What Made Marco Rubio Stumble in New Hampshire?

Now is the time to vote on principle.

The Context

Coming off a strong surge of support and a surprising third place finish in the Iowa caucuses last week, Marco Rubio was poised for another strong outing in New Hampshire. Not only did Rubio fall out of the top three, he tumbled all the way behind Donald Trump, John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush to finish in fifth place, leaving Glenn scratching his head wondering what just happened.

“Rubio stumbled badly,” Glenn said Wednesday on the Glenn Beck Program. “I don't know what's going to happen. I mean, I don't understand the Rubio fall here. I don't think he's a strong candidate for some reason. I don't understand it.”

Glenn may have been confused but Stu was, well, stupefied.

“Well, the guy finished --- he almost beat Donald Trump in Iowa. And he was polling at, what, 14 percent? 13 percent? He got 22 percent. He outperformed his polls dramatically. He had all of the media momentum. Everyone was saying he was the guy,” Stu said.

‘Regretful’ in New Hampshire

Rubio’s inability to seize the momentum from Iowa was confusing to some, but for Melissa who called in from New Hampshire, she left the polling booth kicking herself for not sticking to her guns.

“My husband and I, you know, we've been supporters of Ted Cruz. We were going back and forth between Ted Cruz and Rubio just because I guess we just bought into listening to everybody say that Cruz is going to come in fifth or sixth. We wanted our votes to count, so we ended up literally walking in and voting for Rubio. And we were literally kicking ourselves last night because we could have put our votes to Ted Cruz,” Melissa said.

“And I just never thought that somebody like Ted Cruz would come in how he did, just based on the majority of people up here. I really didn't think that there was any point in voting for him. And we just really, really regret that now.”

Rubio’s stumble just might be the silver lining in this year’s election for Ted Cruz supporters. With Rubio being the "electable" one and finishing behind Cruz in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the voters just might turn the corner on Cruz’ electability issues and start voting their convictions.

Voting Your Conscience

Stu jumped in on the conversation to point something out Glenn has been calling on the audience to do for some time now, vote your conscience and convictions. The three then exchanged thoughts on how things may have gone differently in New Hampshire had more people followed that advice.

“This is a good lesson, I think, Melissa, if I may,” Stu said. “In that, you can't try to strategically vote and try to figure out how to manipulate the process with your one vote.”

“Exactly. You have to vote for your conviction. You really do,” Melissa agreed.

“How many people do you think felt that way?” Glenn asked.

“I think he would have come very close to Kasich, if not better, if people truly voted the way --- you know, to their convictions,” Melissa said.

It wouldn’t be a serious conversation on the Glenn Beck Program without a prediction, and Glenn did not disappoint.

“Now is the time now is the time to do that. And what we have at stake is --- please listen to me. The revolution that is coming. Bernie Sanders is a revolution of socialism. Donald Trump is a revolution of cronyism, I think personally fascism. But cronyism.”

Principled in the Desert

Matt calling from Nevada was one step ahead of Glenn in 2012 and voted third party rather than compromise his principles.

“But in 2012, we were so dedicated on principle that we just could not pull the lever for Romney,” Matt said. “We actually voted third party for Gary Johnson. And I did not want to see another four years of Obama, but I had to vote for principles.”

“Good for you,” Glenn said. "I will say this, I'm trying to be that man.”

The conversation turned toward Donald Trump when Scott in Utah called in to discuss how the “conservative” media has treated Cruz and embraced Trump.

“Rush loves Ted Cruz. For some reason, they've allowed this Donald Trump train to run off the rails. There is absolutely --- I would like all of these guys to say, if Ted Cruz is not your number one guy, Rush, Sean, conservatives on Fox News, give me the one reason you don't like Ted Cruz? Or they do like him. What's the one reason why you would rather have Donald than Ted?  Because I don't get it. And it's driving me crazy,” Scott said.

Scott’s honest questioning prompted a strong response from Glenn.

“I'm going to make a pretty bold statement. And I'll back it up from something I have in from the media here in a minute. If Donald Trump wins the nomination of the party, it will be in large thanks to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Because you're exactly right,” Glenn said.

Common Sense Bottom Line

Whether it was just a bad performance in the last debate or something deeper, Marco Rubio appears to be on the downslope of his wave. Now is the time for voters to stick to their principles and pull the lever for the candidate that best fits their values so they can lay down and night and not kick themselves for voting the lesser of two evils.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN:  Rubio stumbled badly.  I don't know what's going to happen.  I mean, I don't understand the Rubio fall here.  I don't think he's a strong candidate for some reason.  I don't understand it.

STU:  That's so weird though.  It was the exact opposite literally Friday.

PAT:  It is.

STU:  Friday was this -- here he is --

GLENN:  But how much of that was media hype?

STU:  Well, the guy finished -- he almost beat Donald Trump in Iowa.  And he was polling at, what, 14 percent?  13 percent?  He got 22 percent.  He outperformed his polls dramatically.  He had all of the media momentum.  Everyone was saying he was the guy.

PAT:  He was polling second or third in New Hampshire.

STU:  Yeah, he was.

PAT:  And I didn't think he was that bad at the -- at the debate.

GLENN:  Yeah, I didn't think so either.

PAT:  But everybody is making it out like Chris Christie crushed him.  I don't know that that's the case.  I mean, everybody has the memorized speech they use.  I mean, good golly.  

GLENN:  Yeah, we defended it yesterday.  

PAT:  Chris Christie himself with the federal prosecutor thing, that drives me out of my mind.  And as we've talked about, every single time he goes to, "See, that's what I'm talking.  These two senators over here.  They're senators.  They don't get anything done.  I'm a governor.  You don't want senators.  You want a governor."  Shut up.  It's the same thing every time.

STU:  Yeah.

PAT:  So why is that so bad with Rubio and not Christie and certainly not Trump?  I mean, Trump's repeat thing -- I think we played that yesterday.  It's outrageous how many times he talks about the big, beautiful wall.  In the same stupid way he talks about it every time.  And it's embarrassing to listen to, and yet he does it every step.

GLENN:  No.  I don't know what happened to Rubio.

PAT:  I don't either.

GLENN:  But I think there's a chance that Rubio -- that Rubio folds now.  That Rubio is over.

PAT:  Well, he'll wait until after South Carolina.

GLENN:  No, I'm not saying drop out.

PAT:  Yeah.

GLENN:  I'm saying this wave of Rubio.  That Rubio had his moment and it for some reason passed.

PAT:  Well, it does happen quickly in these things.

GLENN:  It does.

STU:  It's so frustrating in this election process that seemingly this happened to a lot of candidates.  And a lot of good candidates.  You know, Scott Walker this happened to.

GLENN:  But you can explain it.  Here me out for a second.  This doesn't explain New Hampshire.  But who is voting for Rubio?  Who I think is voting for Rubio are these people who say, "You know what, he was a Tea Party guy, and he's Hispanic.  And he can win.  And he's a good speaker.  And he's young."  But there's not a lot of depth there.  Okay.  I don't see anybody that is like, "He's the guy that can change the world."  He's the guy that can win; that's what they all say.  Rubio can win.  Not the guy that changes the world.

STU:  I think the argument for him and the caller earlier who voted for Rubio in New Hampshire and kind of regretted it because she really likes Cruz more, but thought Rubio could win kind of outlined the path for Rubio, which is a guy who is conservative enough, but can win.  Where people would say Ted Cruz, he's too conservative.  He can't win.

GLENN:  That's what they said about Ronald Reagan.

