In a recent opinion piece, The New York Times journalist Paul Krugman warns readers that if re-elected, Donald Trump is likely to follow in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s footsteps by dismantling democracy in the U.S.
The article titled “Donald Trump Is No Richard Nixon” was published in The New York Times on 4 June 2020. In the beginning, Krugman contrasts Trump’s presidency with that of Richard Nixon and explains the vast differences between the two leaders. Then, Krugman goes on to claim that if Trump is re-elected, the United States can easily follow in Hungary’s footsteps in becoming a democracy only on paper but an authoritarian country in reality.
“At this point it’s alarmingly easy to see how the United States could follow the path already taken by Hungary, becoming a democracy on paper but an authoritarian one-party state in practice. And I’m not talking about the distant future: It could happen this year, if Trump wins re-election — or even, potentially, if he loses but refuses to accept the results.”
Krugman also states that Trump is able to threaten democracy partly because he has so many enablers. Trump and Orbán do seem to use similar tactics and have a similar base. Krugman mentions that Trump’s base “gets its information from Fox and Facebook and basically lives in an alternate reality,” which is almost identical to Orbán’s base who watch nothing but government-owned M1.
Krugman has drawn a comparison between Trump and Orbán before. In a 2019 article titled “Why Isn’t Trump a Real Populist?“, he actually predicted the same thing he is claiming now. Krugman wrote that both Trump and Orbán “gained power by exploiting white resentment against immigrants and global elites.”
“There are indeed strong and scary parallels: Orban has effectively turned Hungary into an authoritarian state, retaining the forms of democracy but rigging the system in such a way that his party has a permanent lock on power. It’s alarmingly easy to envision the U.S. going the same way, and very soon: If Trump is re-elected next year, that could mark the end of America’s democratic experiment.”