Opinion

Tom Steyer for president? Spare me. What it says about the arrogance of rich white guys

CAMPAIGN AD: Tom Steyer announces he’s running for president

Billionaire investor and activist Tom Steyer announced he was joining the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in a video posted on social media on July 9, 2019. Earlier this year, he said he wouldn't run.
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Billionaire investor and activist Tom Steyer announced he was joining the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in a video posted on social media on July 9, 2019. Earlier this year, he said he wouldn't run.

Tom Steyer, the California billionaire with too much time on his hands and too much ego for one man to possess, says he’s running for president to defeat Donald Trump.

One could say this is unbelievable given that more than 20 Democrats are already running for President. But actually, Steyer’s unmitigated, unquenchable, unrelenting gall is quite believable.

Steyer obviously doesn’t recognize this, but he is just like Trump, who he has pushed to be impeached, in many respects.

Steyer is an old rich white guy who can’t fathom the idea that maybe – just maybe – he is unqualified to be president. Trump proves everyday how unfit for office he is and Steyer is no less unfit, yet there he is – running for president. He considered running for governor in California, and ditched that idea. He said in January he would not run for president.

So now? Steyer is ready to spend $100 million of his own pocket change to force himself into the public eye by seeking what used to be a sacred office, the highest in the land. What a colossal waste.

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People in Sacramento politics probably are laying low amid Steyer’s ridiculous run because they like or are afraid of Steyer’s millions that have infiltrated California politics.

Count me out of this charade.

What’s glaringly obvious to me is that if Steyer really cared about something greater than himself, he could put that money to much better use. But that’s hardly a news flash.

What is far more significant is that Steyer’s candidacy demonstrates an important point that still hasn’t met its reckoning. That idea being that Steyer and Trump both symbolize self-aggrandizement devoid of self awareness.

Steyer and Trump are two sides of the same entitled white guy mentality.

Trump campaigned to unleash white male angst. His every move is calibrated to emphasize “us vs. them.” The Mexicans, the Muslims, the gays, the trans people, the Jews, the immigrants, the refugees or any woman or outspoken person of color who disagrees gets trolled from the oval office.

And his base cheers even when his trolling hurts them economically. (See California farmers). And you know what? If you disagree with these characterizations, look at the data on who elected Trump and who still supports him no matter what.

Spare me your “economic anxiety” BS.

Steyer, like Joe Biden, seems to believe that he can tame the white angst that Trump has exploited. Like Biden, Steyer seems to believe he can do business with this angst. That he can mollify it, appease it, move us past it.

But what’s hilarious about Steyer’s roll-out is how he adopts some of the same imagery as Trump. Here is Steyer, filthy rich and crushingly entitled, in his campaign announcement video on Tuesday: “Americans are deeply disappointed and hurt by the way they’re treated, by what they think is the power elite in Washington, D.C.”

All that’s missing from that statement is “drain the swamp!”

But that’s not even the most objectionable aspect of Steyer’s run. It’s that Steyer somehow believes that he has more to offer than the most diverse field of candidates to seek the Democratic nomination in history.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, of Jamaican and Indian parents, is crushing it in the polls. She identifies as a black woman. Pete Buttegieg is gay, a miIllenial, a war veteran. Elizabeth Warren is lighting up audiences with a mixture of passion and super-wonk savvy. Julian Castro and Cory Booker are historic candidates. Amy Klobuchar is formidable in her own right.

Meanwhile, Biden and Bernie Sanders have decades of legislative experience. And yet? Here comes Steyer with no governing experience and nothing to distinguish him but a pile of money

Just by running, Steyer is saying: Forget about the black woman, the gay guy, the other women. I got this. And when this 62-year-old guy was a kid, that attitude was the bedrock of American culture.

Trump could make his political name by lying about where the only black U.S. president was born. He could get elected by convincing white men that they are an endangered class when endless metrics of American power and affluence and power say otherwise.

Some of the candidates running for president might actually confront white male angst in a way for it to find its reckoning.

But Steyer thinks he’s the man for the job. Yeah, he would.

Marcos Breton writes commentary and opinion columns about the Sacramento region, California and the United States. He’s been a California newspaperman for more than 30 years. He’s a graduate of San Jose State University, a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the proud son of Mexican immigrants.

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