STU:  Right.  Of course.  Obviously I disagree with that analysis.  But, I mean, I can understand -- like I don't understand the electability argument with Donald Trump.  I do understand it with Marco Rubio.  He polls very well against the other side.  And he was doing everything that would go down this path until that debate.  And it seemed to completely turn around there, for some reason.

GLENN:  You know, when we come back, I want to talk a little bit -- we have a guy from Nevada that I want to talk to.  And then I want to share a little -- people are comparing Ted Cruz to the Ronald Reagan years.  I think that's a wrong comparison.  I think people should compare him to Calvin Coolidge.  And it's a more accurate description and even a more powerful win than what Reagan -- what Reagan did in the 1980s.  I'll explain, coming up.

(OUT AT 9:32AM)

GLENN:  This is a never a good thing when somebody on the staff says, I have an announcement to make.  But Jeffy has an announcement to make today.  And you're going to make that a little later on in the program?

JEFFY:  I do have an announcement to make.  And I'm excited for it.

STU:  A major announcement, would you say?

JEFFY:  Yes, it's a major announcement.  For this program, it's a major announcement.

GLENN:  So he'll be doing that coming up in a little while.

JEFFY:  I don't even want to tell you what it is yet.  You'll be excited.

GLENN:  Let me go to Matt in Nevada.  Hello, Matt, you're on the Glenn Beck Program.

CALLER:  Good morning, gentlemen.  Glenn, it's an honor.  Thank you for taking my call.  

GLENN:  Thank you. 

CALLER:  There was a time where you saved my life, man.  But I know time is limited.  I'll get right to it.

GLENN:  Well, now, you can't say that.  You saved my life.  I don't remember pulling you out of a burning truck.  What happened?

CALLER:  Pretty much, man.  In a spiritual sense, man.  You just could never know what you've done to change my life, man.  And I could never repay that.  And thank you enough.  And thank you.

GLENN:  You can start with a 100-dollar check.

(laughter)

CALLER:  So the reason why I'm calling this morning is because my wife and I, we're pretty Libertarian.  We've been involved on the ground game here in Nevada.  The last two elections, we were big Ron Paul people.  This time around, Rand cast his hat in the game, so we got involved to try and help Rand.  Now, from the beginning, there were really two candidates that I saw as constitutional, that I really believed I could get behind and support.  And obviously that's Rand, but also Ted Cruz.  Ted Cruz -- you've shown his record -- is just so solid on the Constitution.  

So when Rand announced that he was suspending his campaign, my wife and I -- and we were torn the whole way.  We weren't sure, you know, if we were going to go all-in on Rand.  But we knew when he suspended his campaign, that we were going to go for Cruz.  

So last night, we both got this random text message from an individual, claiming to be a part of the Rand Paul campaign, saying that Rand's name is still on the ballot for the caucus that we're going to have here in Nevada on the 23rd.  And this person was saying that, you know, Rand could still win.  And that they have us down as supporting Dr. Paul and we need to come and show up for him.

GLENN:  Don't do it.

CALLER:  So I responded to this person and said, "Hey, that's great.  But Rand is out of the game.  He doesn't have a chance at doing it anymore.  And with cults of personality like Donald Trump, I can't see voting for anybody at this point besides Ted Cruz."  And I won't tell you what this person texted me next.  But needless to say, my wife and I got pretty nasty text messages from this person.

GLENN:  I would like you to read it.  

STU:  Well...

GLENN:  Just delete the foul words.

CALLER:  Well, let me see -- she got it worse than I did.  But basically this person tried to disparage Ted.  Says, "If you and everyone else that supported him before was supposed to show up, then he can win Nevada.  If you need a paid campaign to sabotage him, then don't vote for him.  And don't vote on principle."  

I had to edit that up a little bit.  Basically, this person is saying I'm not principled.  Now, I beg to differ on that.  For example -- Pat is probably going to be mad at me on this one.  Sorry, brother.  

But in 2012, we were so dedicated on principle that we just could not pull the lever for Romney.  We actually voted third party for Gary Johnson.

GLENN:  Good for you.

CALLER:  And I did not want to see another four years of Obama, but I had to vote for principles.

GLENN:  Good for you.  I will say this, I'm trying to be that man.  Pat has already bailed on that man.

PAT:  No, I haven't.

GLENN:  Yes, you have.  You've already said you would vote for anybody.  You'd vote for anybody.

PAT:  I did not say I would vote for anybody.  When did I say that?

GLENN:  Well, okay -- oh, my God.

PAT:  Oh, you pull the tape, my friend.  You pull the sound.  I did not say, "I'll vote for anybody!"

GLENN:  Last week --

PAT:  What?

GLENN:  You didn't say anybody.  But you were like --

PAT:  What did I say?

GLENN:  You'd vote for Jeb.  You'd vote for any of the guys on our side.

PAT:  Over Hillary or Bernie?

GLENN:  Over Hillary and Bernie.  You will not pull third party.  I think you said you'd vote for Trump over Hillary --

PAT:  I think I felt that way, that one day.

GLENN:  Oh.  Okay.  All right.  

(laughter)

PAT:  I would not vote for Trump under any circumstances.

GLENN:  Okay.  I want that on tape.  Shh.

PAT:  I will not vote for Donald Trump under any circumstances.  

GLENN:  Okay.  All right.  

So, anyway, Matt, good for you.  We're trying to be that man of principle now.  

PAT:  Yeah.  

GLENN:  Anyway, go ahead.

CALLER:  Well, I'm going to pull the lever for Ted.  I don't see what pulling the lever for Rand would do at this point.  He's got a really tough --

PAT:  He left the race.  It would be a waste.  Is that even from his official people?  I doubt what you got was even from Rand's people because Rand is not running anymore.  Is he?

GLENN:  No.

CALLER:  Well, the response we gave to them was, if you're trying to convince me -- I mean, this person was very rude.  And I was like, "If you're trying to convince me, you're not doing a good job."  Like, I asked some questions.  What would be the point?  I mean, Rand does have a very strong ground game in Nevada.  A lot of it was built by his father.  So he had a lot of the same supporters come out.  I mean, we've been involved here on the ground.  We have a lot of great friends.  But, you know, I -- I think, Glenn, you've touched on this a few times.  This election is too important to throw away your vote.  I mean, we have a guy who is constitutional.  We have a guy that is rock solid on the Constitution.

GLENN:  So here's the reason that Rand would say this to you.  The reason why the Rand people would say this to you is because there is something about having delegates, that you can come to the convention and broker those delegates and get something that you want from one of the candidates.  You come up and you say, "Okay.  I've got X-number of delegates from Nevada.  Who is the highest bidder here?  Which of the candidates --

CALLER:  I'm not sure if you know or not, but they actually changed that rule at the convention in 2012.  And it was because Ron Paul, his strategy was to try and scoop up as many delegates as he could.  And there's actually a really scandalous video clip -- you can find it on YouTube -- where John Boehner comes out, and they passed it.  The yays and the nays, and it sounded pretty sketchy, man.  It sounded like the nays had it, but he still passed it anyway.  

GLENN:  I remember that.

CALLER:  And you can see cell phone footage of him reading from the prompter.

GLENN:  Remember that?

PAT:  Yeah.

GLENN:  I remember that now.  So there's no reason that I can come up with.

PAT:  There is none.

GLENN:  The only thing I can say -- I talk to both Rand -- I consider both of them friends.  I talked to both Rand and Ted, before, during, and after this race.  And as God is my witness, and the three of you guys know this too, that all the -- at the very beginning, I sat down with both of them, and I said, "Please, guys.  You're both constitutionalist.  Please don't kill each other."

