Daniel Geery has spent most of his life living the way he’s wanted to see the world. In the ‘80s, when solar energy was considered almost a junk science, Geery lived off the grid in a solar-powered house in Shelley, Idaho. Now, disgusted with the influence of money in politics, Geery is running for federal office on a pledge to take not a dime in contributions.
“I’m no a politician in the usual sense of the word,” says Geery, who, unlike most candidates for office, can back it up.
Geery, while always passionate about issues like the environment and the national deficit, has not intended to be a politician. He’s worked as a school teacher most of his life including his time off the grid in Idaho, as well as teaching youth classes at the Utah Natural Museum History and a stint teaching on the Navajo reservation in southern Utah.
His off-the-grid experience was the realization of Geery’s fascination with the energy civilization runs on. After being a champion of cleaner energy throughout the ‘70s, he put his idealism into action and put a roof over his head with his hopes of cleaner energy. This was 1983; his Idaho home used old, discarded phone-company batteries charged with solar energy. “It was interesting. I’d go to the school sometimes and people would complain of power outages and I would say ‘what power outages?” Geery says. “And in the science classes, they were telling my children that solar power wasn’t feasible. But it was full proof even then.”
Since then, Geery says had society invested in clean fuel the way they’ve subsidized the fossil-fuel industry, the technology could have made untold strides. “If we’d been working on this the last 15 years, we’d have cars getting 100 miles to the gallon by now,” Geery says. It's part of the reason Geery now is entering the political realm in challenging 36-year senatorial incumbent Orrin Hatch for his seat, to try and get people to reexamine priorities in energy policy.
It’s also a race Geery has no illusions about winning.
But when Geery heard that former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson had formed the Justice Party and was using the party to chase a bid for the White House, Geery decided to hop on board to represent the party in the senate race.
“I guess that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, seeing where the world is at and where we are at, having a grandson … I just felt it was time to give something back, something different than business as usual,” Geery says. While Geery’s campaign site doesn’t drill down on a lot of policy specifics, he does espouse progressive values while also embracing fiscal conservatism. He believes the country has invested too much in frivolous military spending, and the electoral system has become too beholden to moneyed interests.
“Seems like to me we should be running this country on good ideas, not just money like it is now,” Geery says.
Currently, Geery’s running his campaign on a policy of accepting no donations and trying to float the merit of his ideas through social media and word of mouth. While he’s not putting up billboards or taking out ads, Geery is hoping in a small part to do what he can to reframe the idea of what American politics and government should be about.
“I don’t expect to overturn the world overnight,” Geery says. “Nobody’s going to do that, but maybe I can try to head it in the right direction.”