Related to Jack the Ripper? Serial Killer’s Descendant Takes Terrifying Trip Into History

A descendant of one of America’s first – and most infamous – serial killers has a new book and documentary about H.H. Holmes, a notoriously evil doctor believed to have killed as many as 200 people.

In the History Channel’s “American Ripper,” Jeff Mudgett, Holmes’ great-great-grandson, gathers evidence to support a shocking theory: Holmes was also Britain’s infamous Jack the Ripper. Mudgett detailed his journey to discover his murderous ancestor in his book “Bloodstains.” He joined radio Wednesday to talk about the Jack the Ripper theory as well as how he has coped with being the great-great-grandson of a diabolical serial killer.

“I am fascinated and horrified by your [great-great-grandfather],” Glenn said.

Hanged for his crimes in 1896, Holmes made his fortune through a series of scams, fraudulent marriages and fishy business deals. He built a home in Chicago called “The Castle” that contained an elaborate system of secret passageways, false walls, trapdoors, and a gas tank for piping gas to victims’ rooms. Homes would render his victims unconscious before taking them into secret rooms for horrifying experiments, sometimes selling their bodies as cadavers to medical researchers later.

“My life was turned upside-down,” Mudgett said of discovering he was related to Holmes. “I had to find out what was true and what was legend. And as you know … the more you dig into this story about this evil genius, the more strange it gets.”

The body buried in Holmes’ grave was exhumed by researchers earlier this year to see if the man’s DNA matches that of Holmes’ descendants. While little concrete evidence exists to support the conspiracy theory, it has long been rumored that Holmes was not actually executed and that another man’s body was buried in his place. On Wednesday’s show, Mudgett cast doubt on whether or not Holmes was buried in that grave.

You can watch “hiSTORY: Serial Killer in the White City,” a look at Holmes’ life and horrifying murders, on demand with TheBlaze TV.

GLENN: There is a remarkable story in American history that most people have never heard of. It's America's first real serial killer. His name was H.H. Holmes. We did an episode on this, oh, probably about a year or so ago on H.H. Holmes and the blood that he left behind around the time of the Chicago world's fair. Well, there's been a History Channel show, a series that has been going on called The American Ripper. And it was written by the great-grandson of the serial killer H.H. Holmes. He has a theory that our first serial killer was also Jack the Ripper. And last night, in the series finale, they actually exhumed the body of H.H. Holmes. And he's here to tell us what exactly was found and how that's turning out. And we begin there, right now.

(music)

GLENN: Jeff Mudgett is with us. The great-grandson of H.H. Holmes and the author of the book bloodstains. Bloodstainsthebook.com.

Welcome to the program, Jeff, good to have you.

JEFF: Thank you very much. It's an honor, Glenn.

GLENN: So, Jeff, I've been waiting to talk to you for -- I'm fascinated and horrified by your great grandfather.

At what point in your life did you find out you were related to him?

JEFF: You know, before I answer your question, I wanted to make one comment about your -- your story, your narration about Holmes that I spent the weekend going over. I actually think you captured who Holmes was better than has ever been done before, and I wanted to say bravo.

GLENN: Wow. Thank you.

JEFF: Yeah, and I'm totally, totally from the heart.

I found out when I was 40 years old, my grandfather told the family the horrible secret that he had kept to himself, including my grandmother, about our horrible ancestor.

GLENN: Did that screw with you at all? Were you like, holy cow?

JEFF: I was a successful California lawyer, trial lawyer at the time. I gave that all up. My life was turned upside down. I saved my marriage barely. But I had to find out what was true and what was legend. And, as you know, doing work on Holmes, the more you dig into this story about this evil genius, the more strange it gets.

GLENN: Oh, yeah. Yeah, he is -- it is -- it's so strangely tied to the -- one of the greatest, brightest spots of the -- of the 1800s, the Chicago Expedition. That right down the street, we're seeing these incredible feats of what America is accomplishing. Just a few blocks down, here's this incredible serial killer who built this hotel of horrors.

Can you -- do you want to go into that just a little bit so people understand, who don't know who your great grandfather was?

JEFF: Yeah, yeah. He was, as you so accurately stated, he was America's first, quote, unquote, serial killer and first psychopathic -- they invented those terms for him, he was so horrible.

GLENN: Right.

JEFF: And he invented a -- a building they now call the murder castle, or factory of death. Which, as you noted, from the Ferris wheel, you could see the top of the hotel from the world's fair. And he put up lonely ladies that had come from all over the country to visit this spectacle of the world's fair. And what I try to explain to people, explaining what it must have been like -- I consider him like a lion over the Savannah in Africa, watching the herds of gazelle.

