The Presidential Candidates Finally Embracing Bitcoin
Which candidates actually care about crypto, and which just care about votes?
By: Zack Abrams
May 26, 2023
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American voters might have a new term to learn as the 2024 presidential race gets underway: CBDC.
The clunky acronym stands for Central Bank Digital Currency, but you can think of it as a federal stablecoin—a digital form of money issued by a sovereign government meant to exist alongside cash and traditional digital balances held by banks.
During his administration, President Biden has spoken directly about crypto only rarely, preferring to let his appointees like SEC Chair Gary Gensler handle the day-to-day work of policing the crypto industry. However, Biden’s administration has made progress on one key crypto initiative: exploring the feasibility of a CBDC in the United States.
The U.S. is far from the first country to explore its own stablecoin; according to the Atlantic Council, over 100 countries across the globe have explored, piloted, or launched their own CBDC.
So what would Commander Biden’s Digital Cash look like? The Fed wants Americans to know the CBDC would exist alongside cash, not replace it, and that maintaining user privacy is paramount to any CBDC candidate. According to his rivals in the 2024 race, however, Biden’s CBDC may just bring about the end of privacy and freedom as we know it.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered one of President Trump’s top rivals for the GOP nomination, signed legislation earlier this month that he claims would ban CBDCs in the state of Florida, though legal experts are divided on whether or not the law would have any effect. Nonetheless, it didn't stop him from taking the time to boast about it while announcing his own presidential bid during a Twitter Space Wednesday night with Elon Musk.
And while banning something that doesn’t yet exist may seem like a curious strategy to win over voters, the president of the organization which helped DeSantis draft the bill recently claimed that DeSantis’s office has gotten more calls about CBDCs than any other issue. DeSantis isn’t the only candidate running on an anti-CBDC platform, however.
Last week, Miami hosted Bitcoin’s biggest annual conference. And despite only attracting about half as many guests as last year, the event did bring in two presidential candidates: Vivek Ramaswamy, a former pharma exec who’s running on the GOP ticket, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who’s challenging President Biden for the Democratic nomination.
Despite the fact that Ramaswamy and RFK jr. are running for opposing parties, their campaigns share a few qualities: they’re relative longshots, they’ve managed to draw a respectable amount of media attention, and they want crypto fans to know they love Bitcoin and hate CBDCs.
Both candidates even tried to claim they were the first campaigns to accept crypto donations, with some qualifications; RFK Jr. pointed out that he’s the first candidate to use Bitcoin’s Lightning Network and Ramaswamy noted he’s the first GOP candidate of this cycle to support crypto. While those claims are technically true, plenty of politicians have accepted crypto donations in the past.
Whether or not courting crypto fans and fanning fears around CBDCs will be a successful strategy for a presidential campaign remains to be seen. However, the discussion of crypto on the presidential debate stage would mark a significant change from 2020’s race, when crypto wasn’t mentioned at all.
So will 2024 be the Bitcoin Election, as noted Bitcoin advocate Caitlin Long and million-dollar bet loser Balaji Srinivasan both believe? It’s too early to tell. But crypto’s growing role in the presidential campaign is undeniable.
This week on Coinage, we dive into the state of the race, discussing the best and worst 2024 candidates for crypto and evaluate whether these are the politicians crypto needs or merely the ambitious candidates who need the support of crypto fans the most.
For all that and more, check out our video above. To support our community-owned outlet and unlock exclusive benefits, mint one of our NFTs today!