What America can learn from Hungary

The United States is embroiled in a desperate fight for its soul, and the situation has only gotten uglier over time. However, while the goal posts on both sides continue to shift gradually to the left, there is one country that may provide the proper formula for a much-needed conservative revival: Hungary

Perhaps the last, and certainly the best, bastion of conservatism left in Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his administration have worked hard to revive the values of Hungary that have been lost in recent decades and hold on tight to those that have remained. 

As the West suffers a mass migration crisis, Hungary has established itself as the strictest European nation on immigration. A new law would deport jobless third-world migrants, bar their family members from entry even if they do have jobs, and only permit workers of skill and quality to work so long as local Hungarian citizens are not available. 

While the rest of the West has caved to the suggestion that overpopulating itself with waves of migrants is the only solution to its rapidly declining birthrate, Hungary stands out for applying the more logical, safe, and edifying option: incentivizing the growth of families. Thanks to laws like one that exempts taxes for mothers of four or more children and another that does the same for mothers under 30, Orban has steadily raised Hungary’s fertility rate from 1.24 to 1.58 since his election in 2010 in contrast to the plummeting tide across the West.

Hungary is also much more attuned to reality than most Western governments regarding how to handle the culture wars. LGBT propaganda targeting minors in education and on television is illegal. It is also illegal for anyone to change their gender in any official records. This has raised the ire of the leftist governments of the West. 

The fact alone that Orban is brave enough to resist the tyrannical secular globalism being enforced by the West demands respect. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the top pick for NATO chief, vowed to bring Hungary “to its knees” for its LGBT policies. The European Union regularly bullies Hungary and tries to undermine its sovereignty. But unlike globalist Westerners, the Hungarians have actual conviction and courage. 

Perhaps most importantly in this woke and progressive era, Hungary proudly wears its tradition on its sleeve. Polls find that Hungarians value culture and tradition more than the rest of Europe, with the exception of Poland. Hungarians also understand that their Christian faith is integral to their national identities. Orban once called Christianity “the cornerstone that holds the architecture of European civilization in place.” 

Now, it may raise the eyebrows of many American conservatives to learn that Hungary has warm relations with China. Its participation in China’s expansive Belt and Road Initiative means it acquires billions in investment. Because of this, it threatens to undermine actions taken by the EU against China due to its veto power. As Hungary is an important voice in Western politics, this is a valid concern.

It must be understood, however, that like many countries the West mismanages, Hungary is at least partially being pushed into the arms of our adversaries. The EU blackmails it into submission by withholding billions in funds until it complies with its woke agendas. President Joe Biden called him and other conservative leaders “totalitarian” and “thugs.” For valuing its own interests over globalism and secularism, Hungary is an ideological opponent of Western bureaucrats.

Alienating potential partners is a flaw of current Western politics. Armenia wants to strengthen ties with the West. Because the West continues to fund Azerbaijan’s aggression toward it, however, the small Christian nation is increasingly likely to move toward Iran. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Western negligence since the beginning of his rule contributed to their current hostilities.

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Despite its problematic economic interactions with China, Hungary is a shining example of cultural conservatism. It is a country that properly understands nationalism and tradition. In that respect, it should be what the rest of Europe strives to imitate. 

Maybe it’s time for us Americans to play the cards in Hungary’s deck. If a nation that small can achieve such a level of cultural success, perhaps we have a chance to win this war overseas. 

Parker Miller is a 2024 Washington Examiner winter fellow.

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