He was dark horse in 1998 when he ran for governor of Minnesota as an independent. Despite being largely outspent by both his Republican and Democrat challengers, Jesse Ventura came out victorious. Though controversial at times, there are many reasons to believe he could be successful again if he ever chose to run again.
The son of two World War 2 veterans, the man known as Jesse "the Body" Ventura was born on July 15, 1951 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After graduating Roosevelt High School in 1969, Ventura served in the United States Navy from December of 1969, to September of 1975. Ventura was part of the Underwater Demolition Team during the Vietnam War era, and graduated in BUD/S class 58 in December of 1970. Following his military service, Ventura broadened his life by becoming a successful professional wrestler where he would eventually receive honors in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, as well as being one of the top commentators after his time in the squared circle was over. Starring in top Hollywood films during the 1980s, such as Predator and the Running Man, Ventura kept his name in the spotlight.
It wasn't until 1990 when Jesse Ventura got his feet wet in politics. After serving as the Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota from 1991 to 1995, Jesse Ventura became Gov. Ventura in 1998. Spending less money to get the job than he made doing it, Ventura defeated Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey 3rd, and won as an independent under the Reform Party. Following his time in office, Ventura has hosted multiple TV shows, written best selling books, and continues to be a strong voice in American politics, whether people like it or not.
Many have urged the former governor to run for office again, even as an independent in the upcoming 2016 election. Ventura has not ruled out that possibility, stating that he would strongly consider it if he was given ballot access in all 50 states, and was guaranteed a spot in the debates. "If i can debate, I can beat them," Ventura has said on more than one occasion.
The idea of another run for office for Ventura shouldn't be something that comes as a total surprise, but maybe out of left field since many in the main stream media have been so critical of him since he left office as governor of Minnesota. Over the last decade, Ventura has been outspoken about his uneasiness to accept the government's official account of 9/11, as well as his strong criticism of the government in general when it comes to foreign policy, the Patriot Act, the NSA surveillance program and what the governor calls the "gestapo," in the TSA agents at the airport, who he took to court, citing a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Despite only being guilty of saying what many others are often thinking, Ventura's record in office and military service show that he could very well be a capable leader if he decided to do so.
During his time as governor of Minnesota, Ventura made a promise that any state surplus ran at the end of the year should be returned back to the taxpayer, which they were in the form of "Jesse checks" to the tune of nearly $2 billion. In what is considered his most monumental legislative achievement, Ventura implemented a complete overall of the property tax system. Minnesota Public Radio reports.
"'It's the biggest change in the structure of how state and local government is financed in about 30 years," said Matt Smith.
Smith was Ventura's revenue commissioner, and the man charged with taking Ventura's vision of a simpler property tax system and getting it through the Legislature. The reforms shifted the entire cost of basic education to the state, and reduced business and apartment property tax rates to be more in line with homeowners' rates."
Ventura's vision is one that is forward looking. Also while governor, Ventura was able to start construction on the METRO Blue Line light rail in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area.
Moving forward, Ventura has progressed, but has remained largely consistent and has stuck to his core believes and values. In a country that is questionable of big business being in bed with government officials, Ventura isn't one to hold back and call out both parties when they need to be put in line. Ventura seems to be in lockstep with the majority of the American people when it comes to top social issues such as same-sex marriage and across the board LGBT rights, women's rights, ending the war on drugs and marijuana legalization, as well as standing by a woman's right to choose. With the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case making headlines, Ventura has stated that, while he supports the right of an individual to hold any belief they choose, it should not be forced onto others, and a business shouldn't dictate the health care options of its employees.
Ventura doesn't always line up with what would be considered "liberal" views, he's a supporter of the Second Amendment, but also supports criminal and background checks in order to be a gun owner. Ventura has stated that gun responsibility goes with gun rights and "if you’re going to own a gun, know what you’re doing."
Another major issue that grips both liberals and conservatives is big money in politics. As each election passes, more money is being spent by outside groups, especially following the 2010 Supreme Court decision of "Citizens United, which essentially gave corporations the same rights as individual citizens. Ventura has said that the Citizens United decision was one of the worst in history and has created a system in Washington that was “based on bribery.” Ventura has sarcastically suggested that politicians wear NASCAR suits “that way we know who owns the candidates.”
During a February interview with Salon, Ventura was asked where he stood on the issue of money in politics, and while the governor didn't say he would restrict the spending, he would support a full open disclosure system and eliminating all political "PACS."
"I wouldn't restrict campaign spending. I would just make it to where the candidate is completely responsible, with open books, so that everything comes from that candidate. All money spent comes from the candidate, and it’s open.
We've got to get rid of these PACs, this special interest, and all this corporate that’s taken over our system, and make the candidate responsible for every ad and every dollar spent in that campaign....the only way you can get rid of that is to amend the Constitution. Now, there’s a movement to do that, and I would support that movement. Because I don’t think that corporations are people."
Though many perceive Ventura as a conservative libertarian, he's actually very progressive. In fact, Ventura has said that to him, libertarian really just means liberal. The former governor describes himself as socially liberal, fiscally conservative, but does believe the government has a roll in helping those in financial need. This thought process is evident when describing his stance on universal health care. During a recent episode of his own internet TV show on Ora.tv titled "Off the Grid," Ventura stated that health care is a human right and that congress needs to just do their job, work within "Obamacare" and stop being hypocritical.
"He passed the law, the congress passed the law, it's the law. Now, it's not perfect, obviously, there's probably a lot of things wrong with it. Fix it! Try to make it work. Don't just try to strip it from us while you bastards have four choices of health care...In a country like ours, if you're sick you should be able to go to the doctor, receive treatment and hopefully get well."
If Ventura and the American people could see eye to eye on any one area of politics, it would be foreign policy. In 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq, Ventura was one of the few who openly spoke out against the war, comments that ultimately costed him his job as the host of "Jesse Ventura's America" on MSNBC. Ventura has been extremely harsh on the Bush administration, calling him the worst president of his lifetime, highlighting the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, while calling former Vice President Dick Cheney a coward and a "chicken hawk" for getting five deferments from the Vietnam War, while quickly sending soldiers to war. Ventura has also highlighted the nearly $40 billion dollars Cheney made off the wars via the private contractor, Halliburton.
On the current state of foreign affairs, Ventura has advocated to limit foreign aid, pull back American forces and concentrate on rebuilding America, while guarding the country from home as opposed to abroad.
The media brands Ventura as a "conspiracy theorist" because he hosted a show on truTV, covering many conspiracies that range from the bizarre to extremely plausible. Ventura has noted on multiple occasions that his show was for entertainment, but the media often glances over that. Ventura can currently be seen as the host of "Off the Grid" on Ora.tv and the host of a new podcast titled "We the People with Jesse Ventura," where the former governor continues to pull no punches, attacking both sides of the aisle when he sees fit. Whether you agree with Ventura on issues or not, you know that one thing is certain, he will tell it like it is and not hold back. Ventura once said "the country comes first, not your political party," and it seems like that is an attitude more in Washington need to have.