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U.S. Transhumanist Party Second Letter in Opposition to Nevada Senate Bill 292 – Sent to the Senate Committee on Finance – May 4, 2021

U.S. Transhumanist Party Second Letter in Opposition to Nevada Senate Bill 292 – Sent to the Senate Committee on Finance – May 4, 2021

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Note: Senate Bill 292 (SB292), which would make it essentially impossible for minor political parties to compete at the ballot box or even attempt ballot access, continues to be rapidly advanced in Nevada. It was authored by a former Democratic Party Chair who would like to require the number of signatures to be impossibly “equally apportioned” by petitioning district, move the deadline for submitting petitions to an earlier June 1 date, and institute straight-line party-ticket voting that shuts out other options and discourages individualized decision-making.

After SB292 passed on a party-line vote (3 Democrats in favor, 2 Republicans opposed) out of the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, I drafted a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance, where the bill is headed next, in opposition to SB292. The text of this letter appears below. 

I urge all Nevadans and Transhumanist Party members, as well as those who are sympathetic to other minor political parties, to submit their opinions in opposition to SB292 here: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/81st2021/Be sure to reference the amended, “April 16, 2021” version as the bill you are opposing – so as to signal that even the recently amended bill continues to pose serious problems. If you would like your comments to be published, you can also submit them via e-mail to SenFIN@sen.state.nv.us

The Senate Committee on Finance will meet this Wednesday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time to hold a public hearing on this bill. Meeting information will be updated on this page: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/81st2021/Bill/7895/Meetings. If you can dial in during the time period for public testimony and lend your voice in opposition, that would be greatly appreciated. Focus your testimony on the adverse fiscal impacts of this bill, as that is what the Committee will be primarily considering. Please feel free to reference any of my arguments below for inspiration. Remember to be civil and respectful but firm in your opposition!

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, May 4, 2021


May 4, 2021

Re: Opposition to Amended Senate Bill 292 (First Reprint)

Dear Chairman Brooks and honorable members of the Senate Committee on Finance:

As Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party and Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party, I strongly urge you to oppose Senate Bill 292, which would deprive all minor political parties in Nevada of the opportunity to fairly compete at the ballot box or to even viably attempt such competition.

My comments today will focus on the adverse impacts of Section 2 of the amended (First Reprint) Senate Bill 292, especially the adverse financial impacts to the State of Nevada which are germane to the purview of this Committee.

At a time of great fiscal strain to the State of Nevada, which is just beginning to recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and immense economic hardship for the people of this State, it is highly imprudent to impose additional costs upon the State or any of its agencies for the doubly imprudent and entirely deleterious purpose of raising the barriers to ballot access for minor political parties.

While the amended bill no longer raises the petition-signature threshold from 1% to 2% of the Nevada voters who voted in the last election, it does still, via Section 2, Subsection 2, Paragraph (c), seek to impose an impossible “equal apportionment” requirement for the petition signatures and would also move the deadline for submitting petition signatures from the current third Friday in June to June 1.

The “equal apportionment” requirement renders it essentially impossible for a minor political party to qualify via the petition process and also unnecessarily burdens the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office.

Currently, to verify the validity of a petition signature, the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office simply needs to consider an individual petition signature and whether it belongs to a registered voter in the State of Nevada. With Section 2 of SB292, the Secretary of State’s Office would have the additional burden of verifying that the signatures are “equally apportioned” among the four petition districts in Nevada. This could lead to a significant expenditure of time and resources beyond what can be formally budgeted for – because the added workload would be sporadic, punctuated, and inherently unpredictable given the difficulty in anticipating when (i.e., during what election season) a minor party would seek to qualify for ballot access, as well as how many minor parties would seek to qualify. The potential for significant additional costs to the State of Nevada will be illustrated below via a discussion of how the bill would burden the State by encouraging a multitude of major-party challenges to any minor-party petitions that are submitted.

Nevada has four petition districts, corresponding to the U.S. Congressional Districts. The 3rd Congressional District is the most populous, with a population of 857,197 as of 2019. All three of the other Congressional Districts have populations below 800,000. Suppose that a minor political party were spectacularly successful in gathering petition signatures and managed to collect them from the entire population of registered voters in the 3rd Congressional District. (For this example, I assume that the proportion of registered voters to the general population is the same in each Congressional District.) The very fact that this minor political party could accomplish such a feat would ironically render it impossible for that party to qualify for ballot access, because the other petition districts simply do not have enough registered voters to match the number of signatures gathered from the 3rd Congressional District in that case.

Moreover, the “equal apportionment” requirement renders it almost effortless for a major party to initiate challenges to petitions submitted by minor parties, simply by counting the signatures from each district and noting any difference whatsoever in the numbers of signatures, even if the difference is literally one signature! Even if the total number of signatures is well above 1 percent of the registered voters statewide, if the number of signatures gathered in one petition district were 10,000, and the number of signatures gathered in another petition district were 10,001, that also, by itself, would be sufficient to technically fall out of compliance with the requirement of “equal apportionment”. Note that the text of the amended NRS 293.1715(2)(c) would not allow any room for deviation from a strictly “equal” apportionment. There is no mention of a possibility for the apportionment to be made “approximately equal” or “reasonably equal” or “equal within a tolerance of X%”; the text would mandate strict equality of petition signatures by district, and it appears to enable major parties to seek to disqualify any minor party’s petition on a technicality. Given that different circulators of petitions are likely to operate in different petition districts, it is virtually certain that different numbers of signatures will be gathered by each team of circulators. This is so because the precise coordination at the level that would be needed to achieve exactly equal numbers of signatures among all four districts and to stop gathering signatures in a perfectly choreographed fashion once such equal numbers were attained, would be essentially impossible to achieve.

While it would be easy for major political parties to challenge a minor party’s petition under these circumstances, the experience would be made more difficult for the Secretary of State’s Office and the judicial system of the State of Nevada, because more challenges could be expected to be initiated than otherwise. Responding to a contested matter always involves an added, indeterminate, potentially immense expenditure which, I reiterate, has no compelling public benefit behind it.

Moving the deadline for petitions to June 1 would both unduly burden minor political parties and expose the State of Nevada to additional costs from potential legal challenges.

Because of the additional coordination required to even attempt to gather petition signatures “equally” by petition district, as contrasted with simply trying to gather as many signatures as possible, one would expect that the petitioning effort would be more time-consuming than previously. However, Section 2 of SB292 reduces the available time for a minor party to comply with the added burdens, thereby further lowering the probability of successfully meeting all of the requirements. This disenfranchises the citizens of Nevada who would like to see more options at the ballot box.

Moreover, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada already struck down an even somewhat less burdensome deadline of June 10; this occurred when the Judge in the case of Lenora B. Fulani et al. v. Cheryl A. Lau, Secretary of State (“Fulani v. Lau” – Case CV-N-92-535-ECR) issued a preliminary injunction on October 1, 1992, to require the State of Nevada to include Lenora Fulani and other independent and minor-party candidates on the ballot despite those candidates not having been able to gather the required number of signatures by June 10 of that year. In issuing the preliminary injunction (which effectively decided the case, since the election took place in November of the same year), the Judge wrote “that plaintiffs have shown likely success on the merits, that the balance of hardships tips in their favor and that they will suffer irreparable injury if their names are not put on the 1992 ballot” (Fulani v. Lau, p. 14). The Judge explained that

The character and magnitude of plaintiffs[‘] injury caused by the June 10 filing deadline shows a burden on their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The deadline burdens the rights of nonmajor parties[‘] candidates by excluding late[-]forming parties and forcing candidates to circulate petitions before most of the voting population has thought about the elections. Although this date is not as early as others which have been struck down as unconstitutional, most other states require the petitions be submitted several months later. Also, no evidence suggests that candidates who lack an established national affiliation are easily able to access the ballot. (Fulani v. Lau, p. 11)

If the United States District Court found that a June 10 petition-filing deadline is burdensome to non-major parties’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, then, logically, a June 1 deadline would be even more burdensome. Such a deadline would indeed serve to thwart any but the most amply funded minor political parties, if those parties choose to begin gathering the signatures extremely early in the year, whereas new minor parties, as well as minor parties that rely largely or exclusively on volunteer efforts and grass-roots organizing, would find themselves hobbled by lack of time. SB292 is seeking to institute in Nevada law a deadline more stringent than the one which the District Court has already overturned. SB292 would also entrench the role of money in politics and cost money to the State in doing so.

