Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A billboard in Times Square, funded by philanthropist Tom Steyer, calls for the impeachment of President Donald Trump on November 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

With Trump Impeachment Petition Nearing 4 Million Signatures, Democratic Mega-Donor's 'Digital Army' Gains Steam

A campaign that was dismissed by Democratic leaders has grown into an operation surpassed only by Sen. Bernie Sanders' coveted email list

Jake Johnson

Billionaire Democratic mega-donor and environmentalist Tom Steyer's "Impeach Trump" petition began as a marginal political operation that was greeted with contempt by Democratic leaders.

But as public support for impeachment has continued to skyrocket over the past several months, Steyer's once-obscure campaign has ballooned into a full-scale "digital army" that analysts say is surpassed in size only by Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) coveted email list.

"Tom Steyer's ads calling for impeachment have been derided as a big waste of money. But someone has to be staking out the outer boundaries of this conversation."
—Greg Sargent, Washington Post

"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 a traditional media onslaught—national television ads that have been running nonstop since Oct. 20," Politico's Carla Marinucci and David Siders reported on Wednesday.

Steyer's campaign spurred headlines in October when his petition—which declares "we need to impeach this dangerous president"—surpassed the one million signature mark, a milestone Steyer himself initially believed was the ceiling of his impeachment drive.

In just three months, however, the number of petition signatures has tripled, transforming an effort dismissed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other high-ranking Democrats as quixotic and irrelevant into a political force that could become "the hottest trove of data in Democratic politics" heading into the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.

Steyer now has "at his fingertips a potentially powerful tool: an email list of millions of motivated activists who he can reach instantly for organizing and fundraising," Marinucci and Siders note.

In addition to prompting speculation about his own political ambitions, Steyer's impeachment campaign has played a part in revealing the tremendous and growing grassroots opposition to the president that has been reflected in both opinion polls and repudiations of Trump at the ballot box.

According to an Associated Press/NORC poll released this month, Trump—who has labeled Steyer "wacky" and "totally unhinged"—is the most unpopular first-year president in history. Another recent poll (pdf)—conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News—found that 41 percent of Americans want Congress to hold impeachment hearings for Trump. By contrast, only 36 percent of Americans say they would vote for Trump in 2020.

While some have warned that any focus on impeaching Trump—an objective that, at least for now, runs up against insurmountable political obstacles—is a distraction from more immediate and substantial issues, 58 Democrats nonetheless voted to move ahead with debate on Rep. Al Green's (D-Texas) articles of impeachment earlier this month.

"If some individual Democrats feel politically constrained from talking too directly about Trump's fitness to serve, that's understandable. But generally speaking, this moment is potentially too consequential for the party to retreat into squeamish message-tailoring," argued the Washington Post's Greg Sargent. "Tom Steyer's ads calling for impeachment have been derided as a big waste of money. But someone has to be staking out the outer boundaries of this conversation."

"Whatever is going to happen," Sargent concluded, "Democrats should rise to the occasion and treat it with the gravity and ambition it commands."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Flint Residents 'Disgusted' After Court Throws Out Indictments of Top Officials

"It has become increasingly clear that the judicial system is not a viable option for a poor majority Black community facing injustice," said Flint Rising.

Jessica Corbett ·

Sanders, Fetterman Urge Buttigieg to Fine Airlines Over Flight Cancellations

"The American people are sick of airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute, and delaying flights for hours on end," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·

Watching US With Horror, European Groups Push Leaders to Strengthen Abortion Rights

"This is an important moment for leaders across Europe who are committed to reproductive rights to lead by example and galvanize action in their own countries," said one campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·

Women Face Chaos, Torment as Abortion Clinics Shutter Across US

Clinic workers are attempting to get patients appointments out-of-state while women stockpile emergency contraception, fearing overcrowded clinics even in states that protect reproductive rights.

Julia Conley ·

'Flies in the Face of Science': Biden Sued for Restarting Oil Leasing on Public Lands

"Overwhelming scientific evidence shows us that burning fossil fuels from existing leases on federal lands is incompatible with a livable climate," said one environmental lawyer.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo