The Financial Times named liberal billionaire George Soros its person of the year in 2018, citing his achievements as well as "the values he represents."
According to the London-based publication's editorial board, Soros is part of the vanguard for liberal democracy against President Donald Trump.
"He is the standard bearer of liberal democracy and open society. These are the ideas which triumphed in the cold war," FT wrote. "Today, they are under siege from all sides, from Vladimir Putin’s Russia to Donald Trump’s America."
Soros has transferred most of his fortune to his Open Society Foundations, which gives grants to liberal causes, and he co-founded Democracy Alliance, a secretive donor group that funds left-wing Democrats. Some conspiracy theories about him have led to threats and even a malfunctioning bomb sent to his house this year, while a broader segment of the right disagrees with his liberal policy positions and candidates.
He lamented the way he is blamed for "everything" but said he is having a positive impact.
"I’m blamed for everything, including being the anti-Christ," Soros told FT. "I wish I didn’t have so many enemies, but I take it as an indication that I must be doing something right."
In the financial sector, Soros’ claim to fame was a short sale of the British pound that earned him a about $1 billion and the sobriquet "the Man Who Broke the Bank of England." Soros' critics frowned upon direct attempts to trigger financial crises, and liberal economist Paul Krugman implied in 1999 that Soros was a leader in doing so "for fun and profit."
FT’s editorial board said its person of the year "is usually a reflection of their achievements. In the case of Mr. Soros this year, his selection is also about the values he represents." Many on the left have celebrated Soros for using his billions to promote progressive causes through grants, political action, and more.
"For more than three decades, Mr Soros has used philanthropy to battle against authoritarianism, racism and intolerance. Through his long commitment to openness, media freedom and human rights, he has attracted the wrath of authoritarian regimes and, increasingly, the national populists who continue to gain ground, particularly in Europe," FT wrote.
In 2018 Soros once again exerted a massive influence on U.S. politics, spending the most he ever has on a year’s lobbying—in just the first three quarters. He was unable to get many of his top candidates elected, however, despite Democrats having a successful year in House elections.