Usually a handful of ex-soldiers seek political office every election cycle. But well over 20 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are running this fall for Congress alone. Almost all are riding a wave of public anger at incumbents over a profligate government and dishonest Wall Street -- and a general feeling that the current Democratic remedy has proven as bad as, or worse than, the recent Republican disease.
The shenanigans of the previously Republican-controlled Congress -- the "Culture of Corruption" -- simply continued under the congressional Democrat majority, thanks to the likes of Chris Dodd, William Jefferson, Eric Massa, Charles Rangel and the late John Murtha.
Reform candidate Barack Obama has run up more debt in 15 months than unpopular spendthrift George W. Bush did in eight years. Obama once talked of a new unity, but he has polarized America far more rapidly than did the cowboy-sounding "decider" Bush.
In other words, the public is desperate for civic-minded leaders who are untainted by Washington, but who have a proven record of competent service on behalf of the nation. If they are poor or haven't held office before -- apparently so much the better.
The current combat-veteran candidates certainly aren't the usual state legislators or congressional aides ready for career advancement. Neither are they anti-war liberals who flash their national-security credentials, nor one-issue hawks who want more defense spending. They don't claim that their combat experience guarantees good governance per se -- not after the examples of Murtha or disgraced Republican Duke Cunningham. And they aren't retired generals used to deference and the spotlight.
So other than a shared furor at out-of-control spending, government takeovers and corruption, the twenty-something soldier-citizen candidates are an odd bunch. Some are officers; others are enlisted men. A surprising number were wounded in combat.
The vast majority are running as Republicans and seem to have little if any money. They were not so much preselected by Republican operatives as pushed forward through grassroots and sometimes Tea Party support.