Soros Bands with Donors to Resist Trump: ‘Take Back Power’

Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico, November 14, 2016

George Soros and other rich liberals who spent tens of millions of dollars trying to elect Hillary Clinton are gathering in Washington for a three-day, closed door meeting to retool the big-money left to fight back against Donald Trump.

The conference, which kicked off Sunday night at Washington’s pricey Mandarin Oriental hotel, is sponsored by the influential Democracy Alliance donor club, and will include appearances by leaders of most leading unions and liberal groups, as well as darlings of the left such as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Keith Ellison, according to an agenda and other documents obtained by POLITICO.

The meeting is the first major gathering of the institutional left since Trump’s shocking victory over Hillary Clinton in last week’s presidential election, and, if the agenda is any indication, liberals plan full-on trench warfare against Trump from Day One. Some sessions deal with gearing up for 2017 and 2018 elections, while others focus on thwarting President-elect Trump’s 100-day plan, which the agenda calls “a terrifying assault on President Obama’s achievements–and our progressive vision for an equitable and just nation.”

Yet the meeting also comes as many liberals are reassessing their approach to politics–and the role of the Democracy Alliance, or DA, as the club is known in Democratic finance circles. The DA, its donors and beneficiary groups over the last decade have had a major hand in shaping the institutions of the left, including by orienting some of its key organizations around Clinton, and by basing their strategy around the idea that minorities and women constituted a so-called “rising American electorate” that could tip elections to Democrats.

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But Gara LaMarche, the president of the DA, on Sunday evening told donors gathered at the Mandarin for a welcome dinner that some reassessment was in order. According to prepared remarks he provided to POLITICO, he said, “You don’t lose an election you were supposed to win, with so much at stake, without making some big mistakes, in assumptions, strategy and tactics.”

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LaMarche emailed the donors last week that the meeting would begin the process of assessing “what steps we will take together to resist the assaults that are coming and take back power, beginning in the states in 2017 and 2018.”

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The Democracy Alliance was launched after the 2004 election by Soros, the late insurance mogul Peter Lewis, and a handful of fellow Democratic mega-donors who had combined to spend tens of millions trying to boost then-Sen. John Kerry’s ultimately unsuccessful challenge to then-President George W. Bush.

The donors’ goal was to seed a set of advocacy groups and think tanks outside the Democratic Party that could push the party and its politicians to the left while also defending them against attack from the right.

The group requires its members–a group that now numbers more than 100 and includes finance titans like Soros, Tom Steyer and Donald Sussman, as well as major labor unions and liberal foundations–to contribute a total of at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups. {snip}

Since its inception in 2005, the DA has steered upward of $500 million to a range of groups, including pillars of the political left such as the watchdog group Media Matters, the policy advocacy outfit Center for American Progress and the data firm Catalist–all of which are run by Clinton allies who are expected to send representatives to the DA meeting.

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But, given that the billionaire financier [Soros] only periodically attends DA meetings and is seldom a part of the formal proceedings, his scheduled Tuesday morning appearance as a speaker suggests that he’s committed to investing in opposing President Trump.

The agenda item for a Tuesday morning “conversation with George Soros” invokes Soros’ personal experience living through the Holocaust and Soviet Communism in the context of preparing for a Trump presidency. The agenda notes that the billionaire currency trader, who grew up in Hungary, “has lived through Nazism and Communism, and has devoted his foundations to protecting the kinds of open societies around the world that are now threatened in the United States itself.”

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LaMarche, who is set to moderate the discussion with Soros, said the donor “does not plan to compare whatever we face under Trump to Nazism, I can tell you that.” LaMarche he also said, “I don’t think there is anyone who has looked at Trump, including many respected conservatives, who doesn’t think the experience of authoritarian states would not be important to learn from here. And to the extent that Soros and his foundations have experience with xenophobia in Europe, Brexit, etc., we want to learn from that as well.”

The Soros conversation was added to the agenda after Election Day. It was just one of many changes made on the fly to adjust for last week’s jarring result and the stark new reality facing liberals, who went from discussing ways to push an incoming President Clinton leftward, to instead discussing how to play defense.

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