The U.S. is gearing up for the looming 2020 election amid a bleak economic backdrop blighted by the coronavirus pandemic.
A crowded Democratic primary field has given way to former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee, who is set to take on Donald Trump for the White House in November.
Now, following outspoken rapper Kanye West’s announcement he’ll be making a bid to become the 46th U.S. president, controversial former child actor-turned-bitcoin and cryptocurrency advocate Brock Pierce has thrown his hat into the ring, promising to use technology to “enhance institutions and improve lives.”
“Technology should be embraced, not feared,” Pierce said in a video announcing his independent presidential bid. “If our government was using 21st century technology, all of those stimulus and unemployment checks would have been received by the people in need much sooner.”
The IRS has sent out around 160 million stimulus checks to Americans, mostly by direct deposit and paper check, as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package president Donald Trump signed in March.
The government’s sudden need to distribute cash to citizens in response to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic has led to calls for an overhaul of the legacy financial system, with proposals for the digitalization of the dollar put forward by Congress.
Such proposals have so far failed to win broad support but a clutch of lawmakers continue to make the case for reform, least the dollar lose its place as the world’s reserve currency.
“The U.S. dollar has to keep earning that place in the global payments system. It has to be better than bitcoin… it has to be better than a digital yuan,” Senator Tom Cotton told the Senate Banking Committee’s digital dollar hearing last week, referring to China’s recent efforts to digitalize its currency.
“Technology is a solution we should be proactively using,” Pierce said in his campaign launch video, adding: “What’s served us in the past will not serve us in the future.”
Pierce, a former child actor whose cryptocurrency net worth was put at between $700 million and $1 billion in early 2018, has funded dozens of cryptocurrency companies, including San Francisco-based bitcoin and crypto exchange Coinbase, EOS creator Block.one and crypto-focused venture capital fund Blockchain Capital. Pierce is also the co-founder of the oft-sued stablecoin tether, now the world’s third largest cryptocurrency by value, according to CoinMarketCap data.
If Pierce is to be successful in his bid for the White House he’ll likely have to address decades-old allegations against him made by three former employees of his now bankrupt web video business, Digital Entertainment Network, that he provided them drugs and pressured them for sex when they were minors. Pierce issued a denial to Reuters in 2014.
“In the very near future the landscape of our country will forever change,” Pierce said, echoing Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential election hopeful who campaigned on an automation awareness platform before dropping out.
“Innovations like AI will alter our work space in ways we can foresee and prepare for.”
By 2030 as many as a third of American jobs might have disappeared because of automation, according to a 2017 report by consultants McKinsey & Company—though other studies paint a rosier picture, predicting new jobs will replace the majority of those lost.
Pierce, who officially resides in Puerto Rico, has yet to unveil any specific policies, telling people to “stay tuned,” via Twitter.
The announcement has been cheered by some in the bitcoin and cryptocurrency community, with Samson Mow, the chief strategy officer of blockchain technology company Blockstream telling Pierce: “You have my vote.”
“Give [them] hell, buddy,” Michael Novogratz, the chief executive of crypto investment company Galaxy Digital, said via Twitter.
Pierce isn’t the first bitcoin and cryptocurrency investor to make a bid for the U.S. presidency.
John McAfee, the controversial and outspoken software pioneer-turned international playboy, ran in 2016 and plans to run again this year.