Dovere: That’s similar to what Elizabeth Warren is saying—that corruption and corporate power are the central problem in American politics. You spoke positively about her campaign when you decided not to run in January. So is that now a criticism of Warren?
Steyer: I believe I’ve [shown how to actually make change] for 10 years, both in terms of direct democracy—all the propositions that we’ve fought and won, the registration, engagement, participation that we’ve done through NextGen, registering millions of people, knocking on tens of millions of doors, doubling youth participation in the swing districts in 2018—and Need to Impeach, which is a populist movement with over 8 million signatures trying to engage the voice and the thoughts of the American people.
Dovere: Do you think you can run because you have a corporate background?
Steyer: I think that my years in the private sector give me an understanding of how businesses think, how they work. I think my years of fighting them and beating them give me a sense of what it takes.
We’ve organized people directly, on the ground, to change the electorate, so we could flip the House in 2018. We argue it was a complete turnout election, where it was about reengaging young people, low-income communities, communities of color to change the electorate. And to convince them, to engage them, that the system does work. I think the No. 1 political fact in the United States that drives all of this discussion is that eight out of 10 Americans think corporations have bought the democracy—and that’s Republicans, Democrats, and independents. They believe it. I believe it. The question is not, Is it true? The question is, How do we break the back of that stranglehold?
Dovere: You recorded your launch video from your ranch in California. Is it out of sync to be saying you’re running against wealth with a campaign launched from an exclusive property like that?
Steyer: Actually, what I’m talking about is slightly different than that. If you actually follow what goes on, on the ground, in terms of corporate corruption, you don’t have a lot of millionaires and billionaires walking the halls of Congress, or [the state capitol in] Sacramento. What you have is corporations who are fighting for their bottom lines in a consistent method: going door-to-door to every office, giving money to every candidate, hiring lobbyists to pursue their means, and controlling the conversation and the outcome. The people with money who are associated with the bottom lines of corporations are disproportionately and unfairly rewarded at the expense of working people across the country.
What’s really going on here is: Who has a vision of what is going on, how to correct it, and what that’s going to mean that will connect with the American people? That is the question, and that is the question for every single candidate.