Welp. Here’s a national campaign message you don’t hear often: Quit having babies.
That is, however, a major talking point in the campaign of Gary Swing, a 48-year-old cultural event promoter in Denver who has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for U.S. Senate in Colorado as a member of the Boiling Frog Party.
Haven’t heard of it? Don’t feel silly just yet.
“The Boiling Frog Party is a figment of a dark green corner of my warped imagination,” Swing told The Colorado Independent in an interview. “It’s basically something I made up.”
Indeed, the Boiling Frog Party is more of a ballot label for Swing’s independent U.S. Senate bid rather than a national political institution. If you’ve ever heard the apocryphal story, you get the idea: Put a frog in a pot of boiling water and it will jump out. Put a frog in cold water and then gradually (and sadistically) turn up the heat, and the frog will adjust to the changes and eventually boil itself to death.
“It’s not a true story, but it’s a myth people use as a metaphor to compare to situations gradually getting worse and worse over time,” Swing says. “And people don’t protest, they just get accustomed to the way things are and they allow things to get worse and worse until it’s too late to do anything about it.”
So that’s the idea of his Boiling Frog Party.
Swing, who comes from an environmentalist background and has run previously for office on the Green Party platform in Colorado, calls this particular race for U.S. Senate a bit of dark political humor. He did file federal paperwork, though, and he does intend to undertake a petition drive to get on the ballot as a Boiling Frog.
“It’s kind of absurdist electoral politics,” he told The Independent. “But there’s a serious message behind the humor as well, and it’s about the sustainability about our current way of life.”
Part of this Boiling Frog’s message is quite simple actually: Stop having kids.
“We need to both greatly reduce our per-capita consumption,” Swing says about what individual Coloradans can to do help the planet. “And also we need to greatly lower birth rates in order to have any chance of ecological recovery.”
You read that right.
In 2011, Swing had read a story in the satirical newspaper The Onion about the entire human race taking some time off from having children until things around the world got a little more under control.
“I think that would be an excellent idea if we actually did that,” Swing says.
While he says one part of the equation to achieving sustainability is reducing birth rates, the other is those in industrialized nations greatly reducing their ecological footprints.
“Towards that end, I suggest pursuing a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity, eating lower on the food chain—less meat and dairy products— localizing food production, and reducing or eliminating reliance on fossil fuels, including personal automobiles,” he says, adding he hasn’t had a car since 2011.
As the candidate conducts his petition drive for ballot access, he wants voters to know a few things: We all need to work a little harder to make life more sustainable. We act like we’re the only species on Earth. We’re unsettling the planetary boundaries that enable life to exist. We’re on the fast track to destroying ourselves and other animals.
“I think we’re maybe a generation or two left before we face a massive die-off of the human race as a consequence of our own unwillingness to limit our own environmental impact,” Swing deadpans.
When he’s not campaigning, Swing distributes promotional materials for theaters, ballets, symphonies and festivals. He has a bachelors degree in political science from CU Boulder and a masters degree in public administration from the University of Denver. For the past decade he’s spent half the year doing long-distance backpacking trips, becoming the 16th person to climb all 637 mountains over 13,000 feet, he says. He’s completed the backpacking Triple Crown: The Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails.
He’s spent some time off and on with the Green Party and progressive political causes, too, but he’s not running on the Green Party platform this time because he feels it’s kind of maxed out in the current winner-take-all political system. He left the party after the last election.
“I thought for a while I would give up on electoral politics entirely as an exercise in futility,” he says. “But running as an independent I feel that I can be more creative and more provocative.”
As for how his campaign is going, Swing says he’s in the “testing the waters phase.” He plans to officially announce on April 30th, or Save the Frogs Day, from— where else?— a hot tub in Boulder.
[Photo credit: DonkeyHotey via Creative Commons on Flickr]