CALLER:  Right.

GLENN:  Aim your guns at other people, but we need one of you guys to win.  And I don't know why -- I really don't know why -- and I can give you my guess, I think that Rand kind of feels like it was his turn and he was going to be the constitutionalist and he's kind of pissed at -- at Cruz because he feels like Ted kind of came out of nowhere and elbowed his way in when he had the real chance of winning.

CALLER:  Yep.

GLENN:  And that's just my feeling.

CALLER:  Oh, I think you're absolutely right.  And I have to give Ted credit because, you know, I watched the debates, and I can't tell you how bad my skin was crawling when I saw Rand going after him.  And the thing that impressed me most was Ted didn't fire back.  He -- he never once --

PAT:  He usually doesn't.

CALLER:  I haven't heard Ted say one thing negative about Rand Paul.  And I wish that Rand hadn't have done that.  I really hope that people who are in the Rand Paul camp like I have been -- I mean, we are ardent Libertarians.  Ron Paul supporters.  Rand Paul supporters.  But if you can't see the value of Ted Cruz at this point, I don't know what -- what you want because, I mean, Ted is it, man.  He's the guy.  And, you know, and we need Rand to keep his Senate seat.

GLENN:  If the roles were reversed, I would be saying the same thing that I'm saying about Ted Cruz that I'm saying about Rand Paul.

CALLER:  I know you would, Glenn.

GLENN:  I would be taking the same exact stance.  We have to restore the Constitution.  I mean this sincerely.  This is our last chance.  If we play party politics, if we play, gee, who can win?  Who can't win?  We play those games and we lose, we get either, I don't know, Kasich or a Jeb Bush or, God forbid, a Donald Trump.

CALLER:  Oh, good grief.

GLENN:  We're toast.  We're toast.

CALLER:  Yeah.

GLENN:  And if we can't band together on -- both those guys were great on the Constitution.  Both of them.  One of them is leading the pack.  It's time for everybody -- and this means not just Ron Paul people, but I think this means Carson people.  It is time to wake up and realize the sorry state of the situation and realize there is one guy that will stand for religious freedom, one guy who will stand for freedom of speech, one guy that will reduce the size of government in a dramatic way, one guy who will stop Common Core in its tracks, one guy who will stop the IRS in its tracks, one guy who will restore the Constitution.  The other guys don't have a chance of winning now.  This guy does.  And if we don't pull together, you're going have somebody slip right between and win and take it, and then we'll lose the republic.  This is the moment the republic decides whether they're going to -- whether they're going to live or die.  

This is the moment that Franklin talked about.  When he was walking down the street, "Mr. Franklin, what did you give us?"  

"A republic, if you can keep it."

This is the moment we decide if we can keep it.  And playing those games are infantile and futile.  

So thank you very much, Matt.  I appreciate it.  

By the way, I'm going to be in Nevada.  I'm going to be in South Carolina Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.  And hope to see you there.  Just check my Facebook page or GlennBeck.com.  You can find out where.  

Let me go to Scott in Utah quickly.  Hello, Scott, you're on the Glenn Beck Program.

CALLER:  Well, unfortunately what I have to say is not quick.  But I do agree 100 percent with what you're saying.  If Rand Paul can't get behind Ted Cruz and allow Donald Trump to continue this march, (?) because Rand Paul's people could help, I lose a lot of respect for him, Glenn.  I don't care if he's your friend or not.  It's time to coalesce behind Ted Cruz.

GLENN:  I agree.

CALLER:  The reason why Donald Trump is where he is, it's very simple.  People don't think anymore for themselves.  People don't have time to watch all the debates.  So they watch the Fox News coverage after the debates.  I'm talking Republicans.  I'm talking smart people.  I'm talking passionate people.  And they parrot everything they hear on Fox News the next day.  It used to be (?) because he was at 5 percent in August.  Now since Thanksgiving in December or Christmas, it's Ted Cruz can't win because he's not likable.  I don't think he can pull the party together.  It's what they're hearing on Fox News negatively about Ted Cruz.  And now Fox News doesn't even criticize Donald Trump anymore.  You've got six hours of talk radio, between you and Mark Levin every day, that is a pom-pom waving (?) of Donald Trump.  And what is this Marco Rubio electability thing that Hannity says over and over -- when did we start doing that?  I think Marco -- what about electability?  I never thought Hannity would ever say that.  Rush's old line was conservatism wins every time it's tried.

GLENN:  Where are they?

CALLER:  Rush loves Ted Cruz.  (?) for some reason, they've allowed this Donald Trump train to run off the rails.  There is absolutely -- I would like all of these guys to say, if Ted Cruz is not your number one guy, Rush, Sean, conservatives on Fox News, why not is this give me the one reason you don't like Ted Cruz?  (?) or they do like him.  What's the one reason why you would rather have Donald than Ted?  Because I don't get it.  And it's driving me crazy.

PAT:  They'll all tell you they're not for Donald Trump.  They will all tell you --

GLENN:  They'll all tell you.  They are friends.  They go golfing with him.  (?) they're not for him.  They're just telling it like it is.  But I'm telling you --

CALLER:  Yeah, but you understand, the people that listen to them are the majority of Republican voters unfortunately.  They're my friends.  They're my friends from all over the country.  And they don't pay a whole lot of attention.  But when they hear Rush defending Donald Trump day in -- I mean, this is eight months, guys.  This is not a -- all day, every day for eight months.

GLENN:  I'm going to make a pretty bold statement.  And I'll back it up from something I have in from the media here in a minute.  (?) if Donald Trump wins the nomination of the party, it will be in large thanks to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity.  Because you're exactly right.  And I'm going to back this up (?) with something I found in a media website today coming up in just a minute.

Featured Image: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) talks with reporters on his charter flight from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport February 10, 2016 en route to Spartanburg, South Carolina. Rubio placed fifth in the New Hampshire primary, behind fellow GOP candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump, who swept away the competition with 35-percent of the vote. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As we move along this endless primary season, we implement our first major adjustments to our power rankings model. Because of all the changes on the model itself, we'll keep the write ups short this week so that we can get an update posted before we hit the second round of debates.

There are now 40 separate measures of candidate performance which are summarized by the 0-100 score that helps us makes sense out of this chaos.We also have a new style of graphs, where the section highlighted in blue will show the progress (or lack thereof) made by each candidate over the life of their campaign.

In this update, we have our first campaign obituary, a couple of brand new candidates (when will it ever stop) and plenty of movement up top.

Let's get to it.

In case you're new here, read our explainer about how all of this works:

The 2020 Democratic primary power rankings are an attempt to make sense out of the chaos of the largest field of candidates in global history. Each candidate gets a unique score in at least thirty categories, measuring data like polling, prediction markets, fundraising, fundamentals, media coverage, and more. The result is a candidate score between 0-100. These numbers will change from week to week as the race changes. The power rankings are less a prediction on who will win the nomination, and more a snapshot of the state of the race at any given time. However, early on, the model gives more weight to fundamentals and potentials, and later will begin to prioritize polling and realities on the ground. If you're like me, when you read power rankings about sports, you've already skipped ahead to the list. So, here we go.

See previous editions here.

Campaign Obituary #1

The Eric Swalwell Campaign

California State Congressman

April 8, 2019 - July 8, 2019

Lifetime high: 20.2

Lifetime low: 19.5

I ended my initial profile on Eric Swalwell with this:

"There's a certain brand of presidential candidate that isn't really running for president. That's Eric Swalwell."

amp only placement

It's now more true than ever that Swalwell isn't running for president, because he has officially dropped out of the race.

