MANCHESTER, NH — Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer addressed a crowd of nearly 80 at Jupiter Hall Tuesday night and told them he needed their help to save the world.
“I know we can do it,” he said. “You know, there’s some people who look at this problem, and it’s so big and so painful, they don’t even want to think about it. [But] we can definitely solve it. We have to lead the world.”
Steyer is a one-percenter, both in terms of the Democratic Primary polls and his net worth. He’s a hedge-fund billionaire who has pledged to give most of it away and donated more than $300 million to Demorcratic candidates between 2014 and 2017. Steyer is also the founder of Need to Impeach, a lobby group focused on Donald J. Trump, and NextGen America, an organization attempting to mobilize and harness the young-American vote.
Mission one, he told the locals, is addressing climate change. “I would make the climate number one and declare a state of emergency. On day one, I’d use the emergency powers of the presidency,” he said. “I know we have to do it. I’ve worked on it for more than a decade.”
Steyer believes a lot of good things would happen on the way to climate security. “We can actually rejuvenate the economy of this country, redistribute the way people earn money, clean up our air and water, and get back to having a moral purpose as a country by solving our biggest challenge,” he said.
Steyer says addressing and solving the problem of climate change would also bring Democrats and Republicans together, strengthen America’s ties with the international community, and return the U.S. to its position as leader of the free world. “If you want to think about how human beings come together, it’s by working together on something successfully,” he said.
Steyer believes the climate crisis can be solved with existing technology: clean energy, batteries, and trees. “Every time somebody starts explaining to me, the two things that people want to hear are that either nuclear is going to save us or carbon capture and sequestration is going to save us,” he said, “I say show me the map. Show me the safety. I don’t think it’s there.”
Steyer has proposed a wealth tax much like the one pushed by candidate Elizabeth Warren and wants to put term limits on members of Congress. He also would decriminalize illegal border crossings. Mission two, however, is breaking the power of corporations.
“I am terrified of a private sector that writes the rules for itself, the way the drug industry does,” Steyer said.
“There is something going on there” he said, “ a willingness to be cruel to human beings, to keep more money for yourself. And that’s really what it’s gone to, the richest Americans and the biggest corporations.”
Steyer’s mother was a Tennessee school teacher. His father was an attorney who ended up prosecuting Nazi war criminals.
“When you see something really wrong at the heart of our society, then you should fight it every day,” he said. “You should start as early as you see it, and you should never let it get rooted.”
Steyer said he doesn’t blame and disrespect people who voted for Trump. “I would never fault voters for thinking that the government has disrespected, ignored and not cared about them,” he said. “I agree. I thought they came up with the exact wrong solution, but I’ve never disrespected them for those feelings.”