On May 24, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially declared his candidacy for the United States presidency.
During a Twitter event hosted by venture capitalist David Sacks, DeSantis declared he would be spearheading a “Great American Comeback,” which drew accusations of plagiarism from ex-President and potential 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Amid discussions about U.S. immigration policy and the supposed prevalence of “critical race theory,” DeSantis devoted considerable time to cryptocurrency during his one-hour presentation. He vowed to safeguard “the ability to do things like Bitcoin” and to oppose the “central planners” in Capitol Hill.
Governor DeSantis’ position on cryptocurrency has remained steady in recent years. Nevertheless, the fact that he chose to focus on it again is noteworthy, as was his decision to declare his candidacy for president on Twitter in the virtual presence of tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, who has links to the crypto world.
This has resulted in DeSantis being labelled as “the option for crypto fans in 2024”, and there is no uncertainty that the politician will persist in attempting to acquire approval from the group.
A friend of crypto
In 2021, the Governor of Florida proposed that for the 2022/23 budgetary year, businesses should be allowed to pay state fees with cryptocurrencies.
He proposed allocating $200,000 of funding to the Florida Department of Financial Services to enable local businesses to pay state fees using cryptocurrency, and an additional $500,000 to investigate the possibility of using distributed ledger technology to keep track of motor vehicle records, validate Medicaid transactions, and identify potential fraud.
The governor’s attitude has been in line with the general excitement about cryptocurrency in the state. Miami held the “biggest-ever” Bitcoin event in 2021, and its mayor, Francis Suarez, began receiving his wages exclusively in Bitcoin.
Miami even created its own cryptocurrency, based on the Bitcoin blockchain, called MiamiCoin. According to the MiamiCoin protocol, 30% of all coins extracted were sent to an electronic wallet assigned to the city.
In 2023, DeSantis began to take part in conversations about cryptocurrency more seriously. In March, he held a press conference titled “Big Brother’s Digital Dollar”, where he expressed his disapproval of the Federal Reserve’s potential plan to introduce a central bank digital currency (CBDC). He highlighted the current inflation rates and the Fed increasing interest rates, and focused on the freedom and privacy issues that come with the “digital dollar”.
At the end of the press conference, DeSantis implored Florida legislators and those from other states who shared the same views to pass laws that would prevent any alterations to the Uniform Commercial Code, thus ensuring that no U.S. or foreign Central Bank Digital Currency could be implemented.
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He alluded to recent tensions between China and other countries, referencing the digital yuan project which, he said, is being used to keep track of citizens’ spending habits and to restrict access to goods and services.
Gov. DeSantis reiterated his stance when the Federal Reserve stated they would seek Congress’ approval if they decided to bring out a Central Bank Digital Currency. He emphasized that it is not a matter of good intentions, but rather a requirement of the Constitution that such a consequential policy shift must be approved by Congress. He further declared, “Unaccountable institutions cannot force a CBDC on the American people.”
Shortly after delivering a passionate address regarding the potential of a digital currency, Governor DeSantis signed a law prohibiting the utilization of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) in Florida. He cautioned that if a CBDC were to be launched in the United States, it would be “a massive transfer of power from individuals to a centralized authority.” On top of that, DeSantis alleged that a CBDC could potentially endanger private digital currencies.
DeSantis’ strong anti-government and pro-market stance, combined with his understanding of the crypto sector, make him an appealing option for some in the industry. As J.W. Verret, an associate professor at George Mason Law School, said to Cointelegraph:
However, the issue may be due to other aspects of DeSantis’ political advocacy that are unconnected to cryptocurrency.
A foe of progressives
Pundits often refer to him as “the most likely Trump alternative in the race,” and DeSantis boasts the clout of a successful governor of a large state as well as a conservative public image.
During his time as a member of the U.S. Congress, DeSantis opposed climate tax increases, the Affordable Care Act, gun regulation, Barack Obama’s immigration plan, the special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into the 2016 presidential election and taxes on social security benefits. He was one of the creators of the conservative-libertarian congressional Freedom Caucus in 2015.
