For the crypto world, the bipartite infrastructure package brings a “political awakening”
By Rachel Janfaza, CNN
Members of the cryptocurrency world donate to crypto-focused organizations, hire lobbyists, and step up advocacy efforts to get lawmakers to join the industry, as pressure mounts on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to address a cryptocurrency provision in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. before a vote in the House.
“The crypto world has been sensitized politically,” said Anne Fauvre-Willis, chief operating officer at Oasis Labs, a blockchain privacy company. “For many, there has been a personal political awakening. “
The push follows a back-and-forth debate between senators and the dueling amendment proposals earlier this month that would have changed the language included in the bipartisan infrastructure package intended to regulate cryptocurrency – which uses blockchain technology for online transactions.
Despite the debate, a linguistic compromise amendment on cryptocurrency failed before the final passage of legislation in the House on Tuesday, leaving crypto advocates concerned about the fate of an industry in which they are personally invested and that they care deeply about.
As it stands, the provision would impose more federal regulation on cryptocurrencies and could significantly increase the number of cryptocurrency users who would have to report returns to the Internal Revenue Service – something that has touched supporters of an industry designed to eliminate middlemen and grant autonomy to its users through a decentralized system.
While a small number of advocates of cryptocurrency think tanks and associations have been making noise in Washington for years, leaders in the crypto space told CNN that the recent debate over cryptocurrency regulation on Capitol Hill had captured the attention of thousands of people who were previously disengaged from politics.
“There’s a whole new group of people paying attention to what’s going on in Washington,” said Ryan Selkis, founder of Messari, a cryptocurrency research and analysis company.
Like Fauvre-Willis, Selkis told CNN that the conversation around cryptocurrency in DC has caused a “wake-up call for many people.”
The birth of the “crypto-voter”
Since early August, the phrase ‘I’m now a one-issue voter’ has gone viral among crypto circles on Twitter, flooding the feeds of top crypto leaders and mainstream traders who have racked up thousands of likes and dislikes. hundreds of retweets to share. that they will only vote for candidates favorable to the booming industry.
Selkis’ own Twitter biography reads: “Single Question Voter: Anti-Crypto Politicians Should Be Afraid”.
But according to members of the crypto community, while “crypto voters” may prioritize protecting the burgeoning industry, they are not yet part of either party.
For his part, Evan Greer, who for the past decade has staged large-scale online protests in favor of net neutrality and in opposition to internet censorship and government surveillance, said that, in his experience, “technology issues are often not democratic history. against the Republican partisan division.
“These are fundamental questions, about how people orient themselves towards institutions of power, whether it’s corporate power or government power,” Greer – director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights non-profit organization.
“Among young people in particular, skepticism is soaring towards arbitrary forms of power, whether by government or corporations, and we are seeing this happening in the crypto community,” said Greer. “The traditional left-right party politics that has dominated American youth policy is really starting to erode. “
Efforts to protect the crypto industry go beyond social media
Earlier this month, 25 new companies expressed interest in joining the Blockchain Association – a trade association with 46 existing member companies that works to educate lawmakers and improve public policies around cryptocurrency.
“This is a pivotal moment for the crypto ecosystem, as it was the first time that so many people have contacted the Senate in a unified way. [and lawmakers] and let them know that this is a super dynamic and super creative group, ”said Kristin Smith, Executive Director of the Blockchain Association.
In recent months, the Blockchain Association has stepped up its lobbying activities, Smith, who has been with the association for three years, told CNN. The group has an internal Republican lobbyist, an internal Democratic lobbyist and three mandate lobbying firms.
Smith, who is also registered to lobby, told CNN that member companies also hire lobbyists or lobbying firms.
When asked why those unfamiliar with the crypto space might care about the recent cryptocurrency advocacy campaign, Smith said it comes down to a belief in the benefit of having autonomy over its financial transactions.
“Even if you don’t understand the technology [behind crypto], the ability to use your money and data as you want and to have a digital life where you are not at the mercy of middlemen is something that should be attractive to a lot of people, ”he said. she declared.
Coin Center, a think tank launched in 2014 that focuses on cryptocurrency policy, has seen “an increase” in donations from individuals and businesses, Neeraj Agrawal, the organization’s communications director, told CNN .
Since August 1, the organization has received gifts from more than 350 individual donors, he said.
And Fight for the Future – which directed more than 40,000 people to their online portal to call senators earlier this month, urging lawmakers to cut proposed cryptocurrency regulations – has since received more than 20 $ 000 in donations to their organization, mostly given in cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency creators and users “have now realized that the government can kick in your door and shut down your cool project,” Greer said.
“Any lawmaker who wishes to gain the support of young voters must show that he is not totally ignorant of these issues,” said Greer.
Fight for the Future will use the donations to support efforts to protect crypto in the infrastructure bill, which is heading to the House of Representatives, Greer said.
The organization will launch a “full court press,” Greer said, calling for meetings with lawmakers, conducting more phone calls and emails to lawmakers and creating educational videos and explanations.
“It all costs money,” she said.
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