To any sane observer, Swalwell never had a chance to win the nomination. This was always about raising his profile with little downside to deter him from taking money and building a list of future donors.

In one of many depressing moments in his FiveThirtyEight exit interview, he noted that one of his supporters told him he definitely thought he'd eventually be president, but it wasn't going to happen this time. (This supporter was not identified, but we can logically assume they also have the last name Swalwell.)

Swalwell did outline a series of reasons he thought his ridiculous campaign might have a chance.

  1. He was born in Iowa. After all, people from Iowa will surely vote for someone born in Iowa, even if they escaped as soon as possible.
  2. He had what he believed was a signature issue: pretending there was no such amendment as the second amendment.)
  3. He's not old.

It was on point number three where Swalwell made his last stand. In an uncomfortably obvious attempt to capture a viral moment that would launch his fundraising and polling status, Swalwell went after Joe Biden directly.

"I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden." This pre-meditated and under-medicated attack, along with Swalwell's entire campaign future, was disassembled by a facial gesture.

Biden's response wasn't an intimidation, anger, or a laugh. It was a giant smile that somehow successfully communicated a grandfathery dismissal of "isn't that just adorable."

Of course, headlines like this didn't help either:

Eric Swalwell is going to keep comparing the Democratic field to 'The Avengers' until someone claps

The campaign of Eric Swalwell was pronounced dead at the age of 91 days.

Other headlines:

Eric Swalwell ends White House bid, citing low polling, fundraising

Republicans troll Swalwell for ending presidential campaign

Eric Swalwell Latest 'Cringe' Video Brags About Omar Holding his 'White' Baby

Eric Swalwell's message to actor Danny Glover is 'the cringiest thing I've ever seen in a hearing'

Eric Swalwell's 'I Will Be Bold Without The Bull' Bombs

25. Joe Sestak 11.0 (Debut) Former Pennsylvania State Congressman

Joe Sestak is a former three-star admiral who served in Congress for a couple of years in the late 2000s. Besides his military service, his most notable achievement is figuring out a way to get Pat Toomey elected in a purple state.

With Arlen Specter finally formalizing his flip from Republican to Democrat in 2009, he was expected to cruise to reelection. However, Sestak went after him in the primary, and was able to knock him off in the by eight points. Sestak then advanced to face Republican Pat Toomey in the general election. He lost by two points during the Tea Party wave election of 2010.

Needless to say, losing to the former president of the fiscally conservative Club For Growth isn't exactly an accomplishment that is going to help Sestak in the Democratic presidential primary.

Unfortunately, with the current state of the party— his distinguished service in the Navy probably isn't helpful either.

Other headlines:

Joe Sestak on the issues, in under 500 words

Joe Sestak, latest 2020 candidate, says it's not too late for him to gain traction

Sestak aims to 'heal the soul of America' with presidential bid

Joe Sestak Would Move the US Embassy 'Back Out of Jerusalem'

24. Mike Gravel: 12.5 (Previous: 24th / 15.3) Former US Senator from Alaska

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Gravel was able to get celebrities and other candidates to send out pleas to raise funds in effort to get above 65,000 donations and qualify for the second debate.

We may never know if it was grift or incompetence, but Gravel probably should have known that crossing this line made no difference. He'll still be yelling at the TV when the debate starts.

Other headlines:

Gravel meets donor threshold to qualify for Democratic primary debate

Gravel spends a bit of cash to run an ad against Joe Biden in Iowa

Mike Gravel: Why the American People Need Their Own Legislature

Mike Gravel Is the Anti–Joe Biden

23. Wayne Messam: 12.7 (Previous: 23rd / 15.8) Mayor of Miramar, FL

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Messam has made no impact in this race so far, and has fundraising numbers that don't even get into the six digits, let alone seven. He's not really running a campaign at this point, so there's no real downside in staying in for now.

Other headlines:

Wayne Messam: Money Kept Me Out of the First Democratic Debate. Will It Keep Me Out of the Second?

22. Seth Moulton 17.2 (Previous 20th / 21.5) US Rep. from Massachusetts 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Seth Moulton is the invisible man on the campaign trail. Most people don't even know who he is when they're talking to him. His appeal to the Democratic party is heavily flavored with his military service and appeal to patriotism.

Good luck with that Seth.

Other headlines:

Moulton: Buttigieg Was a Nerd at Harvard

Moulton: Democrats shouldn't go on 'moral crusade' against Trump

Moulton talks reclaiming patriotism from Trump, Republicans

Moulton: 'Trump is going to be harder to beat than many Democrats like to believe'

Presidential candidates hear challengers' footsteps at home

21. Tim Ryan 18.4 (Previous: 18th / 24.3) US Rep. from Ohio

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tim Ryan's first debate performance was so bad he lost about a quarter of his score with this update. He's not without a plan to get that support back though. He wants to bring hot yoga to the people.

Other headlines:

Tim Ryan on CNN: Trump 'clearly has it out for immigrants'

Ryan Falls Way Behind in Q2 Fundraising Race, New Poll

20. Marianne Williamson 20.7 (Previous: 21st / 20.6) Author, Lecturer, Activist

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Williamson is not going to be the nominee for the Democrats, but if you throw a debate watch party, she might supply the most entertainment. So much so, Republicans have started to donate to her campaign to keep her in future debates.

Other headlines:

"I call her a modern-day prophet": Marianne Williamson's followers want you to give her a chance

Williamson Uses Anime to Explain 2020 Candidate's Holistic Politics

What Marianne Williamson and Donald Trump have in common

Marianne Williamson's Iowa director joins John Delaney's 2020 campaign

19. John Hickenlooper 22.5  (Previous: 11th / 32.0) Former Gov. of Colorado 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Hickenlooper has been shedding campaign advisors at a relatively furious pace as he admits "there's just a bunch of skills that don't come naturally to me" when it comes to campaigning.

Probably best to pick another line of work.

Other headlines:

Hickenlooper defends campaign fundraising to The Onion: 'The race is wide open'

WP: 'You are who?' The lonely presidential campaign of John Hickenlooper

Gary Hart Warns John Hickenlooper Against Campaigning On Bipartisanship Message

Hickenlooper refuses to condemn protesters who hoisted Mexican flag at ICE facility

18. Michael Bennet 27.4 (Previous: 14th / 28.8) US Senator from Colorado

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Michael Bennet is a bit of a boring no name, but give him credit for actually trying to differentiate himself from the field. He's one of the only candidates willing to criticize his socialist opponents from the center, calling out the open borders crowd and student debt. Obviously this has no chance of success in the democratic party, but at least he's trying.

Other headlines:

George Will touts Bennet to beat Trump in 2020

Bennet: America doesn't know what the Democratic Party stands for

17. Steve Bullock 28.3 (Previous: 16th / 27.7) Gov. of  Montana 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Bullock's biggest moment of his campaign, and quite possibly his only important moment , will come in this round of debates. He missed the first round, but squeaks in for round two after Eric Swalwell decided to take his zero percent and go home.

Bullock has a theoretical argument that doesn't look half bad on paper, but it seems impossible for another "moderate*" to make noise with Biden still hanging around.

(*-None of these moderates are actually moderate.)

Other headlines:

For Democratic presidential hopeful Steve Bullock, it's all about the 'dark money'

Steve Bullock hates 'dark money.' But a lobbyist for 'dark money' donors is helping his campaign.

