IS IT POSSIBLE? If both sides wanted it, perhaps we could make it a New Year’s resolution…
Reconciliation is when former enemies agree to a political order that serves the true interests of all. Can we reconcile our political differences in Hungary? Or is this just wishful thinking? The term societal ‘peace’ is an older concept; it originates from the Anglo-French pes, and the Old French pais, meaning “peace, reconciliation, silence, agreement” (11th century). But, Pes itself comes from the Latin pax, meaning “peace, compact, agreement, treaty of peace, tranquility, absence of hostility, harmony.”
When we look at international examples, American politicians are typically tough adversaries during presidential campaigns, but in the aftermath they honorably get together and act cordially with each other. However, reconciliation is not merely the government’s obligation. The opposition has an equal amount of responsibility in accomplishing it.
From left to right: George H. Bush (republican), Barack Obama (democrat), George W. Bush (republican), William Clinton and Jimmy Carter (democrats)
LMP co-chair András Schiffer recently made an astute observation in Lánchíd Rádió attempting to describe what is blocking our efforts of reconciliation. He said that after regime change in 1990, many in the Left stubbornly remained committed to the former power elite associated with the Kadar regime, while those who strongly resisted the former communists automatically oriented themselves towards the Right. This renewed split was a perfect opportunity for the ensuing two-tiered political elite to create a fair amount of hysteria among their followers. This hysterical climate was the perfect integument for the political elite to accuse each other of communist or fascist tendencies, while they happily implemented their political agenda to their liking. This Left-Right split today is therefore no longer suitable to move the country forward into the 21st century. While Schiffer neglects to mention that the western financial and business elite also has a fair share of responsibility in destabilizing the country, he does make a good point that the nation needs to move forward and build a more cooperative agenda in order to prosper.
So, what exactly needs to be done to return civility to the political discourse? First and foremost, the Left must stop applying the outrageously misused and inappropriate phrases of fascism and Nazism to right-wing political forces in Hungary, while the Right needs to stop accusing the Left of communist loyalties. Both communicative phraseology are just gigs and distortions to add fuel to the fire.
Secondly, the Hungarian Left needs to re-focus on social sensitivity and thereby regain its lost credibility! It also needs to declare that society will be sovereign and harmonious if people are not subjected to the decrees of international banks, multinational corporations and international/regional federalism. Any attempt to do otherwise may be perceived as a phony cover-up to validate their greedy economic interests.
The Left also needs to stop the ranting and raving vindictiveness that it has been pursuing via its foreign liberal academic and media partners in attacking, condemning and belittling everything that is done by the Right. It needs to acknowledge instead that Hungary now has a potent and capable government in place that the voters have democratically chosen and they need to work together with this government to make life better for the Hungarian people. If the Left had consented to this political reality, it would make itself instantaneously more popular in the polls. They would be perceived as generous, somewhat more elegant and disciplined.
Conversely, the Hungarian Right also needs to recognize that there is a legitimate need for a healthy and viable Left in Hungary. This harmony is important for Hungarian society to prosper. The Right also needs to give up its insistence on making the rich richer. Social sensitivity is important. The political elite should pay more attention to people on the periphery of society. It has to be socially inclusive and generous when it comes to health care, pensions and education. The sick, the old and young people in Hungary need to be well taken care of. That is the mark of good governance. The governing parties have been trying to monitor these issues and stay on top of them, but increasingly it is felt that perhaps more can be done to ensure social security and health care for all citizens and not just for the privileged few.
Meanwhile, the Left should be reminded that Hungary is a sovereign parliamentary democracy. Therefore, whichever political side is selected to lead the nation (Right or Left) its representatives can no longer be called Nazis, fascists or commies. If anyone does that among the ranks of the political elite or even media, they should be severely penalized and/or ex-communicated from overall political decision-making.
Another pivotal building block of society, the family also needs to be put in proper focus. In doing so, there is no room for social lifestyle experimentation and compromise. Both Left and Right need to redefine marriage as sanctity between a man and a woman.
Getting back to the culture of political discourse, internationally, the most hated adversaries often sit down with each other and make an effort to set side their differences for the common good: Kennedy and Khrushchev, Reagan and Gorbachev, Arafat and Sadat, Merkel and Erdogan, and recently, Obama and Putin. If they can do it, perhaps we can do it to regain some semblance of civility. It seems that Viktor Orban is a gentleman and he is ready for that.
As we have suspected all along, political reconciliation is no easy task. However, if some of the above ideas are implemented there may be some progress in that direction. For that to occur, the opposition needs to stop attacking the legitimate and democratically elected government of Hungary through the western liberal press and media. Name-calling and vile propaganda should be rooted out. Next, social sensitivity and inclusiveness should be on top of the political agenda. And finally, the nuclear family should have its well-deserved legitimacy restored (even if that upsets the western liberal elite).
To recap the essence of this thesis, there may be some common ground on which we can build a new consensus. These can be the suspension of hostilities and harsh language between opposing political forces, the building of a more sovereign national economy oriented towards small and medium-size enterprises, the strengthening of family values, the protection of the integrity of Hungary (stopping the flow of illegal migration), and the building of harmonious relations between all Hungarians, whether they live within or outside our borders. Other important issues to address that concern both sides of the political spectrum are: raising wage levels, improving health care, eradicating poverty and finding ways to preserve the traditionally high-level and free public educational system in Hungary.
So, BÉKE, PAZ, PAX, PAIS, MIR, FRIEDEN, ALOHA, SALAAM, SHALOM, PEACE! AND A JOYFUL AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR TO ALL!