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My Path to Transhumanism and Becoming the First Transhumanist Party Member to Hold Political Office in North America – Article by Gerald Shields

My Path to Transhumanism and Becoming the First Transhumanist Party Member to Hold Political Office in North America – Article by Gerald Shields

Gerald Shields


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. 

Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2018 Nevada Ballot Questions

Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2018 Nevada Ballot Questions

Gennady Stolyarov II

The Nevada Transhumanist Party offers the following brief statements of position on the ballot questions currently before Nevada voters in the 2018 General Election.

Summary
Question 1: Support
Question 2: Support
Question 3: Support
Question 4: Support
Question 5: Oppose
Question 6: Oppose

 

Ballot Question 1 Marsy’s Law Crime Victims’ Rights Amendment Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to: (1) remove existing provisions that require the Legislature to provide certain statutory rights for crime victims; and (2) adopt in their place certain expressly stated constitutional rights that crime victims may assert throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 1 as an expansion of the rights of crime victims to render those rights more symmetrical to the protections that those accused of criminal acts already receive. The Nevada Transhumanist Party strongly holds that due process is vital for both the accused and the victim of a crime. Section X of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform states, in part, that “each individual should be sentenced based solely on the consideration of the nature of that individual’s crime, its context, and its severity.” However, the nature, context, and severity of a crime can only be ascertained if victims are permitted to participate in the justice process, with full protections of their safety and right to be heard. One of the most important protections of Ballot Question 1 is “To have all monetary payments, money and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.” This shifts the focus of the justice system toward compensating the victim, instead of simply enriching the state. A restitution-oriented justice system is ideal where the damage from a crime can be repaired or compensated monetarily, as this approach actually endeavors to make the victims whole and thereby undo as many of the ill effects of the crime as possible. The more lives can be repaired in this way, the fewer obstacles to innocent individuals’ flourishing will exist, and the faster our society will progress in economic, moral, and technological dimensions.

 

Ballot Question 2 Sales-Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall the Sales and Use Tax Act of 1955 be amended to provide an exemption from the taxes imposed by this Act on the gross receipts from the sale and the storage, use or other consumption of feminine hygiene products?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 2 as a protection for the morphological freedom of individuals. The morphological freedom of female individuals is infringed by asymmetrical taxation of products that those individuals uniquely require. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party does not oppose sales taxes per se, exemptions from sales taxes for the necessities of life are reasonable if such taxes pose impediments to individual quality of life or even the ability to afford those necessities.

 

Ballot Question 3Energy Choice Initiative Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 3 to eliminate the coercive energy monopoly currently held by NV Energy and allow individuals to choose their utility and source of energy, much like they are able to choose which furniture or which cars to buy today. NV Energy has used its monopoly position to stifle and penalize the deployment of economical rooftop solar systems, which allow homeowners to autonomously generate their own electricity and even earn some money doing so. The suppression of such opportunities is a travesty of justice and needs to be reversed.

The NV Energy monopoly is not only harmful to technological progress, renewal energy, and affordable electricity costs; it is also a danger to the health and safety of homeowners. This is because of NV Energy’s arcane, deliberately circular call-center system, which gives consumers “the runaround” when consumers attempt to contact NV Energy to request emergency service related to failures in the electrical panels on their homes. NV Energy has connected the main circuit-breakers on many such panels to its “smart meters”, which require the intervention of an NV Energy technician to disable to that the circuit-breakers can be worked on and repaired or replaced. However, NV Energy does not offer consumers a dedicated emergency response to promptly allow access to those consumers’ own electrical systems in situations where hours and even minutes matter for preserving life and property.

The Nevada Transhumanist Party considers particularly reprehensible the “No on 3” campaign in Nevada – orchestrated and almost exclusively (99.99%) financed by NV Energy and its connected organizations – which has been disingenuous in its messaging and which has created many mistaken impressions on the part of the public. Question 3 would only deprive NV Energy of its monopoly powers; it would not mirror the California-style (pseudo)-“deregulation” of the late 1990s, nor would it thwart any renewable-energy projects. Quite the contrary, it has been NV Energy and only NV Energy that has stifled efforts by consumers and rooftop-solar installers to create genuine alternatives to NV Energy’s electrical grid and its intentionally cumbersome and restrictive policies.

