There have been numerous petitions to press for a process to impeach President Donald Trump, but thus far none have been quite as well-organized and successful as that of billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer.
Started only two months ago, some members of the Democratic Party establishment brushed off Steyer's campaign as an "unhelpful vanity project," according to Politico. Steyer said in a recent C-SPAN interview that he didn't expect the petition to gather more than one million signatures.
"We have tapped into something much larger than we thought."As a result of the overwhelming growth of the petition's support base, Steyer has increased the initial goal of one million signatures to five million.
There has been widespread speculation that Steyer might launch a bid for the top job in the White House during the 2020 presidential elections, as well as an attempt next year for California's governorship, but the man himself has thus far chosen to downplay the rumors.
During the same C-SPAN interview, Steyer was asked about the possibility of an official entry into America's political administrative and legislative branch. In response, he said: "I haven't ruled it out, and I'm actually trying to determine what will have the most positive differential impact,'' Steyer said. "I have to make this decision fairly soon,'' he added.
For now, the billionaire philanthropist is primarily focused on the Trump impeachment campaign. Four million signatures are nothing to scoff at, especially considering that Steyer now has access to a vast - and growing - mailing list that could be used to support the Democratic Party in the 2018 midterm elections.
According to Politico, such a treasure trove of data would be the most significant and most valuable fundraising and mobilization tool for Democrats since the mailing list that was assembled by the Bernie Sanders campaign against Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential elections.
This development is significant in the face of Democratic resistance to the campaign, mainly from party heavyweights such as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have thus far been dismissive of Tom Steyer's campaign, claiming that the drive is a distraction from the Democratic Party's agenda going into next year's midterm elections.
According to a report by The Washington Post, the Democratic leadership initially proposed an election agenda slogan that read: "Democrats 2018: Have you seen the other guys?" But after facing criticism from party officials, the slogan was changed to: "A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages." Core policy points include "tax increases for the rich, affordable college, infrastructure spending, higher wages, job training, and paid family leave."
Most significantly, Democrats are hoping to declutter their campaign to avoid what some consider as a much too broad and dense agenda proposed by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Perhaps it is this focus that prompted Pelosi and Schumer to dismiss Tom Steyer's Trump impeachment efforts.
Nevertheless, Steyer remains undeterred and resolute as he hopes to make use of a powerful new tool to buttress Democratic efforts in the run-up to midterms. In line with his campaign, Steyer recently spent roughly $20 million to erect a cluster of prominent digital billboards in New York's Times Square.Veteran political consultants from both the Democratic Party as well as the Republicans have praised Steyer's drive, calling it a game-changer in ways strategists make use of digital platforms to promote and spread a political message.
"He's not only communicating to a national audience through a massive nationwide ad buy, but he's also running an intense digital campaign. Tom Steyer is broadening his footprint digitally. And if 2016 taught us anything, it's that conventional norms have been flipped — and your traditional cookie-cutter campaigning doesn't apply," said Dave Jacobson, a California-based Democratic consultant.
Meanwhile, Mike Madrid, a Republican consult, said: "That's how you build a grass-roots operation for a presidential campaign. And if you are that guy who started this, that's certainly a leg up in organizing a 50-state strategy. That's what he's building, and it's probably second only to Bernie Sanders' list and may be eclipsing it.
According to Madrid, "There's a huge vacuum for somebody like Tom Steyer to come in and tap into the activist base — and even beyond that — where some are willing to sign up."