Bitcoin has a public perception problem among Progressives. It’s still viewed as a predominantly conservative project. This is slowing adoption among left leaning voters who reflexively reject bitcoin on partisan grounds. Their natural aversion to Ted Cruz means his championing of Bitcoin isn’t winning over any blue leaning converts any time soon. The polarization is compounded when progressive icons like Elizabeth Warren, and legacy Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, fear-monger their voters about it. It also perpetuates a legitimate concern: women and gender expansive individuals are still under-represented in Bitcoin.
Meanwhile, right leaning audiences are leaning into Bitcoin. Microstrategy maverick Michael Saylor siloquied about Bitcoin on Tucker Carlson’s show. Tucker Carlson used the same platform to rhetorically exonerate the domestic terrorists that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Janury 6 to steal the US presidential election. This is a problem.
When the Right controls rhetoric in our country, the results are a public that can hardly discern truth from fiction. The Right throws the pitch. Desperate to combat the narrative, the Left is left swinging at whatever they throw.
For example, the Right won the rhetorical battle for framing reproductive rights in the United States. The public still confuses politically motivated terms like “partial birth abortion” with medical terminology. Admittedly, the term resonates on a visceral level that “choice” cannot touch. Now the Supreme Court is hearing cases that may dismantle reproductive rights altogether, undoing 50 years of legal precedent that 50 years of rhetorical defense could not protect. This is true, despite the fact that the majority of the American public supports Roe v Wade.
It’s frustrating to watch the Left cede rhetorical ground to the right about Bitcoin. As the Right dominates the narrative, Progressive Bitcoiners are playing ongoing whack-a-mole defense. One one hand, we’re carving out a space for ourselves within a culture that has Libertarian origins. On the other hand, we’re fighting ill-informed takes from within our own side of the aisle.
Misinformation is permeating the Bitcoin marketplace of ideas. Consequently, Progressives are facing information assymetry. Misplaced environmental anxiety is at the forefront of the false narrative from the Left. On the Right, even the most prolific Bitcoin communicators fall on deaf ears when they’re associated with televised treasonists. Bitcoin is just beginning to reach mainstream acceptance, and the Left is already rhetorically behind.
This got me thinking: What if instead of rebutting right wing words like “pro-life” with the relatively benign “pro-choice”, the Left had employed terms like “forced reproduction” and “forced childbirth” to convey the importance of reproductive choice over the last 50 years? The terms are graphic, like “partial birth abortion” , but more factually accurate. Would a more assertive rhetorical campaign to frame abortion in America have been enough to have frozen the pro forced-reproducion antagonizers in their judicial organizing tracks?
What happens if, over the next 50 years, our global monetary system converges under a Bitcoin Standard? At its current trajectory, without intervention, the Left would cede enourmous economic and political ground to the Right. What additional rights might citizens lose? What other legal precedents can be deciminated?
Importantly, if Progressive Bitcoiners go on the rhetorical offensive now, can we alter Bitcoin’s adoption trajectory to prevent the world’s wealth from concentrating under a conservative, potentially fascist ideology?
I believe we can. It’s imperative we try.
Let’s start with a term that’s already popular in Bitcoin circles: Self Sovereignty. Historically, Bitcoiners have framed self -custody of their money as the ultimate expression of their freedom to own property. However, property rights are a historically complex issue. The reader may recall that enslaved Africans were once considered property. That history must never be forgotten.
However, Bitcoin’s value of self-sovereignty can be recontextualized to honor the right to bodily autonomy and self-determination. Anyone who opposes human slavery, supports reproductive rights, and stands against sexual assault is supportive of self-sovereignty. Someone who’s experienced a violation of their body, or had access to their bank account restricted or monitored by a partner, may particularly appreciate the autonomy that self custody of their Bitcoin enables.
Put another way, Bitcoin is an open monetary network that enables those who have historically been oppressed to custody censorship resistant money that can’t be debased, serveilled, or denied. Bitcoin is borderless, too. So even those without offical immigration status have the ability to particiate. Bitcoin is self-sovereignty money for all.
