Noah Dyer is an odd guy. He’s a thirty-something Democrat and “hobby stage hypnotist” running for governor in Arizona, and as you might recall (but probably not) he’s the “anti-privacy activist” who in 2014 tried to raised $300,000 to live-stream his entire life for a year. He came up just $298,913 short of his goal.
Turns out, not many people were eager to take part in what Dyer billed as a radical political experiment—he believes the ideal society is one in which the right to privacy does not exist—but could also be described as “random guy on internet seeks money for fetish.” Points for trying, though.
“Maybe you have an interest in seeing a grown man urinate or defecate,” Dyer wrote to prospective donors on his failed Kickstarter page. “You may be interested in seeing me, or women who likes me, naked.” (We didn’t; we weren’t.) Now he’s running for public office, which seems like a natural career progression. After all, the differences between being a politician and being a “professional public defecator” are not as profound as most politicians would like to believe.
Dyer’s commitment to absolute transparency (or his compulsion to overshare, depending on your point of view) is the reason why people are talking about his candidacy for governor. His campaign website features a “Scandal and Controversy” section that includes, perhaps for the first time in American politics, a detailed paragraph about the candidate’s (unconventional) sexual history. (It also includes an extensive list of every book he’s every read, which isn’t obnoxious or pretentious at all.)
Dyer writes (brags?) about having “both deep and casual sexual experiences with all kinds of women.” He is a fan of open relationships, group sex, making sex tapes, sexting, and cuckolding other men. He is “unapologetic about his sexual choices,” and believes in the rights of all Americans to “express themselves” sexually.
This is an example of what Dyer has described as his “unique willingness to be open with voters,” and the “modern” nature of his candidacy. In a way, he (sort of) has point. In interviews, Dyer has cited Donald Trump’s political success as something of an inspiration—not because he agrees with any of Trump’s policies, but because Dyer thinks voters were receptive to Trump’s brash disdain for the so-called “norms” of political etiquette.
Voters are certainly fed up with the political “establishment” and the rules by which it has operated for decades. That’s a good thing. Career politicians, and their devotion to the unwritten rule they insist should govern our national discourse, deserve little sympathy. Bill Clinton, of all people, recently lamented: “We have to find a way to bring simple, personal decency and trust back to our politics.”
Slick Willy isn’t wrong, exactly, but the rise of Trump, a reality star who once boasted about the size of his genitals on a debate stage, can be explained, at least in part, by the American public’s rightful contempt for these condescending lectures about morality—from a disbarred philanderer, no less.
Noah Dyer might not win many points in the “personal decency” category, but when it comes to trust, his rationale for being upfront with voters about his sex life is actually pretty sound. He reckons that most voters don’t really care about his unconventional sex life, provided he doesn’t try to hide this information from them. Having it revealed months from now in media reports, or an opponent’s attack ad—thereby exposing him as a dishonest hypocrite with something to hide—would be far more damaging politically. It would appear that Dyer understands the basic concept of “trust” far better than Clinton ever will.
That’s refreshing in the same way that Trump, for all his faults, was a refreshing departure from political conventions. Voters will ultimately get to decide if Dyer’s sexual exploits, his view that sleeping with married women isn’t a particularly “troublesome activity,” and the fact that he divorced his wife (and mother of his kids) because he “really wanted to have sex with other people” should disqualify him from public office, even if they otherwise support his policies, such as his proposal to give “expedited legal status” to everyone who wants to live in the United States.
For some reason, that last part, about why he left his wife, is nowhere to be found on Dyer’s website, though he has mentioned it in previous interviews, before he decided to run for office.
The Huffington Post, among others, is pretty excited about Dyer’s candidacy because “the possibilities for furthering sex positivity in this country are nothing short of revolutionary if others choose to follow his lead.” Such a revolution, like Dyer’s dream of a privacy-free society, probably won’t be realized anytime soon.
Most voters don’t want to hear every last detail about the sex lives of their elected officials. Right? Who wants to know about what Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chow get up to in (or outside) the bedroom? I wish that question was easier to answer. Americans are suckers for reality television, its lurid drama and prurient “transparency.” It’s why Noah Dyer’s otherwise boring candidacy has managed to attract so much media attention. The experts think he has no chance of winning. And they’re never wrong.