Election 2020: The “Thin Veneer of Democracy”

The wiles of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban lend insight into the pre-election machinations of Donald Trump. For Prime Minister Orban, the cause of authoritarianism in Hungary is concealed behind a “thin veneer” of upholding democracy. In Hungary there are elections. In Hungary there is a Constitution. In Hungary there is a Parliament. In Hungary there is an authoritarian regime.

Elections can be defrauded. Elections can be stolen. A Constitution is only so robust as it’s capacity to absorb the blows a corrupted court system can deliver.

Sound familiar?

In America elections can be bought. In America voters can be misled. In America voting can be sidelined by recklessly endangering voters queuing up to cast ballots. iIn America there is a Justice Department and an Attorney General posing as lawyers and as Trump loyalists.

Within a 24 hour news cycle beginning Monday, Sept. 1 less than 65 days to election, Trump presented two faces, playing “bad tyrant” in North Carolina, flaunting election regulation — a criminal act — and playing “good tyrant” back in Washington with a thinly veiled life preserver tossed like rolls of paper toweling to unemployed renters. The “bottom line” is that BOTH acts demonstrate attempts at shoring up authoritarianism.

How can this be?

Hungary offers some answers:

“On Monday (March 30, 2020), under the pretext of addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency, Hungary’s parliament gave green light to the Orban-led government to rule with unlimited power for an indefinite time.” (1)

Since March 30, the European Union has been deliberating what to do with the first EU “democracy” becoming a “non-democracy.”

Under “normal” times, the US would take a page from Hungary’s descent into authoritarianism. However, one can argue that Hungary was FOLLOWING the US into the “thin veneer of democracy” shielding authoritarianism. Fifty-odd days earlier on February 5, 2020, the US Senate voted its support that the President was NOT GUILTY of two articles of wresting government control from duly elected representatives and the American people.

One can argue that if America, the “paragon” of global democracies, can slide into authoritarianism, why not do the same “by fiat,” hosting COVID-19 as the calculated reason for an extraordinary power-grab?

One can argue that Orban and his Parliament coalition were inspired by the US Senate chamber vote to sustain the “thin veneer of democracy” concealing authoritarianism.

September 2–4, 2020

1 — Phillipe Dam, “Hungary’s Authoritarian Takeover Puts European Union at Risk,” April 1, 2020, Human Rights Watch, hrw.org

Writer, essayist, dreamer.