Less than a week after the 2016 election, George Soros and other big money liberal contributors gathered in Washington for a meeting sponsored by the Democracy Alliance. However, what had been anticipated as a celebration of victory was subdued in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s upset win. For Democrats and liberals, the outcome was a fiasco. It led to a hasty revision of the conference agenda. Among other changes was the last-minute addition of a session that centered around a “conversation” with George Soros.
The Democracy Alliance is a liberal donors’ club founded in 2005 by Soros and other well-heeled progressives in the wake of John Kerry’s defeat in the 2004 presidential election. The organization’s purpose is to channel donations from wealthy liberals to advocacy groups with a progressive agenda, particularly those that help build the Democrats’ voting strength. Through the 2016 election cycle, the Alliance ha raised nearly $500 million during its existence.
In addition to being a founder of the Alliance, George Soros may be its biggest donor. He gave an estimated $25 million in 2016 to support Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates.Soros was born in Hungary in 1930 and grew up with his country occupied first by the Nazis, and later dominated by the Soviet Union. His early experiences left him with a lifelong commitment to promoting freedom and liberal causes. He fled Hungary and eventually emigrated to the United States after graduating from the London School of Economics. Soros became one of the most successful financiers and traders of securities and currency in the world. He also became a political activist. He has funded liberal causes and organizations for decades.
George Soros is now in his mid-80s. He is retired from active business. He remains politically active, as his participation in the Democracy Alliance conference demonstrates. Soros’ appearance focused on his early experiences with authoritarianism. Although neither Soros nor other attendees tried to compare Trump to the Nazi regime he had to cope with, the sense was that his experiences had something to say about how to protect liberal and progressive values from attacks.
One is a desire to resist efforts by the new president to roll back liberal gains such as Obamacare and civil rights. The other was general agreement that liberals need to rethink their approach. In particular, the attendees perceived a need to reach out more to white working-class voters, rather than rely too much on minorities and women to win elections.
George Soros’ political interests are not limited to supporting liberal politicians. His experience as a refugee escaping communist rule gave him a strong interest in helping other refugees. For example, he recently announced that he is dedicating $500 million in investment funds to boost new and existing businesses started by migrants and refugees, and to support private sector programs for these groups in the United States and other countries.