Zoltan Istvan: Why I’m Running for Governor of California as a Libertarian

Posted as an Opinion piece to Newsweek

February 12, 2017

My thirties started off in countries ravaged by environmental destruction and dictatorships. Back then, I was a journalist for National Geographic, spending most of my time abroad, even though I still called Los Angeles—my birth city—home. In the 100+ countries I visited, I reported on some harrowing stories: the Killing Fields in Cambodia, the near total deforestation of Paraguay, and the tense nuclear stand-off between India and Pakistan. I always hoped my words and on-camera television commentary brought some sanity and peace to the chaos.

While on assignment in Vietnam near the demilitarized zone, a near-miss with a landmine that could have been catastrophic sent me back home to the safety of the United States. Desiring stability, I started a real-estate development business with capital saved from my journalism. America was booming and my business thrived. I soon sold most of my real-estate portfolio, allowing me to live off my long-term investments.

I was lucky, for sure. Only a year later, I watched America, its banking system, and its real-estate market collapse. I watched friends lose everything, and my government try to fix something it had partially caused. The lessons—the distrust of big government, crony capitalism and unmanageable debt—seared themselves into my value system.

Finish reading the article here

36 thoughts on “Zoltan Istvan: Why I’m Running for Governor of California as a Libertarian

  1. Just Some Random Guy

    Oh, this guy. Remember when he ran for president under the “Transhumanist Party” and claimed he’d likely come in 5th in the presidential election, and didn’t even place?

    As for the governorship, is he actually running under the Libertarian Party banner? The article is unclear whether he’s doing that or is just doing it as a small-l libertarian. And if it’s for the LP ticket, it’s again unclear whether he’s running with the ticket or if he’s just running for the ticket.

  2. Eric

    Understand that in California our primaries are open and candidates appear with a party preference but that does not mean they are running with the blessing or backing of that party.

  3. Darcy G Richardson

    Eccentric and offbeat candidates add some occasional color to American politics, but it’s really hard to believe that Gary Johnson, as Istvan claims, ever seriously considered this guy as a possible vice-presidential running mate last year. It’s even more difficult to imagine that the former New Mexico governor spent 24 straight hours with him — unless, of course, it was as a kind of unwanted houseguest and that Johnson was simply too polite and too much of a gentleman to ask him to leave.

    I’m betting on the latter.

    Then again, I could be totally wrong. Maybe Zolt and the dolt got along splendidly!

  4. Andy

    I recall that Zoltan held several points of view that were not really compatible with libertarianism. If so, he should not run as a Libertarian Party candidate. Unfortunately, under Top Two Primary, I don’t think that the Libertarian Party of California has any way of stopping anyone from running for office as a Libertarian Party candidate. The party does not have to endorse him, but I’m pretty sure that under Top Two, Zoltan could declare himself to be a Libertarian Party candidate, and appear on the Top Two Primary ballot with the Libertarian Party label next to his name regardless of whether or not anyone in the party nominates or endorses him. There could of course be other Libertarians who also run for Governor in the Top Two Primary, and the LP of California could endorse one of these other candidates.

  5. Zoltan Istvan

    Hi, To answer some comments here, I’m running for CA Governor 2018 under the Libertarian Party and seeking the endorsement of the party. I’ve been in close touch with both the state and national party prior to my decision to run. I’m also a member of both the state and national Libertarian Party, and a registered voter of the Libertarian Party.

    I understand some of my ideas in the past to some people seemed incompatible with libertarianism, however my Newsweek piece makes it clear that I was representing a historic science platform during my 2016 presidential campaign, and I was not always representing my personal beliefs–but rather the movement as a whole.

    This is a different campaign. I’m running as a Libertarian. And I will represent my libertarian values. Thanks for considering to support me. Zoltan Istvan

  6. so

    Zoltan, I agree with your concerns. I most certainly don’t agree with your political thought process that believes libertarianism is the best way to address climate change, robotization of jobs and other issues.

  7. Tony From Long Island

    Andy: ” . . . . .I recall that Zoltan held several points of view that were not really compatible with libertarianism. If so, he should not run as a Libertarian Party candidate. . . . . ”

    I’m not defending Zoltan the Magnificent, nor do I have any idea what his views are, but I’d just like to know from Andy, how may points of view are allowed to differ from the dogma before you say that person can’t run as a Libertarian?

