage is really between a man and a woman. Children are actually a blessing, not an economic curse’ and so on. These are the principles that resonate with many ordinary working people—individuals who dedicate 40 or 60 hours a week to make their families better. He’s the one standing up for them, not their government.

According to Andy Harris, ones must stand up for conservative principles, even if it is unpopular to do so. PHOTO: Tamás Gyurkovits/Hungarian Conservative

You have a special connection not only to Viktor Orbán, but also to Hungary, as your father was of Hungarian descent. To what extent do you feel this connection has shaped your worldview?

A lot. People whose families have suffered under communism, or who have experienced the World War II personally in Europe, and have members of their families who died in it, who are punished and suffered under communism, they have a very different perspective of the world. They view the totalitarianism of communism as something dangerous. When I was in high school we had to read George Orwell’s books, 1984 and Animal Farm, because we had to understand what totalitarianism is all about and the seductiveness of some of it. For instance, in Animal Farm, everything seemed going great. They get rid of those humans, who were repressing them, but then they realize that the pigs took over. They were the ones oppressing them in the end. That’s just the nature of not constantly supporting liberties and freedoms and constantly realizing that it’s under threat because of human nature. If you let humans go far enough on their own, they always want to assume more power. We have to resist that at every point.

As reflected in your answers, left-wing opinion suppression is not a recent phenomenon; it has long been part of public discourse. However, it seems to be increasingly prevalent today. What strategies can conservatives employ to counter this trend?

The big difference is that we now have social media and you can’t hide anything for a long period of time anymore. 50 years ago, if you didn’t see it on the evening news broadcast, you never knew it happened. As I mentioned in my speech, last week a drag queen show in Massachusetts had the drag queen leading children chanting ‘free Palestine!’ Well, if you didn’t have social media, that never would have been known. That ability, the proper use of social media to make sure everybody understands the craziness of what the left is doing is very important. Sometimes we look at the need for traditional news outlets, but I think actually a lot of people are bypassing them and seeking sources of information that just weren’t available 50 years ago. We have to use that. When someone on the left says something incredibly nonsensical, we have to make sure 100 million people will see it, because they’ll come to the same conclusion. The self-righteous educated elites, they truly believe that they’re correct in these things. But then the average person looks at that and goes: ‘No, this is not true! A man is different from a woman.’ We just have to expose the liberals for what they are and social media makes it much easier to do that.

That’s why the left wants to censor social media.

That’s why it’s so important to them that social media companies exert censorship because they know if it’s unfiltered and uncontrolled, they can’t control the messages like they were used to.

Read more on CPAC Hungary 2024:

Tony Abbott at CPAC: ‘The only country in the world that’s successfully stopped a wave of illegal immigration by boat is Australia’
Donald Trump Praises Hungarian Patriots at CPAC Hungary
‘Viktor Orbán is the one standing up for the average European people, not their government,’ Republican Congressman Andy Harris pointed out in an interview with Hungarian Conservative on the sidelines of CPAC Hungary 2024.