Hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer has launched himself into the Trump Resistance, pouring millions of dollars into advertisements and a website urging the impeachment of Donald Trump. He’s spent over $20 million so far on a nationwide ad campaign, starring himself, as the DNC and several grassroots organizations struggle to compete in fundraising against billionaires backing Trump and the GOP.
Dozens of mainstream media outlets have rewarded Steyer with positive news coverage and ample airtime to promote his ‘Impeach Trump’ campaign. Meanwhile, he’s building an extensive email list and fundraising database as he ramps up a potential political career (though he claims he isn’t planning to run for office). “For just $20 million, Steyer has collected nearly four million email addresses, simply by promising that the act of giving him your email address will, in some fashion, help make the impeachment of Donald Trump more likely, which is not true,”Splinter News reported.
So who is Steyer? According to this CNBC story, he is currently worth $1.6 billion, “graduated from Yale with his a bachelor’s degree in 1979 and Stanford School of Business in 1983, according to his LinkedIn page. He launched the asset management firm, Farallon Capital Management, in 1986 and grew the company for the following 26 years.” The story was titled, “Meet the billionaire businessman obsessed with impeaching Trump.”
There is no sign or evidence that impeaching Trump is viable and political figures and fundraisers should not be promising it to voters. The case that impeaching Trump is a panacea for the nation’s problems is a Resistance fantasy that distracts from concrete policy issues and ignores that Vice President Mike Pence would likely be more effective in pushing and enacting far-right policies.
Steyer is portraying himself as a savior to get rid of Trump. It’s speculative as to whether he has ulterior motives for his campaign, or sincerely believes it will work, but he certainly has too much money and spending wads of it to promote impeachment does little to nothing in real terms when it comes to building a real opposition to Trump or helping Democrats come up with a popular political program.
On January 8, Steyer held a press conference to formally announce his ambitions, just days after a publicity stunt for which he purchased and delivered copies of Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” to every member of Congress. Steyer said during the press conference that he plans to pour more money into his ‘Impeach Trump’ campaign, and use his Super PAC, Next Generation Climate, to flip the House Democratic this year, though he provided no specifics on how he plans to do that.
Steyer may be one of the more shameless self-promoters of the Trump Resistance, but he isn’t the only figure to use the Resistance for personal gain. Democratic fundraiser Scott Dworkin, who leads a PAC called the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, has come under criticism recently as FEC filings show nearly a third of the money raised by the PAC has been funneled to his own consulting firm, the Bulldog Finance Group. The PAC brands itself as “the nation’s largest grassroots resistance organization,” but hasn’t produced anything of note that actually contributed to that resistance, nor has it spent much money on activists, individuals or candidates who have.
When pressed to answer questions about what the Democratic Coalition PAC actually does, Dworkin portrayed his critics as Russian propaganda stooges and pitch his followers on social media to retweet his content. Dworkin and several others have monetized their large followings by claiming they have insider information that’s going to blow open the Russia investigation.
They’ve build a lucrative business model by selling false promises to followers while MSNBC’s Joy Reid and other mainstream media outlets signal-boost their platforms, legitimizing them as credible experts. At the same time, activists, grassroots organizations and more policy-focused forms of opposition to Trump and the GOP are eclipsed by the self-adulation and sensationalism of this retweet-addicted grifter crowd.