    I’m not just busting on you here, I am actually curious.

  8. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Thanks for checking in with us, Mr. Istvan. I’m active with the LP CA in Los Angeles County. Please let me know if you come down here.

    Also, I’ll post additional items from you here, if you’d like. I can be reached at jcpyeatt@hotmail.com.

  9. Starchild

    Zoltan, welcome to the Libertarian Party. I’m not too surprised to see you here, since libertarianism and transhumanism are a natural fit.

    That was the reason I was rather disappointed that your campaign for president with the Transhumanist Party didn’t sound more libertarian, because I think the U.S. could use a transhumanist party. It just didn’t necessarily need a new transhumanist party, when the LP already embraces the fundamental transhumanist values of being open to new technology and supportive of letting people be all that they can be (so long as it does not involve initiating force or fraud against others). Have you come to realize this, now that you’re seeking office as a Libertarian? Are you encouraging your former colleagues in the TP to register Libertarian?

    But speaking of force and fraud…

    Do you still seek “free public education at every level” and “mandatory college education and preschool”? Expanded government spending on space exploration and “wars against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes”? (http://www.zoltanistvan.com/TranshumanistParty.html)

    Or were those positions simply political expedience and not what you really believed? In your article here, you write, “With leadership comes some compromise, and I veered both right and left (mostly left) to try to satisfy as many people as I could, even when it meant going against some of my own personal opinions.”

    I hope you will clarify for us, in detail, where you really stand on the issues mentioned above, and any others on which your presidential campaign was at odds with libertarianism, how long you’ve held your current stated beliefs, and how you came to hold them.

    You say above that you’ve been in close touch with the national and state Libertarian Party about running for California governor as a Libertarian. With whom did you speak, and what specifically did they tell you? I’m on the Libertarian National Committee, and the California state Executive Committee, and this is the first I’ve heard about it.

    Have you considered getting involved with the LP at the local level and demonstrating your commitment to libertarian values as an activist, or perhaps as a candidate for local office, before seeking an office like governor? That would have been my advice, if we’d spoken. There is a history of people who have no history in the libertarian movement coming along, joining the Libertarian Party, and seeking to run for a top office. Usually it hasn’t worked out too well either for them or for the party.

  10. Zoltan Istvan

    Hi Starchild, Thanks for the note. Your policy questions are excellent, and I have a few minutes to answer them here. I will not support mandatory college or preschool education; that was a Transhumanist Party platform dealing with longevity issues.

    On the other hand, to answer your other question, I think support for some government help with fighting of disease is warranted. In my opinion and to most transhumanist libertarians, death and aging are enemies of the people and of liberty (perhaps the greatest ones). I think government and libertarians have some interest in stepping in to protect life and liberties in this case, as it would against foreign aggression. But I want to be cautious here; I believe the greater role of government is to ensure free and thriving private markets for these liberties to be protected in.

    I’d also argue some government help for the space industry too is warranted. After all, not being able to get humans off this planet easily poses major existential risk in the event of a plague, asteroid, or some other catastrophic event. In this case again, a coordinated effort against a foreign enemy threeatening life and liberty (even ones that aren’t alive) could be acceptable and not too far of a stretch for some libertarians.

    I realize many of these ideas are radical, but I think there is a libertarian perspective for them all. And this is California too, after all. 🙂

    Regarding my campaign, I spoke with Ted Brown (a few times), chair of the state LP, and Carla Howell at the national LP. They gave me guidance as to the process of a run. They both were friendly but also concerned that I represent libertarianism properly. I promised them both that I would.

    I understand it might’ve been wiser to seek a lower office, but I felt the Governor position was the best fit for my political aims.

    I do plan to attend the So Cal regional conference on Feb 25. Please say hello if you happen to attand. Thanks and have a great day. Zoltan

  11. NewFederalist

    “In my opinion and to most transhumanist libertarians, death and aging are enemies of the people and of liberty (perhaps the greatest ones).” – Zoltan Istvan

    Wow! I understand the old saying about death and taxes but death and aging? Death is a natural part of life as is aging. I guess I must be missing the point. We CAN do something about taxes but death and aging? Not so much.

