When Tom Steyer was making millions of dollars a year running his hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management, the secret to success was simple: “You try to figure out what’s going to happen and how to be on the right side of it,” he explains. But “figuring out what’s going to happen” can amount to predicting the future, and that’s much easier said than done.
Steyer was about as good as it gets at mastering that trick. Long before he became the biggest spender in American electoral politics, a climate-change crusader, and the most prominent voice urging the impeachment of President Trump, Steyer spent 26 years at the highest levels of big-money investing. His personal fortune—$1.61 billion as of 2018—is one measure of his success. So is the win/loss record behind that fortune: Until the 2008 financial collapse, Farallon averaged annual returns of almost 15 percent, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Which means that Steyer was right about “what’s going to happen” a hell of a lot more often than he was wrong.
Failing to properly anticipate the future is what many on the left are getting wrong about impeachment, Steyer believes, especially the overcautious Democrats in Washington. It’s not simply that Trump should be impeached for his unlawful, corrupt, and dangerous behavior; it’s that, over time, more and more ordinary citizens will come to believe that he needs to be impeached. Steyer, who founded the Need to Impeach campaign last October, doesn’t come right out and say that Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer—the House and Senate minority leaders, respectively—are missing the point. But when pressed a second time, he doesn’t deny it.
“Our thesis has been that the president’s behavior in office would continue to be reckless, dangerous, and lawless, and that is what has happened,” Steyer argues. Wearing a gray hoodie and running shoes in the San Francisco office of his nonprofit advocacy group, NextGen America, Steyer adds, “We anticipated that things would get worse, and that that would make more people agree this president must be impeached.”
Steyer is certainly the loudest of the people calling for Trump’s impeachment, but he was not the first. Free Speech for People, a good-government group based in Austin, Texas, has been pushing for impeachment since the day Trump took the oath of office. Trump “created a constitutional crisis at that moment [by] refusing to divest fully from his business interests and treating the Oval Office as a profit-making enterprise at the public expense,” John Bonifaz, the group’s co-founder and president, asserted on Democracy Now! “We now see the list of impeachable offenses growing by the day…. [T]his president acts like he is above the law.”