Mainstream news groups are fixated on the ‘blue wave’ sweeping America during last night’s midterm elections. But here at Bitcoin Australia, we’re more interested in the flood of support for pro-cryptocurrency politicians.
Democratic party nominees Jared Polis and Gavin Newsome were elected governors of Colorado and California respectively. But the men share more than political affiliation — they are both outspoken supporters of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.
Does this signal an ‘orange wave’ of bitcoin adoption to come?
Jared Polis is Colorado’s newest governor, and that’s good news for crypto enthusiasts everywhere.
The five term congressman defeated Republican candidate Walker Stapleton with a 7 point lead last night, becoming the first openly gay man to lead a US state. But that is only the latest in a string of firsts.
In 2014, Polis became the first American candidate to accept campaign donations in bitcoin. He took his fight for cryptocurrencies national that same year, and released a satirical response to Sen. Joe Minchin’s campaign against bitcoin.
Polis compared Minchin’s ban on bitcoin to the banning of the US dollar. “The clear use of dollar bills for transacting in illegal goods […] makes me wary of their use,” the congressman wrote after cryptocurrencies came under fire for their popularity with criminals.
While in congress, the governor-elect put forward bills to encourage cryptocurrency adoption in popular society. These include an unsuccessful attempt to create a de minimis capital gains tax exemption for private cryptocurrency transactions.
Blockchain featured prominently in Polis’ most recent political platform in a bid “to establish Colorado as a national hub for blockchain innovation and government.”
“I WILL WORK TO ESTABLISH LEGISLATION THAT PROTECTS ‘OPEN BLOCKCHAIN TOKENS’ OR CRYPTOCURRENCIES THAT ARE EXCHANGEABLE FOR GOODS AND SERVICES.”
In his pursuit of cryptocurrency integration, the governor-elect has picked up his fair share of critics and fans. But to many people, Polis is simply an enigma.
“He’s a weird rich guy,” said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institution and outspoken libertarian, in an interview with the Denver Post.
Caldara is referring to Polis’ successful run of tech start-ups during the dot com bubble. The governor-elected emerged as a multi-millionaire and continues to invest in local start-up initiatives.
The Golden State Turns Orange
Orange for bitcoin, that is.
Californians put their support behind governor-elect Gavin Newsome yesterday. In doing so, they also voted yes for cryptocurrencies. Newsome ran against Republican John Cox, whom he easily beat with a tech-friendly platform.
Pictured in this article’s featured image, Gavin Newsome is an unlikely champion of bitcoin adoption. “I came from a place of absolute confusion and cynicism on bitcoin,” Newsome admitted in 2014, according to GovTech.com.
“If anybody started talking about cryptocurrency, I’d start rolling my eyes and yawning and going, ‘Give me a break.’ Now I find it fascinating.”
The governor-elect is now an advocate for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and in 2014 began accepting campaign donations in bitcoin. While adoption of these technologies didn’t figure as prominently in Newsome’s platform as they did in Polis’, he is certainly no stranger to California’s tech industry.
Newsome previously served as San Francisco mayor during the city’s start-up explosion. Most recently, he held the position of lieutenant governor for 8 years based out of Sacramento.
His election was celebrated by crypto influencer Francis Pouliot, who is the founder of Satoshi Portal and a libertarian party member. The Canadian reached out on Twitter to share the news.
Congratulations to early Bitcoin adopter @GavinNewsom on being elected Governor of California!
"I should promote the technology ever so subtly by saying I'll accept bitcoin in the campaign". "I'm ready for it". "But how the hell do I explain it to anybody?" – 2014 pic.twitter.com/4RLGa9BdMf
— Francis Pouliot ☣️ (@francispouliot_) November 7, 2018
However, Newsome faces some criticism in the crypto community. People have noted that the democrat’s pro-cryptocurrency stance may clash with his history of pro-regulation rhetoric. The debate is playing out on Reddit, where politics and tech make for a heady combination.
On the other hand, supporters point to Newsome’s record of digital tech advocacy. In a 2013 interview with Fortune Magazine, the governor-elect spoke candidly of the advantages of social media in encouraging peer-to-peer debate.
“Technology […] democratises voices. Something special is happening now for people to engage directly and not necessarily wait for centralised institutions.”
In any case, Newsome’s election has people talking. And in the fast-paced world of crypto, any publicity is good publicity.
A Strong Start
Over the past four years, American voters have made it clear that they want tech-savvy politicians with an eye to the future. Now the question is, what will government-implemented blockchain adoption look like? And how will politicians craft policies with cryptocurrency users in mind?
The governors-elect hold a unique position in government, and their action or inaction on crypto matters will have serious ramifications.
While it is unclear how Gov. Polis and Gov. Newsome will use their new positions to encourage bitcoin adoption, the crypto community is now well represented in the United States!
Liz is a Canadian journalist and writer for Bitcoin Australia. Connect with her on Twitter @Elizabeth_Utley, or on Linkedin as Elizabeth Utley.