  12. AMcCarrick

    NewFederalist… Science is extremely close to curing natural death. There is 70% chance, if the government stays out of the way, that the average life span of someone under 40 could be about 200-300 years.

  13. NewFederalist

    That’s good to know. However, death and aging STILL occur. Without trying to get all metaphysical here I still maintain that libertarians can do more about taxes than death or aging. In fact, with drastically lower taxes the government will almost certainly be forced to stay out of the way of science and the effort to extend human lifespans.

  14. Andy

    There are theories (backed up by facts) that life extension technology is one of the reasons that the ruling elite want to kill off a lot of us. Another reason is emerging robot technology, which will eliminate the need for humans to do lots of jobs.

    This could be part of the reason for the push for gun control and building up the police state. It could also be a big part of the reason for the FEMA camps and underground bunkers that the government is building.

    We could be in for a very scary future.

  15. DJ

    “We could be in for a very scary future.”

    Or very interesting, depending on perspective.

    I don’t know that I agree with the authors ‘platform’ though I can’t deny his reasoning.
    That said, ideas aren’t biased where they come from and should he get national recognition there’s no telling what his ideas may spark or where they may come from and ideas manifest themselves in ways unimaginable.

  16. Richard Winger

    I am not persuaded that death is a terrible thing, having read “Consciousness Beyond Life, the Science of the Near-Death Experience” by Pim van Lommel. It was a best-seller in Europe. The author is a Dutch cardiologist.

    And even if that book and similar books are wrong, civilization seems to need death to advance. If no one ever dies, that makes it very difficult for society to evolve and advance. People with fixed ideas are sometimes a big impediment to the advancement of knowledge. Science especially depends on those oldsters with fixed opinions getting out of the way and clearing the way for younger people whose minds aren’t set.

  17. Just Saying

    I can see it now. Once the Libertarians accept Zoltan and transhumanism — don’t laugh, they embraced Goofy Gary, who once suggested on national television that the solution to global warming was space colonization — the party will have to come up with a new slogan.

    TAX-FREE IMMORTALITY — IN OUR COUNTRY, IN OUR TIME. VOTE LIBERTARIAN!

    The 1% — those so self-absorbed and with the means to want to live in that kind of artificial and superficial futuristic society — will absolutely love it.

    Let me light another cigarette.

  18. Tony From Long Island

    ANDY:

    ” . . . . There are theories (backed up by facts) that life extension technology is one of the reasons that the ruling elite want to kill off a lot of us. Another reason is emerging robot technology, which will eliminate the need for humans to do lots of jobs.

    This could be part of the reason for the push for gun control and building up the police state. It could also be a big part of the reason for the FEMA camps and underground bunkers that the government is building. . . . “

    Here we go again . . . . Ladies and Gentlemen, Alex Jones!! The only thing remotely within the realm of reality in that post is that automation continues to eliminate jobs that humans previously did.

  19. Andy

    “Tony From Long Island
    February 15, 2017 at 08:50
    ANDY:

    ‘ . . . . There are theories (backed up by facts) that life extension technology is one of the reasons that the ruling elite want to kill off a lot of us. Another reason is emerging robot technology, which will eliminate the need for humans to do lots of jobs.

    This could be part of the reason for the push for gun control and building up the police state. It could also be a big part of the reason for the FEMA camps and underground bunkers that the government is building. . . . ‘

    “Here we go again . . . . Ladies and Gentlemen, Alex Jones!! The only thing remotely within the realm of reality in that post is that automation continues to eliminate jobs that humans previously did.”

    So says a man who is too lazy to do any of his own research, so he remains ignorant.

  20. Steve Scheetz

    Say what you will about Zoltan, I met him when I was doing outreach at the DNC convention this past summer.. I thought he was a trip! I think that regardless of anything anyone might think, he is intelligent, articulate, and his principles as a trans-humanist are not terribly far from the values of Libertarianism. If he is willing to make those adjustments, I think he would be an excellent candidate!