Steve Bullock looking to introduce himself as someone who won in Trump country

Bullock said he's not one to eliminate all student-loan debt

Steve Bullock raises $2 million for 2020 bid in second quarter, campaign says

Lowering of state flag at capitol draws criticism

15. John Delaney 29.5 (Previous 19th / 20.3) Former US Rep. from Maryland 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The power ranking model likes Delaney more than voters seem to like him. He continues to pour his own money into the race and at some point you have to believe someone in his life stops him from setting his cash on fire.

He did steal a key advisor from Marianne Williamson's campaign, which doesn't seem like a path to success.

Other headlines:

Delaney: "Non-Citizens Are Not Covered By My 'Better Care' Plan, But…"

Delaney says he opposes decriminalizing border crossings

Undaunted by low polling, John Delaney keeps his show on the road

Delaney presidential campaign theme: fix what's broken, keep what works

14. Andrew Yang 30.0 (Previous: 15th / 28.3) Attorney and Entrepreneur 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Before the campaign started, if you would have said Yang would be in the middle of the pack at this point, he probably would be happy with that result. His embrace of quirky issues like banning robocalls, giving everyone free cash, and spending $6 billion to fix the nations malls is enough to keep him in the news.

His fundraising was decent, and he remains an interesting and thoughtful candidate. But, Yang has a better chance of dropping out and running on a third party ticket than winning in this Democratic Party.

You do have to wonder how long it will be before the word "Math" moves from his campaign slogan to the reason he needs to drop out.

Other headlines:

Andrew Yang Is Targeting The 'Politically Disengaged' To 'Win The Whole Election'

You can't turn truck drivers into coders, Andrew Yang says of job retraining

Yang's plan to give $1000 a month to everyone is popular with young, poor Democrats

13. Jay Inslee 31.4 (Previous: 12th / 30.4) Gov. of Washington state

CANDIDATE PROFILEf

Expect Inslee to capture the king-czar-chancellor role of the new climate police or whatever draconian nightmare the actual Democratic nominee creates if they win.

In the meantime, he should try to avoid cringe inducing nonsense like this.

Other headlines:

Presidential hopeful Jay Inslee says Trump's immigration policies will 'end his presidency'

Crowd roars for Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee follows to tepid applause

Inslee on listening to Carole King, wanting an anchor tattoo

Inslee Says He Tried to Arrest Fleeing Republicans

12. Tulsi Gabbard 33.4 (Previous: 13th / 28.8) US Rep. for Hawaii 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tulsi Gabbard really wants to be Joe Biden's vice president. Or, at least, she wants to hold an important role in his cabinet, like Secretary of Defense.

Gabbard has been running interference for Biden, aggressively going after Kamala Harris for her very successful but substance free bussing attack, while hammering Harris as not qualified to be President. These have been among the harshest criticisms levied by any candidate in the race so far, and there is definitely a purpose to all of it. Her presence in the same debate as Biden and Harris should be something Harris prepares herself for. Expect incoming fire.

Along with Yang, Gabbard remains among the most interesting Democratic candidates to Republicans and Libertarians, which is not helpful to her chances of actually winning the Democratic party nod.

Other headlines:

Gabbard says Harris used "political ploy" to "smear" Biden on raced

Which U.S. Wars Were Justifiable? Tulsi Gabbard Names Only World War II

Tulsi Gabbard Says It's A 'Good Thing' Trump Met With Kim Jong Un

Gabbard Sympathizes With Amash, Says the Two-Party System Sucks

Tulsi Gabbard Files Bill To Study Hemp's Uses For Just About Everything

Gabbard: '14-year-old girl hacked into a replica of Florida's election system'

11. Tom Steyer 33.5 (Debut) Billionaire hedge fund manager

Tom Steyer is a Democratic billionaire that has spent millions plastering his face all over MSNBC for the past two years begging people to consider impeaching Donald Trump.

The campaign power ranking model loves Steyer's potential because of his unlimited money and theoretical ability to put together a serious campaign team.

All of this is theory at this point though, as the millions spent so far has lead to a giant pile of zilch. If he's serious enough, he should be able to buy his way into the low single digits, and squeak his way into a debate or two.

Steyer's billionaire status isn't an obvious fit as the party of inequality attempts to take down Donald Trump. But, he does have legitimate movement credibility, tons of cash to buy support, and a long developed immunity to embarrassment—so the sky is the limit.

Other headlines:

Tom Steyer on the issues, in under 500 words

Tom Steyer announces 2020 bid, reversing course

Why We're Not Treating Tom Steyer As A 'Major' Candidate (Yet)

Steyer banks on South Carolina in 1st presidential bid stop

10. Kirsten Gillibrand 37.1 (Previous: 9th / 36.7) US Senator from New York

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There is probably no candidate that enters the second round of debates more clearly in do-or-die mode than Gillibrand. With headlines like "The Ignoring of Kirsten Gillibrand" lighting up her feed, she needs something big to happen, and fast. Her performance in the first debate wasn't actually horrible, but still went unnoticed.

She has zero percent in lots of polls, and that includes all of the benefits she says she's received from white privilege. Imagine if she didn't have that going for her.

Other headlines:

Gillibrand: I'd Tell Concerned Coal Miner the Green New Deal Is 'Just Some Bipartisan Ideas'

Struggling in White House bid, Democrat Gillibrand seeks bump in Trump country

Gillibrand Annoyed by Question About Immigration 'Reversal'

9. Robert Francis O’Rourke 40.7 (Previous: 6th / 52.8) Former state Rep. from Texas

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The free fall continues for Betomania.

When campaigns show signs of death, reporters start to write long profiles that aim to tell the story of the demise, or launch the amazing comeback.

Politico's headline (What Beto O'Rourke's Dad Taught Him About Losing) probably wasn't all that helpful.

Beto did secure Willie Nelson's vote though, meaning he can now count on 2 votes, assuming his "Republican" mother votes for him.

Other headlines:

Welcome to America—It's a Hell Hole!

A desperate Beto O'Rourke goes for broke, claims America was founded on white supremacy

Beto O'Rourke finds 'personal connection' to slavery, argues for reparations to unite 'two Americas'

Beto boldly vows not to prosecute people for 'being a human being'Rebooto O'Rourke

Fact Checker: Has Beto O'Rourke visited the most Iowa counties? No.

Beto O'Rourke: Let's Forgive All Student Loan Debt For Teachers

8. Amy Klobuchar 42.9 (Previous: 8th / 41.9) US Senator from Minnesota 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Klobuchar has been a massive underachiever so far, but is still sticking around in that third tier of candidates. Along with Beto, Booker, and maybe Castro— they aren't exactly eliminated, but can't seem to catch fire. Or even get warm.

Klobuchar would serve herself well to focus on the fundamentals and avoiding desperate pleas for attention if she wants to remain in the Biden VP sweepstakes. Or she could totally shake things up by throwing binders at her opponents in the debate.

Other headlines:

Klobuchar: I Don't Support Open Borders Like Warren, Castro

Deportation raids are about distracting from issues: Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar hoping 'nice' finishes first

Sports bookmakers put Klobuchar as "heavy underdog" in presidential race

7. Julian Castro 43.2 (Previous: 10th / 34.5) Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Castro is a good example of how overblown debates can be. His first debate performance was quite solid, but did more to sink Robert Francis O'Rourke than actually help his own candidacy.

One more good debate performance should be enough to get him into the next round of debates, as he has already passed the donor threshold. Polling, however, has been elusive. Perhaps there is a swath of America that is uncomfortable voting for a Castro for president, like say, all of south Florida?

