Veteran Walking 2,200 Miles Across the US to Bring Attention to Veteran's Issues

Radio and news veteran Mike Opelka, host of Pure Opelka on TheBlaze and editor of FireWire, TheBlaze daily newsletter, filled in for Glenn on The Glenn Beck Program today, Friday, December 30.

Read below or listen to the full segment from Hour 2 for answers to these questions:

• How many years was Ernesto Rodriguez in the US Army?

• How can you follow @NerdNesto as he walks across America?

• How did Ernesto help a homeless veteran in Dallas?

• How many states have completely eradicated veteran homelessness?

• Since Ernesto does not accept donations, what would he like people to do?

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

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

MIKE: It is the Glenn Beck Program. However, Mr. Beck having a holiday. Mike Opelka from Pure Opelka on TheBlaze Radio Network, filling in for my friend, my boss, my old buddy, Glenn Beck. And I appreciate his trust with his franchise. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Dom Theodore, for the love and support this year.

So much good has come my way in 2016. And yet, so much troubling stuff in 2016.

So many things I will be happy to wave goodbye to, 2016. And welcome 2017.

I'm excited about the future. I am very happy to put 2016 to bed, the year I lost both my parents. Just not a good year for me. Not a good memory. And I hope if you had bad memories, you too can put them away, and let's all go forward.

As a matter of fact, there's a good memory I want to share with all of you from 2016. Let me see if I can find it. This was -- this was from the White House Correspondents' Dinner, just about a year ago.

OBAMA: Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot. And it's anyone guess who she will be. But...

(laughter)

MIKE: How about a little bit of schadenfreude there? How about a little bit of oops? Oops. "It's anyone's guess who she will be." Wrong-o, sir. You missed on that one. Yes, that's a little bit of schadenfreude.

I can take pleasure at the unfortunate happenstance that President Obama and the Democrats had. You know what's really weird was the way the people thought this was going to be such a massive landslide. And we'll get into that.

I talked briefly last hour about the subpoena for -- for the voice that was recorded and some of the requests made by people who have one of those Alexas or those devices you put in your house and you tell them to search things for you or turn down the lights or play a music number. And we're going to get into that in an hour with a lawyer friend of ours. Dr. Wendy Patrick will join us.

But I also wanted to do a little hero saluting today.

We still don't have Donald Trump's pick for the VA cabinet post. We still do not have someone who Mr. Trump would like to see handling the VA. And I know yesterday, Mr. Trump was -- was floating the idea as he has in the past, as others have in the past, about privatizing the VA or giving every -- every veteran a card for their medical treatment that they could take to any facility in the country and get paid back.

Now, obviously there are some issues with that and some things that need to be worked out in terms of logistics. But the fact that this president-elect is looking to help our veterans gets me on his side, gets me in his corner, cheering.

And the problem is so huge that anybody who brings attention to the lack of care that is -- that our vets are not getting, anyone who brings attention to the problems of the VA, I will give room on whatever show I'm dealing with. And I -- I happen to be introduced to one such person, who also happens to be a veteran of the United States military.

And I wanted to introduce him to you today because he is doing something that he wanted to do, to call attention to it. He's not out there on the streets asking for money. He's not -- he's not -- he doesn't have a GoFundMe program. He's just doing what he's doing to draw attention to the problems of the veterans.

And while I'm -- I'm going to let him tell the story. His name is Ernesto Rodriguez. He served this country quite bravely. And just recently retired.

Ernesto, welcome to the Glenn Beck Program, my friend.

ERNESTO: Sir. How are you?

MIKE: I'm good. Now, where the heck are you today?

ERNESTO: I am in the heart of downtown Dallas.

MIKE: You're in the heart of downtown Dallas.

Ernesto, for this audience that doesn't know you, that didn't hear the interview we did on Pure Opelka earlier, how long did you serve this country, and in what branch, sir?

ERNESTO: I was in the U.S. Army. I was an infantryman, and I served 15 years.

MIKE: Wow. First of all, thank you for your service. Were you deployed overseas?

ERNESTO: I was. I deployed twice to Iraq, twice to Afghanistan. The first deployment being the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

MIKE: Wow. Wow. That's -- you were involved in the real serious stuff, sir.

ERNESTO: Uh-huh.

MIKE: And I'm glad you're here. You're all in one piece, I take it.

ERNESTO: I am. I am.

MIKE: Good. Good. Well, Ernesto, you decided that you were going to try to bring attention to the plight of the veterans, not just health care, but the fact that we lose between 20 and 22 vets every day to suicide and the mental health issues that we obviously aren't addressing quickly enough.

