Illustrations: Seth Thompson

Would You Vote for a President Who Promised Eternal Life?

Inside the Transhumanist primaries, where the far-left and the far-right can only agree on one thing: living forever

Alex Pearlman
Published in
15 min readOct 16, 2019

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JJohannon Ben Zion joined the first debate wearing a gray tweed suit and an unfashionably wide tie. His shaggy brown hair and muttonchop sideburns curled out from underneath his large black headphones. The first official gathering of the three Transhumanist presidential candidates was to take place via Google Hangout, modered by Gennady Stolyarov II, a 32-year-old Belorussian actuary and the chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, from his home office in Nevada. He greeted the candidates while framed by a collection of gold-plated plastic trophies, which dated back to childhood and represented wins in debate, speech, and math tournaments.

Stolyarov approached the debate with a sense of decorum not usually seen on videoconferencing, addressing each person as “candidate so-and-so” and letting them each know how much time they had left. Ben Zion, 39, wanted to open the debate by addressing issues that face the crisis of the American middle class. He proposed a “Futurist New Deal,” which included universal health coverage and a $52,000 universal annual income to be funded through federal land leases to carbon-neutral companies — a proposal that mashes up the policies of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who advocates for universal basic income (UBI), and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who champions the Green New Deal.

Transhumanist candidates occupy the confusing liminal space where the progressive far-left meets the libertarian far-right in service of extreme life extension.

I watched the July 6 debate on my phone as my husband drove my toddler and me home from a weekend in western Massachusetts. The conversation was choppy and amateurish, a bizarre mashup of a formal Zoom conference call and a dorm room philosophy debate. It’s a challenge to pin down exactly where the Transhumanist party falls on the political spectrum: Candidates mostly occupy the confusing liminal space where the progressive far-left meets the libertarian far-right…

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Alex Pearlman
GEN
Writer for

Reporter. Bioethicist. Publishing on the intersection of ethics and policy with emerging science and tech.