Still, in a field of a zillion candidates that have shown no potential, he stands out as a long shot with a punchers chance to make some noise. This is reflected with a nice bump in his score for this update.

Other headlines:

Julián Castro Doubles Down On Decriminalizing Migration: Repeal Felony For Reentry, Too

Julian Castro: 'Instead of breaking up families, we should break up ICE'

Bill Maher rips Julián Castro for remark about abortion for trans women

Julián Castro declines to hold baby

Julián Castro can't speak Spanish

Julian Castro wants to solve homelessness by 2028

A consulting firm made specifically to prevent sexual harassment is providing Castro and other 2020 campaigns advice and training

5. Pete Buttigieg 65.8 (Previous: 2nd / 68.8) Mayor of South Bend, IN

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There probably isn't a campaign that has been more bizarre than Mayor Pete. He was a complete nobody to the public, though as we initially noted, he had support from a bunch of Obama era celebrinerds.

This helped him rise to a top tier candidate with all the money and momentum to make a run at the nomination. Since then we've seen a complete fizzle. He is using the cash to build the infrastructure to make himself a serious candidate, and he should last a while, but he probably must win Iowa to have a chance at the nomination.

Also, finding one African American who will vote for him would be nice.

Other headlines:

Pete Buttigieg goes on hiring spree after top fundraising quarter.

Buttigieg, Struggling With Black Voters, Releases Plan to Address Racial Inequities

South Bend police call out Buttigieg for sending pizza rather than apology after race comments

CNN's Axelrod Rips Buttigieg: Blacks Doing Worse Under His Leadership

Only Pete Buttigieg gets standing ovation from Corn Feed audience

New Republic Drops Out Of Climate Forum Over Backlash To Pete Buttigieg Op-Ed

Pete Buttigieg says it's "almost certain" we've had gay presidents

Pete Buttigieg Sets Hollywood Fundraisers With Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler and More

4. Elizabeth Warren 70.4 (Previous: 5th / 53.4) US Senator from Massachusetts 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Looking back at my initial analysis of this field, I'd say it's played out pretty closely to what I expected. Warren has surprised me though.

In an election where beating Trump is the most important characteristic for democratic voters, she seems to be grown in a lab to lose to him. She comes across as a stern elementary school principal who would make kids terrified to be called into her office, because she'd bore them to death by reading them the handbook.

Her DNA kit roll out was so catastrophic, I assumed democrats would see that her political instincts are awful. When put under the intense pressure Trump is sure to bring, she's going to collapse, and I figured democrats would recognize that.

Instead, she's in the top tier. This rise has been legitimately impressive for Warren.

It's also a dream come true for Donald Trump.

Other headlines:

The Activist Left Already Knows Who It Wants for President

Netroots Nation was the day Elizabeth Warren became president of the American left

Elizabeth Warren pledges to decriminalize border crossings

Warren plans to increase annual refugee admissions nearly 800 percent from FY2018

Warren, Biden Campaigns Appear to Find Loophole Around Paid Internships

Warren says she'll push to end Israel's 'occupation'

Warren staffer: 'I would totally be friends with Hamas'

Elizabeth Warren reintroduces legislation requiring corporations to disclose climate risk exposure

Elizabeth Warren Wants Reparations For Same-Sex Couples

Elizabeth Warren proposes executive orders to address race and gender pay gap

This is how Elizabeth Warren plans to close the pay gap for women of color

How much would a wealth tax really raise? Dueling economists reflect new split in Democratic Party

Elizabeth Warren Brings Ad Buying In-House

Elizabeth Warren says she raised $19 million in the second quarter of the year

3. Bernie Sanders 71.1 (Previous: 3rd / 67.2) US Senator from Vermont

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Sanders has fallen slowly but steadily in the polls the past couple of months, and while not every metric yet reflects it, the socialist wing seems more likely represented by Warren.

That being said, Bernie holds her off for third place. Warren and Bernie have reportedly struck a truce to not attack each other, an arrangement which benefits Warren far more than Sanders.

Bernie's machine and name recognition continues to keep him near the top of the heap, but one wonders how long that lasts as name recognition for other candidates get higher, and Iowa gets closer.

No matter if he wins or loses, he's moved the Overton window of the party in a dramatic way. And don't underestimate the appeal of his Medicare-for-all-humankind dream. Bernie may be too old and cranky to see socialized health care into the end zone, but he has advanced that ball much further than he had any right to.

Other headlines:

Bernie Sanders has 'deep sense of satisfaction' his positions are now 'centrist' among Dems

Bernie Sanders: I Will Cancel All $1.6 Trillion Of Your Student Loan Debt

Sanders hits back at Biden over criticism of 'Medicare for All'

Bernie Sanders: Nancy Pelosi shouldn't 'alienate' freshmen House Democrats

Why Sanders Wanted His Meeting With a Rabbi Kept Secret

Bernie Sanders Says Being the First Jewish President Would Be 'Another Barrier Broken Down'

Liberal billionaire calls Bernie Sanders a 'Communist' and 'a disaster zone'

Blackstone's Byron Wien: Markets are terrified of far-left Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

Antiwar candidate Bernie Sanders faces backlash over the $1.2 trillion war machine he brought to Vermont

The time Bernie Sanders ranted about baseball in a low-budget film

Bernie Sanders shows off sword Ross Perot gave him

Bernie Sanders Raises $18 Million in 3 Months, Trailing Buttigieg

2. Kamala Harris 79.2 (Previous: 4th / 65.9) US Senator from California 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Harris has given back a good chunk of her post debate bounce, which is to be expected. While she rockets to number two in the power rankings, there are a few things to worry about.

The difference between Warren and Harris is notable. The candidates are nearly tied in most polls, but much of the strength of Harris is based on one spectacular moment. Warren alternatively seems to have a lower ceiling, but a stronger foundation.

The good news for Harris is she does incredibly well among voters that are actually paying attention, while her weakness lies with those who haven't really tuned in yet.

At some point, Harris has to clean up her mess of a policy package, which includes supporting a Bernie style Medicare for All without the Bernie style middle class tax hikes-- a combination that even the left admits makes no sense.

Quotes like this still feel way too accurate, "She's the easy-to-listen-to, poorly defined identity candidate." This needs to be sorted out eventually if she's actually going to win.

Other headlines:

It's Hard To Have A Conversation With Kamala Harris When She Doesn't Even Know What She's Talking About

Kamala Harris: Immigration Raids Are 'A Crime Against Humanity', there are 'babies in cages'

Harris doubles down on criticism of Biden's busing comments on The View

Mother Jones: Kamala Harris Wants to Bring Back Busing? Really?

Kamala Harris's Call for a Return to Busing Is Bold and Politically Risky

Race is 'America's Achilles' heel,' Harris tells African-American group

Kamala Harris claims her campaign is being targeted by Russian bots, also says she's not a plan factory

Harris proposes $100 billion plan to increase minority homeownership

What's Kamala Harris's record on Israel?

Kamala Harris Called Young People "Stupid" in 2015

Kamala Harris lags behind top-tier candidates in Q2 fundraising

Utah man arrested after alleged scheme to plan fake Kamala Harris fundraiser

1. Joe Biden 80.8 (Previous: 1st / 82.3) Former US Senator from Delaware and Former Vice President

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Biden's polling has mostly rebounded to his pre-debate status and he remains the favorite to be the nominee.

He can't survive too many more performances like his first debate however, and he needs to show voters that he can stand up to the heat President Trump is going to bring. In other words, don't get smoked again, fall over on your walker, or look like your dentures are going to fall out in the middle of a debate.

