SOROS SEZ. I previously linked to this Reihan Salam post wondering why megawealthy Democratic donors like Soros are retaining their post-2004 pique and not pumping money into this election cycle, what with its possible 40 or 50 seats in play. Instead, we're getting news stories reporting that "A top official who often speaks with Soros and other major benefactors said they remain upset by the Democratic failure to win the White House and Congress in 2004 and have turned their attention to long-term efforts to build a network of think tanks and advocacy organizations to support liberal causes."
During the 2004 election, I had a conference call with Soros, where I asked him why he was donating such a paltry amount, and whether he'd be sticking around to create a serious infrastructure on the left. He replied that he didn't see that as his role, that he thought this regime was dangerous but it wasn't for him to singlehandedly refashion American politics. That clashed with his "open society" ideals.
Now, it may be that the right's decision to constantly target him over the past few years provoked him out of that defensive crouch. But I doubt it. When the current crop of ideologues is toppled from office and the Karl Popper approach to life is no longer in danger, I'd be surprised to see Soros remain involved in rebuilding the left. Put simply: The guy isn't an ideologue. It's not even clear he's a staunch progressive.
Unlike Scaife, Mellon, Coors or a variety of other rightwing financiers who had a particular ideology they wanted to fund into relevancy, Soros has a particular antipathy to a strain of dominant Republican politics that he wants to fund out of power. Even his fundraising priorities -- basically incrementalist think tanks like CAP, short-lived grassroots efforts like ACT, the thus-far disappointing Democracy Alliance -- belie a sustained commitment to progressive or populist change in the country, as opposed to a temporary commitment to making Democrats more electorally potent in the short-term. Now, people change, and I'd love to be proved wrong. But for now, I've seen little evidence -- and he's directly told me -- that he's not seeking to change the country over the long-term. He doesn't see it as his place.
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