- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2016

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros decried President-elect Donald Trump as a wannabe dictator who poses a threat to democracy in a scathing op-ed published Wednesday.

Mr. Soros, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor and longtime Democratic donor, made the claims in an opinion piece distributed this week by Project Syndicate, a publication service that provides editorials to 459 media outlets across 155 countries, according to its website.

Titled “Open Society Needs Defending,” the column linked Mr. Trump’s election last month with what Mr. Soros described as an international resurgence of fascism and the rise of so-called “mafia states.”

“Democracy is now in crisis,” Mr. Soros wrote, adding: “Even the U.S., the world’s leading democracy, elected a con artist and would-be dictator as its president.”

While Mr. Soros has hardly shied away from critiquing the president-elect in the past, he branched out in his latest musing to target Mr. Trump’s Cabinet picks as well, accusing Mr. Trump of having nominated “incompetent extremists and retired generals” to his incoming administration.

Concerns aside, Mr. Soros said he expects the U.S. would persevere regardless of what happens after Mr. Trump takes office Jan. 20.

“I am confident that democracy will prove resilient in the U.S.,” Mr. Soros wrote. “Its Constitution and institutions, including the fourth estate, are strong enough to resist the excesses of the executive branch, thus preventing a would-be dictator from becoming an actual one.

“But the U.S. will be preoccupied with internal struggles in the near future, and targeted minorities will suffer,” he added.

As a result, the U.S. will lose its ability to protect and promote democracy abroad as its next president forges bonds with foreign dictators, Mr. Soros said

“That will allow some of them to reach an accommodation with the U.S., and others to carry on without interference,” he wrote. “Trump will prefer making deals to defending principles. Unfortunately, that will be popular with his core constituency.”

Mr. Soros conceded that the president-elect has noticeably “toned down” the rhetoric he regularly espoused prior to defeating Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, but cautioned that Mr. Trump has “changed neither his behavior nor his advisers,” as evidenced by the Cabinet nominations announced so far.

Last month, Mr. Soros accused the president-elect of partially triggering a wave of alleged hate crimes reported in the aftermath of the Nov. 8 election, and he pledged $10 million towards bankrolling efforts aimed at fighting crimes he blamed on Mr. Trump’s “incendiary rhetoric.”

“We must do something to push back against what’s happening here,” Mr. Soros told The New York Times last month, blaming “dark forces that have been awakened” by the election.

Hate crime watchdogs including the Southern Poverty Law Center said previously that it was made aware of hundreds of alleged instances of harassment and possible hate crimes in the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s election last month, spurring the Justice Department to announce an investigation of its own. Amid those reports, Mr. Trump urged supporters to stop attacking minorities. 

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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