A candidate for president made a campaign stop in Santa Fe. But you might not have recognized him unless you’re a fan of 1990s Disney movies — or have an abiding interest in cryptocurrency.
Brock Pierce, a onetime child actor whose independent bid for president is somewhere between quixotic and quizzical, made a visit to Northern New Mexico on Tuesday, preaching the need to “upgrade the operating system of the United States of America” with a universal basic income and reform a criminal justice system that does not help people suffering from mental illness and drug addictions. The nation, he said, cries out for a technologist-in-chief who actually understands the innovations of the tech industry.
“Right now, artificial intelligence is coming online, automation, robotics — I mean, we have a lot of unemployment now,” Pierce said, pausing to cough. “Wait until you see what continues to happen as a result of technology. And I think that we need a government that has their finger on the pulse. I mean, when our tech giants, tech leaders, go testify before our government, the questions that are asked are embarrassing. It’s clear our government doesn’t have a handle on what’s actually happening, and the speed at which technology is changing the world is accelerating.”
Pierce, who starred in Disney’s The Mighty Ducks movies of the 1990s and played the son of a president in First Kid, built up massive wealth in cryptocurrency and spent years in Puerto Rico with Silicon Valley expats working toward a Caribbean “crypto utopia.”
In 2018, Forbes estimated his net worth in cryptocurrency to be somewhere between $700 million and $1 billion after becoming board chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation in 2015. In September, Pierce was served court documents during a campaign rally, alleging he engaged in securities fraud.
Undaunted, Pierce campaigns on, making quick visits to Santa Fe and Taos en route to Denver. Though not a presence on New Mexico’s ballot, he’s on the ballot in 16 states. He said he is largely focused on winning independent voters in Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
Wednesday morning at a downtown cafe, Pierce met with Chris Luchini, chairman of the New Mexico Libertarian Party. He also said he met with a few lawyers and other “political party people” whose names Pierce declined to disclose.
Is the state’s Libertarian Party backing Pierce’s quest?
“No. No way. However, I talk to anyone not wearing a Klan robe,” Luchini said.
The lack of major support does not seem to deter Pierce, who says the major motivating force behind his campaign is “love” and laying the groundwork for his next four years in politics.
Pierce said he had a “surprise” 17-minute conversation and photo shoot with Ned Scott, co-founder of social media and blockchain company Steemit Inc. and a New York City-area resident. Scott said he happened to be strolling through downtown Santa Fe when he noticed Pierce’s campaign SUV.
“Interesting. One of the top entrepreneurs in crypto randomly happens to be in town,” Pierce said, chuckling as Scott continued strolling toward the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
But the chance encounter allowed Pierce the opportunity to describe in detail his major talking points: unity during a time of intense partisan polarization; compromise; the failure of the two-party system; radically reforming the criminal justice system.
“We’re on the polarization path,” Pierce said. “That likely ends one day in civil war, unless something new emerges that can unify this nation again.”
During his encounter with Scott, Pierce said his campaign is really a “dry run that will make sure I’m fully prepared for 2024.” He added his candidacy this year will help lay the political groundwork for fielding 100 third-party candidates up and down the ballot in 2022.
Pierce, who said it’s time to reopen the nation’s economy, didn’t seem much bothered by the prospect of COVID-19. Hardly anyone on his team, including the candidate himself, wore face masks despite the candidate’s intermittent dry cough. He’s looking forward to a convention of independent voters scheduled to take place in Cheyenne, Wyo., in late October. Pierce said he expects 1,000 people to gather.
“I think it’s time that we start to reopen our businesses. We’re destroying the American dream right now, we’re destroying the American economy right now and it’s not March or April,” he said. “I understand the government taking an emergency sort of response to make sure things don’t get extraordinarily bad for everyone. It’s now October. We can’t continue to kill the American dream, which is what’s happening.”