Austin Peterson, U.S. Senate candidate for Missouri, has announced that he will be giving his supporters the option to donate to his campaign using Bitcoin. Branding himself as the “opt out” candidate, he believes that voluntary participation should underpin any government service. This extends to Social Security, Obamacare, and also to fiat currency apparently.
Being a former Libertarian presidential candidate, Peterson aims to highlight his stance on big government and oppressive regulation by accepting the world’s most popular cryptocurrency. “You get a choice,” he was reported as saying. “Opt out of the U.S. dollar.”
“Bitcoin is one of those issues that has actually got a huge community. I mean there are bitcoin millionaires out there. And we might be able to tap into that market because there will probably be no other candidates who will be better on that issue. I really would like to see a degregulation on monetary policy.”
As one of his ultimate ideological goals, the Missouri candidate seeks for the “complete and total abolition” of the Federal Reserve – a sentiment which echoes many of the earliest adopters of cryptocurrency’s political principles. Peterson firmly believes that money should not be a creation of the government but rather one of the marketplace. He argues that if decentralization is good for markets, why can this principle not extend to money too?
At a minimum I would like to introduce legalisation that would decentralise the monetary unit, the dollar, in such a way as to legalise competition: Gold, silver and cryptocurrencies, so that they can compete. That would cause a spike in the prices.”
The controversial politician has made a name for himself by taking his political message to the extreme. A recent publicity stunt saw him facing a thirty-day ban from Facebook for live streaming a competition in which the prize was an AR-15 rifle. He claimed that it was a political action that sought to draw attention to Democratic Senator Clair McCaskill’s support for a ban on all assault weapons.
The self-proclaimed “Bitcoin candidate” isn’t the first high-profile politician to accept cryptocurrency donations. Famously, Republican Senator Rand Paul in his 2016 presidential campaign also allowed funding using the payment method. It was of course much less widely known and enjoyed significantly lower circulation than it does today.
This is reflected by the different limits imposed on cryptocurrency donations from each of the two politicians. Peterson has enabled his campaign to receive up to $10,000 per day from multiple donors, whilst the Federal Election Commission limits individual contributors to $2,700 and multi-candidate PACs to $5,000. This contrasts with the campaign of Paul who capped contributions to just $100.
Another interesting difference between the two campaigns relates to anonymity and transparency. Back in 2015/16, it was largely considered by the media that anarcho-types would seek to hide their support of various anti-system candidates using cryptocurrency. However, many today tout the payment method as being the ultimate in transparent funding. Every Bitcoin can, of course, be traced back to the original genesis block, highlighted by the federal agents who were able to build evidence against Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the original darkweb marketplace — SilkRoad. FBI agent Ilhwan Yum said, “I didn’t do any complicated analysis” when following DreadPirateRoberts’s crypto-paper trail which eventually led to his arrest.
Bitcoin acceptance in political rallies and election campaigns show that the politicians are increasingly becoming open to the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which could bear a positive effect over the government policies and regulations once they get into power.