Moving into the new election cycle, politicians in the US are firming up their positions on cryptocurrency in a bid to either cement themselves as supporters of the trillion dollar market or to position themselves as antagonists due to security fears. This guide details the most vocal supporters and detractors of crypto in the US political realm, ordered approximately by their relevance in the coming year.
Ron DeSantis (Presidential candidate, Republican): The second-place contender for the Republican presidential crown, DeSantis has earned the party’s crypto candidate title time and again for challenging what he refers to as Biden’s “war on Bitcoin” and preventing the development of central bank digital currencies in Florida. Instead, he champions the independence of cryptocurrency and vows to make it easier for Americans to invest in it.
Vivek Ramaswamy (Presidential candidate, Republican): Right behind DeSantis in the polls for the Republican nomination, Ramaswamy represents a new wave of young Republicans who are not just ready to embrace cryptocurrency, they already have. Notably well versed in the topic of cryptocurrency, Ramaswamy is the first candidate to take donations via the Lightning Network, and he also accepts them via BitPay.
Francis Suarez (Presidential candidate, Republican): Francis Suarez is making waves in the political arena, though his bid for the presidency may be a long shot. As it stands, as the mayor of Miami, Suarez already takes his full salary in cryptocurrency and pledged when he entered office in 2017 that he would make the city the crypto capital. For his presidential campaign, he announced earlier this year that he is taking donations via crypto. His slogan? “Vote Bitcoin”.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Presidential candidate, Democrat): After he announced his presidential campaign in May, Kennedy made the first appearance of his campaign at Bitcoin 2023 to secure his association with cryptocurrency. “Cryptocurrencies, led by bitcoin, along with other crypto technologies are a major innovation engine,” he tweeted. Kennedy is proposing solidifying the dollar by converting a portion of the country’s fiat reserve to cryptocurrency and gold each year. For those who are concerned about the rapid devaluation of the dollar, Kennedy’s plan holds water.
Representative Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina): The Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, McHenry introduced The Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act in an effort to tie crypto to the value of fiat currency by creating regulation for stablecoins. The legislation has not yet moved forward but is indicative of McHenry’s efforts to establish weak crypto regulations (including being able to make anonymous payments).
Representative Ritchie Torres (D-New York): One of the progressive Democrats on our list, Torres has made the case that cryptocurrency could level the socioeconomic field by making it easier and less expensive to make payments while enabling artists and musicians to be paid more. (Read more in his 2022 essay: A liberal case for cryptocurrency.) He also introduced legislation to make crypto trading safer following the failure of FTX.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky): Way back in 2015, Rand Paul was the first politician to announce that they would be accepting donations in Bitcoin. The Libertarian appreciates the independent nature of Bitcoins from governments around the world, and likes how “hands off” the currency is. In 2021, he suggested that cryptocurrency could become the new global standard currency, replacing the dollar. Since then, Paul has been fairly quiet on the crypto front, but you can bet his views haven’t shifted.
Andrew Yang: Earning a mention on our list even though he has not announced he is running for the presidency again (he hasn’t ruled it out, he says), Yang was one of the first politicians to embrace crypto, taking donations for his campaign in the currency back in 2019.
Many of cryptocurrency’s biggest supporters on the Hill aren’t particularly vocal about it. It’s still a niche issue politically, and politicians tend to favor the big wedge issues that get them headlines. So you probably can’t expect a lot of crypto-enthusiasm on the campaign trail, but smart leaders are going to at least make their position known and push the U.S. forward on the issue.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont): Along with expressing his perspective that he felt there was no real need for cryptocurrency, Sanders joined Senator Elizabeth Warren in creating new regulations to make it more difficult for banks to engage in cryptocurrency-related activities.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts): One of the leading critics of cryptocurrency, Warren sees it is a vehicle for criminal activity. As a result, she introduced the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act, which, among other stipulations, limits the ability to use digital asset mixers that enable payments to be made anonymously.
Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kansas): Along with Senator Elizabeth Warren, Marshall was a sponsor of the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act. He referred to crypto as a ”national security threat” following the FTX fiasco and is one of the more outspoken critics of crypto, going so far as to say it should be shut down in the US.
Though several of these opponents of cryptocurrency, particularly those on the far-left, would like to see cryptocurrency outright banned or regulated out of existence, their anti-crypto advocacy could actually help cryptocurrency achieve legitimacy and sensible regulation. Some of the most vocal calls for crypto regulation has been coming from its opponents, but crypto enthusiasts also desperately want regulation in order to lift the veil of uncertainty from the market. Plus, it’s unlikely that any of these fringe anti-crypto leaders would get anywhere near the support they would need to see their vision through. Still, they’re bringing attention to the topic which means a solid middle-ground approach will likely be on the table.
Joe Biden (Presidential incumbent, Democrat): Biden has not taken an official stance for or against crypto, however, last year he ordered the development of a multi-agency task force to determine the value of establishing a central bank digital currency. CBDCs, as they are known, are tied to central banks, unlike traditional cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and are thus subject to governmental oversight and manipulation. This indicates a willingness from the Biden administration to dip their toes into cryptocurrency, but only if it can be tightly regulated. (Read more on the Biden administration’s “whole-of-government” investigative approach to crypto.)
Donald Trump (Presidential candidate, Republican): The leading candidate for the Republican party, Trump’s views on cryptocurrency are notoriously mixed. On the one hand, in 2019, he tweeted: “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.” On the other, he now owns about $2.8 million in Ethereum after launching an NFT line. Additionally, while Trump was in office, one of his banking regulators sought to make it easier for banks to trade in crypto and crypto futures.
Kamala Harris (Vice Presidential incumbent, Democrat): At the bottom of our list, but relevant because – let’s face it, Joe isn’t young – Harris has not made any public references to her policy when it comes to cryptocurrency. However, a member of her advisory team is Ryan Montoya, former CTO of the Sacramento Kings, a team that made waves in the crypto world for its early adoption. If Harris steps in to fulfill the role of president, it’s possible that Montoya could be leaned on to establish fair crypto policies.
Even though these politicians are sending mixed signals when it comes to crypto, they’re all likely to leave the big decisions to finance and tech experts. So even an “unsure” is probably a point in favor of crypto, particularly as more institutional power pushes ahead and global frameworks are discussed and adopted. Regardless of who gets in office, the march of progress when it comes to cryptocurrency is probably not slowing down.