In 2016 I changed my political party membership to Transumanist on my voter registration card. Then, I became a town councilmember of the Town of Berwyn Heights in Maryland. I served in that role from October 2016 to May 2018. I believe I am the first Transhumanist Party member to hold a political office in North America (during the time period of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s existence).
Gerald Shields at the Library of Congress in 2013. Photograph from Gerald Shields.
My path to Transhumanism has been varied and interesting. I changed my voter registration for a variety of reasons. During the 2016 election cycle, I was disappointed in the various election platforms of the major parties. I thought that pushing the goal of making humanity a two-planet species was a more important goal than what was listed in those parties’ platforms. After some research for alternative parties, I discovered Mr. Zoltan Istvan’s campaign for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Mr. Istvan called for a medical Moonshot program. Even though it was not a direct step to a two-planet species, it was a step in the correct direction to long-term colonization of other stars. I contacted the campaign, and I saw that there were no campaign posters for an internet-based campaign. I realized that without visual legitimacy, the transhumanist ideas will not get much traction. A visual will look good on television, blogs, and YouTube. A visual aids in the message. I helped create campaign posters with Ms. Chelsea Gilbert. It was my idea to use vector graphics in orange and black with classic Americana political phrases to illustrate some transhumanist ideas. The idea is to tap into the Americana meme under the banner of the Transhumanist Party without causing future shock. The goal is to stir the passion of our members as discussed during the various transhumanist conversations on YouTube.
The phrases I proposed were:
“The Future is here. The Transhumanist Party.”
“We can do it….With the Transhumanist Party.”
“The Transhumanist Party builds the Future.”
“Wake up America with the Transhumanist Party.”
“Reclaim America. Join the fight for the future and the Transhumanist Party.”
During the campaign, I attended several Washington, DC, and Seattle, Washington, transhumanist meetings, during which I met Zoltan in person.
On October 3 2016 at Berwyn Heights Town Office, Gerald Shields (left) was sworn by Mayor Jewitt (right) in an a member of the town council. Photograph from Gerald Shields.
Then, as part of my political path, I was on the Town Council of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, from October 2016 to May 2018. The competition was nonpartisan between a total of three people. I filled an empty position on the Town Council, and this was done via a special appointment, not a general election. However, in normal times, this is a nonpartisan, general-election position. I believe I am the first Transhumanist Party member to hold a political office in North America (during the time of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s existence). During the special appointment, I campaigned on a very local and non-glamorous issue of improved storm drains. Storm drains are important because, in Berwyn Heights, there was a 100-year storm that flooded the basements of several houses. On a town or even county level, there really is no way to have a longevity Moonshot in my view. I am a very practical and nuts-and-bolts (no transhumanist pun intended) type of person, who wants this Party to be a success. However, when I was on the Town Council, my political portfolio was Parks & Recreation, Education, and Civic Affairs; not Public Works. I laid the foundation for the town’s policy on non-governmental organizations. During my term, Berwyn Heights achieved the title of Banner City for the first time and attained other objectives due to my efforts. At the end of my term, I achieved my Parks and Recreation goals, so I decided not to run in the election.
Right now, the public view of transhumanism is characterized by cyborgs and other scary things. We must adapt and put forth the benefits of increased medical knowledge and increased energy resources in a beneficial way while addressing the general public’s concerns. That is why I suggested to Zoltan to emphasize the Good Neighbor Next Door policy. The Good Neighbor Next Door policy would focus on volunteering on local committees, such as Neighborhood Watch, the State Government’s official State Defense Force, Green Team, or other local small-town groups, as well as just saying “Hi” to one’s neighbors, to show that one is a normal person who cares about local matters. Also, I suggested that Zoltan post photos of himself and his kids because this would make him more relatable to other fathers. Then, as time progresses, Transhumanists who follow this approach would show that they are ready, willing, and, most importantly, able to lead in political positions.
That is my varied path to Transhumanism and becoming the first U.S. Transhumanist Party member to hold a Town Council political office.
Gerald Shields is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and was a Town Council Member in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, between October 2016 and May 2018.