This is a real test for Biden's candidacy. He's had time to prepare, and he's had time to stretch the old muscles. No more excuses.

If Joe can get spry, he probably wins the nomination. But, that is far from a sure thing.

Other headlines:

NBC/WSJ poll: Biden tops 2020 Democratic field...

Joe Biden Decides He Doesn't Need to Stay Above the Fray After All

Biden campaigns as Obamacare's top defender

Biden says Democrats haven't been straightforward about 'Medicare for All'

Biden under fire for mass deportations under Obama

Biden refuses to apologize for high deportation numbers during Obama years

Joe Biden's campaign office opens in Philly with a protest, not a party

AOC: Segregationist controversy and debate performance raised question Biden could be too old for office

Are Biden's Apologies Killing His Electability Argument?

Liberal activists at Netroots Nation bet Joe Biden drops out of race

Joe and Jill Biden have made $15M since leaving White House

How Joe Biden, who called himself 'the poorest man in Congress,' became a multimillionaire

Penn Paid Joe Biden $775,000 to Expand Its "Global Outreach" … and Give Some Speeches

Biden: 'Occupation is a real problem'Joe Biden raised $21.5 million in second quarter, campaign announces

Joe Biden: I Promise To 'End The Forever Wars In Afghanistan And Middle East'

Joe Biden promises to 'cure cancer' if elected president

No, stealth Obamacare won’t fix the failed status-quo

Online Marketing/Unsplash

Another day, another proposed fix to a pressing national problem by a Democratic presidential hopeful. Former Vice President Joe Biden has positioned himself as the "moderate" leader of the Democratic Party, putting pressure on him to come up with a "sensible" alternative to Sen. Sanders' (I-Vt.) Medicare for All plan. But Biden's healthcare proposal, released July 15, doubles down on flawed, top-down solutions without offering any new ideas. Presidential hopefuls should instead pledge to unleash market innovation and lower healthcare prices for all.

Of course, a former vice president will inevitably find it difficult to make a clean policy break from the administration he has repeatedly hailed and defended. Biden's tenure as vice president made him into a second-tier political rockstar, and it makes sense that he's reluctant to separate himself from former President Obama's Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"). It's also no surprise that "Bidencare" preserves Obamacare's disastrous expansion of Medicaid, the federal government's insurance program for low-income Americans. His plan even provides a public option for residents of states that have not expanded Medicaid. Perhaps more surprising, or just disappointing, is how thoroughly the Democratic orthodoxy has embraced government medical insurance even at gargantuan cost, despite little evidence that it'll work.

RELATED: Medicare for all: Obamacare was only the first step

Back when he was a heartbeat away from the presidency, Biden vigorously defended Obamacare, criticizing Republican governors for failing to expand Medicaid and predicting that all states would eventually see the light. That never quite happened (as of now, 17 states wisely refuse to expand health insurance targeted at low-income Americans). But the Obama administration tried to cajole red and purple states into expanding the Medicaid eligibility threshold "up to 138 percent of the poverty level." Nevertheless, states such as Texas, Florida, and North Carolina wisely considered the evidence that Medicaid was breaking the bank — without helping the poor get access to the care they needed.

This evidence isn't just based on one or two stray studies produced by the "right" think-tank. In June 2018, Health Affairs published a blockbuster analysis of 77 studies on Medicaid's effectiveness, and the results may be disappointing for fans of government-provided insurance. Around 60 percent of the studies included in the meta-analysis found that health status and quality of care failed to improve for low-income patients after Medicaid expansion. The analysis also finds that a majority (56 percent of studies) found no improvement in the financial performance of hospitals post-Medicaid expansion. This finding contradicts claims by Obama, Biden and co. that Medicaid expansion would shift patients from the emergency room to doctor's offices, lowering system-wide costs.

These findings are scandalous for an expansion program that costs federal taxpayers at least $70 billion per year. How could all of this money be failing to improve outcomes? Plausibly, the types of institutions that accept Medicaid are larger facilities that aren't as great at delivering quality health-care as smaller offices? The copious paperwork and documentation required by the program don't really allow smaller facilities the bandwidth to deal with Medicaid in an efficient manner. Yet this documentation is necessary to curb rampant fraud in the program that costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year.

Greater Medicaid funding and corresponding anti-waste measures fail to address the cancer undermining the healthcare system: sky-high drug prices and expensive medical equipment.

Greater Medicaid funding and corresponding anti-waste measures fail to address the cancer undermining the healthcare system: sky-high drug prices and expensive medical equipment. Instead of pushing for ever-higher government spending, a President Biden could push for a streamlined Food and Drug Administration approval process for drugs and medical devices, which would keep medical costs down and give a green light to innovators everywhere. The cost to develop a single medication is now more than $2 billion, and an onerous FDA approval process costs lives by being too risk-averse.

Presidential hopefuls such as Biden should also pledge to work with states to roll-back "certificate of need" laws, which force medical institutions to jump through countless barriers to expand their facilities and invest in new services. It's not just hospitals and their patients that suffer from these needless laws; Harvard medical scholar David Grabowski sums up the evidence that these laws make nursing homes far worse and costlier than they need to be. Getting rid of these laws nationwide would give patients and consumers far more options when shopping around for the care and facilities they need.

The price problem gripping the American healthcare system simply won't go away while regulatory barriers and onerous approval processes continue to stifle the sector. Presidential hopefuls such as Biden can make a dent in this problem by supporting market reforms, instead of doubling-down on failed government healthcare.

Ross Marchand is a Young Voices contributor and the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both fulfilled their goal of living to see the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Then, both died later that day — July 4, 1826. Adams was 90. Jefferson was 83.

Because of their failing health, Jefferson and Adams each declined many invitations to attend July 4th celebrations. Adams sent a letter to be read aloud at the 50th Independence Day celebration in his local town of Quincy, Massachusetts. He wrote that the Declaration is:

... a memorable epoch in the annals of the human race, destined in future history to form the brightest or the blackest page, according to the use or the abuse of those political institutions by which they shall, in time to come, be shaped by the human mind.

It's remarkable how well the Founders understood human nature and what could happen to the United States. It's the postmodern mindset that increasingly rules the U.S. now. It has infected our institutions and untethered us from the bedrock principles of the Declaration. In its place? Hypocritical and vitriolic partisan righteous indignation.

Less than a century after Adams' and Jefferson's deaths, the most serious attempt to undermine the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came from America's 28th president — Woodrow Wilson. He wrote:

Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence.

As if that's a bad thing.

During Wilson's career as a college professor, he thought deeply and wrote extensively of his contempt for our founding documents. His issue with them formed the core beliefs of Progressivism that are still alive today.

In 1911, before he was elected President, Wilson said in a speech:

I do not find the problems of 1911 solved in the Declaration of Independence ... It is the object of Government to make those adjustments of life which will put every man in a position to claim his normal rights as a living human being.

See what he does there? He completely inverts the Declaration — he's saying, you don't have inherent rights until government puts you in a position to claim them. That's the heart of Progressivism.

In a later speech, Wilson said:

If you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.

Wilson did not think the equality, natural rights, and consent-of-the-governed parts of the Declaration defined the proper role of government. He preferred the Declaration's list of grievances because they addressed specific problems. That's what he thought government existed to do — solve problems for people. And since people's problems change over time, so should the Constitution and government to keep up with the times.

Wilson said:

No doubt we are meant to have liberty; but each generation must form its own conception of what liberty is.