And you wanted to do something that would -- that would draw attention to the issue. And what is that, sir?

ERNESTO: Well, sir, I started walking from Clarksville, Tennessee, on November 11th, Veterans Day, and decided to start a journey towards Los Angeles, California. It will be a total of 2200 miles. And just -- just to bring awareness the 22 that we lose every day to suicide. And also, the need for reform in mental health care for active duty soldiers and veterans.

That's what I'm doing.

MIKE: Okay. And you started in Tennessee, but why Clarksville, Tennessee? Why that starting point?

ERNESTO: So when I -- when I medically retired from the military, I happened to be at Fort Campbell. And Clarksville, Tennessee, is the neighboring city of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

MIKE: Okay. So basically you checked out of your base and stood -- and headed towards the west coast hoping to draw attention. You're walking. You're walking the whole way. And from Veterans Day to today, you've made it to Dallas.

Now, I noticed something, Ernesto. And if you want to follow Ernesto and his exploits, he is @NerdNesto, which I think is a very funny name. I should talk, with Stunt Brain. You can follow him on Twitter @NerdNesto.

You are posting little videos and little bits and bites of information along the way, one of which really tugged on my heartstrings when you met a homeless vet living under a highway overpass.

When did that meet-up happen?

ERNESTO: That occurred on December 22nd, as I was walking into Dallas. It was on Interstate 30. I was walked down Interstate 30. And I came to this overpass. I looked to my side, and I see a big old green Army duffle bag.

Now, I didn't know if it was going to be a veteran or not, but there was somebody moving up there, and I felt really bad because Christmas was coming up.

So I dug into my bag. I grabbed some beef jerky, a protein bar, and five dollars, and I went up and said, "Happy Holidays." And as I spoke with him, I found out he was a veteran. So what happened was, I was doing a Facebook Live at the time to show people how unfair it is that this gentleman, if he was a veteran, is laying on the streets after serving this country.

So not even ten minutes later, I got three messages from different nonprofit organizations within the Dallas area, asking me the location of the gentleman, to come pick him up, put him in a hotel room for the night, bring him a meal, and try to get him back on his feet.

MIKE: Wow. If you want to see this video -- you posted that on Facebook as well?

ERNESTO: Yeah. So I do Facebook Live. I try to do a little bit on every social media network. But I do tag links. But that one was so important to me because I want to make sure that this man got helped, that I posted it on every single outlet I could find.

MIKE: Well, that's a wonderful story. Ernesto, I can't even begin to thank you. This is such an important -- an important mission of yours. And I salute you for having the courage and the stamina to do this. Obviously, you have a long road ahead of you.

How long will it take you, do you think, to get all the way to Los Angeles?

ERNESTO: I'm looking at around March, beginning to mid-March at this point. I've been doing a little research on walking through Death Valley. So it may take me a little bit longer because I'm going to have to conserve my energy and my food and my water, through that trek.

MIKE: So are you going across I-10? Is that the way you're going to get all the way across the southwest?

ERNESTO: Yes.

MIKE: Okay.

ERNESTO: So I'll go from 20 to 10. To El Paso, to Tucson, Phoenix, and then into Los Angeles.

MIKE: Got it. Got it. I've traveled that via Greyhound. Never on foot. So I had the benefit of having a Greyhound bus ticket that would get me across the southwest.

His name is Ernesto. He is a 15-year veteran of the United States military. He is a guy I call a hero. Ernesto Rodriguez is trying to bring attention to the plight of our vets, the 22 we lose virtually every day to suicide. Guys -- men and women who served this country who don't have to die. The one story, Ernesto, that always sticks in my mind is one that you and I talked about before, and that is the vet who actually took his own life in the parking lot of the VA.

ERNESTO: Uh-huh.

MIKE: And I don't think you can highlight something as more of a cry for help and more of a need for the government to get involved and straighten out the mess they have than a soldier who was so desperate, that they actually took their life on the property in the parking lot of the VA.

What do we do, Ernesto? What can we do to either help you get the word out or help you get across the country? Because I know you're not taking donations.

ERNESTO: Right. What I love, you know, saying to other people is, "If you do feel like donating money, please donate it to a local nonprofit local charity in your area." Do your research. Because some nonprofits don't work as well as others. But on my behalf, donate to them. I just don't want money.

I have been lucky enough to surround myself with enough people that my hotel rooms, when I get a chance to stay in a hotel, are taken care of. Food is taken care of. All I have to focus is on walking.

But check your local organizations. Spend time with your veterans. Make sure that they have someone to lean on. And make sure that they understand that they are still wrong people, even if they're asking for help.

