Tom Steyer is a successful businessman and philanthropist who has spent the last decade working on behalf of progressive politics and social change. He is most known for his climate change activism and campaign to impeach Donald Trump, which he began during Trump’s first year in office. This past summer, Steyer decided to throw his hat in the ring for Trump’s job by announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020In an exclusive interview with Blavity Politics (video below), Steyer discussed why he decided to run for president and why now, his top three campaign issues and people's concerns about electing another white male billionaire into the presidency. 

Steyer cites his record over the last 10 years as proof of his commitment to fixing what is broken in our country. In 2013, he founded NextGen America, an advocacy organization and political action committee that engages young people to vote and has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to progressive issues and candidates. He has also taken The Giving Pledge, which means he has agreed to give away the bulk of his money to positive causes while he’s alive. Beyond contributing money to the political process, Steyer has decided that he wants to run for president to return democracy to the hands of the American people.

“I believe in the people of the United States, not the corrupt elites. I believe in power to the people. I’m talking about a lot of structural things no one else will even talk about, like term limits of 12 years for [members of] Congress and senators,” he said. 

Steyer’s priorities for his campaign are addressing climate change, environmental injustice and economic inequality. If elected president, he plans to declare a state of emergency on day one to deal with the climate crisis. He also mentioned that addressing the impact of environmental injustice on communities of color is a must; after all, he notes, the communities that lack clean air to breathe and clean water to drink are “disproportionately Black and brown.”

One thing Steyer repeatedly acknowledged is the role Black Americans play in fighting for good. He wants to reshape the narrative about race in this country to create more just policies. To that end, he plans to establish a formal commission on the race to retell the last 400 years of history.

“It’s not just a question of detailing injustice…it’s also a question of detailed contribution. The African American community has been the center of moral leadership not for years or decades but centuries,” Steyer said. 

Though he’s been criticized for his wealth, Steyer says that his work over the last decade has given him the opportunity to get out of his bubble and travel around the country to talk with all kinds of people in need. That’s why he’s passionate about fighting income inequality and taxing the wealthy.

He said, “Working Americans haven’t had a raise in 40 years. Increases have all gone to the richest Americans and corporations. When you go around the country and see what it means, it's an emotional experience. What you see is people suffering and cruelty.”