We hear this sentiment echoed all the time today: follow your heart, find your truth, etc.

Another key to Wilson's Progressive theory of government was human evolution. He thought that because humans were now more enlightened, they could be trusted not to abuse government power. The Declaration's committee of five (Adams, Sherman, Franklin, Livingston and Jefferson) would've laughed Wilson out of the room.

It's hard to believe that less than 150 years after the signing of the Declaration, the U.S. president — Wilson — was saying this:

We are not bound to adhere to the doctrines held by the signers of the Declaration of Independence: we are as free as they were to make and unmake governments. We are not here to worship men or a document. Every Fourth of July should be a time for examining our standards, our purposes, for determining afresh what principles, what forms of power we think most likely to effect our safety and happiness. That and that alone is the obligation the Declaration lays upon us.

Wilson was so effective at imposing his philosophy on government that he forever diverted the U.S. presidency away from the Constitution. Progressives have kept Wilson's torch alive ever since.

Progressives are still hostile to the Declaration of Independence because of this idea of “historical contingency" which holds that truths change over time. Progressives think the “self-evident" truths of the Declaration are outdated and may no longer apply. And that means the Constitution based on those truths may no longer apply either. Wilson and Progressives especially don't like the whole separation of powers thing, because it hinders the fast action they want out of government. They want a justice warrior president who will bring swift change by fiat.

The current trend in attacking the Declaration and Constitution is to tear down the men who wrote them. In late 2015, students at the University of Missouri and the College of William & Mary, placed notes all over the statues of Thomas Jefferson on their respective campuses. The handwritten notes labeled Jefferson things like, “racist," “rapist," “pedophile" (not sure what that one's supposed to mean), “How dare you glorify him," “I wouldn't be here if it was up to him," and “Black Lives Matter."

That is the handiwork of students who are blinded by self-righteous victimhood and can't see the value and merit that the Declaration still holds for us today. After these incidents, Annette Gordon-Reed offered a reasoned defense of Jefferson. Reed is a respected history professor at Harvard Law School, who also happens to be a black woman. She wrote:

I understand why some people think his statues should be removed, but not all controversial figures of the past are created equal. I think Jefferson's contributions to the history of the United States outweigh the problems people have with aspects of his life. He is just too much a part of the American story to pretend that he was not there ... The best of his ideals continue to influence and move people. The statues should be a stimulus for considering all these matters at William & Mary and the University of Missouri.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from Woodrow Wilson's disdain for the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln loved it. If there is one overarching theme in Lincoln's speeches, it is the Declaration. Lincoln pointed the nation back to the Declaration as a mission statement, which ended slavery and preserved the Union.

Unlike Wilson, who recommended leaving out the Preamble, Lincoln considered it the most vital part. To Lincoln, the self-evident truths were universal, timeless, and more important than the list of grievances. Lincoln wrote that these truths were:

... applicable to all men and all times ... that today, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.

In a speech Lincoln gave in 1861, shortly after he was first elected president, he said:

I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence… I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the mother-land, but that sentiment in the Declaration which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time.

Lincoln went on to say that he would rather be assassinated than see the nation forfeit the principles of the Declaration. His Gettysburg Address is a brilliant, concise renewal of the Declaration:

... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We cannot assume that this radical idea of freedom will always be embraced by Americans. It has found hostility on our shores every step of the way. The Declaration's principles must be continually defended. Because while humans do have certain unalienable rights that are endowed by our Creator, there is darkness in the world, and for some strange reason humans, while valuing freedom, also seem to have a natural bent toward tyranny. That's why we must understand and discuss the Declaration. It's not alarmist. It's not a quaint history lesson. It's a reality, right now, that the fundamental principles of the Declaration are under attack. The Founders would have undoubtedly shuddered at most of the rhetoric from last week's Democratic presidential debates. Left to its own mob devices, even America would turn its back on freedom.

Shortly before his death in 1826, 90-year-old John Adams was asked to recommend a toast that could be given in his honor on July 4th. Adams didn't hesitate. He suggested, “Independence Forever." The small group of visitors silently glanced at each other for a moment, before someone asked Adams if he'd like to add anything else. Adams shifted forward in his chair, leaned on his cane, stared intently at the men, and replied, “Not a word."

China is having its Boston Tea Party moment

Unknown Wong / Unsplash

Freedom. It usually begins as a whisper. A secret passed on between patrons at a secluded bar or private meeting. And no matter how hard the tyrants may try and stop it, no matter how many dams they throw up to try and contain it, the whispers eventually become a flood. Sometimes it takes longer to break through, but it's the same EVERY TIME. Liberty and freedom always wins. It's an unstoppable force that knows no immovable object.

For us it was exactly 243 years ago to this month that those whispers became a flood. A group of ragtag colonists took on the world's only superpower —and won. Our forefathers proved it — freedom refuses to recognize tyranny as an immovable object. The world was forever changed.

And I can't help but see the poetic justice as more whispers became a flood, defying their own immovable object, just three days before all of us were buying fireworks to celebrate our Independence Day. But this time it was just off the coast of mainland China.

Last week over a MILLION protesters filled the streets in Hong Kong. Literally a FLOOD of humans looking for one thing — freedom. They stormed the government building that is the equivalent of their Congress. They smashed windows, broke down doors, and a photo was taken that I think just might be the picture of the year.

A British colonial flag, a symbol thrown out when Hong Kong was given back to China, was draped — BY THE PROTESTORS — over the chair of their head of government. I can't restate how historic this actually is. The people of Hong Kong, with a population that is over 90 percent ethnic Han Chinese, are saying to the mainland that they prefer colonial rule over the tyranny of the Chinese government. Leftists would tell you that communism is the remedy for colonialism, but for those living in the dark shadow of communism, they actually prefer colonial rule over what they now face.

The local Hong Kong government is caught between the immovable object of the Chinese communist government, and the unstoppable force of liberty.

When Hong Kong was given back to the mainland, China agreed to allow them a few freedoms that the rest of the Chinese don't enjoy. They're free to engage in protest against the government and they maintain a legislative body — both of which are outlawed on the mainland. But, as every tyrannical oppressor always does, China has been looking to reel that in. Most recently, China attempted to make it possible to extradite dissenters back to Beijing. The result? The quiet whispers of freedom, the secrets told in private at clandestine meetings, became a flood of millions in the streets.

On July 3rd, police began a crackdown. More than 13 people have been arrested so far. If China eventually gets their way, those 13 people will no doubt be the first of many to be extradited over to the mainland. Their crime? The dream of freedom. As of right now, the extradition law has been temporarily delayed. The local Hong Kong government is caught between the immovable object of the Chinese communist government, and the unstoppable force of liberty.

History has shown who will win in the end. Yesterday, over 200,000 protestors gathered at the high speed train station that links mainland China to Hong Kong. The message was just as clear as the British colonial flag hung inside their legislative building. For our forefathers it was symbolized with the Gadsden Flag and the phrase “Death To Tyranny." The message is simple: “we will not be ruled. Freedom knows no immovable object."

News of the protest movement has been censored in mainland China, but how long will they be able to contain THEIR OWN whispers with over two hundred thousand freedom lovers camped out at the bridge between Hong Kong and mainland China? How long before those whispers spread to secret meeting locations in Beijing or Shanghai? How long before that cascades to the Christian and Muslim minorities that are tired of being rounded up and thrown into camps?

We might have just witnessed the Chinese version of the Boston Tea Party. July 4th is still a long way away for them, but — as it does time and time again — freedom and liberty always win in the end.