MIKE: You know what I always tell folks, if you can't ask for help, you can't be strong enough to give help. And that perception that asking for help is weakness is so misguided, and it's one we need to break now.

Ernesto, I know we can find you on Twitter @NerdNesto. Where -- how do we find you on Facebook and Instagram?

ERNESTO: Well, I've -- Dallas has been very good to me. And I've been on a lot of local media. I was able to meet some very well recognized celebrities last night. So now they're starting to follow me. So I'm actually starting to hit top hit on Google. So if you look up @NerdNesto on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, you can see all the news reports. I'm definitely -- I'm getting there.

MIKE: Well, that's good. That's good. I love the fact that people are starting to pay attention. And the story that you -- you shared with us, that Facebook Live post of that veteran living under an overpass is just heartbreaking. And I'm so pleased that at least three agencies raised their hands and came to help this man. Maybe we can do this.

I'm happy to say, Ernesto, that the state where I'm coming from you today, Delaware --

ERNESTO: Uh-huh.

MIKE: -- is one of three states in the country that does not have homeless veterans. We were officially certified, on Veterans Day, as one of the states that's solved the homelessness problem and has gotten housing and care and counseling for those homeless vets. But we still have 47 other states we need to get moving on.

ERNESTO: I agree.

MIKE: And your work is so much appreciated, sir. I want to say, God bless you, and have a great New Year. You know there's an open door any time you want to get news out.

When are you leaving Dallas now? If we can rally support to wish you well on your next leg of your journey, when are you checking out?

ERNESTO: I am checking out on the 2nd at 9 o'clock. An organization here called 22 Kill has actually started organizing a walk with me. If you're from the Dallas area, there is a huge eyeball sculpture in the middle of downtown. We're leaving from there at 9 o'clock, and everybody will be walking 2.2 miles with me. And then I'll continue on my journey that day.

MIKE: Beautiful, beautiful.

Well, I will post that up and encourage people to follow you on Twitter as well. My buddy, Nerd Nesto.

Ernesto, God bless you again, friend. And have a great rest of your year.

ERNESTO: Thank you. You too.

MIKE: When we get back, there's more news. Plus, I have to give you the latest on the mic drop moment from Vladimir Putin to Barack Obama. And, oh, my gosh, there's this story you're not going to believe. An arrest was made in California that if I'm ever in California, there's a good chance I would be arrested too. I'll share the story with you next on the Glenn Beck Program.

[break]

MIKE: It is the Glenn Beck Program. Mike Opelka from Pure Opelka on TheBlaze Radio network, sitting in for my pal Glenn Beck, wrapping up 2016 and tying a cinder block to it and throwing it in the river. That's basically how I feel about this year. There are a couple of things this year that I will hang onto. One of which is the opportunity to be here. Another is my nighttime radio show on TheBlaze Radio network. If you want to know more, go to TheBlaze.com, click on the button that says Channels, and click on my mug and follow me. Would you?

I would appreciate it. And you will -- you'll see what I'm up to. Before we went away, I mentioned the fact that I don't know if I can ever go back to California.

And I have so many great -- great friends who are friends of this show and friends who live in California. I just don't know if I can go. I don't want to be arrested.

It makes me very nervous. My buddy at TheBlaze.com, Brandon Morris wrote this story a day ago. And he said: California police arrest a man for driving under the influence of caffeine. Not kidding.

This actually happened. A guy named Joseph Schwab, driving home from work in Solano County, reportedly he cut off a car. Driving that car that he reportedly cut off was an agent from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Now, I didn't know this, but those people have arrest privileges. The agent claimed that Schwab was driving erratically, which in California, is about 90 percent of the people I've been around on the highway.

The officer pulled Schwab over and said, "You need to take a breathalyzer test." The guy blew a double zero. 0000.0000. Nevertheless, she arrested him, took him to jail, said, "You've got to be on something, the way you were driving." They did a blood test. Everything came back negative. No drugs. Nothing illegal in his system. They did find he had caffeine in his system. So they have now charged him with a substance, being driving under the influence of a substance, which is perfectly legal, sold to drivers to keep awake. How many cops do you see at a doughnut shop with a cup of coffee? It's craziness.

California, I can't come back, until you fix this. Free Mr. Schwab or arrest everybody with a Starbucks card. Come back after the break. There's more.

[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka with you on the Glenn Beck Program. Filling out the rest of 2016. And I will be back Monday to kick off 2017. Thank you, Mr. Beck.

Jeff is on the phone from Georgia, I believe. Jeff, we were just talking with my friend Ernesto a little bit earlier about the plight of the veterans in this country and the 20 to 22 we lose every single day to suicide. And you wanted to bring up something that is highlighting that as well. Hello, sir.

