George Soros became famous as a hedge fund manager and currency speculator. But he’s also a life-long student of philosophy and a holocaust survivor. His early experiences, seeing first-hand the horrible consequences of a political system devolved into tyranny and genocide, helped form his strong sense of civic duty. When Soros the financial genius became very rich, George Soros the philosopher-king began emerging as a major player on the world stage. Through his Open Societies Foundations he’s provided over $13 billion in the cause of liberty and open, inclusive societies. The vast majority of this has been drawn from his personal fortune.
Soros views himself not just opting to engage in controversial philanthropy but being obligated to do so.
Lately Soros has involved himself in presidential politics in a big way. He spent $27 million in 2004 attempting to defeat George W Bush. Soros viewed the wars in Afghanistan and especially Iraq as crimes, a view for which there is much support.
The loss was discouraging and for a while he stayed out of presidential politics. Despite strongly supporting Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012, George Soros remained mostly on the sidelines. Those close to him say that he had officially sworn off involving himself in presidential politics. By 2012 he was already in his 80’s and despite a hard driving, pugnacious personality, may have wanted to dial back the contention a notch in his golden years. But in June of 2015 that all changed.
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The flamboyant Manhattanite, real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump had emerged as a candidate for the Republican Party. He had run for the presidency multiple times before and his candidacy was, at first, mostly dismissed as grandstanding and publicity-seeking. As time went on however he would slay one political foe after the next. By the following year he had won the GOP nomination, despite a full court press against him from the inept GOP establishment.
But to Soros the most important feature of the Trump candidacy wasn’t the man himself, but the nationalist, identitarian and anti-immigration politics that surrounded him. Soros had dedicated his life to creating open, inclusive societies where all ideas and viewpoints were welcome. To Soros, Trump represented a society that is quite literally closed and exclusionary. The Open Societies Foundation donation spigot was about to be turned on once again.
All told Soros spent over $25 million dollars on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. People close to him say the Clinton loss was personally devastating. But Soros was apparently as resolved as ever to continue the fight for the ideas in which he strongly believes.
2016 was not a complete loss politically for Soros however. He racked up many important wins including getting many progressive district attorneys elected. But with two huge successive losses after having spent tens of millions backing presidential candidates, the 86 year old may be done with presidential politics forever. With all the quiet little victories he’s recently enjoyed, don’t count him completely out though.