A campaign to impeach President Donald Trump marked its one-year anniversary on Saturday, celebrating reaching more people signed on to its online petition than the 146-year-old National Rifle Association has paying members.
“This online community is bigger than the NRA,” Need to Impeach founder Tom Steyer announced at a town hall in Newark, New Jersey, on the campaign’s first birthday.
The crowd of more than 200 people cheered and applauded.
On its one-year anniversary today, Need to Impeach @Need2Impeach has more supporters (6 million) than the NRA, the campaign's founder @TomSteyer says in Newark #SteyerTownHall pic.twitter.com/0nLSbeDaMg
— Jessica Kwong (@JessicaGKwong) October 20, 2018
Need to Impeach last week reached six million signatures on its online petition calling on Congress to begin proceedings to remove Trump from office. The NRA’s dues-paying membership stands at about 5.5 million, Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the gun rights group, said in an email to Newsweek Friday.
Steyer, a billionaire Democratic donor who has held more than three dozen town halls across the country ahead of the midterm elections, acknowledged that the comparison to the Trump-loving NRA isn’t quite apples to apples.
“I think it’s different because I think that the way that the NRA really works is as much through the money that they spend directly trying to affect elect officials, and this group of people, what we’re really trying to do is to inspire people to get out and vote, to change elections by voting, not by giving money,” Steyer told Newsweek.
“So actually, we’re much more of a ground-up, grassroots organization,” he said.
Steyer launched Need to Impeach on October 20, 2017, through national television and social media advertisements. Within a week of the first signature, one million people had joined the online petition.
The movement has grown steadily since and benefited from new membership surges during times of high scrutiny of Trump, including the lead-up to the confirmation of his controversial Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh and when he declined to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint Helsinki press conference.
As part of its efforts to impeach the president, Steyer turned his focus to the all-important midterm elections, when Democrats will attempt to gain control of at least one house of government and subject Trump to greater oversight.
Need to Impeach launched a get-out-the-vote initiative in August 2018 mobilizing impeachment supporters to turn out for the November 6 midterms with a $10 million investment from Steyer. The initiative has included television ads in regions where Democrats seek to unseat Republicans and 75,000 campaign supporters handwriting more than 1.4 million notecards encouraging infrequent voters to get to the polls. It is the largest member-to-member campaign in political history, Steyer claims.
“If we don’t flip the House in 2018, it’s a big failure. We’re going to have two more years of this, only worse,” Steyer said, referring to Trump’s leadership.
One town hall attendee asked if there was a critical mass the campaign needed, and if reached, how Americans could move toward impeaching Trump.
Steyer explained the logistics behind the motion, describing that an article of impeachment requires a majority vote from the House of Representatives to move the proceedings to the Senate, two-thirds which would need to find the president guilty to remove him.
“Really the question is when elected officials will understand that Americans insist on [impeachment] or else they’re going to lose their jobs,” he said.
Leading Democrats have thus far been highly reluctant to raise the impeachment question. Even if that changes with a House majority, there is currently little prospect of winning the support of enough Republicans to convict Trump in the Senate.
Still, Steyer said the more than six million people who have signed the petition represent as a movement the majority of Americans.
“What we said a year ago was that he’s met the criteria to be impeached and that he’s reckless, dangerous and lawless and it’s urgent to get him out,” Steyer said. “And the facts are going to show that we’re right.”