Did we lose him? Sounded like we lost his call. Well, put him on hold if he comes back. Let me know, please. Dallas, we will take care of that.

Earlier today, we talked about the fact that President Obama dropped the hammer, as he believed, on the Russians, kicking 35 Russian diplomats out of the country, giving them 72 hours to get out of town, the equivalent of the old west. You got to be out of town by sundown, son. Seventy-two hours to get out of town, to get out of America and go back to mother Russia.

And we also apparently told them we were going to take two of their compounds, one in New York and one in Maryland.

Well, Vladimir Putin -- Vladimir Putin dropped a bigger hammer, basically. He called Obama's tactics irresponsible kitchen diplomacy and said that it would -- it would hurt our relations, but they will take steps to further restore Russia/US relations based on the policies of the Trump administration. Which, you know, really?

The gracious thing to do would have been to do just that. The situation here -- what -- what President Obama has done in the past week, with both Israel and Russia, to me, is -- is akin to digging a bunch of holes in the White House lawn and putting explosives out there and then covering it over with new turf. You have landmined the future for an incoming administration, just because you lost. Just because the coronation of Hillary Clinton did not occur. And your legacy is at stake.

And what this president has done or is doing makes the shenanigans of the Clinton administration in the transition to the Bush administration look like a kindergarten prank.

Remember, they messed up all the White House keyboards. They took all the W's off. That will fix them. Yeah.

What a bunch of whiners. What a bunch of babies they were. But now this -- this to me borders on massive government meddling. And to say publicly that we're going to be supportive and we are going to help with the transition, and then to do the things that he is doing, are just disgusting to me.

They don't make any stinking sense, until you think about President Obama and what his intentions are and what his intentions have always been.

Here's a guy who -- well, let me go back to Putin and what Putin did. After Putin heard that -- that Obama was kicking out 35 diplomats and taking over these two compounds, Putin's right hand, his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said he had sent a recommendation to Putin to basically expel 35 American diplomats and take over a couple of American compounds. And everybody in the mainstream media said, "Yeah, yeah, that's what we'll do. That's what Russia is going to do. They're going to kick out the Americans." Well, after almost two hours of reporting that non-stop on CNN and MSNBC and just about everywhere, Putin put out a statement calling this -- as I mentioned earlier, the irresponsible kitchen diplomacy.

But he also -- this is when he dropped it right on Obama's toes, a big ol' hammer.

He said the diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year's holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for the American diplomats here. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their travel and leisure sites during the New Year's holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children's parties at the Kremlin.

Notice the wording. Notice the wording. And as I say, "Notice the wording," I'm staring at the Christmas card I received from Vice President Joe Biden just a week ago.

I'm sorry. It's not a Christmas card. It's a holiday card. It has a -- what looks like a Christmas tree on the cover, but on the back, it says, "The vice president's holiday tree, 2016."

And inside, the message from the Obama administration's vice president says, "Happy Holidays."

Vladimir Putin, in his message: I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children's parties in the Kremlin.

Gee. You think you just got the hammer dropped on your feet, President Obama? Then he added, my seasons greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the perfect example of alpha maling somebody.

Putin just took the high ground. Just took all the air out of the Obama balloon. So there it is.

Oh, boy, this is going to be a fun one to watch. Now, on the subject of Israel. I want to talk about Israel as well and what's going on with the United Nations and Israel. We had hoped to have Louie Gohmert on the show today. Louie is introducing a -- a bill. And several in the House have said, "We need to defund the United Nations." Because in essence, we, one country out of the -- what is it? 260 countries that are part of the UN. We pay 22 percent of all the cost of the United Nations. And for those of us who live in New York, we incur 100 percent of the hassle every time the UN meets. Every single time those bobos come into town for their general assembly, which is also known as party weekends, every time those bobos come to town, New York is a mess. New York traffic is absolutely fishmeckled forever.

So I would not be opposed to defunding the United Nations or putting them on a barge and floating them out to sea. If you're so in love with the European Union, if you're so in love with -- or put them in San Francisco. Put them in a sanctuary city like San Francisco. But get them out of here.

But we were supposed to have Louie on to talk about that bill. And I guess he wants to be with his family on New Year's. So Louie is on the plane. So Louie, I appreciate you. I wish you could have been here to talk about this. But in the case of Israel and Barack Obama, we should talk about the duplicitous nature of this president. The duplicitous nature, especially when -- when you look at what John Kerry did and said recently and what Barack Obama said when he was trying to get elected in 2008 and he was speaking at AIPAC.

OBAMA: But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders.

