In a significant shift from his earlier stance, former President Donald Trump expressed support for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency at the Libertarian National Convention over the weekend of 25 May 2024.

This endorsement marks a notable departure from his previous scepticism and reflects the growing influence of digital currencies in politics.

Trump’s support for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency

Speaking to the libertarian audience, Trump stated: “I will ensure that the future of crypto and the future of Bitcoin will be made in the USA, not driven overseas”, indicating a significant change of heart.

During his presidency, Trump was vocal about his disdain for cryptocurrencies, describing Bitcoin as a scam and saying, “I don’t like it because it’s another currency competing against the dollar.”

During his speech, Trump vowed to support the right to self-custody for the nation’s 50 million crypto holders, an issue that has been at the forefront of Bitcoiner’s minds since the arrest in April of the Samourai wallet developers, a privacy-focused non-custodial bitcoin wallet.

Acceptance of cryptocurrency for campaign donations

On May 21, the Trump 2024 campaign announced that it now accepts donations in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies through the Coinbase Commerce product. Trump is the first presidential candidate to do so, and the move could set a precedent for future political campaigns.

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This initiative may normalise the utilization of cryptocurrencies in mainstream politics and signal a shift toward the wider acceptance of digital assets. Trump’s campaign is tapping into a new stream of potential donations and is aligning the candidate with the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry, which may win the votes of the growing number of cryptocurrency enthusiasts in the US.

A vow to free Ross Ulbricht

The most surprising part of Trump’s crypto-friendly speech was his vow to commute Ross Ulbricht’s sentence to time served if re-elected. Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road marketplace, was arrested in 2013 and is currently serving a double life sentence plus 40 years without parole for his role in creating and operating the darknet site where illegal drugs and other contraband were sold using Bitcoin.

Trump’s promise to free Ulbricht is an appeal to libertarian-leaning voters and the broader crypto community who advocate for Ulbricht’s release. Many in the crypto community view Ulbricht as a martyr for internet freedom and his sentence as an unjustly harsh penalisation for the innovative use of technology.

Crypto influencers

Cryptocurrencies have evolved from a niche interest into a significant financial instrument, influencing political strategies and economic policies.

The political implications of these developments are profound. Trump’s pro-crypto stance may galvanise a new voter base, particularly younger voters who are more likely to invest in digital currencies. It also raises questions about the future of cryptocurrency regulation in the United States.

If political leaders increasingly support digital currencies, regulatory frameworks will likely evolve to accommodate and oversee this rapidly expanding market. As the 2024 US election approaches, the role of cryptocurrencies in political discourse and campaign strategies is poised to grow, reflecting their increasing importance to the US electorate.