If SB292 is enacted with the June 1 deadline, then any number of parties adversely affected by that deadline could file a legal challenge with Fulani v. Lau as a precedent. The State of Nevada could be exposed to the costs of a legal proceeding, along with associated attorneys’ fees. The costs of responding to such a legal challenge are again indeterminate but potentially immense. Comments submitted separately to this Committee by Mr. Richard Winger discuss situations in other States where such early petition deadlines were struck down and those States were left with the expenses of the associated proceedings. To emphasize, this is not an outcome that I would wish for the State to experience in any manner; as a citizen of this State, I, too, would be adversely affected by continued needless expenditures on legal contests at a time when the State needs to devote all available resources to the economic recovery and to the genuine well-being of its residents.  This is why I urge this Committee and the Legislature more generally to refrain from proceeding with SB292 and to avert such an outcome.

Senate Bill 292 is bad policy, counterproductive in all respects, and the fiscal burdens and risks it imposes upon the State have no offsetting benefits. Indeed, Senate Bill 292 exacerbates a highly polarized political situation to the detriment even of major-party officeholders.

Senate Bill 292 would achieve the opposite of establishing a fair, level playing field for political candidates and parties.  Unfortunately, Senate Bill 292, if enacted, will only serve to exacerbate today’s political trench warfare by solidifying the bifurcation of the contemporary American body politic into two blocs that have each become increasingly monolithic and radicalized internally, and increasingly hostile toward the other, with no room between them to pursue unconventional and innovative solutions that can bridge partisan divides. This anticipated effect of SB292 is likely not anyone’s intention; however, the two-party system in the United States has a built-in downward spiral of incivility, hostility, and division which has, over the past year, crossed the line from mere acrimony into deadly riots and insurrections from extreme exponents of both sides of the partisan gulf. Any Legislator interested in stable and sensible governance should seek to avert an intensification of this scenario, and there is a vital role for a vibrant minor-party ecosystem in helping to prevent it.

How does Senate Bill 292 exacerbate political polarization? It does so by making it effectively impossible for minor political parties to even attain ballot access – in the ways described above. This bill would make it clear to voters that minor parties are not just long-shot participants but are effectively shut out of the process altogether. Thus, many people who would have otherwise given a minor party a chance would be shunted into one of the major political parties that is barely more aligned with their views than the other major political party. This would reinforce the bifurcation of America into two distinct blocs which are engaged in an ever-intensifying struggle with one another, to the detriment of any actual progress on policy and any actual solutions to the many pressing problems (including fiscal problems) facing our State, country, and world. Bifurcation of the American body politic creates an “us-versus-them” dynamic, where anyone who is not part of one’s own bloc is automatically considered to be “the enemy” and whose ideas are automatically disregarded. The record increase in independent and nonpartisan voters already shows many Americans to be disillusioned by the toxicity and acrimony that characterize the electoral tactics of the major parties and their most vocal adherents. Without minor parties for them to seek alternatives in, these Americans will either be reluctantly dragged into the deleterious fray they have always wished to avoid, or try to refrain from political participation altogether – in which case the fray will still find them, as extremists from the major parties have increasingly been demonizing conscientiously apolitical Americans as well.

The antidote to polarization is hyper-pluralism, which is precisely what a vibrant minor-party scene would facilitate. In a hyper-pluralistic body politic, there is no clear “enemy” for any constituent, because different smaller parties will align with one another on different issues; one’s adversary on one issue could be an ally on another, and so it is worthwhile to remain on at least respectful terms with everyone. It is for this reason that parliamentary democracies, which allow for proportional representation and numerous political parties competing on each ballot, are generally far less roiled by partisan strife than America’s uniquely contentious two-party system. But Nevada does not even need to adopt a parliamentary system to achieve a similar outcome; it just needs to allow minor political parties to compete on the ballots. Note that we are not even asking for the minor parties to win (which would still be difficult enough on its own), but merely to be allowed to compete!

Allowing quick, easy ballot access for minor political parties is the low-cost ­option to the State of Nevada as well. The less time and effort need to be spent validating petition signatures or enforcing restrictions, the more savings result for the State of Nevada.

Even the possibility of competition motivates both incumbent officeholders and major-party candidates to be more responsive to the needs of their constituents. Furthermore, minor parties can be fruitful repositories of ideas for major-party politicians to draw upon; the Transhumanist Party would be delighted to have any of its platform reflected in legislation advanced by major-party lawmakers. Ideas from minor parties tend to sufficiently depart from the prevailing major-party packages that they avoid triggering contentious and mutually intransigent debates about “wedge” issues and so may actually lead to solutions that most major-party policymakers are willing to entertain. Incumbents and major-party candidates can even derive much valuable campaign intelligence from election results involving minor political parties. A strong showing for a minor party indicates a set of issues that voters are interested in and that the incumbent or major-party candidate would do well to address while in office or on the campaign trail. Having a wealth of ideas from minor parties to draw upon will also improve the State of Nevada’s fiscal situation, since minor parties – which, out of necessity, have significant experience running low-budget or no-budget operations – will often develop creative ways to reduce expenditures without compromising the quality of service and benefits that the State provides to its residents.

By shutting minor parties out of viable political participation, Senate Bill 292 would only accomplish the illusion of stability for leading figures of a major political party. In reality, one cannot have a stable or tranquil political experience in a general environment marred by ideological polarization and all of its attendant ills. Depriving people of legitimate alternatives will only alienate them further and feed into the undercurrents of frustration and perceived disenfranchisement that permeate American politics today. Minor political parties are a major safety valve of American politics and can act to effectively channel dissent and discontentment into constructive avenues of mutual improvement and enhanced justice.  In the Federalist No. 10, James Madison, at the onset of the American Republic, noted that the advantage of a large representative republic is precisely in “the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest”. The American Founders, who feared precisely the scenario of two dominant factions vying for power at the citizens’ and the Republic’s expense, saw the “greater variety of parties” as an important safeguard against such an outcome. The Transhumanist Party echoes the Founders’ wisdom and would urge the Legislature to consider reforms in the opposite direction from those proposed in SB292 – namely, the elimination of all ballot-access requirements and the ability of any candidate or political party to compete fairly for office on the same terms as any other. After all, if a minor-party candidate is unpersuasive to the voters and the major-party candidates remain more popular, what is there truly for a major party to fear from allowing participation for all? But in the absence of such truly progressive reforms, we urge that the Legislature at least refrain from taking steps that would further limit electoral competition.

Removing ballot-access restrictions, rather than maximizing them, is the fiscally prudent, the consequentially best, and the morally just option. Please reject Senate Bill 292.

Sincerely,

Mr. Gennady Stolyarov II

Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party

https://transhumanist-party.org

Amended Nevada Senate Bill 292 Continues to Place Impossible Burdens on Minor Political Parties – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

Amended Nevada Senate Bill 292 Continues to Place Impossible Burdens on Minor Political Parties – Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


The anti-minor-party Nevada Senate Bill 292 has advanced out of the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on a party-line vote (3 Democrats in favor, 2 Republicans opposed). An amendment from the bill sponsor was included in the bill; Amendment No. 230 is an incremental improvement but maintains essentially insurmountable barriers for minor political parties. While the amended bill no longer raises the petition-signature threshold from 1% to 2% of the Nevada voters who voted in the last election, it does still seek to impose an impossible “equal distribution” requirement for the petition signatures and also moves the deadline for submitting petition signatures from the current third Friday in June to June 1.

Section 2 of SB292 is the most onerous for minor political parties. The provisions further limiting ballot access, relative to the already significant requirements, are found in the new language that the bill sponsor, Nevada Senator and former Nevada Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange, wishes to insert in NRS 293.1715(2)(c), stating that to qualify for ballot access, a minor political party must:

(New proposed wording above is in bold blue italics, wording proposed to be deleted is in red strikethrough.)

While various other problems exist with SB292, particularly with the concept of straight-ticket, party-line voting – which aims to absolve voters of the essential responsibility to study individual candidates and their stances on the issues – the present commentary will focus on the most egregious flaws with Section 2 of the bill: requiring that the petition signatures be “apportioned equally among the petition districts” and moving the deadline for submitting petition signatures to June 1 preceding the general election.

