Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona

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 and third-party 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?

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