J.D. Vance Says US Should Take Authoritarian Viktor Orbán’s Approach to Campus Protests | Video

Hungary’s leader of nearly 15 years seized the country’s universities in 2021 and gave control to his allies

Sen. J.D. Vance has a plan for the ongoing pro-Palestinian protests at American universities, and it involves taking a page out of Viktor Orbán’s book to pull it off.

Speaking with CBS News’ Margaret Brennan on Sunday, Vance said the United States would do well to seize control of public universities and colleges that are “controlled by left-wing foundations,” much like Hungary’s authoritarian leader of nearly 15 years seized the country’s universities in 2021 and gave control to his allies.

Of Orbán’s controversial takeover, Vance said, “I think his way has to be the model for us, not to eliminate universities, but to give the choice between survival or taking a much less biased approach to teaching.”

The problem with schools in the U.S., he added, is that they are “not controlled by the American taxpayer, and yet the American taxpayer is sending hundreds of billions of dollars to these universities every single year.”

After Brennan expressed concern about the idea of American taxpayers controlling the country’s education system, Vance appeared to backtrack slightly and said his intent is that “taxpayers to have a say in how their money is spent” and that the schools are a “part of a social contract in this country.”

“They educate our children, they produce important intellectual property, they get a lot of money because of it,” Vance continued. “But if they’re not educating our children well, and they’re layering the next generation down in mountains of student debt, then they’re not meeting their end of the bargain.”

Brennan also quizzed Vance on Orbán’s other claims to fame, including rewriting Hungary’s constitution and controlling the nation’s media. Vance admitted that “I don’t know everything he’s ever done” but doubled down on one point.

“What I do think is on the university principle, the idea that taxpayers should have some influence in how their money is spent at these universities, it’s a totally reasonable thing,” Vance insisted. “And I do think that he’s made some smart decisions there that we could learn from the United States.”

Since his election in 2010, Orbán has maintained an ironclad grip on the ins and outs of life in Hungary. While most hesitate to apply the term “dictator” to Orbán or his rule, the European Parliament has decried his “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy,” and he himself has alternately described his government as an “illiberal democracy” and “Christian liberty.”

Orbán was still a university student when he sprang to the country’s consciousness following a blistering seven-minute speech in which he demanded the Soviet Red Army leave Hungary in 1989. Surprisingly, Orbán is now considered Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strongest ally in the European Union.

Following that speech, Orbán moved up through the Fidesz party and became a party leader in 1993. He became the country’s youngest Prime Minister in 1998 before he was ousted in 2002. He was elected again in 2010 amidst a global economic crisis that Hungarians felt keenly, and his position has not been threatened since.

In 2021 Fidesz passed a law that turned Hungary’s once state-owned universities into private institutions run by foundations that were aligned with the party. The opposition denounced the law as an attempt to evade election loss in 2022.

Watch the exchange between Vance and Brennan in the video above.

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