The bill sponsor appears to be of the impression that removing the previously proposed doubling of the number of petition signatures required would alleviate the most visible added burden on minor political parties. Yet the remaining requirement of equal apportionment is actually far more burdensome and more insidiously so. It requires several more steps in one’s thought process to discern the burden – hence, the bill proponents may believe it to be a viable option to insert such a provision without significant portions of the public noticing or voicing their objections. Therefore, it is important to elucidate the immense problems with the “equal apportionment” criterion.

Nevada has four petition districts, corresponding to the U.S. Congressional Districts. The 3rd Congressional District is the most populous, with a population of 857,197 as of 2019. All three of the other Congressional Districts have populations below 800,000. Suppose that a minor political party were spectacularly successful in gathering petition signatures and managed to collect them from the entire population of registered voters in the 3rd Congressional District. (For this example, we will assume that the proportion of registered voters to the general population is the same in each Congressional District.) The very fact that this minor political party could accomplish such a feat would render it impossible for that party to qualify for ballot access, because the other petition districts simply do not have enough registered voters to match the number of signatures gathered from the 3rd Congressional District in that case.

Moreover, the “equal apportionment” requirement renders it almost effortless for a major party to challenge petitions submitted by minor parties, simply by counting the signatures from each district and noting any difference whatsoever in the numbers of signatures, even if the difference is literally one signature! Even if the total number of signatures is well above 1 percent of the registered voters statewide, if the number of signatures gathered in one petition district were 10,000, and the number of signatures gathered in another petition district were 10,001, that also, by itself, would be sufficient to technically fall out of compliance with the requirement of “equal apportionment”. Note that the text of the amended NRS 293.1715(2)(c) would not allow any room for deviation from a strictly “equal” apportionment. There is no mention of a possibility for the apportionment to be made “approximately equal” or “reasonably equal” or “equal within a tolerance of X%”; the text would mandate strict equality of petition signatures by district, and it appears to me that the Democratic Party proponents of the bill did this intentionally to be able to disqualify any minor party’s petition on a technicality. Given that different circulators of petitions are likely to operate in different petition districts, it is virtually certain that different numbers of signatures will be gathered by each team of circulators. This is so because precise coordination at the level that would be needed to achieve exactly equal numbers of signatures among all four districts and to stop gathering signatures in a perfectly choreographed fashion once such equal numbers were attained, would be essentially impossible to achieve.

Moreover, suppose a minor political party represented a set of positions that resonated to a greater extent with a particular segment of the Nevada population – for instance, young urban professionals, ranchers, miners, university students, residents of rural areas. Each petition district has considerably different proportions of these demographics than the other. For instance, the 1st Congressional District is 99.90% urban, so a hypothetical party that focused on representing the interests of ranchers or rural residents would find quite limited support there.  Some city dwellers might, of course, sign a petition for such a party’s ballot access on principle, because they support inclusion of all political parties on the ballot; however, from a sheer probabilistic standpoint, the number of such people would be fewer than the number of people in rural areas who would be willing to sign that party’s petition. Even if the hypothetical party representing rural interests only intended to run candidates in rural areas, it would still need to receive an equal number of signatures from each urban-heavy petition district in order to qualify for the ballot. Therefore, regional parties or parties representing specific constituencies would essentially be permanently barred from ballot access by the “equal apportionment” requirement.

Because of the additional coordination required to even attempt to gather petition signatures “equally” by petition district, as contrasted with simply trying to gather as many signatures as possible, one would expect that the petitioning effort would be more time-consuming than previously. However, Section 2 of SB292 reduces the available time for a minor party to comply with the added burdens, thereby further lowering the probability of successfully meeting all of the requirements.

Moreover, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada already struck down an even less burdensome deadline of June 10; this occurred when the Judge in the case of Lenora B. Fulani et al. v. Cheryl A. Lau, Secretary of State (“Fulani v. Lau” – Case CV-N-92-535-ECR) issued a preliminary injunction on October 1, 1992, to require the State of Nevada to include Lenora Fulani and other independent and minor-party candidates on the ballot despite those candidates not having been able to gather the required number of signatures by June 10 of that year. In issuing the preliminary injunction (which effectively decided the case, since  the election took place in November of the same year), the Judge wrote “that plaintiffs have shown likely success on the merits, that the balance of hardships tips in their favor and that they will suffer irreparable injury if their names are not put on the 1992 ballot” (Fulani v. Lau, p. 14). The Judge explained that

The character and magnitude of plaintiffs[‘] injury caused by the June 10 filing deadline shows a burden on their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The deadline burdens the rights of nonmajor parties[‘] candidates by excluding late[-]forming parties and forcing candidates to circulate petitions before most of the voting population has thought about the elections. Although this date is not as early as others which have been struck down as unconstitutional, most other states require the petitions be submitted several months later. Also, no evidence suggests that candidates who lack an established national affiliation are easily able to access the ballot. (Fulani v. Lau, p. 11)

If the United States District Court found that a June 10 petition-filing deadline is burdensome to non-major parties’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, then, logically, a June 1 deadline would be even more burdensome. Such a deadline would indeed serve to thwart any but the most amply funded minor political parties, if those parties choose to begin gathering the signatures extremely early in the year, whereas new minor parties, as well as minor parties that rely largely or exclusively on volunteer efforts and grass-roots organizing, would find themselves hobbled by lack of time. SB292 is seeking to institute in Nevada law a deadline more stringent than the one which the District Court has already overturned.

There is still time to express opposition to Senate Bill 292, particularly to the requirement that petition signatures be equally apportioned and the earlier June 1 deadline for submitting such signatures. SB292 is already one of the most actively commented on and least popular bills of the 2021 Legislative Session, with 209 public opinions expressed in opposition and only 4 in favor.  You can submit your opinion in opposition to SB292 here and also e-mail the Senate Committee on Finance, where SB292 will be headed next, at SenFIN@sen.state.nv.us, as well as e-mail the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections at AsmLOE@asm.state.nv.us. The Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections would be the committee where SB292 would be heard if it were to pass in the Senate. Please express your concerns civilly and politely but make it clear that you do not agree with any attempts to further limit minor-party ballot access. Also, please spread this article to as many constituencies as possible! People of nearly all political persuasions should be able to agree on the importance of voter choice and to abhor the injustice of intentionally restricting candidates and parties from even being available for voters to consider.

Even the current ballot-access thresholds in Nevada are unduly stringent; the last time a minor political party qualified for the ballot through petitioning in Nevada was in 2011, when the Americans Elect organization was able to submit the required number of signatures. It is time to pursue reforms in the opposite direction from Section 2 of SB292; it is time to repeal all petitioning requirements for ballot access and allow voters the choice of any candidate or party whom they wish to support. At minimum, it is essential to oppose the placement of any further obstacles along the path to ballot access. All provisions of SB292 related to minor political parties should be amended out of the bill upon further revision. Please add your voice to this important effort to preserve electoral choice and to oppose one major party’s efforts to monopolize Nevada elections.

Gennady Stolyarov II is the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party. 

U.S. Transhumanist Party Letter in Opposition to Nevada Senate Bill 292

U.S. Transhumanist Party Letter in Opposition to Nevada Senate Bill 292

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Note: Senate Bill 292, which would make it essentially impossible for minor political parties to compete at the ballot box or even attempt ballot access, is being rapidly advanced in Nevada. It was authored by a former Democratic Party Chair who would like to double the petition-signature requirement for ballot access, require the number of signatures to be impossibly “equally apportioned” by petitioning district, and institute straight-line party-ticket voting that shuts out other options and discourages individualized decision-making.

In an urgent, almost last-minute action, I drafted a letter to the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections in opposition to that bill. The letter, as submitted to the Committee, can be found here

I urge all Nevadans and Transhumanist Party members, as well as those who are sympathetic to other minor political parties, to submit their opinions in opposition to SB292 here: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/81st2021/

The Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections will meet this Thursday, April 1, at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time to hold a public hearing on this bill. Meeting information will be updated on this page: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/81st2021/Bill/7895/Meetings. If you can dial in during the time period for public testimony and lend your voice in opposition, that would be greatly appreciated.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, March 31, 2021


March 31, 2021

Re: Opposition to Senate Bill 292

Dear Chairman Ohrenschall and honorable members of the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections:

As Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party and Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party, I strongly urge you to oppose Senate Bill 292, which would deprive all minor political parties in Nevada of the opportunity to fairly compete at the ballot box or to even viably attempt such competition.

