The Great American Crypto Political Awakening

The fact that one of the most important bills the Senate has debated this year was held up for a weekend because of cryptocurrency was at…

The Great American Crypto Political Awakening

The fact that one of the most important bills the Senate has debated this year was held up for a weekend because of cryptocurrency was at first glance amusing. But it showed two very important things, that could very well entrench Bitcoin as a legitimate form of currency in many eyes. First, it has proved to awaken cyrpto companies and enthusiasts to the reality that politics is vital. This political awakening could see a greater number of politicians and activists putting things like Bitcoin at the forefront of policy making. And second, it showed the US government has no interest in shutting down cryptocurrency. This is in direct contrast to China’s seemingly final maneuver to keep blockchain, but reject Bitcoin.

Both of these items mean Bitcoin is going to gain more legitimacy in the US. Especially because, it seems this might be one thing that could get bipartisan support (and opposition). With a deeply partisan country, anything that could be bipartisan deserves special attention.

It is a common refrain among Bitcoin enthusiasts to not trust politicians. That makes sense, Bitcoin seeks to bypass institutions like big banks and Wall Street that many politicians are lobbied to support. But with the crypto amendment in the infrastructure bill, Bitcoiners did something unprecedented…they lobbied themselves. Activists formed lists to call Senators to get them to support the amendment. Crypto companies sent out their lobbies to give a call to Senators as well. And it worked, well it worked up to the point until larger partisan politics got in the way. A compromise amendment was agreed upon but was killed by one Senator, Richard Shelby (R-AL).

Sen Shelby (R-AL). Killer of the Crypto Amendment.

Regardless of the fact it was killed, the amendment is likely to be added into the House with many, including Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Bill Foster (D-IL), and Darren Soto (D-FL) saying they want the amendment added in the House bill. Although this would send the bill back to the Senate it would likely pass there again a second time.

What this really shows though is the future Bitcoin political activism. Bitcoin companies acted like other “traditional” companies, and lobbied Senators, pouring money into their campaigns. Although this goes against the basic tenants of Bitcoin, it does provide political legitimacy in the current system. But Bitcoiners all got involved calling their Senators, creating graphics, and all kinds of other grassroots activism. Many recognized they would need to call their Reps as well soon enough. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this was a movement that always had political activism in its DNA.

This will go far, grassroots is extremely popular as populist politicians see high approvals. But grassroots combined with some bad-old fashioned lobbying helps hit politicians on two fronts. This activism seems to continue, as Bitcoin and crypto activism groups have seen increased membership and interest. This is good.

However, there is still a lot to do. Some took offense at the push for activism. They claim Bitcoin is above politics, and will last forever no matter what silly little things like governments do. Of course this is a misguided notion, politics and governments live in anything. Many are recognizing this, but many are not.

Thankfully, this also shows that American politicians are receptive. The debate was strong. Most of the Senators didn’t object to the amendment itself, just wanted to make sure new tax loopholes were not created. The Treasury Dept. has said it will included guidelines in their regulations resulting from the bill that essentially copies the language of the amendment. Event the Senators who drafted that section of the bill recognized there was need for change.

American politicians are not necessarily the bogey-men many Bitcoiners fear them to be. While many do have strong connections to Wall Street, many want to see technology like Bitcoin grow. This will strengthen legitimacy even more.

It turns out, sometimes politicians do things not out of malice, but rather incompetence.