The two nationalist populist giants, Donald Trump and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, met on Monday at the White House. This was Prime Minister Orban’s first visit to the White House in 20 years. He has been to Washington DC several times during those years, but he has been shunned by previous presidents, particularly Obama and Bush, for his nationalist populist political positions and policies. But not by Donald Trump. He was welcomed to the oval office with open arms by our president. The two were meeting to strengthen the strategic alliance between the United States and Hungary, which they both believe centers around fighting illegal immigration and terrorism and protecting and helping Christian communities around the world. President Trump said that the two of them would be discussing NATO issues, trade, and other subjects.
Viktor Orban is of course very symbolic for President Trump, largely because of his successful campaign to build a wall between Hungary and Croatia that has effectively put a stop to the flow of illegal immigrants. And of course Trump is symbolic for Orban, because their meeting is an explicit demonstration of the normalization of the nationalist populist right. No demonization here. In fact, Trump referred to Orban as a highly respected leader who was doing a tremendous job.
Orban is seen as a hero for nationalist populism, as is Trump and his invitation to the White House is a HUGE boost for the nationalist right in Europe. The Financial Times reported that just days before Orban’s visit, the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo abruptly cancelled a meeting with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who is of course an object of derision for Orban, Italy’s Matteo Salvini and other nationalist populists. With this photo-op in the White House just days before the European Parliamentary elections, it was clear that President Trump has taken sides and is rooting for the nationalist populist Eurosceptics to strike a massive blow to the Bullies in Brussels. Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist commented that this meeting was tremendously helpful in fostering a potential European earthquake next week if the nationalist sovereigntists take control. The polls show that they will, if the nationalist populist parties stick together. And make no mistake, Trump is sending a message of American solidarity with the nationalist populist movements throughout Europe. If they stick together they will be by far the single largest bloc in the European Parliament.
As the Financial Times has pointed out, this meeting with Orban in the White House means nothing less than the fact that the United States under Donald Trump has radically broken with the transatlantic policies of previous presidents. Since the postwar Marshall Plan, Washington DC has sought to encourage European integration, centralization, and globalization. It was precisely because George W. Bush and Barack Obama both supported the European Union and the project of globalization that they refused to meet with Prime Minister Orban on his previous visits to the US capital. But those globalist days are over with President Trump. What these pundits are noticing is that Trump’s ambassadors to Berlin and Brussels are constantly berating their host governments, while his ambassador in Budapest, David Cornstein is a public cheerleader for Viktor Orban. That is a very, very important observation to make. Whenever I read that Trump is just cuck or a corporatist shill because he happens to do something that some people on the right don’t like, you have to remember that he has radically changed the United States’ initiated world political order in a number of ways that may appear subtle on the surface. They may appear subtle, but they are extremely significant. Today, as we speak President Trump is at the epicenter of a new political order made up of nationalist populists in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Georgia, and as we talked about in the past, increasingly Britain with the Brexit Party now garnering more votes than Labour and the Tories combined! This of course is not to mention very, very formidable nationalist populist parties in Sweden, Spain, Germany, and France.
With this meeting in the White House, we really are seeing the beginnings of a new political order, the beginnings of its solidification which has been in the makings now for several years. Viktor Orban of course was on the forefront of its beginnings, coming into office back in 2010 after an interim period from his first stint as prime minister a few years prior to that. This is actually Viktor Orban’s fourth term as prime minister, third consecutive term. Then came the nationalist populist Law and Justice Party in Poland which won the 2015 parliamentary election, with an outright majority. This was something no Polish party had done since the fall of Communism. Then of course, in 2016 with the back-to-back victories of Brexit in June and of Donald Trump winning the presidency in November, the first Republican to get over 300 electoral votes since 1988. Since then, we have seen one nation after another has been turning to the nationalist populist right either in terms of forming viable opposition parties or winning the majority. And NOW, we are preparing for the tsunami of nationalist populism to utterly overwhelm Brussels in a matter of days, which means that this meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Viktor Orban is just the beginning.
Stay up to date on our latest posts.