The Transhumanist Party is an alliance of over 3300 members who advocate for transcending the flaws and limitations of the human condition through technology and for putting science, health, and technology at the forefront of American politics. We advocate initiatives and reforms that will improve the human condition for as many people as possible, with as much beneficial impact as possible – and without regard for scoring political points or defeating “the other side”. In the realm of electoral policy, we advocate for such measures as ranked-preference voting, electronic voting, proportional representation, all-inclusive debates, elimination of ballot-access requirements, and limitation of lobbying by politically connected special interests, while increasing the influence of advocacy by intelligent laypersons. We hold that all contemporary societal, political, and material problems can be solved if we look away from the political trench warfare of today and up toward a far brighter future.

The Transhumanist Party is resolutely opposed to Section 2 of SB292, which would double the number of required petition signatures from 1 percent to 2 percent of the voters who voted in Nevada in the last preceding general election. The 1-percent threshold would already be exorbitantly costly to parties with small or non-existent budgets, at a typical cost of $4 or more per petition signature. A 2-percent threshold would be essentially unattainable. Even more onerous is the requirement in Section 2 that the petition signatures “must be apportioned equally among the petition districts” – which is essentially impossible to fulfill. If a minor party gathers one more signature, or perhaps two fewer signatures, from one petition district than from another, does that make the apportionment of signatures unequal and thus disqualify the entire petition? Moreover, if a minor political party represents constituents who are predominantly located in one part of the State, is this party to be permanently barred from ballot access just because its constituents are not evenly spread throughout the petition districts? All residents of Nevada have legitimate political interests and a need for representation, no matter whether those interests are geographically localized or dispersed. Clearly, the requirement for equal apportionment is an artificial hurdle that is designed to be essentially impossible for minor parties to surmount. With such a requirement in place, it would become easy for a major political party to challenge and disqualify any number of petition signatures gathered by a minor political party after great expenditures of time, effort, and resources. Major parties could therefore suppress minor-party participation through tactics of attrition. To add to the burdens, Section 2 would reduce by about three weeks the time available to gather the doubly high, equally apportioned petition signatures. How impossible is it possible to make ballot access? And is that the question that good public policy should really be striving to answer? There is no compelling benefit to the people of the State of Nevada from being deprived of options to consider at the ballot box; indeed, limiting their choices only makes an illusion out of claims that our electoral system is democratic or representative.

The Nevada Transhumanist Party has been registered with the Secretary of State since August 31, 2015, and has maintained compliance with all requirements for a minor political party without ballot access. In early 2020 the Nevada Transhumanist Party was engaged in significant internal deliberations about attempting a petitioning effort to achieve ballot access; while the current threshold pursuant to NRS 293.1715 (1 percent of the total number of votes cast at the preceding general election for the offices of Representative in Congress) appeared to be quite daunting to a small, all-volunteer organization which refuses all special-interest funding on principle, we were nonetheless willing to give it an earnest attempt. Then COVID-19 arrived, and the resulting lockdown measures essentially prohibited petitioning for ballot access, even as the petitioning requirement itself was not lifted. This effectively prevented any minor political party from safely attempting to qualify for ballot access, and thus entrenched the ability of incumbent major political parties to operate without available alternatives. We thought the 1-percent signature requirement was onerous, but potentially attainable with immense effort. A 2-percent signature requirement, on the other hand, would be impossible for any political party except those with immense budgets funded by large donors. Whatever happened to limiting the influence of money in politics?

The Transhumanist Party also opposes the provisions of Sections 1 and 4 of SB292, which would establish straight-ticket party voting in Nevada. While the straight-ticket voting would technically apply to both major and minor political parties, the overwhelming benefit would accrue to major political parties, who are more likely to have candidates in the vast majority of races. Moreover, straight-ticket voting would discourage voters who are normally inclined toward one political party from even considering minor-party, independent, or nonpartisan candidates in individual races where those candidates might more strongly align with those voters’ views. Every voter is an individual and does not always adhere to the entire package of ideas in a major-party platform. This individuality and diversity of opinions should be respected, and each voter should accordingly be motivated and encouraged to research all of the individual candidates and issues and make an informed decision, rather than just delegating his or her nuanced preferences to a monolithic party line.

Straight-ticket voting is even disadvantageous for many candidates of major political parties, and I urge members of the Legislature to oppose it even if solely on the grounds of their personal self-interest. Consider this: if you are a Legislator from either major political party who nonetheless wishes to reach out to constituents from the other major political party – to build bridges and find common ground – straight-ticket voting will act to your detriment, because it will encourage voters who typically align with the other major political party to vote for that party’s candidate no matter what – even if you are a bridge-builder and the other candidate is an extremist who alienates much of his or her own constituency.

The Transhumanist Party also opposes Section 3 of SB292, because it would limit by more than three weeks the time available for a minor party to respond to a challenge of its qualification to place the names of candidates on the ballot. If, by some fantastical confluence of effort and luck, the minor party does manage to gather the newly required number of signatures, the amount of time available to defend them from the inevitable major-party challenge would be further narrowed to often render such a defense untenable.

Senate Bill 292 would achieve the opposite of establishing a fair, level playing field for political candidates and parties.  Unfortunately, Senate Bill 292, if enacted, will only serve to exacerbate today’s political trench warfare by solidifying the bifurcation of the contemporary American body politic into two blocs that have each become increasingly monolithic and radicalized internally, and increasingly hostile toward the other, with no room between them to pursue unconventional and innovative solutions that can bridge partisan divides. This anticipated effect of SB292 is likely not anyone’s intention; however, the two-party system in the United States has a built-in downward spiral of incivility, hostility, and division which has, over the past year, crossed the line from mere acrimony into deadly riots and insurrections from extreme exponents of both sides of the partisan gulf. Any Legislator interested in stable and sensible governance should seek to avert an intensification of this scenario, and there is a vital role for a vibrant minor-party ecosystem in helping to prevent it.

How does Senate Bill 292 exacerbate political polarization? It does so by making it effectively impossible for minor political parties to even attain ballot access – in the numerous ways described above. This bill would make it clear to voters that minor parties are not just long-shot participants but are effectively shut out of the process altogether. Thus, many people who would have otherwise given a minor party a chance would be shunted into one of the major political parties that is barely more aligned with their views than the other major political party. This would reinforce the bifurcation of America into two distinct blocs which are engaged in an ever-intensifying struggle with one another, to the detriment of any actual progress on policy and any actual solutions to the many pressing problems facing our State, country, and world. Bifurcation of the American body politic creates an “us-versus-them” dynamic, where anyone who is not part of one’s own bloc is automatically considered to be “the enemy” and whose ideas are automatically disregarded. The record increase in independent and nonpartisan voters already shows many Americans to be disillusioned by the toxicity and acrimony that characterize the electoral tactics of the major parties and their most vocal adherents. Without minor parties for them to seek alternatives in, these Americans will either be reluctantly dragged into the deleterious fray they have always wished to avoid, or try to refrain from political participation altogether – in which case the fray will still find them, as extremists from the major parties have increasingly been demonizing conscientiously apolitical Americans as well.

The antidote to polarization is hyper-pluralism, which is precisely what a vibrant minor-party scene would facilitate. In a hyper-pluralistic body politic, there is no clear “enemy” for any constituent, because different smaller parties will align with one another on different issues; one’s adversary on one issue could be an ally on another, and so it is worthwhile to remain on at least respectful terms with everyone. It is for this reason that parliamentary democracies, which allow for proportional representation and numerous political parties competing on each ballot, are generally far less roiled by partisan strife than America’s uniquely contentious two-party system. But Nevada does not even need to adopt a parliamentary system to achieve a similar outcome; it just needs to allow minor political parties to compete on the ballots. Note that we are not even asking for the minor parties to win (which would still be difficult enough on its own), but merely to be allowed to compete! Even the possibility of competition motivates both incumbent officeholders and major-party candidates to be more responsive to the needs of their constituents. Furthermore, minor parties can be fruitful repositories of ideas for major-party politicians to draw upon; the Transhumanist Party would be delighted to have any of its platform reflected in legislation advanced by major-party lawmakers. Ideas from minor parties tend to sufficiently depart from the prevailing major-party packages that they avoid triggering contentious and mutually intransigent debates about “wedge” issues and so may actually lead to solutions that most major-party policymakers are willing to entertain. Incumbents and major-party candidates can even derive much valuable campaign intelligence from election results involving minor political parties. A strong showing for a minor party indicates a set of issues that voters are interested in and that the incumbent or major-party candidate would do well to address while in office or on the campaign trail.

