During a recent multi-day trip to West Virginia’s capital, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has actively considered running for president in 2024 as an independent, shared his frustration with the polarized U.S. two-party system.
“I’m having a hard time — I really am,” Manchin said while touring a Charleston metal stamping plant. “The two-party system, unless it changes, will be the downfall of our country.”
Manchin’s comments came after he visited the metal plant as well as an Amtrak station, which he helped secure funds for during his time as governor of West Virginia, according to Newsmax.
The West Virginia senator told reporters he was getting “closer” to a decision about whether he will run for president in 2024, saying he should have an answer by the end of 2023. Interestingly, Manchin deflected questions surrounding whether he would run as a Democrat or an independent.
“Don’t worry about the ‘D’ or the ‘R’, worry about the person — who is that person?” Manchin told reporters. “There can be a good D and a bad D and a good R and a bad R, but the identity — I like more the independent identity.”
Manchin recently addressed a small crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Charleston’s $6.4 million Amtrak renovation project. There, the West Virginia senator spoke about America’s political polarization, adding that the country is still an experiment “that could fail at any time.”
WATCH: We had an incredible ride from Charleston to Summersville with more than 200 motorcycles joining me to honor our Fallen Service Heroes. Thank you to all of those who rode with us and cheered us on along the way – especially the patriotic kids at Valley PK-8 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/zieVpZDOBE
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) October 14, 2023
Manchin said voters should not be concerned about a person’s political party, as long as their focus is “public service, not self-service.”
He described himself as “fiscally responsible and socially compassionate,” adding that the federal government’s purpose is to make everyone’s lives better regardless of race, or religion, “whoever you like, love, whatever gender you may be — it doesn’t matter,”
On multiple occasions, Manchin said his way of thinking is “independent,” further fueling speculation that the Democratic senator might switch over to the independent party. He criticized the political system in Washington, D.C., which he described as becoming a “business model” pushing politicians to extremes.
“We’ve got to break that,” he said. “People have to start pushing back — the average voter has to push back. This is not normal. It’s not normal for people to act this way.”