George Soros has not allowed the surprise election of Donald Trump derail his long-time support of progressive politics. George Soros, the 86-year old Hungarian-American billionaire investor, philanthropist, political activist and author committed millions of dollars to Hillary Clinton’s ultimately unsuccessful bid for the White House. However, another $2 million commitment contributed to the defeat of incumbent Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Apria, whose anti-immigrant law enforcement brought him into Soros’ crosshairs.
Shortly after the election, Soros and other liberal fundraisers, along with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Keith Ellison met at conference sponsored by the Democracy Alliance donor club (known as the DA) to assess the recent political losses and develop strategies to thwart Trump’s conservative policies and obtain better progressive results at the polls in future election cycles.
While much focus has been given to the presidential results and the defense of Obama’s national legacy including the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), anti-nuclear proliferation under the Iran Agreement and climate change policy, sessions at the conference also focused on winning back governorships and statehouses across the country, where the Republican party has built a significant majority. This majority will first be challenged in 2017 state elections and the next Congressional cycle in 2018.
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While much of the 2016 strategy focused on mobilizing the coalition that brought Obama two presidential terms, many liberal leaders have expressed the need to better appeal to the working-class voters in unexpected swing states captured by the Trump’s simplistic but ultimately effective populist message. While evolving US demographics ultimately will to bend the political calculus toward progressive causes, the liberal establishment is focusing near term on Trump’s first 100 days and the lead up to the next Congressional election cycle.
George Soros’ viewpoint on Trump is influenced by his personal experience of the Holocaust and of Soviet Communist rule. While not directly comparing Trump’s rise to the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s, but cognizant of growing European xenophobia and the Brexit vote, the need to be aware of authoritarian strains in US society and their effect on American politics cannot be denied. At George Soros request, in the wake of the unexpected presidential results, this topic was added to the agenda of the DA conference.
Given his strong track record of supporting progressive causes and the jarring developments in the US political landscape, it is all but certain that Soros will maintain if not increase his efforts to maintain an open society in America.