By shutting minor parties out of viable political participation, Senate Bill 292 would only accomplish the illusion of stability for leading figures of a major political party. In reality, one cannot have a stable or tranquil political experience in a general environment marred by ideological polarization and all of its attendant ills. Depriving people of legitimate alternatives will only alienate them further and feed into the undercurrents of frustration and perceived disenfranchisement that permeate American politics today. Minor political parties are a major safety valve of American politics and can act to effectively channel dissent and discontentment into constructive avenues of mutual improvement and enhanced justice.  In the Federalist No. 10, James Madison, at the onset of the American Republic, noted that the advantage of a large representative republic is precisely in “the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest”. The American Founders, who feared precisely the scenario of two dominant factions vying for power at the citizens’ and the Republic’s expense, saw the “greater variety of parties” as an important safeguard against such an outcome. The Transhumanist Party echoes the Founders’ wisdom and would urge the Legislature to consider reforms in the opposite direction from those proposed in SB292 – namely, the elimination of all ballot-access requirements and the ability of any candidate or political party to compete fairly for office on the same terms as any other. After all, if a minor-party candidate is unpersuasive to the voters and the major-party candidates remain more popular, what is there truly for a major party to fear from allowing participation for all? But in the absence of such truly progressive reforms, we urge that the Legislature at least refrain from taking steps that would further limit electoral competition. Please reject Senate Bill 292.

Sincerely,

Mr. Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF

Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party

Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party

U.S. Transhumanist Party Public-Service Announcement by Casey Cockrell

U.S. Transhumanist Party Public-Service Announcement by Casey Cockrell

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Casey Cockrell


The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party is pleased to feature this public-service announcement created by our member Casey Cockrell. You can view it on YouTube here

You can also share it via the following embed code:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/4STsaZ3NmvA” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe> 

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply here in less than a minute.

 

 

Transhumanist Ideas for Reforming Political Processes and Improving Government Accountability – Presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II

Transhumanist Ideas for Reforming Political Processes and Improving Government Accountability – Presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


On February 13, 2019, Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, spoke to the Young Americans for Liberty Chapter at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) in a wide-ranging discussion on the intersection of technology and politics and the types of reforms that could pave the way to the new technological era of major progress and radical abundance. Watch Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation on YouTube here.

Mr. Stolyarov discussed policy positions from the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform, such as support for ranked-preference voting, greatly lowered ballot-access thresholds, simultaneous nationwide primaries, shorter campaign seasons, AI-assisted redistricting, germaneness rules for legislation, minimum consideration timeframes for amendments, and the general desirable shift in the balance away from special-interest lobbies and toward intelligent laypersons.

See Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation slides here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply here in less than a minute.

Watch Mr. Stolyarov’s interview of Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018.

Watch the presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018, entitled, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future”.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party: The Last, Best Hope for Transhumanist Politics

The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party: The Last, Best Hope for Transhumanist Politics

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Gennady Stolyarov II


The Transhuman National Committee of the United States (TNC) has disbanded, and the Transhuman Party is being integrated into the U.S. Transhumanist Party.  We (including our State-level affiliates) are now the sole transhumanist political organization in the United States.

The United States Transhumanist Party issues this statement to bring attention to a series of rapid developments during January 2019, at the end of which our political party (including its State-level affiliates) remains the sole transhumanist political organization in the United States. As Chairman of this sole transhumanist political organization, I am determined to continue to grow it and maintain its distinctive identity and purpose above the toxic “mainstream” partisan fray. I invite all transhumanists to apply for free membership within our growing and vibrant party, which has reached 1,282 members and continues to expand daily.

In short succession, the following events recently transpired.

Integration of the Transhuman Party

The Transhuman Party, a 25-member experimental splinter party founded in October 2017, recently became defunct due to lack of activity. On December 30, 2018, I acquired the website (not yet edited except for the statement on the front page) and Facebook page for the Transhuman Party and issued a standing invitation to its former members to become members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, with an option to take Officer or Advisor roles. So far approximately half of the former Transhuman Party members have accepted the offer, and the process of integration is ongoing, with the intention to continue to issue such invitations as time advances.

The Transhuman Party was originally formed because its members disapproved of the term “Transhumanist Party” having been trademarked by Zoltan Istvan. (This matter is extensively addressed in the U.S. Transhumanist Party FAQ. Furthermore, Zoltan Istvan has not had any role in the governance of the Transhumanist Party since November 2016 and has also specifically stated that he views favorably the course that the Transhumanist Party has taken; from this one can conclude that he has no desire or reason to intervene.)

However, to assuage any concerns of those who criticized the existence of the trademark, there will now exist two options for how to call our party.  Accordingly, the name “Transhuman Party” will be preserved. Previous efforts by former Transhuman Party members to trademark this term had been abandoned, and any such efforts are likely to fail from a legal standpoint due to the similarity of this term to the term “Transhumanist Party”. However, it is desirable to preserve “Transhuman Party” as a non-trademarked term that those who object to the trademark of “Transhumanist Party” may use to enable their participation in our organization nonetheless.

Accordingly, the full name of our organization hereby becomes “United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party”. Members henceforth have the choice to refer to it as either the “Transhumanist Party” (the trademarked term) or the “Transhuman Party” (the non-trademarked term), using these terms either together or apart or interchangeably, as they please. We hope that these options will enable individuals to bypass arguments over the trademark and collaborate on substantive matters with the knowledge that at least one (and most likely both) of these terms will remain available for us to use, no matter what.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party seeks to be a “big tent” for the transhumanist movement. We welcome the involvement and perspectives of the original Transhuman Party members, as well as others from various backgrounds and organizations within the broader transhumanist community. Our eventual aim is to end transhumanist infighting to the extent possible and to replace it with a deliberative and democratic process where ideas are civilly and constructively discussed and translated into suggestions for policies and general technological, societal, and cultural improvements.

The new logo of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party intentionally allows the party’s name to be read as either “Transhumanist Party” or “Transhuman Party”. The color scheme also places emphasis on the term “human”; we are the only political party in the United States with the word “human” in our name. This is justified, as our ultimate focus is the well-being of humans (and other sentient entities) and the championing of technological and societal improvements that enable all humans to overcome their limitations, actualize their potential, and live and improve without bound. 

Dissolution of the Transhuman National Committee of the United States (TNC)

The Transhuman National Committee of the United States (TNC) was originally formed in October 2015 as an alternative transhumanist political organization that sought to eventually form a Political Action Committee (PAC) but never officially did so.

On January 25, 2019, the Board of the Transhuman National Committee of the United States (TNC) voted unanimously to disband the TNC. Two Officers of the U.S. Transhumanist Party – Gennady Stolyarov II and B.J. Murphy – were members of the TNC Board and were present at the virtual TNC Board meeting of January 25, 2019.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party acknowledged the validity of the reasons for the dissolution of the TNC. We had long considered the TNC to be an Allied Organization but took a fundamentally different approach from that espoused by the TNC Chair – e.g., the U.S. Transhumanist Party is a non-monetary, all-volunteer organization and therefore is not reliant on funding, whose cessation essentially ended the viability of the TNC. Furthermore, the U.S. Transhumanist Party favors a principles-based, idea-oriented, and pluralistic approach to public outreach, education, and transformation of the intellectual and cultural landscape – whereas the TNC sought (unsuccessfully) to become a lobbying organization and to adopt the often questionable tactics of mainstream politics. Playing by the rules of mainstream politics is a self-defeating approach, as I explained in “The Great Transhumanist Game” video series (Part 1 and Part 2); the unscrupulous expert political operatives will win every time. Only by changing the rules to those of the new era of our civilization and leading by example under those rules, can transhumanists hope to effectuate constructive change notwithstanding existing political roadblocks.

