California billionaire investor Tom Steyer has been the largest financial donor for the Democratic Party in the two most recent presidential elections. Looking towards the 2018 midterms, he's urging Democrats to focus on one policy goal next year: impeaching President Donald Trump.
It sounds appealing to the anti-Trump brigade, but it could pose more problems than it could solve.
Steyer, 60, is even mulling a potential run for U.S. Senate, and demanded in a letter to the party that impeachment should become top priority because the president presents a "clear and present danger to the republic," according to The New York Times.
Steyer said he's worried about Trump's "relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia;" his abuse of the presidency to "promote his own business interests"; and finally, his "seeming determination to go to war."
The justifications for impeachment certainly hold up. Trump's ability to exploit the Oval Office for his personal — or for his family's — financial benefit and his unabashed incendiary war rhetoric is as dangerous and destructive to an open and democratic society as it gets. And while the Russia connection is a primary focus for much of the media, the president hasn't sold out American values to enrich Putin, at least not that we know about.
But even though a strong case can be made for Trump's impeachment, it shouldn't be the primary focus for Democrats moving forward. The unintended consequences of a bold, divisive gamble may not offer much to its voters besides emotional satisfaction.
The Democrats can, and should, be bold in other ways — such as revolutionary policies that seek to ease economic suffering and the ever-increasing wealth gap in the country.
One the state and local level, Democrats have lost more than 1,000 seats since 2010. They can't reclaim those spots simply by hoping the Trump administration implodes on its own.
As we saw last year, there is an appetite for progressive policies. And there are lots of young and ambitious up-and-coming politicians who want to run on such a platform. The party is even coalescing somewhat around the Medicare for All Act of 2017, which has the support of several moderate party members. That bill would have been unthinkable in previous election cycles.
Steyer wrote that Trump's "seeming determination to go to war" was a reasonable justification for impeachment, and it's possible that it is. So then, why did an overwhelming amount of Senate Democrats help pass legislation that gave the military an $80 billion annual budget increase while the nation was in the midst of a debate about affording health care for its citizens?
If the Democrats want to be serious about stopping Trump, the primary solution should not be to shove him out of office and act as if things would be astronomically better under a President Mike Pence. The party needs to give its own base, and even some of Trump's own voters, a vision. Something to vote for, rather than bumper stickers that read, "Have you seen the other guys?"