As an American, you can simply travel — or you can travel as a political act. When we make a point to learn about the challenges facing other nations, we gain a deeper understanding of the challenges we face at home. And here in Budapest, where I’m kicking off the second half of my 2018 travels, I’ve already picked up the greatest of all souvenirs: a broader perspective.
Like Turkey and Poland, Hungary has a leader who’s derailing their democracy, buoyed by the support of people who live outside of the cities and care about one issue above all others: keeping refugees out. Meanwhile, the concerned citizens of more democratic nations (that are able to keep the issue of migrants in perspective) are watching, recognizing how fragile their freedoms are, and marveling at the fascinating parallels between one society and the next.
In much of Europe these days, one party offers education, progressive taxation, and care for the environment. The other offers tax breaks, fewer regulations, uniformly nationalistic textbooks that rewrite history, and “protection” from migrants. And the people choose.
Join me on the banks of the Danube for a peek at Hungary’s political swing from left to right.