Last year, Elizabeth Warren described cryptocurrencies as the refuge of “shadowy super coders”, leading commentators to criticise the ignorance of US politicians towards an increasingly important aspect of modern financial life.
Warren isn’t a fair representation of Washington as a whole, though, and there’s no shortage of politicians in local offices who have demonstrated clear crypto credentials.
To help separate the blockchainers from the blockheads, we’ve put together a list of the five most pro-crypto voices in American politics.
1. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R – WY)
Cynthia Lummis has been a Bitcoiner since 2013 and became the first US Senator to hold cryptocurrency after her election victory in 2020 secured her place in the upper chamber of Congress.
Lummis has pushed for clarity on crypto taxation in the US and spoken in favour of creating a new regulatory body to monitor the crypto market that is independent of the SEC. She has particularly called for legislation that would preclude staking and mining from capital gains taxes.
Lummis’ home state, Wyoming, permits a number of crypto institutions to process transactions, has legalised DAOs, and has put forward proposals to allow residents to pay part of their taxes in virtual currencies.
One Wyoming to Rule them All?
The “Cowboy State” is attempting to reinvent itself as the crypto capital of the world. The progress Wyoming has made so far can largely be credited to Cynthia Lummis, one of the loudest supporters of crypto in national politics. But further headway rests on her ability to gather bi-partisan support for bills in favour of virtual currencies in Congress.
2. Mayor Francis Suarez (R – Miami)
Francis Suarez took office as the mayor of Miami in 2017 and soon became the first American politician to take 100% of their salary in Bitcoin. He has also been hailed as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” by Fortune Magazine.
Suarez is a firm believer in the capacity of peer-to-peer currencies to promote financial inclusion in Miami. He wants to let residents buy groceries and other goods with crypto and also aims to invest some of the city’s treasury in Bitcoin so he can tackle poverty with the profits.
Under Suarez’s stewardship, “The Magic City” has become a sanctuary for crypto enthusiasts, executives, and firms. Last summer, Miami even launched its own token called MiamiCoin (MIA), which is powered by the Stacks blockchain.
Year of the Underdog?
Suarez is fielding a serious challenge to New York’s status as America’s eminent financial centre with his plans to turn Miami into one of the “most innovative cities” on the planet through its adoption of blockchain technology.
3. Mayor Eric Adams (D – New York City)
Eric Adams is a former NYPD police officer and was elected as mayor of New York in November 2021, after counting on campaign donations from a number of pro-crypto businessmen.
Adams’ crypto promises got off to a rocky start. Shortly after he was elected, he declared that he’d be taking his first three paychecks in Bitcoin. It then came to light that the city of New York only pays its employees in fiat.
Despite this, Adams has floated a number of ideas aimed at mainstreaming crypto, like expanding the ability of merchants to accept it as a form of payment and incorporating blockchain education into school curriculums.
New York has tried to keep pace with its southern neighbour Miami by releasing its own crypto, NYCOIN (NYC), which is also built on Stacks. It has also loosened local regulations so it can entice some of the crypto industry’s biggest names into setting up their headquarters in the city.
Welcome to Crypto: The Grind Begins
It’s probably too soon to judge Adams when it comes to his record on delivering crypto promises. One thing is for sure, though: Adams has his work cut out for him over the next few years if he wants to live up to the expectations of the crypto community that backed his election campaign.
4. Sen. Ted Cruz (R – TX)
The firebrand senator from Texas needs no introduction. Cruz has long been a defender of Bitcoin and spent up to $50,000 in January “buying the dip”.
Cruz has publicly expressed his desire to turn Texas into a crypto mining hub by making it easier for miners to relocate to the state. In the Senate, he has condemned draft bills targeting crypto exchanges and pledged to limit Bitcoin’s environmental impact.
Local lawmakers in Texas are also hopeful that they can tempt a great migration of Bitcoin miners to the “Lone Star State”. The idea is that if miners ramp up their activities, it will attract more energy companies to set up shop in Texas.
Policymakers believe that the surplus energy being produced for mining companies could be diverted to residential areas in the event of emergencies. This comes off the back of last year’s winter storm that left millions of Texans without electricity for days.
Ted Cruz: The First Bitcoin President?
Ted Cruz is tipped to throw his hat in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nominee contest. He knows that delivering on pro-crypto legislation will play a large part in his bid to triumph in a presidential election where crypto looks set to be a flagship issue for the first time according to most polls.
Texas’ ability to transform itself into a crypto hub over the next couple of years will also go a long way in establishing Cruz’s credentials among America’s politically conscious crypto voter base.
5. Sen. Ron Wyden (D – OR)
Ron Wyden has been Senator for Oregon since 1996 and chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He has been known to break party ranks on crypto policy by acting as one of the few high-ranking voices in the Democrat party to embrace crypto.
Wyden has joined hands with Republican Cynthia Lummis in the Senate on a number of occasions to bring forward crypto regulation that is acceptable to all stakeholders. He is one of very few Democrats to argue strongly for favourable crypto regulation.
Wyden also actively uses his social media presence to raise awareness around the universal benefits of cryptocurrency among his followers.
Oregon has taken a lukewarm approach toward blockchain adoption compared to many other US states trying to establish themselves as crypto meccas. For the most part, Oregon is yet to explore the utility of peer-to-peer currencies and has shaped its crypto policy around the hawkish regulations set out by federal authorities like the SEC.
The Crypto Election
Wyden is up for re-election in November and has already amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from crypto super PACs (Political Action Committees) as well as financial organisations tied to the sector. With Wyden’s fate ostensibly dependent on his ability to mobilise a voter base of crypto enthusiasts, his ability to funnel pro-crypto bills into Congress will likely be a major theme in his re-election campaign.