Reframing Senator Elizabeth Warren
In contrast, Progressive champion Senator Elizabeth Warren dedicates her senatorial career to protecting the average consumer from a de-basing, centralized monetary system. To her credit, Senator Warren attempts to correct for an inherently broken system through industry oversight and regulatory policy. I’m genuinely grateful for her commitment toward building a fairer financial system. However, Bitcoin one ups her: Bitcoin replaces a corrupt financial system with a monetary system that is inherently fair and inclusive.
Banks enrich themselves by preying on the poor. They raked in over $12 billion profit from overdraft fees in 2020 alone. The banking industry is systemically racist. Black and Hispanic customers paid twice as much in overdraft fees as White customers. Banks are also responsible for redlining policies that restricted African Americans’ ability to accrue generational wealth through homeownership. Hey, does anyone remember the 2008 Housing Crisis?
Bitcoin beats the banks:
- Bitcoin is accessible to 6% of US population that is unbanked
- Bitcoin is accessible or reachable to 1.7 billion unbanked global citizens
- Bitcoin runs 24/7/365
- Bitcoin has no ATM fees, no overdraft fees, no borders, no CEO, no CEO bonuses
- Bitcoin’s protocol ( monetary policy) applies the same rules to everyone
- Bitcoin users know the rules and the rules are easy to understand
- Bitcoin eliminates a credit system that disproportionately harms women and people of color
- Bitcoin’s Lightning Network eliminates middlemen, like Western Union, from profiting off families dependant on remittance payments for survival
Reframing Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton is still a political heavyweight in certain Democratic circles. She’s absolutely right that Bitcoin threatens the dollar’s reserve currency status. She’s also a unique representative of the legacy system Bitcoin leaves behind. Even as more traditional U.S. financial institutions adopt Bitcoin, I suspect she’ll continue to express alarm at the potential ability for countries like Iran to bypass US sanctions.
As a National Security Hawk, Clinton would be wise to recognize the strategic economic advantage the U.S. has over China, thanks to their defeatist decision to ban Bitoin mining. The United States must embrace the Bitcoin industry ecosystem, and hodl Bitcoin as a national defense strategy. While Hillary Clinton may fear a world where fascist regimes amass Bitcoin, Progressive Bitcoiners fear a world where Democracies do not.
Clinton is an astute student of Game Theory. While she publicly takes a defensive posture against Bitcoin, she understands what’s at stake if the Unites States doesn’t implement its own Bitcoin strategy. I only wish she would stop discouraging the US Left from adopting Bitcoin as she plays bully pulpit to the world’s dictators.
Reframing Environmental FUD
Perhaps the biggest rhetorical uphill battle Progressive Bitcoiners face is the misconception that Bitcoin mining will destroy the environment. It’s a mistake to negate every false claim about how Bitcoin impacts the climate. Great analysis exists to refute most of them. Progressives aren’t getting the message. Worst, liberal media outlets continue to regurgitate stale takes. It’s time to go on the offensive.
The general take- away is that Bitcoin is a win for our planet:
- Bitcoin mining stabilizes the energy grid
- Bitcoin mining decarbonizes the energy grid
- Bitcoin mining repurposes wasted energy
- Bitcoin mining prevents energy companies from flaring gas into the atmosphere, reducing C02 emissions
- Bitcoin mining incentivizes renewable energy to scale globally
- Bitcoin mining can generate income for underserved communities
- The Bitcoin industry ecosystem will drive a rapid surge in US innovation and economic development
Media outlets that continue to deny their audience accurate, updated information about Bitcoin’s energy usage must be held to account.
I joked on Twitter that Michael Saylor should appear on The Rachel Maddow Show, to even out his Fox appearance. Truthfully, I think Saylor would be the wrong messenger. However, there are no progressive Bitcoin figureheads. There are only progressive anti-bitcoin figureheads. We can’t let them be the messenger either.
Progressive Bitcoiners must learn from the Left’s past rhetorical mistakes and resist the urge to defend ourselves. We own Bitcoin, we own our bodies, and we must own the Bitcoin narrative.
I urge Left-Leaning Bitcoiners to write your own articles, produce your own podcasts, write rebuttles to legacy and online media platforms, and own your voice. Additionally, elevate the voices of Bitcoiners with unique access to marginalized communities.
Bitcoin is Freedom Money for All. Spread the word.