Washington: Democratic Party’s jubilation on winning a narrow 51-49 majority lasted barely 72 hours as Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema bolted from the party to register as an Independent.
The first openly bisexual senator in the Senate, Sinema, 46, has long been a mysterious compromiser, frequently side with Republicans on crucial issues. However, considering that one other lawmaker, West Virginia's Joe Manchin, likewise leans toward Republicans on several issues, her formal departure from the Democratic aisles brought the chamber back to a close balance.
Sinema, a first-time Senator, dropped the bombshell in an oped in the local Arizona Republic. “Americans are told that we have only two choices -Democrat or Republican - and that we must subscribe wholesale to policy views the parties hold, views that have been pulled further and further toward the extremes,” she wrote, explaining, “Most Arizonans believe this is a false choice, and when I ran for the US House and the Senate, I . . . pledged to be independent and work with anyone to achieve lasting results. I committed I would not demonise people I disagreed with, engage in name-calling, or get distracted by political drama. When politicians are more focused on denying the opposition party a victory than they are on improving Americans’ lives, the people who lose are everyday Americans. That’s why I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system,” she added.
In US politics, abandoning parties or switching allegiances is uncommon. Arlen Specter, a legislator from Pennsylvania, switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party more than 10 years ago, marking the last party change in the Senate. Before that, in 2000, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who served as Al Gore's running mate, defected from the party, declared himself an Independent, and ultimately backed Republican John McCain in the presidential election.