Only a fool would vote on crypto alone

Americans should not prioritize their own selfish financial interests over broader societal and ethical concerns

OPINION
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Midjourney modified by Blockworks

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US presidential candidates on both sides of the two-party spectrum are taking advantage of the crypto industry.

You’ll notice how I didn’t say that crypto will be a hot button topic this election season, or that the crypto space will play any sort of role in shaping election discourse. 

No. It’s clear to me that some of the main players in this presidential race are planning to exploit the crypto world for money and votes — and those in crypto should stop playing along.

Why should favorable cryptocurrency legislation take precedence over all else? Perhaps you really believe that the financial system is broken, and that a path forward for cryptocurrency in the US is the best way to create a new, more egalitarian society that will allow all to flourish. 

But that’s not what I see. 

What I see is a small number of wealthy individuals, who made that wealth from cryptocurrency, looking for the government to let them continue growing that wealth unfettered.

Among diehard crypto evangelists right now, “voting for crypto” means voting Republican for president. According to this side of the debate, any other decision will virtually assure the death of the American crypto industry. 

This fear (true or not) has led some major personalities in Web3 to push crypto supporters into becoming single-issue voters. Their message is clear: Choose your 2024 candidates based solely on their cryptocurrency stance, or else.

In other words, Americans should prioritize their own selfish financial interests over broader societal and ethical concerns. When you promote the idea of voting for America’s crypto industry above all else, you’re deciding to ignore all of the other issues that are really at stake this election season — healthcare access, Social Security, gun legislation, women’s rights, LGBT issues, immigration, to name a few.  

I want to be clear — I do not care if you vote Republican, Democrat, or third-party, as long as you care about the issues at stake, and truly believe that the candidate in question is representative of your views. But voting for a candidate you would not otherwise support, simply because they favor the deregulation of a sector in which you hold a profit motive, is a compromise that you should not make.

Crypto isn’t political by accident

Cryptocurrency has undeniably (and perhaps unfortunately) become a partisan issue.

Blockchain technology, which underpins the entire crypto industry, is neither inherently good or bad. But it’s the actions of individuals and what they do with this technology that has drawn regulatory scrutiny over the years. This has transformed a neutral technology stack into a deeply partisan issue, with sharply divided views across party lines concerning its integration into the American financial system and beyond.

On the left side of the political spectrum — the same side already in favor of stricter financial regulations — politicians often place crypto against a global backdrop of scams, money laundering and market manipulation to strengthen their calls for oversight. Their tagline is to keep consumers safe.

Lawmakers on the right — who already favor less financial regulation as a rule — instead posit that intense crypto regulation will cripple innovation and impede technological advancement. They say that their aim is to keep American innovation moving forward at a brisk pace, far ahead of other countries like China. 

However, their supposed motivations are arguably applicable only during the election season. Because what all politicians actually want is your attention, your money, and ultimately your ballot. As with most issues, when the time comes, it is unlikely that much in the way of meaningful change will come from either side of the aisle. Instead, it will be the actions of the innovators within the crypto space that move the needle forward — which you would think that anyone who truly supports a limited government would appreciate.

The very idea that crypto needs to be “voted” into office has led to the platforming of some very unsavory people who really have nothing to do with crypto at all — besides a shared desire to solicit donations from this niche, newly rich subset of Americans.

Vivek Ramaswamy gave a fireside chat at Messari’s Mainnet last fall, promoting his presidential crypto plan a few months before he dropped out of the race. Consensus will have Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speak this year, announcing the news with a headline calling him a “pro-crypto presidential candidate.” I can think of a lot of other modifiers for RFK Jr. that are more headline-worthy than his stance on crypto.

And most importantly, Crypto Twitter has, for the most part, widely embraced former President Donald Trump’s words of support for NFTs and crypto. And far be it for me to say whether that support is genuine, or more largely based on the fact that he’s made millions of dollars selling NFTs branded with his own image.

Backing these candidates simply because they seem to make positive noise about crypto isn’t taking back the power from Wall Street or helping make the world a more financially equitable place — it’s falling for empty campaign rhetoric. 

The idea that any presidential (or gubernatorial or senatorial) candidate is trying to win favor with the crypto crowd because they truly believe in crypto is laughable. These candidates are looking for crypto money, nothing more and nothing less. Those in crypto who support such candidates are either willing to pretend that these officials understand even the basic strokes of how crypto works under the hood (let alone its implications for the broader frameworks of finance and democracy), or they are willing to compromise their morals and ethics for the mere possibility of moon-making crypto legislation in the future.

As the one, big, obvious example: If you believe that Donald Trump will truly support the crypto industry, you have to be willing to overlook his judicially acknowledged sexual assault charges, overt institutional fraud and genuine attempts to overthrow American democracy when you cast your vote in November. 

Is cryptocurrency really that important to you?


Molly Jane Zuckerman is the opinion editor at Blockworks. She previously led educational content at CoinMarketCap and ran the news desk at Cointelegraph. Molly Jane is now based in New York after almost a decade in Russia, and can talk your ear off about Russia lit and detective novels.

Jeff is an editor at Blockworks, based in the United States. He has been a part of the blockchain space for over a decade, most recently working as US news editor at Cointelegraph. His areas of focus include empowering artists and creators through technology, using proof-of-participation methods to reward self-improvement, reducing the effectiveness of Sybil attacks, seeking transparent equity for disadvantaged communities, and exploring fairer models of world governance.

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