    Though I would paint a giant ANCAP flag on the side of his van…… LOL

    Sincerely,

    Steve Scheetz

  21. Anthony Dlugos

    ” . . . . There are theories (backed up by facts) that life extension technology is one of the reasons that the ruling elite want to kill off a lot of us. Another reason is emerging robot technology, which will eliminate the need for humans to do lots of jobs.

    wow. He’s even loonier than I thought before reading this.

  22. Tony From Long Island

    Anthony, nah, we are just ignorant. Guess we better do some research on why the ruling elite want to kill us all. Who would they have to rule if they kill those whom they rule?

  23. Anthony Dlugos

    Tony,

    The irony is that belief in such things is probably what drives him to do all the signature gathering work and other such stuff that he does. Who’s about to dedicate their lives to “simplifying the tax code” or other wonkish stuff.

    Doesn’t have the same thrill as “saving the world from the reptilian overlords.”

  24. Andy

    I don’t have any “loony” beliefs. Everything I say is based on facts. If I am speculating, I was say that I am speculating. If I am pointing out a fact, then whatever I am saying will have sources to back up my assertion that it is a fact.

    Jesse Ventura did a show on the police state, and on this show, they got into FEMA camps.

    Check it out.

    Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura S02E04 Police State

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaN9xp6URtA

  25. Andy

    Description of the video below posted on YouTube: ”
    Elon Musk is only the latest billionaire tech-titan to declare that the system will have to implement Universal Basic Income (UBI) in order to compensate for the apocalypse of human jobs and the wiping out of the ability of the majority of people to continue making a living.

    The future could be very dark if we humans have no purpose, no freedom, and amount to little more than just pets…”

    Elite Will Pay Us Off, Then Overwrite Us: “Money Is Never Free”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09HOJtBiWn4

  26. Andy

    I don’t sit around and make stuff up, or naively believe everything that I hear without doing any fact checking or without analyzing things for myself. Like I said above, if I am speculating, I will say that I am speculating.

    I wish that none of this stuff was true. I hope that the bad stuff that is being talked about does not happen. I hope that the future is one of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

    Having said this, I’m not going to bury my head in the sand and pretend like everything is OK when it is not. If we all sit back and take that attitude, and do not do anything to stop any of the bad things that are potentially down the road, then it increases the likelihood of that bad things happening.

  27. Tony From Long Island

    Can someone please stop him??? Why was it necessary to put those all in separate posts?

    No one has taken Ventura seriously in 15 years. Trust me, I was someone pushing the LP to recruit Ventura to be their POTUS candidate for a long time – I think there was a letter on the subject from me in LP News at one time.

    However, now he’s just a washed up conspiracy theorist. As our tweeter-in-chief would say – SAD!

    I bought all of his books until he started his conspiracy stuff .

    Oh yeah . . .youtube is not “fact checking”

    Just stop already . . .

  28. dL

    I don’t sit around and make stuff up, or naively believe everything that I hear without doing any fact checking or without analyzing things for myself

    You are not fact checking your welfare arguments….you keep repeating the same bogus drivel.

    Stuff like permanent employment displacement by AI Bots is an obvious future, though not an immediate one. Of course, that could go one of two ways…”Need not apply” or “No need to apply.”

  29. Thomas L. Knapp

    “automation continues to eliminate jobs that humans previously did”

    I’m interested in whether or not it has begun to eliminate jobs on net. Back when I was a union factory worker, every time the company wanted to install some labor-saving machinery, people would complain that it would eliminate jobs. It did, but it also invariably created more jobs than it eliminated. More forklift drivers to handle increased volume. Running three shifts instead of two because the increased volume brought the unit cost down and sales increased. Etc.

    If automation really IS at or past the tipping point where it’s eliminating more jobs than it creates, then yes, eventually we’re going to start running into large-scale situations that challenge the traditional libertarian understanding of markets, work, etc. And the political alternatives those situations represent might (at least seemingly) come down to the option of dramatic/draconian population reduction measures or some kind of “Universal Basic Income” scheme.

    I had some problems with the Transhumanist Party platform and chose not to write in Zoltan Istvan for president in Florida (he was the only choice I really considered other than Gary Johnson from among balloted and registered write-in candidates). But if he’s personally a libertarian and planning to run on a libertarian platform instead of the Transhumanist Party boilerplate, I wish him well. Either way, I find his ideas and approach to campaigning to be quite interesting.

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