Sen. Sinema Strikes Out on Her Own as an Independent

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona

Sen. Sinema Strikes Out on Her Own as an Independent

In the middle of a busy lame duck session, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona just dropped a political bombshell. She’s leaving the Democratic party to become an Independent.

Sinema is one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, notably co-leading last year’s historic infrastructure bill alongside retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). She’s also been a vocal advocate for greater civility in politics, speaking out against the partisanship she’s seen as a member of the House and Senate.

Sinema’s move is historically significant. Even though a two-party system has been the norm for U.S. politics dating back to the early days of the republic, independent voices have been represented in the Senate since at least 1831. In the 1890s, for example, a sizable minority of senators were members of the left-wing rural Populist Party.

But there have only been 11 senators since World War II that have not been a Republican or Democrat, and the three Independents in the Senate now represent the most at any one time since the 1930s.

Now, as a true Independent, Sen. Sinema could be better positioned than ever to be a leading consensus-forger in Congress.

Could other independent-minded senators soon be following her lead?