As Governor, DeSantis changed the orientation of Florida’s Supreme Court to originalism, ensuring the legal system would support his opposition to considerable changes in society. He also established stricter regulations for Florida universities when partnering with China and endorsed an “anti-sanctuary city” law, blocking the creation of so-called “sanctuary cities” in Florida. However, the most controversial of the Governor’s political actions is his fight against “critical race theory” and LGBTQ+ understanding in schools.
He declared during his second-term speech that “Florida is where the woke go to die.”
In the summer of 2021, the Florida Board of Education, with the endorsement of Governor DeSantis, approved a ban on teaching critical race theory in school. Later in December of the same year, a politician presented the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, or the Stop WOKE Act.
In 2022, the legislation was signed into law, but District Judge Mark Walker partially blocked it, deeming it too vague and unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Governor DeSantis still managed to forbid transgender girls from taking part in female school sports competitions, and forbid any talks concerning gender identity in classrooms from kindergarten to third grade.
These initiatives have gained favor among conservative electors, yet they have not been without repercussions.
In reaction to Disney’s vocal disagreement with his anti-LGBTQ+ policies, he abolished the Disney World exclusive taxation district in Florida. As a result, Disney put a stop to a $1 billion development project in the state, which it claimed would have generated around 2,000 jobs.
Despite expectations, Republicans fared poorly in the 2022 mid-term elections, as the American electorate failed to support the party, whose rhetoric was mainly focused on culture-war topics and allegations of electoral fraud.
The combination of all these factors, coupled with the fact that DeSantis is polling significantly lower than former president Trump, could present a challenge for the governor who is in favor of cryptocurrency.
Voting in the era of polarization
DeSantis embodies a free market, low taxes, low welfare economic outlook and a populist inclination to engage in cultural conflict with progressives, which has become more widespread in the past ten years.
In this context, Governor DeSantis’ endorsement of crypto is more indicative of his anti-government and business-positive views, rather than a specific opinion on cryptocurrency – it is hard to remember any precise ideas he has expressed about the possibilities of decentralized finance (DeFi), for instance.
Betting on him could cause a noticeable rift in the American crypto scene, with some feeling apprehensive about the Biden government’s strict crypto attitude, in comparison to the generally pro-crypto rhetoric of the Republican Party, resulting in an increasing partisan split.
Is it beneficial for the crypto industry to build stronger relationships with the Republican Party in the long term?
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Anthony Georgiades, co-founder of the Pastel Network — a decentralized blockchain for nonfungible tokens — commented that in a time of extreme polarization, the response is determined by one’s political alignment.
The recent strategy of regulation-through-enforcement employed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, whose head was appointed by a Democratic president, has been extremely worrying for market participants, to the point of inducing an “existential risk” concern.
Nihar Neelakanti, CEO and co-founder of Ecosapiens, a company that deals in carbon-backed digital collectibles, believes that the current political polarization in the U.S. has caused the crypto industry to search for any kind of support they can find. This industry, which is neutral in its fundamentals and draws support from people of a variety of political leanings, from liberals to libertarians, is not limited to just DeSantis in terms of potential crypto voters.
Neekalanti informed Cointelegraph, “The positive side is that we now have contenders from both major political parties who are in favor of Bitcoin and crypto generally. If a pro-Bitcoin conservative succeeds, there will be many who will assert this is unfavorable to crypto. However, if a pro-Bitcoin liberal is the victor, many will also assert this is disadvantageous to crypto. We are simply too politically divided as a nation.”
Dan Nissanoff, the CEO and originator of Game of Silks metaverse, concurs. When conversing with Cointelegraph, he accentuated that the crypto society is still far from uniting around any single nominee.
At least three candidates appear to have fully welcomed the digital asset economy: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. It is encouraging to observe that both conservatives and liberals are showing support for digital assets, with DeSantis being popular among conservatives and RFK Jr. gaining increasing acceptance among liberals.
The economics of the Bitcoin ATM market could impede wider adoption.
It is certain that Biden is probably the least favored choice among crypto enthusiasts.
Georgieades pointed out that the optimal choice for someone in the crypto community may be determined by two factors.
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