The story of the political year so far has been the rise of so-called political outsiders to the top of the polls. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Bernie Sanders are all defying expectations and surging in popularity despite not having the kind of backgrounds typically expected of Presidential candidates. Trump, Carson and Fiorina have never held elective office. Sanders has made a career out of charting his own course and espousing policies no one else will touch.
The reason for the popularity of the four is not hard to understand. They answer questions. They take stands. They offer solutions. They aspire to lead. You may love them. You may hate them. They are in any case a dramatic departure from the status quo.
If you want to see the very personification of the status quo, of the miasma that is the political establishment in Washington, DC, you need look no further than the Congressman for my own district in Maryland, Steny Hoyer
. Hoyer is the second most senior Democrat in the House of Representatives. Now that the Democrats are in the minority that makes him the Minority Whip. In the days when the Democrats were in the majority, that meant he was Nancy Pelosi's heartbeat away from being the Speaker.
Yet probably almost no one reading this article has even ever heard of Hoyer. That's because he does not lead. That's because he does not offer solutions. That's because, career politician that he is, he sits in the shadows, senses which way the wind is blowing and acts to perpetuate his own existence not to serve his country.
Witness his performance on the Iran Deal.
For months the debate has raged regarding the President's ill-conceived and horrifically executed plan to negotiate a deal with the Iranians concerning their nuclear weapons program. Hoyer has been nowhere to be seen. The number two Democrat in the House has been MIA.
Now the smart money says the President has the votes he needs to push ahead with the deal. The political calculus is that the public's attention will begin to shift elsewhere. So, Hoyer has emerged and declared he too will support the President. He too will vote to release Iran from sanctions. He too will side with the Democratic establishment, fall in line and take the safe political route.
Never mind that the Iranians are already setting the Middle East on fire from Yemen to Lebanon to Iraq to Syria.
Never mind that Iranian agents have already been caught funneling arms and support to Shia terrorists in Kuwait and Bahrain.
Never mind that even the Administration admits that the immediate impact of this deal will be to hand the Iranians somewhere around $100 billion with which to expand these activities.
Never mind that the enforcement provisions of the deal have loopholes in them big enough to drive a truck, or a nuclear missile, through.
Never mind that all the same assurances now being offered regarding this deal were offered concerning the chemical weapons agreement we signed with Syria two years ago and that even John Kerry now acknowledges we were played for fools in that negotiation and that the Syrians have retained an extensive chemical weapons capability.
Never mind the thousands of American servicemen and women who died or were crippled for life by tactics and explosive devices provided to our enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Never mind any of this, because none of it matters. The only thing that matters to Hoyer and other members of the professional political class is self-preservation. I doubt, in fact, if there was ever any serious discussion within Hoyer's staff about the wisdom of signing the Iran deal or the implications of the deal for international security. I suspect the entire calculus, all these many months, was how to manage the situation in such a way as to give Steny Hoyer the best chance of remaining in his seat.
After all, when the inevitable happens, and the deal is exposed for the disaster it is, it will not be Hoyer, a man who has never spent a day in uniform or heard a shot fired in anger, who will face the consequences. It will be your children and mine. It will be the American people.
I don't know if Trump, Carson, Fiorina and Sanders have any real answers to our problems. I do know that men like Hoyer don't have any. And, I also know that the American people don't just want those answers. They are demanding them, and they deserve to get them. They deserve better.