(applauding)

MIKE: Wait. What? Any agreement? Any agreement? Let's go back and listen to the first part of that.

OBAMA: But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders.

(applauding)

MIKE: Hmm. Interesting. He seems to have changed his position on that. Or am I wrong? He also said something else.

OBAMA: Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.

(applauding)

MIKE: Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided. Guess who got the votes. Guess who got elected in 2008. And then guess who has turned his back on Israel since that time. Barack Obama.

One of the more disgusting flip-flops ever. And now that he has 21 days left, he's going out the door, and he's sawing the bridge behind him. And is that word enough?

I wouldn't doubt he poured a little gasoline on it and dropped a match, as he wandered off into the woods, if only.

This president dropping -- dropping friends like Israel and treating them the way they are. Now -- now, you will hear from your friends that -- but wait a minute, what about -- what about the MUS? Do you know what the MUS -- the memorandum of understanding. MOU. The memorandum of understanding between Israel and America.

Everyone who you will talk to about Israel and what we've done with this UN deal -- and believe me, this -- this resolution is just the first part. In the next break, I'm going to tell you something that will shock you. But they all say, "But wait a minute. What about the MUS? What about the fact that we are -- MOU?" Why do I keep saying MUS?

The MOU with Israel. Where we give Israel $3.8 billion a year for the next ten years. We hand them that money. And it's -- it's money for foreign military financing as we call it.

But it also is a jobs program for the United States of America. The money we give to Israel, then they turn around and then buy stuff to protect themselves. And they don't buy it from Russia. They don't buy it from France. They buy it from the United States of America. In practical terms, this is a jobs program for America that also keeps our friends in Israel safe.

So if anybody pulls the MOU argument on you, just tell them, "Yeah, well, guess what, they buy those -- they buy those planes from the United States. They buy the fighter jets from the United States. They buy the parts they need for that fleet. Those F-35s from us, which keeps people employed here in America. Good jobs. Union jobs. Huge paying jobs. So don't play that game with me.

There's more on Israel though and what Obama's actions did, what the UN actions did, that I'll tell you about after the break. Mike Opelka in for Glenn Beck on the Glenn Beck Program.

[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka in for Glenn Beck, wrapping up the new -- the old year and looking forward into the New Year. We'll kick that off Monday. You can join me here.

Before I jump to my guest, I wanted to tell you what I was talking about with Israel and the UN. Not only did they pass that resolution, they just approved $138,000 to build a database blacklisting any business doing ties with Israel. Anybody that's got a business doing business with Israel, prepare to be blacklisted by the UN. I'm telling you, the resolution was just the start. It is a big problem.

Now, I was talking earlier about this story -- this crazy story about Amazon's Echo, that speaker that you can talk to and it will talk back to you, and the subpoena from the prosecutors who think that it may have been a witness to a murder. And I wonder the legality of it. So I've asked our friend, Dr. Wendy Patrick. WendyPatrickPhD.com. To join us. Wendy has so much experience in the law. Well, she's a lawyer. She also understands the trial situations and how to watch candidate -- or, people testifying and see what their body language says.

But, Wendy, how are you going to know the body language of this device if it's feeding back all the data that it has? This scares me.

WENDY: Yeah. You know, we live in a brave new world, a world of drones and Siri and camera phones and all kinds of new technology, much of which has been untested when it comes to their admissibility in court. That is going to be the problem when you have devices that are witnesses. They're not live witnesses. You can't read their body language. They don't have any. They're not alive.

And it really sort of -- on the one hand, people could argue it's a greater sense of credibility because there's no inherent bias in a machine. On the other hand, if we are unsure as to the mechanics of how something works, that's going to be subject to judicial scrutiny.

So these are issues that have to be briefed on both sides. There's no precedent as of yet. And it's almost impossible to determine on a case-by-case basis, how these kinds of devices are going to be admissible in court.

Although, we're all going to be sitting back and watching because we're going to learn from each and every court decision as it comes down the line.

MIKE: Yeah, I sense this is going to go all the way to the top. I've got less than a half minute here. I hope you can hang up because I want to talk more about this, how it relates to our privacy, can you indict yourself, can you -- can you incriminate yourself because your voice was record by a technology company? So many questions, Wendy. Please hang out and join us around the corner. Will you?

WENDY: Will do.

MIKE: All right. Wendy Patrick will join us in the next hour as we try and unravel the legal problems from our brave new world of technology.

Can a drone deliver my drone? Hmm. Big questions. Mike Opelka on the Glenn Beck Program. We'll be back after the news.

Featured Image: Selfie by Ernesto Rodriguez

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.