IVA Madness: Final Four!

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It’s all come down to this. The IVA Madness Final Four.

Bernie Sanders. Rand Paul. Jesse Ventura. Ron Paul. Who will independent voters name their 2013 champion?

Each politician has unique qualities that appeal to independent minded voters, but all share at least one common political trait — they’re outspoken critics of the status quo of American politics. Let’s take a look back at how all four got to this point, and the best reason each “candidate” could win it all. In case you need a refresher, here’s how the “bracket” currently stands:

Matchup #1 – Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) vs. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

East Region Champion: Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) earned his trip to the Final Four with victories over retired Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine (58%) and Governor Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island (68%). Sanders’ strength of appeal to Independent Voters of America is obvious — he’s one of the two actual “independent” candidates (although truly a socialist) left in the competition, and he’s certainly isn’t shy about sharing his opinions on the Senate floor. Sanders has consistently been a champion for unsexy yet vastly important issues like campaign finance reform, and in this competition he’s the only candidate remaining that leans left of center. Will this be his ticket to the championship, or a critical downfall?

South Region Champion: Rand Paul

While Sanders may be a veteran of the Senate, Final Four opponent Rand Paul is just getting his feet wet in his first term. Paul’s lack of experience didn’t seem to phase voters in the first two rounds — he blew out former Florida Governor Charlie Crist (74%), and followed up with an even more dominant performance against the Senate’s other Independent member, Angus King of Maine (78%). Paul’s strength versus his IVA Madness competitors is his youth – as the only politician left with a seemingly bright future, his 2016 (and beyond!) prospects for gaining national clout could be the ticket to winning favor with the Independent Voters of America community hungry for future change in American politics — not the nebulous kind Barack Obama promised — actual serious reform.

Matchup #2 – Gov. Jesse Ventura (I-MN) vs. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)

Midwest Region Champion: Jesse Ventura

Governor Jesse Ventura certainly wasn’t shy during his years as a pro wrester, actor, or Governor of Minnesota. Likewise, IVA members weren’t shy about supporting Ventura over Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia (72%) or Governor Charles “Buddy” Roemer of Louisiana (85%) on his journey to the IVA Madness Final Four. Of all four remaining contenders, Ventura surely has the “moderate” credentials to appeal to the widest swath of ideologies. His time in office in Minnesota saw “The Body” attempt to combine fiscal conservatism and social liberalism into the political brand of the future — a strategy that we’ve only recently seen American politicians successfully imitate as public opinion has changed on issues like marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights.

West Region Champion: Ron Paul

Retiree meets retiree, and as a consolation prize, if Ron Paul doesn’t win this competition, at least his son might… The elder Paul has rolled over stiff Republican/Libertarian competition, besting Senator John McCain of Arizona (80%) and then dominating fellow Libertarian presidential candidate Governor Gary Johnson (73%) in the most popular IVA Madness matchup that saw well over 900 votes cast (we can only hope no bots were involved). Despite retiring after his failed 2012 presidential campaign for the Republican nomination, Paul has maintained an active media presence (see: commentary on the Boston Marathon bombings), and based on previous raw vote totals in this competition, is on the inside track to claim the IVA Madness title.

Can his son, Bernie Sanders, or Jesse Ventura rise up against the Ron Paul Revolution?  Cast your votes at the Independent Voters of America Facebook Page and make your voice heard!

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