Eyes Wide Shut

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.”

– George Orwell, 1984

Republican right-wing extremists are putting together an agenda from hell to prepare for a GOP president in 2025, Trump possibly included. The Democrats are sleeping through a far-right vision to enact policies akin to an autocratic government.

The planning for what would be a government for zombies run by conservatives vetted for their loyalty to their leader in the White House emerged as Trump returned to Washington for the first time since he left office to tout his ideas for creating a country few of us would want to live in.

This advance outlining for a Republican win of the presidency in 2024 is occurring as conservatives await the arrival of their new North Star, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a far-right autocrat. He recently came under fire for complaining in a speech in neighboring Romania that he didn’t want Hungary “to become a mixed race” country of Europeans and non-Europeans.

Racism is a familiar refrain among American white supremacists and extremists. And Trump.

Orbán erected fences to keep would-be immigrants from entering Hungary during the 2015 European migrant crisis, sparked mostly by Syrians and Afghans fleeing war and seeking asylum on the continent.

“We are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become mixed race,” he told a conference in Romania, according to Politico’s European edition. He said countries in which different races blend are “no longer nations.”

The racist remarks, which are not new to Orbán, prompted widespread criticism, including from one of his longtime advisers, sociologist Zsuzsa Hegedüs, who resigned in a letter to him.

“Worthy of Goebbels,” she wrote. Joseph Goebbels was Hitler’s propaganda chief. A”pure Nazi text. . . . That you are able to deliver an openly racist speech would not occur to me even in a nightmare.”

Hungary, population 9.6 million, is a member of the European Union and NATO.

And right-wing Republicans are looking up to Orbán as their model for president. Just what a diverse country of 330 million needs to unite us.

Despite his racist remarks, Orbán was invited to speak this week to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas. Trump is to be the keynote speaker before a crowd of right-wingers that will include Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Fox “News” commentator Sean Hannity. Its brightest star, Tucker Carlson, broadcast for a week from Budapest nearly a year ago.

The Washington Post last week outlined a blueprint by Trump and Republican policy organizations of a right-wing government that would curtail the powers of federal agencies and make it easier to fire civil service employees, possibly just for starters.

Conservatives relish the idea of small government, mostly to keep it away from regulating businesses.

Trump embellished those ideas in a speech to the America First Policy Institute, which the Post described as a new think tank with 150 people and a $25 million budget he helped fund. Conservative think tanks reportedly have been sprouting like mushrooms.

The former president said he wants to send the homeless to the outskirts of urban areas, to give more money to the police, to resurrect the racist “stop and frisk” policy, to increase jail terms for violating immigration rules, to further restrict medical treatment for transgender youth and to stop most early and electronic voting, Post political reporters Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey wrote.

“Now, some people say, ‘Oh, that’s so horrible.’ No, what’s horrible is what’s happening now,” Trump said in his speech. He gave no examples, of course.

Malcolm Nance, a career counterterrorism officer, commentator, and author who broke off his voluntary service as a soldier with Ukraine’s forces, to go on tour to promote his book, “They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency.”

“The Republican Party is an insurgent party, no longer interested in government but using the levers of power to damage government and destabilize and reflect the wishes of the armed insurgents, the militias, even the terrorists,” he said in an interview with David Smith of The Guardian. “They themselves are the knife at the throat of American democracy.”

Nance, who said an insurgency wouldn’t turn into a civil war but would be a series of incidents like capturing a governor’s mansion, characterized the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as a “seditious conspiracy.” Some militia rioters have been charged with that.

He fumed bitterly at the racist element of the bloody siege, suggesting there would have been lots of police shooting if the insurgents had been Black. A Capitol policeman did shoot a white woman rioter fatally as she fought to get into the building.

The rioters “could close and engage upon the Capitol and beat cops because their skin was their camouflage,” said Nance, who is Black. “Now the whiteness of their skin is the excuse that you can’t hold them to account but you can shoot Black men with no weapon 90 times in the back.”

Nance compared the GOP to be “much like ISIS: ideological purity and creating a terror state or an insurgency where the country now is used for what they want.”

That could be applied to how the Trumpists seem to be trying to set up the ability to control forthcoming elections to ensure their candidate wins, possibly with partisan electors.

The Biden administration needs to do more to fight the insurgency, Nance suggested.

“They have no urgency right now,” he said. “This is a firehouse on fire and you’re sitting in the truck waiting for the call. Get out and fight the fire. The entire structure can collapse around you.”

The extremists aren’t playing games. It’s obvious they’re doing it right in front of our eyes to create the kind of country that would adhere to the conservative way of life. Give them the reins, as in the 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and they’ll keep taking away our freedoms, little by little.

You only have to look at what they did to the constitutional right to abortion once they had the opportunity. There’s more like that to come.

Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.