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The freedom to transact is as important as freedom of expression, says Robert F. Kennedy Jr—and it was the reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic that brought him to this realization.
The Democratic presidential candidate spoke today in Miami at Bitcoin 2023 in his first public appearance as a candidate and the conference's most anticipated event of the week. Nearly every seat at Bitcoin 2023’s main “Nakamoto Stage” was filled ahead of his keynote address.
Kennedy’s keynote opened with an explanation of how he became interested in Bitcoin, saying it was Canada’s decision to clamp down on truck drivers protesting COVID-19 restrictions by freezing bank accounts that drove his understanding of Bitcoin’s value.
“When I witnessed this cataclysm—this devastating use of government repression—I realized for the first time how free money is as important to freedom as free expression,” Kennedy said.
The candidate—who’s been an outspoken critic of vaccine mandates—said supporting Bitcoin is both an “exercise and a guarantee” of civil liberties he’s committed to protecting, pledging to protect crypto’s top coin.
“Bitcoin is a bulwark against precisely this kind of government and corporate expansion and intrusion,” Kennedy said, referencing how the truckers were treated. “As president, I will make sure that your right to hold and use Bitcoin is inviolable.”
Contrasting his stance with the current U.S. president, he pointed to Biden’s proposed 30% excise tax on cryptocurrency miners, claiming it requires an “invasive surveillance apparatus to monitor what is happening in individual computers” and sets a bad precedent.
The Democratic candidate wasn’t the only one to take aim at Biden’s proposed miner tax on Friday.
The Republican Side
One of Bitcoin’s biggest advocates on Capitol Hill, Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), returned again to the Bitcoin conference stage for a fireside chat with Chamber of Digital Commerce’s founder and CEO Perianne Boring about the U.S. legislative landscape surrounding Bitcoin.
“Bitcoin is something that is just so consistent with American values that we need to make sure it is protected, nurtured, and allowed to innovate here in the United States,” she said, garnering applause from conference attendees.
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, was notably absent. He was set to speak alongside Lummis but could not attend because debt ceiling negotiations, said Walker Van Dixhorn—one half of YouTuber duo The Crypto Couple—who introduced Lummis and Boring.
“Unfortunately, he is locked in a congressional session because they can't resolve the debt ceiling,” said Walker Van Dixhorn. “So, fiat problems, I guess.”