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Advancing Life Extension via the USA Political System
Tom Mooney   Aug 14, 2012   Ethical Technology  

How can one promote longevity in the polarized atmosphere of contemporary USA politics? Registering to vote is the first step…

Historically art has been defined as the human ability to produce beautiful things such as paintings, music, dance, literature and other activities that require creativity. Over the years that definition has expanded to include things such as the"art"of making friends, or a surgeon’s"art” or, as this essay will analyze, “the art of politics - a term that is heard frequently in the corridors of political power such as the halls of Congress or the White House but in recent times has been unable to create anything of “beauty.”

Quite honestly, I am shocked, appalled, saddened and outraged at the politics of contemporary America. We have devolved into a sad situation in which money, self-interest, re-election, and narrow ideological agendas dominate our political life. Compromise has become a synonym for surrender
and polarization is the dominant word in the halls of Congress.

I am trying to give you an honest assessment of contemporary American political life. If I seem angry - you are right! For eight years I was a member of the Maryland legislature and I am deeply disturbed at what is occurring in Congress today. It is absolutely dysfunctional and hopefully it will be forced to change.

The question thus becomes, “What can we do to promote the issue of “life extension” in such an atmosphere? My response is that a profound opportunity exists to become involved and make a difference. Politics is an incredibly competitive profession. Ambitious people are competing to
make laws that profoundly impact your life. Those seeking election ignore you at their peril if you are registered to vote. It seems trivial but voting gives you political power.  Those seeking elected office closely monitor voting lists.

Presently, “life extension"is at best a fringe issue. Few know about it and fewer care. By registering to vote you have achieved a measure of political power and I suggest you do it as soon as possible.

I understand that many people do not get involved in voting or politics but if you care about extending your life indefinitely you must become involved at some level. Politics is a slow moving process but from personal experience I can affirm that reality.

Politics is not what you see on TV. It is not a group of statesmen and women debating issues on their merits; rather it is a highly competitive undertaking with ambitious people competing for the same job. I think it is true that most politicians look to the next election, not the next generation!

People count, but only if they participate in the system and the first step is registering to vote.

If you want to make life extension an issue you must look at your elected officials as people you hired to represent your political views. If they refuse to do that you have the opportunity to fire them at the next election.

Machiavelli said that power is taken, not given, and that is certainly true today.  Silence gets you nowhere. To wage a war on aging we need as many people as possible. Politics is a process that often works about as fast as a turtle swimming thru peanut butter but it is our mission to speed up that turtle to bring about life extension measures.

I know that politics can be overwhelmingly frustrating and many believe that little can be done to change that reality. I empathize with that feeling but I never succumb to it and neither should you. If you truly believe in life extension, doing nothing will only harm the cause.

Life extension is a controversial issue that has just recently entered the political discourse, it is controversial, and it does not yet have political saliency. That is certainly true. Most people are unaware that any research is underway to end aging and there are no large organized groups putting pressure on their elected officials to put money in the Federal budget to find ways to promote life extension measures. We are a nascent movement that is growing but we have not yet arrived on the political movement screen. Few politicians will risk any political capital on our issue.

That attitude must be changed! We need to do much organizing among the electorate at large.

Politicians will not support funding on research for something they know little about, especially when the budget is a major problem but I am convinced that the issue of life extension can gain saliency and become a major issue in American politics.
     
After all, our lives depend on it.

Tom Mooney has been a member of the Maryland legislature, a former nominee for Maryland Governor, a columnist for the Journal papers, and the author of "Live Forever or Die Trying." He's also a father of four children, a criminal defense attorney, and the Executive Director of the Coalition to Extend Life.



COMMENTS

Good article.

Can’t blame anyone for disliking politics, when I think of how disingenuousness politics is, then the reason for sports mania becomes clearer: scrimmaging on a football field—no matter how manic the devotion to football is—is preferable to the manipulation of politics. That politics should be this way is predictable, but not inevitable, we saw how in the ‘80s and ‘90s things could slowly improve, The Cold War ended after a the ‘80s finished, and then we had a tabula rasa throughout the ‘90s. The budget was even balanced in 2000, though not by much, about $100 billion; which is chicken-cratch in today’s world of trillions in government spending.
But we know that things change through dislocation, and there was no shortage of that the last decade. So now what do we do?
First, admit we are living in the ‘80s here in America, and such is important because it is a myth America is a progressive nation: it is dynamic, yes; but so was Mussolini’s Italy; dynamic is not synonymous with progressive. People probably care more about their shiny cars than life extension, or even old-fashioned fitness.
You can sympatise with it, it is a get-it-while-you-can approach
quasi-hedonist, enjoy living now, don’t think too much about tomorrow because you might not live till tomorrow.

I have to consider the very strong possibility that the private sector will get us there quicker and cheaper.

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