East Regional Sweet Sixteen Matchup: Snowe vs. Sanders
#2 seed: Former Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Born: February 21, 1947 (age 66) — Augusta, Maine.
Background: Snowe entered politics early, winning election to the Maine State House at age 26. She later became a Maine State Senator, won election to the House of Representatives in 1978, and won election to the Senate in 1994. She served three full terms before retiring in 2012.
Former Party: None. Lifelong [reasonable] Republican.
Strength: Bipartisan approach and moderation. Snowe was lauded during her time in the Senate for her moderate approach and her ability to work behind closed doors influencing the outcomes of close Senate votes. Her moderate approach had vast appeal to her Maine constituents, and she never lost an election in 35 years of running for and holding elected office.
Weakness: Retirement. Snowe retired in 2012 rather than run for a 4th Senate term (which she indubitably would have won) due to the hyperpartisanship and overwhelming disfunction of US Congress. While Congress now more than ever could use a voice like Snowe’s, perhaps she was right to think that her voice could be more useful from outside the Senate chamber. Thankfully, Snowe has stayed involved in politics since her retirement, founding Olympia’s List to support centrist federal politicians, and joining the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank in February 2013.
#3 seed: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Born: September 8, 1941 (age: 71) — Brooklyn, New York.
Background: Sanders’ political career began as an anti Vietnam War protest candidate in 1971, and he ran unsuccessfully several times under the Liberty Union party banner for offices including Vermont Governor. In 1981, Sanders was elected Mayor of Burlington, Vermont as a Socialist candidate and served until 1989, running unsuccessfully for Vermont’s at large House seat in 1988. He won that seat two years later in 1990, and served as the first Independent Congressman in 40 years — the first to call himself a “socialist” in 60 years! Sanders “graduated” to the Senate in 2007, where he is one of two “independents” along with Maine’s Angus King, although both caucus with the Democratic Party.
Former Party: Liberty Union Party.
Strength: Outspoken policy views. Sanders is certainly not an ideologically moderate “independent”, and would be characterized by many as the most liberal Senator in the body politic. Sanders has been a staunch advocate for the Environment, against corporate greed and big banks, and calling for media reform to break up the conglomerate held corporate media. While many independent voters may not agree with his ideological stance, they can certainly admire his independent spirit.
Weakness: Extremism. When one is a self-described “socialist”, that’s going to turn off a large portion of the American public. Lucky for Senator Sanders, he’s not a national office holder, and is tapped into the views of his constituents in Vermont, where he consistently ranks as one of the most popular Senators in terms of approval ratings.
Who’s your pick? Remember to cast your vote on the Independent Voters of America Facebook Page! And check back throughout the rest of March for more IVA Madness breakdowns.