Western Journalism: Republican Senate Candidate Reveals New Plan for Political Donations
One Republican candidate for office is attracting attention for a very unique reason. Former Libertarian presidential hopeful and current Missouri Senate contender Austin Petersen made headlines when he announced that he is accepting bitcoin as campaign contributions.
“I think it represents the future of what currency can be, especially in regards to people who believe what I believe, which is that we shouldn’t have to have a central bank manage our interest rates or our currency,” Petersen said in an interview with The Western Journal. Bitcoin is far different than the American dollar in that it is a digital currency not tied to any country or bank. It is the first decentralized cryptocurrency of its kind. With no administrator or intermediary to regulate its transactions, bitcoin’s value is completely determined without government involvement. The currency has recently exploded in value, rising 1,800 percent this year alone, according to The Wall Street Journal. Currently, one bitcoin is equal to over $18,000, but with fluctuations occurring frequently.
Early investors in bitcoin have seen their wealth increase dramatically. The Winklevoss twins reportedly became the first billionaires off the digital currency, watching their $11 million investment four years ago surpass the $1 billion mark in December, according to Forbes. Now, bitcoin has entered the political arena.
“So we’ve gotten a lot of traction with the bitcoin community and with the crypto community because I’m one of the only high-level politicians who is running in a federal race next year who is talking about it and accepting it,” Petersen explained.
His campaign’s largest bitcoin donation is a $500 contribution from Jon Mohler, an Ohio resident. Petersen had to turn down another bitcoin contribution from a donor because, at its current value, it far surpassed the $2,700 limit any individual can donate in an election cycle. To the Missouri native and Ron Paul devotee, bitcoin is not just another means of stuffing his campaign warchest. It’s an escape from government over-handedness.
“Basically it represents freedom. It’s the real people’s currency because it does not require a central bank,” Petersen said.
Unlike the U.S. dollar, which is regulated by central banking, this popular digital currency is not. Therefore, it does not face the same type of government manipulation that all other state-run currencies must adhere to. As a libertarian-leaning Republican, the concept of bitcoin meshes comfortably with his market worldview and is a perfect symbol for his campaign.
“Bitcoin may not be the currency of the future, but there are dozens and dozens of competitors springing up which could end up being the digital currency of the future,” Petersen said.
“That’s how the free market is supposed to work. If bitcoin isn’t a good means of exchange, than there may be another,” he added, listing other digital currencies that could theoretically replace bitcoin’s status — his point being that this type of currency is forced to compete in the free market, like most other commodities.
“Just like how we are trying to determine what is the best kind of cellphone or what is the best kind of television, we want to be able to submit our currency to the same kind of tests that the free market applies to any other standards. Money should have to compete just like any other commodity.”
At the heart of Petersen’s support for bitcoin is his opposition to central banking, He pointed to Jeffersonian Republicans — big followers of Thomas Jefferson — who never believed it was necessary to operate a central bank in order to finance government. However, even this proponent of unabashed capitalism recognizes there is risk involved, as there is with most everything else.
“There’s always a risk whenever you are engaging in something that’s a new technology or a new investment. It’s likely it could crash — it’s crashed before. But what really gives bitcoin its value is the fact that it’s transparent, there’s a fixed amount, there is no central authority dictating how much can be created so it can’t be artificially inflated,” Petersen said, His position further sets him apart from the other candidates in the Republican Senate primary in Missouri. There are six GOP candidates so far, according to Ballotpedia. The winner will likely take on incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat who survived re-election in 2012 in large part due to a weak GOP nominee. Despite national Republicans getting behind Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, Petersen is moving forward with a positive, media-driven campaign.
“It’s always tough being an underdog, but we’re getting so much media and raising a significant amount of money, I think we are in a real firm second place in the Republican primary,” he said. Representing a state that is historically red and getting redder — Missouri voted for President Donald Trump by a wide margin last year — McCaskill is considered one of the most at-risk senators in the upper chamber. The Republican primary has not even started in earnest, but Petersen already has his eyes on the prize: defeating McCaskill and putting the seat back in GOP hands.
“I know that at the end of the day, we all want to do what we can to fire Claire (McCaskill). I’m confidant no matter who the Republican primary nominee will be, that person will be able to defeat Claire,” he said.