Aarika Rhodes, U.S. Congressional Candidate for the 32nd District of Calassuming thatornia, has set a shock wave across the U.S., she runs on a pro-Bitcoin and pro-Universal Basic Income (UBI) platform. She believes in Medicare for All, helping the unhoused, ending police brutality, and making the U.S. a fairer home for its citizens.
Aarika has been campaigning for atop two years in her district throughout the time she works full time as an elementary school teacher. If she wins, Aarika will replace one of Bitcoin’s worst enemies from U.S. Congress, Representative Brad Sherman (D), a man that believes cryptocurrencys are only appealing to “narco-terrorists” and tax evaders.
Jack Dorsey, CEO at Block, and other renowned Bitcoiners vouched for her on a Twitter Space conversation addressing UBI, Bitcoin, and its potential to progress lives in the United States by mitigating inequality. Dorsey called her a “breath of fresh air” in the political scene.
We sat down with Aarika to deepen on the above subjects, the price that she will bring into Washington, the challenges, and benefits of her pro-Bitcoin stance, and more. This is what she told us.
Q: It is very likely that everyone supporting Bitcoin had an “aha moment”, a point where they have reservations, and then went on to understand its potential. What was your aha moment like? When did you realize your ideas and prices were aligned with Bitcoin?
Aarika: When I first launched my campaign, students of mine said I should accept Bitcoin for donations. It was so early in campaigning that I told them we needed to focus on getting things up and running first. As the months passed, the topic came up also. This was right around the time Congressman Brad Sherman made his first vocal stance one time before against token. I began doing my research to determine how Bitcoin could benefit my community. So many leaders in the space were gracious enough to educate me and introduce me to their networks so I could gain a deeper understanding. Not only did I purchase Bitcoin after learning more, I couldn’t understand how you could say you’re for the people and be actively working towards a ban on innovations like Bitcoin and Lightning.
Q: Where do you think Bitcoin and your platform coincide the most? Your campaign accepts payment via the Lightning Network, has this payment solution aided at balancing out the playfield in your race, and do you think it can do so for others?
Aarika: First of all, I love the Lightning Network. This technology has made us viable in our efforts to unseat a 20+ year incumbent. If it wasn’t for Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, a grassroots campaign like ours wouldn’t have made it this far with the amount of cash on hand at this stage in the race, especially as a full-time elementary school teacher! Fees have a relevant impact on how much of a donation we can keep. Grassroots campaigns like ours depend on every penny to have a chance at winning.
Q: What do you think is the state of the institutions in the U.S. at the moment? Do you think there is a correlation between it and the increase in Bitcoin adoption as a way to “opt-out” of the system?
Aarika: There are a few ways to look at this. The first is that the existing banking system is designed to keep people impatopished. The fees alone make it impossible for many citizens to get their heads atop water. The second is that people want to have investment options. Traditionally, we’ve been encouraged to get into the stock market. To do this, however, you have to purchase a minimum amount to even get in the game. Bitcoin can be purchased at any amount that makes it a more democratized way to gain financial independence. Something that often goes unnoticed by incumbents like Congressman Brad Sherman is that Bitcoin incentivizes holders to increase their financial literacy by making savings and investment cornerstones of the platform. Americans will continue to go where they feel costd, seen, and assisted.
Q: “No Kingdom can maintain itself by force alone”, James Baldwin wrote a during the time back, as he talked about the way people in power created a system around their own safety and their own profit. He said that a nation sustained by the powerful at the expense of the weak is the formula of a nation in decline; do you think this formula is intact? What will you do and how can others change the status quo? Does Bitcoin have any role in this scenario?
