Meet Aarika Rhodes, the Pro-Bitcoin, Pro-Basic Income Congressional Candidate

This elementary school teacher is taking on anti-crypto pol Brad Sherman in her run for office as a Democrat in Los Angeles County.

Feb 10, 2022 at 9:38 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 10, 2022 at 10:19 p.m. UTC

Fran is a reporter on the Layer 2 team, the site's magazine section. He has written for CNBC Make It and Inc. He owns no crypto holdings.

Aarika Rhodes, a full-time elementary school teacher in Los Angeles County, has made bitcoin a central plank in her bid for Congress.

She’s running to outseat Republican Brad Sherman, a long-standing congressman who has been vocal about his disdain for cryptocurrency. For Rhodes, bitcoin is a tool to address economic inequality and improve financial access.

“If we’re going to solve poverty, we have to start being innovative around it,” she said in an interview on CoinDesk TV's "First Mover" on Wednesday. “And I think the Lighting Network offers that,” referring to the second-layer scaling tool for the Bitcoin network.

Although she is a long shot, Rhodes is part of a new class of politicians who are making crypto programs part of their mandate. They are enticed by crypto’s potential, the industry’s fervent “single-issue voters” looking to back any knowledgeable candidate and, yes, even the potential for crypto donations.

It’s not Rhodes’ only unconventional economic idea. She told CoinDesk she also supports a universal basic income (UBI), or a government-run welfare program to give people small cash payments with no strings attached. In fact, for Rhodes, bitcoin and UBI go hand in hand.

For one, Bitcoin and UBI are both open systems – meaning that all would be free to access them. For a distributed network like Bitcoin, that means anyone can send payments or hold the digital asset, BTC. UBI, meanwhile, is designed as an alternative to traditional, means-tested welfare programs.

Some have argued that a “bitcoin standard” would rein in government spending, because there is a hard cap of 21 million BTC that will ever go into circulation. But Rhodes disagrees with the hypothetical idea that bitcoin would limit a government’s ability to spend.

"I think the misconception of a universal basic income is that in order to have it, you have to print money," Rhodes said.

She’s hardly alone among bitcoiners. On Feb. 2, Rhodes co-hosted a Twitter spaces with a slew of participants, including Block CEO Jack Dorsey, who quit his job running Twitter to spend more time building Bitcoin use cases.

Rhodes said the two met prior to the event on Zoom, where they discussed poverty, including the controversy surrounding Bitcoin and UBI. Rhode’s campaign looks to find a way where the two can coexist.

Coming from her experience teaching in private and public schools, Rhodes feels the way government spending is executed is lackluster.

According to her, in order to address poverty in a meaningful way, reducing programs that aren’t working efficiently and allocating funds toward giving people a baseline income is the first step. In the same vein, Dorsey supports the UBI strategy, and has invested over $55 million in the U.S. and overseas via his Start Small initiative, a charity initially created for COVID-19 relief.

At the very least, be it bitcoin or UBI, digitizing money makes sense. According to Rhodes, 75% of people experiencing homelessness have a cellphone.

Though Rhodes says she is still learning about the crypto industry and her plan isn’t defined just yet, she sees bitcoin as a way to reach economic justice.

“My priorities are prioritizing our young people and modernizing our education systems and implementing financial literacy in schools,” Rhodes said.

Now, Rhodes is focused on winning the primary in order to have a debate with Sherman.

“I think what he’s done in Congress is not sufficient for being in there for 25 years,” she said. “You have a bunch of young freshmen and sophomore Congress members that are passing more legislation than these long-term incumbents. I think there’s a great appetite for change.”

The Festival for the Decentralized World
Thursday - Sunday, June 9-12, 2022
Austin, Texas
Save a Seat Now

DISCLOSURE

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Fran is a reporter on the Layer 2 team, the site's magazine section. He has written for CNBC Make It and Inc. He owns no crypto holdings.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Fran is a reporter on the Layer 2 team, the site's magazine section. He has written for CNBC Make It and Inc. He owns no crypto holdings.

Trending

1
CoinDesk - Unknown
ICO-Funded Project Sparkster Converts $22M in Ether to USDC After 3 Years, No Product

Sparkster promised investors a “no-code” software-creation platform using $30 million in funds raised from investors in 2018.

Sparkster promised investors a “no-code” software-creation platform using $30 million in funds raised from investors in 2018.

CoinDesk - Unknown
2
CoinDesk - Unknown
GameStop Unveils Crypto and NFT Wallet, Shares Jump 3%

A beta version of the self-custodial Ethereum wallet is available to download now from GameStop's website.

A beta version of the self-custodial Ethereum wallet is available to download now from GameStop's website.

CoinDesk - Unknown
3
CoinDesk - Unknown
Japanese Bank Sumitomo Mitsui Trust to Establish Digital Asset Custodian: Report

The bank's pivot to digital assets comes alongside a global banking shift toward cryptocurrencies.

The bank's pivot to digital assets comes alongside a global banking shift toward cryptocurrencies.

CoinDesk - Unknown
4
CoinDesk - Unknown
BNP Paribas Joins JPM's Blockchain Network Onyx for Fixed Income Trading: Report

The French bank will use the Onyx network for short-term fixed income trading.

The French bank will use the Onyx network for short-term fixed income trading.

CoinDesk - Unknown