In 2017, cryptocurrencies not only swelled in value, but they swooned in popularity. Millions of individuals, eager to participate in the booming market, flooded crypto exchanges and created a collective crypto market cap of more than $850 billion.
For many, 2017 will be remembered as the year that cryptocurrencies crawled out of the proverbial corner and gained the world’s attention. They made headlines on the cover of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and online chat rooms are filled with compelling conversations about the possibilities for the proliferating digital currencies.
They are seemingly everywhere. Except in politics.
Although SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton, frequently comments on digital currencies and is described by Bloomberg as “Washington’s chief cryptocurrency skeptic,” no politician has run on a platform that addressed cryptocurrencies and their growing role in culture and economics.
Campaigning for Crypto
That’s all changing with Brian Forde, a congressional candidate for California’s 45th district.
Forde brings a broad technology background to a congressional race, which isn’t a skill set typically attributed to high-level political candidates.
He’s currently the director of digital currency at MIT’s Media Lab, and during Barack Obama’s presidency, Ford served as a technology adviser to the White House.
Forde’s candidacy is attracting the attention of some of the most prominent names involved in cryptocurrencies.
Among those cheering (and donating) to his campaign is Mike Novogratz, a billionaire, former hedge fund manager turned crypto entrepreneur. Forde has also attracted attention from the Winklevoss twins who founded the Gemini crypto exchange and are famous for their controversial role in the early stages of Facebook.
Campaigning on Crypto
Forde’s inclination toward cryptocurrency goes beyond just his rhetoric.
His congressional campaign accepts donations in cryptocurrency, which are converted to U.S. dollars using a digital currency exchange.
So far, this method has helped him raise more money than any other candidate in the race, including the incumbent.
Stan Miroshnik, the executive officer of The Element Group remarked to Bloomberg:
“If you’re willing to go through the pain of actually taking cryptocurrency, it’s a great endorsement of the philosophy we’re all pushing,”
Regulations and Education
Of course, shared enthusiasm for cryptocurrency isn’t the reason his supporters are so keen on electing him to Congress. Cryptocurrencies are beginning to enter the mainstream financial system.
In December, CBOE Group and CME Group launched the first Bitcoin futures contracts on their respective commodity exchanges.
In addition, investment Juggernaut Goldman Sachs already owns a cryptocurrency trading desk. These offerings are in addition to the crypto banks and exchanges that have risen to prominence in the past year.
As these crypto products rise in prominence and popularity, there is a growing concern that they will face stiff and restrictive regulatory oversight from Congress. Several countries including China, South Korea, and India have already enacted significant restrictions on cryptocurrencies, and, in many ways, it has hindered their continued maturation.
Crypto enthusiasts want to try and ensure that doesn’t happen in the U.S. To avoid misguided or ineffective legislation, education and awareness are necessary, so it would help to have someone on the inside who could bring that level of sophistication.
As Forde recently noted,
“We’ve got all these emerging technologies that are going to have a big impact on our economy and our lives…yes, we don’t have folks in Congress who understand that.”
In the past, Forde has been at the forefront of technological innovation. For instance, in 2005, Forde co-founded Llamadas SA, which used VoIP protocols to create a low-cost internet phone service that fell into a regulatory gray area, similar to the position that cryptocurrencies find themselves in right now.
California is one of the most technologically progressive states in the country, so Forde’s resume and crypto-proclivities could be an asset in the race.
The primary election, scheduled for June 5th, features many candidates. Should he win the primary, Forde would be running as a Democrat in a district that is, on a congressional level, reliably Republican. However, as Democrats look to regain their majority in the House, a lot of money and attention will be given to this specific seat.
While most of the national attention will emphasize the Democratic and Republican divide, in many ways, Forde has already set himself apart as the definitive crypto candidate who sees the technologies of the future and wants to steward them appropriately. That’s kind of refreshing in its own right.
For more information on Brian Forde, watch the short video below:
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