Question 3, indeed, would require that the Nevada Legislature “ensure that protections are established that entitle customers to safe, reliable, and competitively priced electricity;” and “protect against service disconnections and unfair practices” – protections that are currently absent because of the NV Energy monopoly’s political connections, asymmetrical lobbying clout, and the regulatory capture of the Public Utilities Commission.

Nevada’s voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3 in 2016 (72.36% voted in favor). Now that NV Energy has launched a last-ditch campaign in reaction to the jeopardy in which its monopoly finds itself, voters should inform themselves and see through the misleading rhetoric of the “Coalition to Defeat Question 3” (i.e., NV Energy). The Nevada Transhumanist Party staunchly supports Question 3 as the pathway toward major technological progress and innovation in the realm of energy, harnessing the forces of market competition to provide cleaner, more affordable electricity for all Nevadans.

 

Ballot Question 4 Medical Equipment Sales Tax Exemption AmendmentSupport

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 10 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the exemption of durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for use by a licensed health care provider from any tax upon the sale, storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 4 to exempt durable medical equipment from sales and use tax. These taxes can often run into the thousands of dollars for sick and dying patients and could compromise the quality of their care. We support any measure that helps make medical equipment affordable and more widespread.

 

Ballot Question 5Automatic Voter Registration via DMVOppose

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Chapter 293 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to establish a system that will automatically register an eligible person to vote, or update that person’s existing Nevada voter registration information, at the time the person applies to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles for the issuance or renewal of any type of driver’s license or identification card, or makes a request to change the address on such a license or identification card, unless the person affirmatively declines in writing?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party opposes Ballot Question 5. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party supports efforts to render voter registration easy and seamless, the particular requirements of Ballot Question 5 would entail the DMV being mandated to insert disclosures that encourage voters to select a major political-party registration by including a statement “that the person will not be able to vote at a primary election for candidates for partisan offices of a major political party unless the person indicates a major political party affiliation”. Such wording – which would essentially compel a State agency to advertise for the major political parties – would further skew the political arena toward the major political parties and would entrench their dominance. Voter registration should furthermore always occur on an opt-in, rather than opt-out, basis; this is the only approach that consistently respects individual autonomy and choice to participate in the political system or to abstain from such participation. Opting in should be easy and made available through a variety of methods (including electronic, same-day registration), but the presumption of registration can create logistical difficulties for some individuals and conceivable situations where an automatic “updated” registration generates needless contradictions in a person’s registration status, which would actually render it more difficult for that person to subsequently cast a vote.

 

Ballot Question 6Renewable Energy Standards Initiative Oppose

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require, beginning in calendar year 2022, that all providers of electric utility services who sell electricity to retail customers for consumption in Nevada generate or acquire incrementally larger percentages of electricity from renewable energy resources so that by calendar year 2030 not less than 50 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by each provider to its retail customers in Nevada comes from renewable energy resources?“ (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party opposes Ballot Question 6. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party supports economical renewable energy and the acceleration of efforts to develop technologies to render as much of our energy supply renewable as possible, the ability to affordably generate 50 percent of the total electricity through renewable energy resources is ultimately a technological challenge, not a political one. If the technology is ready, and the market is robust and competitive enough to deploy it to consumers at more attractive prices than fossil-fuel energy, then a 50-percent or greater renewable proportion of electricity will be achieved by 2030 without the need for a mandate. If, however, the technology cannot yet render renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels, then the only effect of the mandate would be to push up costs and constrict supply of electricity to consumers. The surest way to bring about a future of greater renewable energy is to repeal the NV Energy monopoly which has been standing in its way. Through competition, both technological and marketing innovations will thrive and will deliver renewable energy solutions to consumers.  Ballot Question 3, rather than Ballot Question 6, is therefore a superior means toward that goal.

 

Mr. Stolyarov is the Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party and Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
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This post may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II). Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.