Following a meager showing at the Iowa caucuses on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy announced that he is dropping out of the race, throwing his full support behind former president Donald Trump. 

Ramawamy’s departure from the primary was not particularly shocking, given Trump’s apparently ironclad hold on the Republican electorate. But the development nonetheless foreshadows the potential coalescing of pro-crypto interests around Trump as the country enters a likely venomous and taxing general election season.

At the outset of his campaign, Ramaswamy established himself as perhaps the most pro-crypto presidential candidate in U.S. history, consistently invoking the need for a clear-cut regulatory framework for the industry, and regularly weighing in on breaking developments in the sector from the campaign trail.  

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The biotech entrepreneur often married that pro-crypto stance with conspiratorial views regarding the so-called “deep state” of unelected federal employees who he has said secretly control the machinations of the U.S. government. Ramaswamy routinely villainized the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a tendril of this shadowy bureaucracy, and attributed the agency’s recent anti-crypto policies to deep state plotting. 

Ramaswamy’s absorption into the Trump campaign is just one sign that Trump—once a crypto skeptic—is quickly becoming the political standard-bearer for the crypto movement. 

Over the last two years, the former president has released multiple NFT collections. Just last month, he cashed out millions of dollars worth of Ethereum from those sales. 

Further, other Trump primary rivals like Florida governor Ron DeSantis have made a point of promising to “end Biden’s war on Bitcoin,” and even outlawing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), in an overture to crypto privacy advocates. Should Trump’s current momentum maintain and he clinch the nomination, DeSantis would also likely act as a surrogate for his general election campaign.

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That concentration of pro-crypto vigor on one side of the 2024 presidential election would be less meaningful if the American crypto industry were not at such a pivotal crossroads.

After years of ambiguity, 2024 and the years to follow look likely to cement the U.S. government’s relationship to digital assets. The stakes are high: Should the Biden administration get its way, DeFi might soon be effectively outlawed in America, the DeFi Education Fund’s Miller Whitehouse-Levine previously told Decrypt

Another four years of the Biden administration’s current crypto policy could wipe out, or move offshore, much of the current crypto landscape, Whitehouse-Levine said.

A second Trump term, judging by a glance at the former president’s allies and actions, could reverse those fortunes. But the 2024 election isn’t just about crypto. Trump currently faces 91 criminal charges in multiple state and federal jurisdictions; based on the business mogul’s past statements and actions, many in Washington and beyond fear his election might threaten the stability of American democracy. 

Thus many in the crypto industry may soon have to decide in which order their priorities lie.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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