When Donald John Trump announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election at the Trump Tower to an audience of about a thousand supporters on a blustery New York morning on June 16, 2015, no one could’ve anticipated the impact that he would have on this election cycle. No one (aside from Ann Coulter) could’ve even envisioned Mr. Trump winning the GOP presidential nomination. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time – even Mr. Trump himself -, there was a leadership void within the Republican Party that was crying out to be filled.
The billionaire’s no-nonsense style, outsider status, business savvy and keen political instincts drew in the support of blocks of politically frustrated middle class conservatives, tea partiers and Ron Paul’s orphaned paleolibertarians, who were all looking for a champion to lead them and give their struggle a voice. In the following months, these disparate groups of voters organically coalesced into a powerful coalition which has propelled Mr. Trump’s candidacy from the fringes of the race to the summit of the Republican nomination leaderboard with surprising, albeit controversial, ease.
And to think, the teetotaler wasn’t even certain about running as late early 2015. There were real fears that similar to the general elections of 1988, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, Mr. Trump would not make a bid for the nomination despite giving indications that he might.
His giddying ascension in the polls has been met with incredulous wonder by the media and more established candidates who have long fallen to the wayside. His combative performances in the debates left his opponents tongue-tied, much to the delight of his supporters. His controversial off-the-cuff deliveries and political incorrectness are viewed proudly by his legion of followers. His war cry, Make America Great Again, has galvanized even the elderly to attend his lively rallies.
Mr. Trump’s in-your-face style has drawn a lot of flak from all corners, but only a fool would doubt that there is a method behind his apparent madness. As the former reality TV star has demonstrated repeatedly throughout his career, his audacity is always accompanied by a ferocious intelligence.
There is simply no denying that Mr. Trump has changed the face of American politics forever. And the prospect of a businessman being elected to the White House has rekindled century-old memories of the Roaring Twenties when entrepreneurs such as Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover occupied the Oval Office.
Mr. Trump’s nationalist populist brand of politics captured the imagination of the nation, and powered his victory in the Republican primaries. However, will the charismatic real estate tycoon be able to use an identical approach in his White House run, or will he pivot to the center and reign in his explosive personality? Will he be able to unite the party’s fractured base and win over the agitated social conservatives? Will Miley Cyrus move out of the country if Mr. Trump is elected?
Zoltan Istvan lives in Mill Valley, California. He attended and graduated from Columbia University, where he majored in Philosophy and Religious Studies, but he has had a diverse career as a journalist, businessman, and writer, among other professions. A man with a deep affection for science and technology and their potential for improving human life, he founded – and is running for President as the nominee of - the Transhumanist Party, whose platform endorses technological progress as its main priority, with the aim of enhancing the natural human body to undreamed of levels of performance. He is the published author of “The Transhumanist Wager”, a novel based upon his aspirations for augmenting humanity.
Istvan has been interviewed on numerous occasions about Transhumanism, including by FOX News and The Financial Times among a great many others, where he elaborates upon his and his party's leanings and intentions. He believes that by vastly increasing the resources available to research scientists, it will be possible to develop technologies capable of dramatically improving the human body. Istvan speaks of bionic eyes enabling blind people to see and mechanical limbs repairing those who have been maimed, but he goes further, suggesting that the eyes could be tuned to detect not only naturally visible light but infrared and ultraviolet radiation as well, and that the prosthetic arms and legs could be many times more powerful and dextrous than biological extremities. He is also particularly concerned with technological means of slowing, stopping, and eventually reversing the aging process, and boasts that should one trillion dollars be invested in the life-extension field, “we will conquer human mortality within ten years.”
In order to secure such substantial sums for his research goals, Istvan particularly targets defense spending for budget cuts, in order that those resources be redirected to human improvement. “Why should we have a war in Afghanistan,” he asks, “if we can have a war on cancer, or a war on heart disease?” He also calls out the Iraq War, arguing that even a fraction of the money spent on that conflict would have been enough to end death.
Beyond his Transhumanist policies, Istvan is generally left-leaning. He accepts the theory of global warming and believes that human activity is responsible for the changing climate, however he rejects any notion of slowing progress in order to address the problem. Instead, his solution is once again technology, as he calls for research into scientific methods of modifying the planet's climate to compensate for the damage humanity has caused. He also professes his personal atheism, though he is careful to point out that absence of religious faith is not a prerequisite to Transhumanist inclusion.
Especially due to his feelings toward military spending, an extremely hot-button issue among many conservatives, most of Istvan's political support is to be found left of center. Regardless, even he himself would likely agree the point is moot – he readily admits that as a third-party candidate, his chances of winning the election are virtually nonexistent, and says that he is running to increase awareness of the Transhumanist platform rather than because he hopes to attain the White House.