However, in order to salvage any of the beneficial objectives of the TNC, the U.S. Transhumanist Party reached out in hopes of enabling the people who were involved in it to continue their political activism under the auspices of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. I extended a standing offer to any of the former TNC Officers and Board Members to take on roles as Officers, Advisors, or Ambassadors within the U.S. Transhumanist Party, depending on their individual circumstances, skill sets, and preferences.

Unfortunately, the former TNC Chair used the proxy votes at the last TNC Board meeting to push through a series of divisive and contested statements which encouraged transhumanists to work within the two major political parties instead of any minor political parties or the U.S. Transhumanist Party. I offered motions to surgically excise these counterproductive recommendations from the statements, and the majority of TNC Board members present on the call expressed similar concerns regarding the former TNC Chair’s attempts to push through what was clearly not a consensus position within either the TNC or the broader transhumanist community – much of which remains interested in a distinctively transhumanist political approach. It is unfortunate that, because of the TNC Chair’s use of the proxy votes at his disposal, the TNC’s last gesture will be one of division rather than unification. This outcome illustrates one reason for the TNC’s failure – an approach which favored adversarial “hardball” tactics over attempts to reach consensus. However, as the last remaining transhumanist political organization in the United States, the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party can carry on in expressing its principled views and eschewing the tragi-comical theater that “mainstream” politics has become. The tactics of contemporary political operatives are inimical to the nobler mindset that is needed to build the next era of our civilization. Adversarial “hardball” is precisely one of the unfortunate aspects of the present that needs to be transcended if we are to overcome the roadblocks that stand in the way of technological, cultural, and policy progress.

As I expressed in a statement to the TNC Board, I consider the two main parties to have thoroughly discredited themselves. The Democratic and Republican Parties are essentially committing suicide via their tactics of partisan toxicity that set people against one another and prevent constructive policy discussions and solutions. The recent fiasco of the U.S. federal government shutdown is just the most recent example of this toxicity getting in the way of even routine operations.

The transhumanist movement is indeed small at this stage, although we are growing and are much larger than we were several years ago. That being said, if transhumanists attempt to work within the two major parties, they will just contribute infinitesimally to these gargantuan political machines that have wrongfully subsumed American political discourse. This is exactly what happened to the Futurist Party, which rendered itself irrelevant when it endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2015; it essentially then became just one of the numerous feeder organizations into the Democratic Party, which ultimately benefited the Hillary Clinton campaign. While the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party welcomes all individual transhumanists – including those who also participate in the major political parties in some capacity – it cannot, as an organization, endorse any of the major political parties or their candidates due to the concern that such endorsements would subsume the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party within the partisan fray, where completely unrelated “wedge” issues are used solely to perpetuate animosity and strife at the expense of constructive exploration of future possibilities.

Contrary to the opinions of the former TNC Chair, the value of the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (or any other standalone transhumanist organization, for that matter) is that it can stand above that toxic fray and look toward long-term policy solutions and shifting the climate of ideas. It does not matter if we can elect candidates to the office in the immediate future (although James Schultz and I put forth valiant efforts in 2018). We will, of course, continue to endorse other independent or nonpartisan candidates in the coming years and use each electoral race as an educational opportunity. Our nomination process for the 2020 Presidential election will hopefully attract unprecedented participation within the transhumanist community as well as considerable external interest in transhumanist political discourse. Our main vision, however, is far longer-term. The key is for the Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party to exist and to remain active in the meantime, with whatever resources and volunteer efforts are available at its disposal. This dynamic of activity and gradual growth is one that I believe can be sustained indefinitely until a power vacuum arises when the two main parties implode. (This will happen eventually, but it is impossible to predict when.) If the Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party is ready to step into the vacuum and, in the meantime, establishes a reputation for respectable, thoughtful discourse, advocacy, and activism, then it may be possible to become a major player on the political scene virtually overnight once that power vacuum forms. In the meantime, we should continue gradually, patiently building up the infrastructure that would enable us to take advantage of that inflection point.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party continues to grow in membership and expand its reach. An easy and highly effective contribution that anyone can make is to sign up for free membership, which takes less than a minute and brings additional benefits to the member. The TNC and its statements are now only part of history, but we have a future to build. As Chairman of the sole surviving political transhumanist organization in the United States, I am committed to preserving and growing a distinctive alternative to the two main political parties, whose very existence and example in deed are what transhumanists need in order to overcome the continually downward-spiraling political “mainstream” in the United States. The path toward this goal includes the necessity of achieving a widespread recognition of common purpose or at least non-antagonism within the transhumanist movement itself. Eventually a vacuum will form within the political landscape, and the party that survives with integrity will be the one that gets to fill that vacuum. Anyone who wishes to join us in taking the high road toward transhumanist unity and the next era of our civilization is welcome to do so.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, January 26, 2019

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Second Anniversary Message

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Second Anniversary Message

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Gennady Stolyarov II


It astonishes me that two years have elapsed since I became Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party on November 17, 2016. Nonetheless, in retrospect, it seems that we are living in a different epoch from the one in which I stepped into this leadership role. In this epoch, transhumanism is no longer a fringe extreme; while we are a small political party, we occupy the sensible moderate ground – the civilized center of political discourse – precisely because we reject the downward spiral of toxicity, tribalism, political violence, and zero-sum partisanship which characterizes both the Democratic and Republican Parties today. Many people beyond the historic core transhumanist constituencies ought to find our message appealing, if they only knew about the Transhumanist Party and what it actually stands for.

While 2017 was a year of focusing on developing our now-extensive Platform, 2018 was characterized by increased outreach, more frequent events and interviews, steady membership growth (doubling our membership to 1,187 as of this writing), and the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s first foray into electoral politics under my Chairmanship. For a summary of our achievements in 2018, I encourage you to watch my speech at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, CA, entitled “The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future” and attended by over 1,000 people.

We endorsed two candidates during this election season, James D. Schultz and myself. While Mr. Schultz fell slightly short of the 1,500 petition signatures required by New York law for ballot access, he did obtain 1,239 signatures, which shows that transhumanism can attract supporters in the four-figure range with diligent advocacy.

My own campaign for the Board of Trustees of the Indian Hills General Improvement District (IHGID) in Nevada was able to proceed to the general-election stage, since ballot access was available without the need to submit petitions. I ultimately obtained 520 votes out of 2,024 residents who cast their ballots. While I did not win a seat on the Board, 25.7% – more than a quarter – of the voters cast affirmative ballots in my favor.

While I would have preferred to win, this outcome still shows that my campaign – on which I spent no money but rather utilized social media, in-person appearances in public places, videos, and word of mouth – enabled me to reach more than a quarter of the residents after beginning with essentially zero name recognition in the area. Transhumanism, when articulated in a mainstream-friendly manner, can elicit support from people across the political spectrum and in all walks of life. We just need to continue to spread our message with determination and deliberate regarding ways of reaching constituencies who might not have become aware of transhumanism yet – perhaps because our methods of communication have not yet overlapped with their preferred media and social circles.

I am not particularly disappointed regarding the outcome of the IHGID Board election, since even getting to the stage where a Transhumanist-Party-endorsed candidate appeared on the ballot and received 520 votes constitutes major progress, since even Zoltan Istvan in 2016 had to campaign as a write-in candidate and so did not receive an official count of the votes cast in his favor. Furthermore, in my experience, the IHGID Board of Trustees is extremely open to resident input. As a resident, I have always been able to speak my mind at the Board meetings and make suggestions that have had substantive impacts. I am confident that the elected Board members are good people who have the well-being of the residents in mind, and that each of them will be receptive to at least a significant portion of my ideas in the future. Furthermore, I think this campaign helped me incrementally in the longer term to build ties with people in my community and to become more involved and able to have a voice in the many ongoing interesting developments that affect it.

From the standpoint of improving the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s political acumen, however, with a result such as the outcome of the IHGID vote, it is important to understand what happened and why and to see what this can teach about politics, the spread of information, and human dynamics more generally.

