Which U.S. Presidential Candidate Is the Most Bitcoin Friendly?
In this article we discuss how the top 10 United States presidential candidates most likely to win the next election (going by current polls) stack up as far as how friendly they are to bitcoin, and try to offer an idea of how cryptocurrency and blockchain-related technology might fare under their administration.
Which U.S. Presidential Candidate Is the Most Bitcoin Friendly?
While a sitting U.S. president may not have very much influence over the writing or passage of bitcoin or cryptocurrency-related laws, a bitcoin-friendly president would certainly be encouraging for crypto users around the globe. However, this has yet to actually happen. A few weeks back, U.S. President Donald Trump stirred the crypto community by tweeting some particularly unfavorable things about bitcoin.
I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019
Up until this point, Trump had said relatively little about bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general, and he was thought to be more open minded on the matter than his latest tweets would suggest. It has been speculated that perhaps Trump did not write these tweets to begin with, as they stray a bit from his usual style in content and format, suggesting that they were written by an aide; perhaps after it was advised that Trump back the U.S. Federal Reserve to show more solidarity with the directing organization of the national fiat currency, the dollar.
Only a day before Trump’s tweets on bitcoin, the chair of the Federal Reserve made statements suggesting that closer regulation of the cryptocurrency industry was necessary. Just last month, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, went so far as to say that cryptocurrency and related projects like Facebook’s Libra posed a threat to national security, inferring that their hard-to-regulate status made them likely to be used in illegal activities as well as a means of money laundering for criminals and perhaps even terrorists. Of course, crypto defenders think that the government’s opinion is fully formed from the notion that one day cryptocurrency could pose a threat to the dollar itself, undermining long-standing financial institutions and their ability to influence the creation of policies in their favor.
Of course, as it is just an infinitesimal fraction of size in total market capitalization as compared to the ubiquity of the U.S. dollar, bitcoin has a long way to go before it can actually come close to competing with the dollar’s dominance. Nevertheless, bitcoin (and perhaps a few other coins) is on the way to proving itself to be a reliable store of value – a decent option for transferring wealth out of another instrument that is having troubles. For example, just last week, China announced that their national currency, the yuan, was being devalued, right after which the price of BTC saw a $500 lurch upward.
It has become increasingly clear what President Trump’s stance on bitcoin is (bearish), but what about the democratic candidates who are vying for the position of running against him in 2020? Out of the 20 candidates still in contention, only a handful have actually made comments on public record about bitcoin or cryptocurrency. Below, we go through some of top polling candidates to get an idea of whether or not they may be “bitcoin friendly” or not, based on their overall attitudes toward cryptocurrency or at least what we suspect they might think based on their previous words and actions.
Joe Biden – Vice President under Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017 (currently polling around 31% among candidates for the Democratic primary election): unknown. Just about every American knows who Joe Biden is. Even if his personality didn’t really stand out during his years with Obama, he is the most famous Democratic presidential contender simply through name recognition. Biden has never said a word about bitcoin and probably doesn’t know much about it, other than it exists, and he doesn’t seem to be the type of politician to “rock the boat” when it comes to upsetting traditional financial systems.
It is easy to imagine Biden adopting viewpoints on cryptocurrency similar to Trump’s simply out of being pressured into it. However, it’s worth noting that a PAC campaign for him to run for the presidency in 2016 accepted bitcoin donations, meaning he’s probably not adamantly against it. According to the PAC director Joseph Schweitzer accepting BTC for donations was a way of “keeping with Vice President Biden’s strong support of technology and innovation throughout his career.” Having said that, Biden is likely too politically-minded to take a strong stance for or against bitcoin, unless his advisors convince him to take one for the sake of achieving higher vote tallies.
Bernie Sanders – senator from Vermont since 2006 (currently polling around 17% of Democrat primary voters): bullish. Even if Sanders is a year older than Biden and four years older than Trump, he is a relatively exciting, progressive candidate who is ready to turn corporate finance and banking on its head. Long a proponent of “the little guy” and an ardent critic of “the one percent,” Sanders seems like the kind of president who would gravitate toward promoting the use of bitcoin as a means of freeing oneself from the typical restraints of the financial system.
Sanders is also a favorite among college-age voters and those who find cryptocurrency to be the most interesting. Though he hasn’t really said anything about it in public, there’s a couple different reasons why Bernie could be good for bitcoin. First, if his presidency leads to the printing of excess dollars, as some of his critics fear it might, this could cause inflation and a weaker dollar, which would send people out of fiat and into bitcoin in order to preserve their wealth. Second, the dismantling or heavy taxation of financial services might send people looking for a new means of conducting transactions, and as bitcoin isn’t a for-profit company and provides its own infrastructure, bitcoin could be set up to compete as an alternative method of finance.
