Top 10 Most Talked About Articles on IVN in 2013

In our commitment to elevating the discussion on issues that matter most to voters, IVN has featured in-depth and thought-provoking articles from independent-minded contributors on topics that range from election law to health care reform to the ongoing hyper-partisanship that plagues Washington. Our articles reach millions of readers every month and nearly 50,000 Facebook users. Visitors to IVN will not find another news platform as committed to maintaining civil discourse through an etiquette that governs all content on the network.

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The editorial team has complied a list of the 10 articles that reach to the core of what IVN is about and were the most talked about in 2013:

10. How to Argue with a Friend

National public discourse is plagued by vitriol and personal attacks. It is hard to move a conversation in the right direction when two people debating a political issue are more concerned with trying to convince others that their opponent secretly hates the United States and wants to destroy any hopes at a prosperous future for all Americans.

We think the “us vs. them” mentality that has produced lines like, “we need to take our country back,” only exists between political opponents, but we fail to realize how easy it is to treat friends like enemies when discussing politics. After all, we are human, and passions get the best of us sometimes.

Arguing as friends requires us to suppress the frightened, vulnerable, scurrying-reptile parts of our brains that see challenges and opposition as threats to our existence. Yet, it can be done.

Check out the 6 useful tips columnist Michael Austin has to debating politics with friends.

9. It’s The End of the World As We Know It… Or Is It?

Leading up to the government shutdown, mainstream media outlets counted down to the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year and the deadline to produce some kind of agreement on the budget like it was the countdown to the apocalypse. Republicans and Democrats spent more time pointing fingers of blame and using recycled talking points to convince the public that the other side was the problem.

While the focus should have been on fiscal issues, such as fixing sequestration and targeting real waste to cut down on deficit spending, it was instead on Obamacare. Despite having all the time in the world to get its fiscal house in order, the least productive Congress in the history of the United States devoted its time to fruitless endeavors to score political points.

This debate deserves more seriousness than it is getting. Many would argue that there are flaws in the Affordable Care Act, but it is not like lawmakers did not see the implementation of the law coming.

As the Affordable Care Act was arguably turned into the number one political issue in America in 2013, this article by IVN’s editor-in-chief, Shawn M. Griffiths, sparked a lively discussion on not only by the legislation colloquially known as “Obamacare,” but the priorities of our lawmakers in Congress.

8. How Do Primary Elections Work? An Overview and Legal Analysis

Do you know the difference between a closed and semi-closed primary? How about the difference between an open primary and a nonpartisan system? Even though primaries are an pivotal first step in the election process, primary elections do not get the consideration they should in the mainstream media.

Prior to legal analysis of primary election laws, it is imperative that we have a strong understanding of definitions used to refer to each type and component of a primary election.

Learn everything you need to know about primaries in this overview by IVN founder and director of operations at IVC Media, Chad Peace.

7. Beards and Circuses: Feeding the Great American Outrage Machine

While the issue is still fresh in the nation’s collective conscience, the Duck Dynasty debacle highlights just how out of hand the ongoing “culture war” in the United States can get. Who is to blame for this? Is it Phil Robertson? A&E? Or is it the media for putting it at the forefront of the national political dialogue? Do we, as a society, take shows like Duck Dynasty too seriously?

The two principal belligerents in the culture war each have a narrative in which they are the oppressed victims of the relentless bullying and narrow-mindedness of the other guys, and they are both very good turning everything that they see into part of those narratives.

Published author, professor, and political pundit Michael Austin takes a closer look at the issue in this thought provoking article which became one of the most popular articles of the year in its first day of publication.

6. Just 35 of 435 Elections Competitive after 201 Years of Gerrymandering

With hyper-partisanship in Washington reaching a boiling point, the 113th Congress is not only the least productive Congress in United States history, but it is also the worst in terms of representation. Many people look back at the 201 years of partisan redistricting as a major part of the problem.

All citizens are equal, but some citizens have a more meaningful voice at the polls than others. All citizens can vote and many do, but

This article, written by IVN contributor Josh Alvarez, highlights a growing concern in the electoral process nationwide and elevates the conversation on gerrymandering.

5. 30 Reasons Why Independent Voters Are Not a Myth

There have been a number of articles that have published both in print and online about how the independent voter — the voter who chooses candidates over a party and is able to think beyond the same old partisan talking points on issues — is largely a myth. Millions of voters are living proof that independent voters are not a myth. In fact, the independent-minded is the fastest growing segment of the American electorate.

2. It is statistically proven that independents do not just vote for one party, debunking the myth that they are all “closet partisans.”

In collaboration with the nearly 50,000 Facebook users who follow IVN, social media director Jane Susskind complied a list of 30 reasons why independent voters are not a myth and how they are shaping the national electorate.

4. Will a 51st State Be Created through Secession?

It doesn’t matter how a state is painted on an electoral map, secession is an idea that has been thrown around in many states, including California, Michigan, and states some may not be so surprised about — Texas for example. It has been the subject of White House petitions and grassroots activism and no matter how a person feels about it, secession is something that has been seriously debated by political junkies, expert commentators, and political candidates.

Of course, state secession is nothing new. Residents of Northern California have been fighting for a new state named “Jefferson” since 1941. Just as the movement was gaining attention, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and any talk of an additional state was pushed aside until after World War II.

This article was written by regular IVN contributor Sam Genson and created one of the most lively discussions on IVN in 2013.

3. Why Political Parties Control Elections

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What many may not realize about the electoral process is that the major political parties have an iron grip over elections and it is at the expense of taxpayers. In most states, millions of voters have to sacrifice their First Amendment right of non-association to participate in the pivotal primary process because political parties have decided their right of association trumps the rights of individual voters. Voters are denied meaningful participation in the election process even though they pay for the elections.

The Republican Party, for example, led the challenge against Washington state’s nonpartisan primary system and has fought to close primary elections to nonpartisan voters in Idaho and Virginia.

The Independent Voter Project, in collaboration with IndependentVoting.org and Vote USA, launched End Partisanship “advocating for an end to party control of our elections.”

2. ‘Obamacare’ Was Originally Proposed By Republicans

That’s right. What many people may not be aware of now that the political dialogue on the subject has shifted so radically is that an individual mandate on health insurance was originally proposed by Republicans and conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation. Since it turned out to be one of the most contested political issues of the year,

By the time Bill Clinton was preparing his health care reform in 1993, many Republicans who backed the alternative individual mandate approach claimed it was a “personal responsibility” to have health care.

On top of receiving over 2,200 likes on Facebook and being shared over 100 times on Twitter, this article, written by IVN contributor Taylor Tyler, was one of the most talked about articles on IVN in 2013.

1. Military Families Will Be Hit Hard By Spending Cuts in 2014

Before the recent bipartisan budget deal passed Congress, there was much concern within the defense department and the public over the impact sequestration would continue to have on the military, as well as troops, veterans, and their families.

Officials in the DoD tried to ease the effects of sequestration as much as they could in 2013, but they were also looking ahead with uncertainty at additional cuts in Fiscal Year 2014. If Congress refused to act, military families would have felt the toughest pinch.

The problem is that “other areas” include programs that active duty members and their families depend on, in addition to operating budgets that pay for things like fuel for ships and planes and food in chow halls. This could also be very bad for civilian DoD employees, as it could mean that they simply lose their jobs altogether, instead of just losing a few days of work.

This article, written by IVN contributor Wendy Innes, received over 60,000 likes on Facebook and was shared approximately 130 shares on Twitter. It was the most talked about article on IVN in 2013.