Billionaire hedge funder Tom Steyer has been a major Democratic Party donor for many years. One thing that happens when you donate a lot of money to politicians is that they treat you like an important and smart person whose ideas are good. They do this because they want your money, but America’s billionaires are not exactly the most self-aware people, so they eventually conclude that it must be true: They must have good ideas.
Right now, Tom Steyer’s idea is that the best thing to do, politically speaking, with his money, right now, is to spend a lot of it—$20 million so far, which is more than the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which supports electing Democrats to state legislatures, has ever raised in an election cycle—on a nationwide television ad campaign about impeaching Trump.
The campaign has been a huge success, The Politico tells us today, at least by one metric: Steyer has collected a lot of email addresses.
Campaign experts say Steyer’s petition drive is breaking new ground in digital organizing in the nontraditional political terrain of the Trump era, though it’s been anchored by an traditional media onslaught — national television ads that have been running nonstop since Oct. 20. So far, 3.73 million people have signed on to Steyer’s NeedToImpeach.com drive, which has brought his message into the living rooms of millions of average Americans.
Incredible. 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.
Campaign experts and longtime political consultants are, naturally, very impressed.
Political insiders say that Steyer’s most recent effort — which he says represents an investment of more than $20 million — represents a game-changer in how political players use digital media.
“He’s not only communicating to a national audience through a massive nationwide ad buy, but he’s also running an intense digital campaign,’’ noted Dave Jacobson, a veteran Democratic consultant in California. “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. Digital is king.”
Conventional norms, watch out! Tom Steyer’s here with his crazy new plan: Spending tens of millions of dollars on traditional television advertising to drive people to a website so their email addresses can be collected based on a false promise.
It’s debatable whether Steyer is stupid enough to believe that his idiotic campaign will help do anything at all to get Donald Trump out of power, or whether he is cynically using the campaign to build name recognition and support in advance of a seemingly inevitable eventual run for senator or governor in California. It might be both. What is not debatable is whether or not Tom Steyer has too much money. He does. Democrats should promise to take most of it away from him and spend it on useful things.