To be cynical here, most independents take that route because it’s good politics.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema was facing a likely primary challenge from the Left and avoided the whole problem by going independent in a state that has the potential to reward that. Manchin has a different problem. He’s playing in a Republican state and his support for the Inflation Increase Act and its IRS targeting of Americans, along with a sellout of coal on behalf of Bill Gates, triggered a backlash and has made him more politically vulnerable than ever.
Going independent may help, but for now it’s something between virtue signaling and a bargaining chip.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Sunday sidestepped questions about whether he’d leave the Democratic Party after being asked about his comments regarding his serving in the Senate as an “independent voice.”
The West Virginia Democrat instead criticized hyperpartisanship in Congress and said he would wait and see how the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act play out before making a decision about his affiliation.
“If people are trying to stop something from doing so much good because of politics, thinking somebody else will get credit for it, let’s see how that plays out. And then I’ll let you know later what I decide to do,” Manchin told moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“They know how independent I am,” Manchin said of Democrats.
“The D does not saddle me to everything the Democrats want to do is what’s right. I don’t think the Democrats have all the answers. I don’t think the Republicans are always wrong,” he said.
Brennan was asking Manchin about a statement he released last week in which he criticized a permitting reform measure that he had championed that failed to advance in the National Defense Authorization Act.
“As frustrating as the political games of Washington are, I will not give up. As I have said from my first day in office, I serve West Virginians and the American people with an independent voice not a political party,” Manchin said in the statement.
Manchin got burned by Democrats after making his dirty deal on the Inflation Increase Act. He’s threatening Democrats, but he and Sinema are also making their move after the midterm results changed the status of their little bloc. It’s a very parliamentary situation and shows elements of the party splintering.
However, it’s also Manchin’s only viable electoral strategy in his own state. Voters have to continue believing that he is independent even after his support for the Inflation Increase Act proved the opposite.
The rats can’t decide whether to flee the ship or try to eat it.