George Soros has recently garnered much attention for donating kingly sums to Hillary Clinton’s spectacularly flawed and ultimately doomed candidacy. However, his smaller, and arguably more sober, efforts have largely gone unremarked upon. For years, Soros has been quietly funneling untold millions into the campaigns of local elections, shaping, and in some cases radically altering, the fundamental ways that cities are governed. For anyone who thinks that a strategic genius like Soros fell lockstep out of the handicap van and onto the sidewalk of the vanquished along with his tremulous, syncope-stricken presidential-hopeful would be making a major error of judgment.
Soros presidential money as speech, not investment
If the decision of Citizens United, which Soros himself detests, is any guide then the donations of billionaires into presidential politics is best viewed not as an investment or quid pro quo transaction, but as speech. And of course, all citizens are entitled to speak freely. So if Sheldon Adelson wants to donate $100,000 million to Harry Reid’s campaign, then Mr. Reed just so happens to pass a protectionist law which favors Mr. Adelson’s businesses, well that’s just fine.
However, in the case of Soros there’s a real argument to be made that his contributions to presidential politics, which since 2004 amount total more than $52 million dollars, really are just that – speech. Soros has been so philosophically minded throughout the course of his career that, even among his most ardent detractors, there can be no doubt that he acts primarily out of a sense of what’s morally right. His considerable political contributions seem detached completely from any profit motive.
On top of this George Soros is a very smart man. Despite their personal friendship, Hillary Clinton was an extremely flawed candidate and many analysts who knew the score had serious doubts about her ability to pull off a win in the general election. Soros was undoubtedly acutely aware of this. Even assuming he thought his chances of a win were that of a coin flip, those odds aren’t anywhere near what he normally would have required to make a financial investment. It seems likely then that Soros donated over $25 million dollars to Clinton’s campaign, not just without expectation of personal profit, but with no expectation that she would even win and indeed perhaps the expectation that she would lose. That’s about as close as a multi-million dollar donation comes to actually being equivalent to mere “speech”,at least that easily comes to mind.
Soros usually plays to win
Even if his presidential donations were intended more as a statement of solidarity then as a strategic investment, Soros’ opponents would be wise to remain on guard. His financial track record is arguably unsurpassed in history and his other philanthropic pursuits are generally no less impressive. When Soros trains his big guns on his targets, victory is usually as swift as it is complete.