Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told attendees at the Bitcoin 2023 conference in Miami Beach, Florida, Friday he would defend the digital currency as a check on centralized government power.
“I got sold on Bitcoin when I saw what happened to the truckers in Canada,” he said. Kennedy was referring to actions taken by banks last year, when they obeyed orders from the Canadian government and froze the assets of participants and supporters in a protest by Canadian truckers against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vaccine mandates.
Kennedy said Bitcoin, with its decentralized structure, could prevent governments from manipulating financial systems to repress speech.
Kennedy noted that the U.S. and other democracies had used the pandemic crisis as a pretext to suppress basic human liberties, including the freedom to travel and even the freedom of speech. “The Constitution has no pandemic exception,” he said, noting that the Framers of the Constitution were well aware of pandemics from their own experiences. “And yet the Framers … wrote the Constitution, not for easy times, but for hard times.”
He cautioned against the conviction, from either the right or the left, that “utopia will come through exercising perfect control over society.” He added: “That works well, as long as the good guys are in control, or your guys are in control.” But such power could easily be abused, he said.
“As president, I will make sure that your right to hold and use Bitcoin is inviolable,” Kennedy promised. He said he would prevent the government from gaining access to private digital currency wallets, and would defend the right to own a node — a program validating Bitcoin transactions — at home.
Kennedy also said he would reject President Joe Biden’s proposed 30% tax on electricity for Bitcoin mining, at tax that, he said, would require government monitoring of private energy use. “I will make sure that the United States remains the global hub of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.”
“Events like the FTX calamity prove that some kind of regulation of the crypto industry is needed,” he said. But he added that he would consult with Bitcoin experts.
He added: “Bitcoin is not a security, and should not be regulated as such.” He argued that the decentralization of the Bitcoin network prevented some of the manipulative behavior that brought down FTX and its Democratic mega-donor founder, Sam Bankman-Fried.
Kennedy said that some environmental concerns about Bitcoin, and the heavy use of electricity in Bitcoin mining, were valid. But he said Bitcoin miners could move to more environmentally-friendly energy sources.
“We environmentalists will continue to pressure you to improve. However … I want to make something plain: the environmental argument should not be used as a smokescreen for an agenda of suppressing Bitcoin.”
He announced that his campaign would be the first presidential campaign to use the Lightning Network, which handles Bitcoin transactions, to accept campaign donations.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.