Elizabeth Warren – senator from Massachusetts since 2013 (currently polling around 16%): bearish. In a similar vein as Sanders, Warren has made a name for herself by criticizing Wall Street and corporate America. During the stock market collapse of 2008, Warren was appointed to a Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP, or the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which saw billions of newly-minted dollars flowing into the pockets of Wall Street executives. Perhaps it was because of this role that encouraged her to adopt her current anti-Wall Street stance, but one thing Warren still is not is crypto-friendly.
Warren has criticized bitcoin and cryptocurrency on numerous occasions, the first going back to 2017, when she feared a speculative crypto asset bubble could leave millions of American families in financial ruin. More recently, Warren has said that she thinks the crypto industry needs more regulation and oversight. While she did add the caveat that she would like to see government regulation “nurture productive aspects of crypto,” she remains the least bitcoin-friendly presidential hopeful.
Kamala Harris – senator from California since 2017 (currently polling around 8%): unknown. Harris is an ex-Attorney General, and as such, doesn’t have much of a stance on anything related to fintech or what could be considered close to bitcoin-relevant. Most of her political career has been centered on humanitarian and civil rights issues, and she hasn’t said much about her views on the financial system. She is considered an unknown as far as how bitcoin would fare under her presidency.
Pete Buttigieg – mayor of South Bend, Indiana (currently polling around 7%): bullish. Prior to his presidential bid, Buttigieg was known as being “one of the youngest majors in America.” Incredibly intelligent, well-spoken, and knowledgeable about a breadth of subjects, Buttigieg is a fan of bitcoin and can explain some of its deeper intricacies to the average layperson. He is quite well-known in Silicon Valley, and recently palled around with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for a Facebook Live video while driving the streets of South Bend. He is also certifiably an adopter of early tech, being one of Facebook’s first few hundred members.
While he hasn’t said anything on the record specifically about his political viewpoints on cryptocurrency or the blockchain, all signs indicate Buttigieg would be a proponent of its development and broader incorporation into American life and society.
Beto O’Rourke – congressman from Texas from 2013 to 2019 (currently polling around 2%): slightly bullish. O’Rourke is another younger politician whom not much was known about before their run for the presidency. Outside of being a businessman who is interested in helping America to break free from the bonds of corporate finance, his stance on bitcoin isn’t exactly clear – except for when it comes to accepting BTC donations for his campaign. O’Rourke takes pride in not accepting PAC contribution money, and raised $2.2 million for his campaign in the first 45 days of 2018, most of it coming from individual donors, and some of which was in the form of bitcoin.
Cory Booker – senator from New Jersey since 2013 (currently polling around 2%): unknown. Booker sits on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, suggesting he may be at least somewhat enthusiastic about the adoption of groundbreaking technologies like bitcoin. However, he has yet to make known his thoughts on bitcoin. He remains an unknown as far as if he would use his executive powers to promote cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
Tulsi Gabbard – congresswoman from Hawaii since 2013 (currently polling around 2%): bullish. Gabbard was only 32 years old when she was elected to the House of Representatives to serve on behalf of Hawaii, making her one of the youngest politicians currently running for the office of the presidency. While her polling numbers may not be great, her chance of winning the election is not completely out of the picture. Last year, Gabbard filed a financial disclosure report which stated that she had bought both Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC) in late 2017, though it is not entirely clear if she still holds them.
In April of this year, Gabbard backed the re-introduction of a cryptocurrency-related bill that would definitively make the exchange of one coin for another a tax-free event, known as the Token Taxonomy Act. By adding language to the Securities Act of 1933, the bill also limits the ability of states to regulate digital tokens as securities, dismantling some of the SEC’s control over deciding whether or not coins or tokens could be considered “securities.” With a good amount of hands-on crypto experience under her belt, as well as in Washington D.C., Gabbard is a strong candidate to help increase the legitimacy of bitcoin and cryptocurrency from the nation’s top executive branch position. Unfortunately for her, Gabbard can’t seem to rack up more than 1-2% in any given poll at the moment, but the election is still a long ways away.
Andrew Yang – founder of Venture for America (currently polling around 1%): very bullish. Not much was known about Yang before he announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nominee earlier this year, but he has come a long way since then, managing to consistently beat many other nominees with years of political experience in the polls. One of Yang’s tenets that sets him apart from the crowd is his belief in issuing a “Freedom Dividend” – otherwise known as a Universal Basic Income – of $1,000 a month to all American citizens over 18 years of age. Highly progressive, youthful and embracing of transformative technology, a Yang presidency would definitely bode well for bitcoin.
Not only does the Yang campaign accept campaign donations denominated in BTC, but it also accepts ETH, and in addition, Ethereum-based tokens. In a Q&A session on Facebook earlier this year, Yang said that “the blockchain has immense potential to enable transparency, trust, and data flows… It could enable secure voting for a democracy like ours… It’s part of the future.” These words alone probably make him the most vocal on cryptocurrency-related matters out of any candidate, and his election to the presidency, however much of a long shot, would definitely be bullish for bitcoin.