[Discussion] Build a US Political Strategy

As per some comments @rune made the other day, it would probably be prudent for MakerDAO to have some kind of strategy for the US and other major jurisdictions (EU specifically comes to mind). This thread is to begin for us to brainstorm what we see as our major challenges, and how to address them.

On the US front, I see our main challenge being engagement with lawmakers. Crypto – and DAOs in particular – probably require some revamping of current legal codes, if only to provide clarity around a host of issues large and small.

My own interactions with US lawmakers have led me to the following conclusions:

  • Crypto opponents are fairly low-information and only lightly engaged (if at all); most do not seem to really care a whole lot at the moment, and seem to just be seeking headlines. Crypto becoming boring is probably the best thing that can happen to us with regards to these lawmakers who have already locked themselves into a position, but with low conviction.

  • Crypto advocates are also usually low-information, low-effort signalers. Like even our outspoken critics, I suspect their interest will wane as the news cycle moves on. Finding a way to engage positively with those who have already spoken on behalf of crypto would be a good step forward. But to date, I am a bit disheartened at the likelihood of high-effort, low-return when dealing with even some of our most prominent advocates.

  • Other crypto advocates – sadly the most knowledgeable ones – already seem to be captured by specific market participants. It will be difficult to get the ear of senators and congress members who already have relationships with our competitors.

What to do?

Support has been most forthcoming on the Republican side, and especially in the senate, I suspect this support will maintain. If nothing else, many are already on record supporting crypto. Unfortunately, if crypto becomes a partisan issue, the US will likely get worse for our industry before it gets better. We need both parties to have voices in favor of DeFi and crypto, not just the minority party.

This leads me to believe that one of the few meaningful avenues to help shape the discussion is to focus on Democratic House of Representatives seats (all seats are up for re-election in Nov 2022). In particular, in the wake of redistricting (since we just had the US Census in 2020), there seems likely to be a dozen or more seats that are vulnerable to primary challengers.

Even if we cannot sway the outcome, there are a few races that might serve as a wake up call to other lawmakers. An example would be Aarika Rhodes as the primary challenger to Brad Sherman in California’s 30th District – Rhodes is a woman, diverse, and loudly pro-crypto, while Rep. Sherman has been one of the biggest opponents of cryptocurrency in the House.

Unfortunately, Maker’s options for political giving are not great. Most super-PACs and lobbyists are well-funded by TradFi and are not able to work with competing interests such as DeFi institutions. I have even received a phone call from one CeFi lobbyist who asked me to stop trying to interact with lawmakers so much, as it was counter to their own needs which rely upon status-quo legal frameworks. Obviously, we had to agree to disagree.

There are some newly formed crypto-specific PACs and super-PACs. If we can find one or two that are professionally run and with a sound strategy, Maker might want to consider some modest donations if it looks like there would be a return on investment.

Our first problem, however, is lack of information about the actors involved. The US Congress has 469 senators and congress members up for re-election in 2022. I have not yet seen a reliable “score card” for crypto positions for sitting members, much less primary challengers.

I suspect our best option will be to find professional political consultants who are already working for one of the new crypto PACs or super-PACs, and see what level of research they come up with, and then evaluate if any political giving over the next year would be useful to Maker or not.

Please leave thoughts and opinions in the comments. If anyone is thinking about these things for other important jurisdictions (UK, EU, APAC, LATAM, etc), please link to that thread in the comments as well.

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Ok. From my politician friend.

  1. See if you can solicit those who are pro-crypto to provide information regarding the collegues (particularly across the isle) but in their own party that are pro-crypto (supportive) and anti-crypto. These people have their own agendas to support but if you tell them that you are going to work towards replacing candidates on both sides of the isle with crypto-supporters. You may find some support/info provided. My friends point was you specifically want to make a request of those you know who are supportive and ‘see what happens’. If there is action. You get information you want. If you get NO action from any of these people then it is likely their particular agenda is already a lock. You will find out where these individuals sit with their particular pro crypto-agendas by making this inquiry.

  2. Ideally you want to find supportive players that have strong relationships for other reasons to strongly negative players. The point here is to try to find other political linkages between parties that might be useful to cause a change in political position. These kinds of people are rare, but if you find one it can be pivotal towards making a political group staunchly opposed moving in a block because the person you turned was their leader. Often this is done behind the scenes with a I will support you on this if you support me on that kind of deal making. If this crosses the isle it is even better but much rarer. Expect this stuff to happen more within the isle.

  3. Look towards the positions of the parties and use their own projected media campaign statements against them. The point here is that when doing PAC work you have to be multipronged. Look at their own campaigns and point out where they are inconsistent and how a minor change in their position could make them much more consistent and maybe even deliver a more compelling political message for voters to side with them. Also look at the key players, majority leader, minority leader, whips, committee chairs, etc. etc. See if there is anyone stuanchly pro or con in key positions.

This is the kind of stuff PACs basically do btw. So if you can find a good one ask them questions about methods to advocate for crypto and see if any of the above come up. The other question is what kind of political connections they do have? Any PAC worth anything already has some close connections to various parties for various reasons and can show some successes in their lobbying efforts to support those connections/commitments.

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