What factors could explain this outcome, to the best of my knowledge? Some of the electoral dynamics involved surprised me. Residents were able to choose up to three candidates, and it seems rather unusual to me that so few did. My calculations (which I am happy to share in greater detail upon request) indicate the following:

Of those IHGID residents who voted in 2018 at all:
– 878 voters did not make a selection.
– 605 voters only made 1 choice.
– 1,281 voters only made 2 choices.
– 138 voters made 3 choices. (I am one of those voters.)

It is possible that some voters did not understand that they could select multiple candidates. I expected that my best outcome would arise in a situation where I would be seen as a “consensus candidate” whom other candidates would be agreeable to supporting. However, this situation could only materialize if most, or at least many, voters voted for three choices.

However, the majority of those who voted actually selected two options rather than three. This suggests that they knew their prerogatives – so the possibilities are (a) they only voted for candidates whose names they recognized; and/or (b) there could have been a coalition between some two of the candidates (I do not know which two and would have no way of knowing), who informed their supporters to support both of them but not select a third.

However, the most disappointing explanation possible (if true) is this: names were arranged in alphabetical order by last name on the ballot, and some voters might have just picked the first name or the first two or three names. This could indeed have happened in an election which was not all that controversial, where there were no “hot-button” issues, where all the candidates were on friendly terms, where very little money was spent (none on my end), and where probably many voters only minimally informed themselves about the candidates.

My campaign, based on all indications, dominated on the Internet and social media – yet there are many residents of the District who do not appear to use the Internet or social media to any great extent. All of my interactions with residents who knew of my campaign have been extremely positive, but I posit that there exists a large demographic whom my efforts did not reach because there was not any online medium to even facilitate an in-person interaction (e.g., they did not see my announcements on Nextdoor.com and did not watch the candidate videos; also, their in-person activities do not overlap with mine). How to reach such constituents is a perpetual challenge, especially because I only practice genteel campaign tactics – e.g., no door-to-door soliciting or other intrusive messaging; I let people process information at their own convenience. I hypothesize that the only real way to attain recognition from non-Internet users is to build a reputation over many years of participation in in-person community activities. The contemporary world is quite fragmented, so those activities have been rarer than I would like – but there may be more opportunities over the coming years. I raise the more general question of how transhumanists can be more effective in reaching constituencies that are not as active online as most of us technology enthusiasts. What tactics can work to build both name recognition and good will? Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

For me, my next proximate political area of focus will be continuing to build the U.S. Transhumanist Party in its national and international presence and intellectual influence. There is much effort that could be put forth in this area in the immediate future.

  • We have already opened a new exposure period to consider clarifying amendments to the Transhumanist Bill of Rights. While the Transhumanist Bill of Rights is achieving significant media coverage, we need to be vigilant against basic factual inaccuracies regarding the representation of its contents. These amendments will enable us to steer the narrative toward what transhumanists actually think and value, rather than unwarranted assumptions and associations made by persons whose agendas often steer them in the direction of manufacturing straw-man positions that transhumanists do not, in fact, espouse.
  • In early 2019 we will conduct the selection process for the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s 2020 Presidential candidate. Unlike the major political parties, we will have a short campaign season for contenders and an electronic, ranked-preference primary held during the same timeframe for all members, no matter where they reside. This will be a practical implementation of Sections XXVIII, XXIX, and XXX of our Platform. We are still looking for potential candidates for political office at any level in 2020, but having a Presidential candidate will be important as a high-profile educational approach to expose vast numbers of people to transhumanist ideas and aspirations. For this role we are seeking an erudite, articulate, scientifically literate individual with sufficient resources to self-fund a campaign and an absolute commitment to carry such a campaign through to Election Day in November 2020.
  • We need to continue to press toward our crucial threshold goal of 10,000 members. Membership is free and quick to acquire, and now brings several additional benefits with it. Please persuade as many people as you can to go to our free Membership Application Form at https://transhumanist-party.org/membership/ and sign up in less than a minute, no matter where they reside.
  • We need existing members to organize grassroots initiatives – which can include meetups, presentations, writing of articles and policy papers, and outreach within their local communities. If you engage in activism on behalf of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, please contact me and let me know what you wish to do or have done already, and we will publicize it as an example to other members of what is possible. No matter what your skill set, there are many constructive possibilities for you to contribute to our movement and the public’s recognition of it. An active presence in public discourse matters most of all at this stage. Be creative in how you bring that active presence into being!
  • We need to create State-level Transhumanist Parties in every State. If your State is not represented on our list of State Parties, you are welcome to form a State-level party yourself and contact me about doing so. While you explore the relevant requirements for official formation, even beginning a Facebook group for coordination among the members of the embryonic State-level Transhumanist Party would be a major step forward.
  • We need to expand our Foreign Ambassador program to as many countries as possible. The U.S. Transhumanist Party is proud of its international membership and the many fruitful ways in which we have coordinated with transhumanists in other countries. The more representatives we have abroad, the more opportunities there will be for transhumanism to become an integrated global phenomenon that guides the policies of all nations in pro-technology, pro-life-extension, pro-reason directions. To apply to become a Foreign Ambassador, fill out our application form here.
  • We need to continue improving our internal infrastructure, from developing a more efficient voting system (while preserving the ranked-preference method, but hopefully automating the instant runoffs and the publication of results) to adding more features to our website to encourage members to visit it more frequently and participate in discussions and other initiatives available through it. If you have not actively participated on the U.S. Transhumanist Party website yet, we would be interested to know why not, and what additional elements of the website might encourage you to participate in the future.

If you were to retain only several key insights from this message, they would be the following:

  • Attaining basic public awareness remains the major challenge of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and of transhumanism in general.
  • Growth in active members who operate at the grassroots level is the key to overcoming this challenge. Encourage others to sign up for free here.
  • Our message is appealing to the mainstream when properly articulated, but to succeed in doing so, we need to be in control of the narrative and speak for ourselves, instead of letting the media and intellectual opponents portray us as caricatured straw-men.
  • The moment the general public becomes tired of the partisan toxicity of the major political parties to the extent of actually creating a political vacuum, we need to be ready with a constructive alternative. We already have the conceptual alternative prepared; now we need to prepare the infrastructure to deploy and expand it.
  • There is much that you as an individual can do. Do it!

May the next year of my Chairmanship see the U.S. Transhumanist Party attain many of its goals and achieve unprecedented growth and impact for the transhumanist movement. If this happens, it will be because you, our members, will have made it happen.

Sincerely,
Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF
Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party
Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party
Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator
Author, Death is Wrong

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Anniversary Message

U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman’s Anniversary Message

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Gennady Stolyarov II


On November 17, 2016, I became the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party. It was a turbulent era in American politics, although it now appears to me to have been a distinct prior epoch. The offer of Chairmanship from Zoltan Istvan came at exactly the right time. I was seriously considering emigrating from the United States, which would have been a mistake. For this role, however, an expatriate Chairman would not do; Zoltan asked me to remain for at least six months – hopefully a year – and then re-assess the situation. One does not get handed leadership of a political party often (or virtually ever), so this was a unique opportunity to make a difference in American politics in a constructive way, with instant gains in prominence, and without the distasteful maneuvering that many conventional political figures feel compelled to engage in to attain a comparable position.

It has been a year, and I am staying. I have indeed reassessed the situation, or perhaps the situation has been transformed so considerably than the already transitional interpretive framework of late 2016 can no longer adequately describe our present political reality. Whereas then the tumult seemed to have stemmed from a single source, we now inhabit a distinctly different sort of chaotic era, in which the chaos emanates from virtually all partisan factions espousing conventional political ideologies. The United States has not, despite my fears at the time, succumbed to dictatorship or totalitarianism – and, despite some ill-advised policy decisions and unfortunate increases in certain forms of intolerance and hatred (on both the right and the left), there are no waves of nativist “ethnic cleansing”; there are, thankfully and for now, no massive riots in the vast majority of cities, the vast majority of the time. Daily life proceeds in a largely peaceful, largely orderly fashion – and may that continue.