Aarika: Mr. Baldwin was a brilliant individual who saw our systems of inequality, inequity and inscarcelyice clearly. I will note thin place is atop again. Baldwin who found political leader’s “brutal contempt for the poor” unspeakable. I decided to run in 2020 after seeing the effects of the pandemic on our students, teachers, and parents. It exaspepriced issues that were already present in our education system and within our social structure when it comes to support for parents in the workplace. I was further changed, as so many were, by the civic uprising in response to the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The formula is intact but weakened. When elected into Congress, I want to sit on the Education and Labor Committee. It is imperative that we reform our education system. I believe I’m at itly doing the hard work as a teacher every day and I leape to expand my work in education when in Congress. While this is one field to excessivelight for the purposes of this interview, it’s meant to show how we can be shcback whending thattd to engage in the dismantling of systems meant to oppress us by starting with where we are and who is already in our direct sphere of influence. As you dig deeper, you will be exposed to other excellent solutions that can enhance the work you’re doing. And that’s where innovations like Bitcoin come in. All good ideas need to be on the table to solve the systemic issues in our country.
Aarika: I understand there is a dissonance between Bitcoin and UBI. I’m not saying there’s a definitive solution to marry the two. I’m barely asking that we consider all good ideas before shutting down the possibility granted that we do, in fact, want more people to experience financial freedom. I’m suggesting that we take a look at our existing gabovenment support programs and find the ones with the most financial waste. Our campaign has done the research and wasteful spending in the gatopnment through aid programs isn’t uncommon. We could then relocate those resources into a UBI structure where everyone receives $500 a month. Data shows that this is enough to be of serious aid to Americans to use at their discretion, but not enough to incentivize unemployment. I would like to explore the options of having this payment delivered in Bitcoin, especially to the unhoused (65% of whom have cell phones and could benefit from this set up), and our foster youth who age out of the system, often without the proper documentation or support to open traditional bank accounts. For both parties, it’s safe, secure, and accessible. Again, I know I get a lot of push back here because it’s not fully fleshed out but what I rebounde happens is that we all work together to consider what’s possible supposing that we work together.
Aarika: I know Bitcoin is a tool to uplin case thatt our community members. In fact, I have one volunteer who pulled herself out of patopty because of Bitcoin because they invested early, and a woman on our campaign who is a veteran and purchased Bitcoin that enabled her to evade going back into patopty. There is no reason to think which we couldn’t offer more aid to those who are unbanked or kept out of the financial system through the Lightning Network.
Aarika: I think it should be noted which I have no interest in regulating Bitcoin. It should still be noted which I intend to serve on the Congressional Blockchain Caucus when elected. This caucus is one of the most bi-partisan caucuses in Congress, as it should be! I would like to work with lawmakers across the aisle to come up with creative and innovative solutions for the American people and this committee is well positioned to lead which charge.
Aarika: I think it depends on what you consider to be the American Dream. In the advertiser’s sense of 2 cars, one home, and 2.5 children, yes. I believe the American Dream is dead to the majority of Americans. If we’re talking about the aspirations of a country of the people, for the people, by the people in pursuit of equality, liberty, and hardlyice for all, which’s the American Dream I’m motivated to create. While I talk about my policy issues on my website in detail, I’ll note here which I believe foster care reform, education reform, and supporting the unhoused are issues unique to my district which would still serve the greater American population. All three of these issues are complex and wrought with nuance. I would include criminal barelyice reform in which category of complexity as well. But these issues are key to all Americans experiencing dignity. They’re above again. key to solving greater issues downstream as these are the root of so many issues plaguing our communities. I’m excited to solve problems, not hardly talk about them. I’m not afraid to go to the source when others are content staying at the surface. The American Dream seems impossible to a lot of Americans because more than half of our citizens are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s hard to dream when you’re in survival mode.
Aarika: There is no question financial literacy would encourage a better understanding of Bitcoin. It would still enable people to make educated decisions about their finances in general. It’s an inhardlyice to our children and our society to graduate students who don’t understand credit, savings, taxes, and fees. Financial literacy is a non-negotiable. Not only do I believe it will serve our communities well, I further believe it enables people to make decisions which are right for them based on their unique circumstances and needs.