Yet the United States’ societal and cultural fabric has been torn to shreds by the climate of escalating partisan vitriol, in which being aligned with one’s “team” (be it one of the major political parties or more minor factions on the conventional left-right axis) is seen as more important than the reasoned pursuit of truth. Partisanship erodes the norms of civility and the disposition of good will with which it is important to approach discourse with others. When hyper-partisans insist that civilized discussion or even association with “the other side” is not possible (and their characterization of who comprises the “other side” becomes ever more sweeping by the day), they throw wide open the door to less genteel approaches to politics – the political violence that can claim lives, ruin infrastructure, and set back the progress of our civilization. The great immediate danger in American politics is not that squads of jack-booted enforcers will crack down on anyone who displeases their masters; it is, rather, that the increasing toxicity of prevailing political rhetoric will poison the minds and conduct of ordinary people, turning them against one another and inaugurating a low-key war of all against all, which necessarily cannot remain low-key for long. Hyper-partisanship is not, however, a grass-roots phenomenon, but has been fueled by behemoth political machines, with armies of paid political operatives, lobbyists, and “opposition research” firms honing the most effective ways to besmirch and divide people for range-of-the-moment electoral gains. Only a truly transpartisan organization, immune to the influence of this apparatus, can turn the tide against its malignancy.

The United States Transhumanist Party has stood as a bulwark against this toxic partisan tendency, inviting membership by individuals of all conventional or unconventional political beliefs, as long as they agree with our three broadly framed Core Ideals (and even sometimes if they do not), advocating for a worldwide acceleration of technological innovation and for making its products accessible to all, conducting transparent public discussions and votes using ranked-reference techniques that solve long-standing incentive problems of voters, and doing it all as a non-monetary organization, through the collaboration of volunteers and people of good will. We genuinely seek to embody and practice inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance – instead of weaponizing these terms to serve a particular preconceived political and social agenda and partisan machine. We transcend the destructive culture wars, just as we transcend so many other pointless divisions. We seek to be a microcosm of the society that will emerge after all this “sound and fury, signifying nothing” subsides, when people will come to see the toxicity as fatiguing and passé, and the task of building a new era can unfold in earnest. We need to focus on championing the advances that can benefit everyone through dramatically longer lifespans, vastly increased prosperity, and opportunities for individual self-actualization. Unlike identity politics, which focuses on what sets people apart, transhumanist politics seeks to bring all sentient entities together to forge the advances that can benefit each and all.

On the anniversary of my Chairmanship, the highlight of my day was a message from an individual who has been a member for as long as I have been Chairman. He told me that his membership in the U.S. Transhumanist Party has been one of the most important events in his life. What we do matters; it inspires people to strive for a brighter future; it coalesces a community of visionaries, achievers, innovators, and friends. Amid the tumult of the contemporary world, we preserve the transformative ambition that life can and should be better – that human existence need not be nasty, brutish, or short – that age-old problems can be solved with sufficient knowledge and ingenuity – and that the fates of our ancestors need not be our own.

We have achieved much since the U.S. Transhumanist Party was opened to membership during my tenure as Chairman. I provided an overview of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s key recent achievements in this brief video, which I prepared for the Transvision 2017 conference in Brussels.

Here, I will supplement, rather than repeat, the contents of that video presentation.

Many aspects of our Platform and processes enable the U.S. Transhumanist Party to stand out in American politics. The following are just several examples.

We are the first political party in the United States to use ranked-preference voting on its internal ballots. During the next year we will explore options for rendering this voting process even more streamlined and user-friendly. We will be searching for software that could simultaneously present all of the options and their text to voters, and automatically tabulate instant runoffs and their results, similarly to how the initial votes are tabulated today.

We are the only political party in the world – to our knowledge – which extends membership to anyone capable of forming a reasoned political opinion – including children and citizens of other countries, who may become Allied Members. Our Foreign Ambassador program specifically focuses on building connections with future-oriented thinkers in other countries and working to build transhumanism into a global, collaborative movement where ideas are exchanged and developed without regard to national boundaries.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party is one of only two political parties in the United States, along with the Green Party, that supports the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Our Platform, in Article III, Section IV, reads that “In recognition of the dire existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to sapient life on Earth – including as a result of such weapons’ accidental deployment due to system failures or human misunderstanding – the United States Transhumanist Party advocates the complete dismantlement and abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere, as rapidly as possible.” While this remains a minority political position in the United States, the abolition of nuclear weapons recently received support at the United Nations via the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. With the threat of nuclear war remaining disturbingly real, an increasing number of people and institutions are coming to recognize this dire existential risk and seek its alleviation. We welcome collaboration with any of them.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party was the first political party in the United States to suggest a universal basic income or unconditional basic income (UBI) as an option in dealing with the impacts of automation, job uncertainty, and the sub-optimalities of conventional, conditional, and cumbersome welfare systems. Now various jurisdictions are experimenting with some versions of UBI, and this concept is being actively discussed at the United Nations. We stand ready to offer our views and recommendations in this conversation – encouraging UBI systems that would preserve the core, elegant logic of an unconditional basic income available to all. Per Article III, Section XVI of our Platform, “the United States Transhumanist Party holds that all sentient entities should be the beneficiaries of an unconditional universal basic income, whereby the same minimum amount of money or other resources is provided irrespective of a sentient entity’s life circumstances, occupations, or other income sources, so as to provide a means for the basic requirements of existence and liberty to be met.” This vision, if championed consistently, can dramatically improve the life circumstances of many individuals throughout the world.

Our most important near-term objectives were recently outlined in our new, extensive FAQ document. Because of their importance, and the indication they provide regarding how the next year of the U.S. Transhumanist Party will unfold, I provide them again below.

  1. Grow in membership. We need to reach at least 10,000 members in order to have the widespread reach and internal, member-driven governance structures that we envision to be the most effective. You can help by joining for free and encouraging others to join by filling out our fast, simple Membership Application Form.
  2. Coordinate with State-level Transhumanist Parties. Various such State-level Parties exist, and some are already officially registered with their respective Secretaries of State. We have catalogued the State-level Transhumanist Parties known to us here. Work with them if you reside in a State where such a Party already exists. If such a Party does not exist, we encourage you to form one and contact us when you are contemplating doing so.
  3. Hold events and publish materials to influence public opinion. Ultimately, we seek to change minds to encourage widespread public advocacy of emerging technologies and a major redirection of resources toward such technologies’ funding, development, and dissemination. We encourage U.S. Transhumanist Party members to also organize their own events and submit articles for publication on our website.
  4. Explore running candidates at the local level. Interested candidates will likely need to officially run as independents at this time, but if they agree with key aspects of our Platform, they may receive the endorsement of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
  5. Gradually create the infrastructure to meet State ballot-access requirements. In almost every State, obtaining ballot access unfortunately requires at least thousands of petition signatures (hand-signed), obtained within a relatively short period of time. We need to build up a sufficient network of volunteers in every State in order for petition-gathering to be feasible. However, our emphasis on membership growth and coordination with State-level Transhumanist Parties is part of our effort to eventually get there and field candidates for State-level office.

Another unique approach that we are pursuing is our search for a candidate for the U.S. Transhumanist Party 2020 Presidential ticket. Unlike other parties, we seek to attract not the most politically ambitious, but rather the most erudite, thoughtful, and melioristic individuals to apply for the role. To this end, under the editorship of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Education and Media Advisor, Newton Lee, we are compiling a book that will feature essays by leading transhumanist thinkers, Advisors, and members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. This book, tentatively titled Transhumanism: In the Image of Humans, will hopefully convey both the depth and breadth of transhumanist thought, such that at least one of the leading minds of our era might be sufficiently intrigued as to join our movement and seek to further these ideas by running a Presidential campaign based on the highest standards of discourse, conduct, and policy-oriented reasoning for the improvement of the human condition.

The tumult of our times is evidence that Robert Heinlein’s forecast of an era he termed the Crazy Years has come to pass. Charting the path from our current Crazy Years to a bright and universally uplifting transhumanist future will be no easy task, but no task is more vital. By a spectacular confluence of events, which still astounds me in retrospect, the Chairmanship of the U.S. Transhumanist Party has placed me in a unique position within this moment in history, where many radically divergent paths are possible for both humankind in general and for us as individuals. The path of amelioration and abundance of time and resources for all is still open, and the Transhumanist Party will endeavor to show the way to all those who seek the new era, and to build our civilization into a global and universal, human and transhuman cosmopolity – which should extend as far and as boundlessly as our own lives and well-being.

Will you join us in this effort? If so, becoming a member is free and easy – and the best of possible futures may be our joint reward.

Sincerely,
Gennady Stolyarov II, FSA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF
Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party
Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party
Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator
Author, Death is Wrong