And I think that's the mistake people make, Glenn. They -- they try to consider him, you know, one of the normal serial killers, where you read over and over about. This was a different man. This was different.

GLENN: No. He was -- he was -- I mean, I hate to use this word for him, but he was brilliant. He -- he did stalk his prey. He knew exactly what he was doing.

And so cold and calculated. And the way he built this murder castle, he was -- he would turn people away. Women would come in. And they had -- two women or three women or whatever, a guy would come in, and he would say, "We're all full."

But if you were a woman by yourself, you definitely got a room. And can you describe a little bit about the murder castle and the way he set traps up and viewing stations and -- you know, what was going on there.

JEFF: Yeah. If someone would like to go accurately into the actual architecture of the building, my friend John Borowski wrote a book that I think best describes it.

But you would have a building where someone would walk in the lobby as a normal hotel and be giving a room if the doctor considered her his next victim. They would place her in a room where there were gas vents that he could either render her unconscious or asphyxiate her.

And then his assistants -- and he would send her down a chute to the basement, where he would proceed to work on them in fashions that I -- that I try to explain as our real American Frankenstein.

And people, as you know, Glenn, they deny that thing was possible in America. Well, it was. It was.

GLENN: What do you mean, our American Frankenstein?

JEFF: He would invent methods of surgery on these victims. He would conduct experiments on torture. He actually had a rack where he strapped a young lady to it, tried to impregnate her, so that he could see if he could evolve a taller race of human beings. That's what we're dealing with.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

So can I go back to the first question? Jeff, when you have somebody like that in your gene pool, did you go through periods where you're like, am -- is there any of that in me?

JEFF: Yeah. And I knew I was different, Glenn. I never had -- I never thought of murdering anyone.

But I knew that, you know, I had a temper. I had angers. I had visions that weren't wholesome. I tended to write those off as just normal reactions of an American male. But then when my grandfather told me the secret and I started researching, you know, the hundreds of books written about Holmes, those -- those tendencies I had, I could see -- they had a basis, there was an origin to them.

Now -- now, I dealt with them in choices. He obviously made different choices. And that's what I tried to capture in my book, Bloodstains.

GLENN: So the guys who were -- the people that were helping him in the murder castle, tell me about them.

JEFF: Right. Well, and that's one of the most interesting parts of the whole story that hasn't been captured. He had assistants, law-abiding citizens who he turned into felons, co-murderers, that actually carried on some of his actions, even after he was dead.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

JEFF: And I think that's -- that's one of the things I admired about your synopsis of Holmes, how we need to dig a little deeper into the story.

I -- I think, Glenn, if we studied Holmes more precisely, we might be able to prevent this from happening in the future.

GLENN: Why? Why do you say that?

JEFF: I don't think we understand his mentality. We tend to write it off as a psychosis. Or he's a psychopath. Those terms that we use that mean very little in my opinion.

GLENN: That, again, literally were invented for him.

JEFF: Yeah. Yeah. Because they couldn't describe him.

And this -- this mind of his -- why we want to believe he was sick, quote, unquote, I think it's more towards the evil side of the equation. And that as he said himself, he was born with the devil in him.

GLENN: So he, if I remember, because it's been a while since I did that episode, but if I remember right, he had piercing blue eyes and was quite the charmer.

JEFF: Oh, he had hundreds of mistresses. As you said, three or four wives.

He could seduce almost any woman he laid his eyes on. And these women, while -- besides being seduced, often became parts of his cons around Chicago. And I -- I've often thought of digging a little deeper into the story and writing about the women that fell in love with Holmes. And one of the New York Times' articles at the trial, as the jury came back, rendered him guilty, and the judge determined he was to be put to death, the -- the reporter mentioned that four or five of these women stood up in the jury audience and actually had crocodile tears rolling down their cheeks as he was led off, even when they knew what he was, Glenn.

GLENN: So there's -- there's -- one more thing, before we leave and go into a different chapter, his death -- you just had his body exhumed. And it's fascinating when we get into that.

But also, you have a theory that he is the literal Jack the Ripper over in London. We'll get into that. But let me make one more stop.

He owned several buildings in Chicago. And one of them was a concrete factory. And it never sold any concrete. Why do you think he owned that?

JEFF: I know exactly why he owned that. He used it to dispose of bodies. He would put a body into a block of concrete and dump it into the Chicago river. And as you correctly stated, he never sold any concrete, despite owning a factory which made concrete.

GLENN: How many people do you think doing your research -- because they've never been able to put a number to it. How many in your research do you think he was actually responsible for killing?

JEFF: You know, that's -- that's a question that will go on forever. You have historians say eight, nine, 13. He admitted to 27, although some of those were bound to be still alive after.

I think -- and when you get into his memoirs, Glenn, he lied about everything he said.

GLENN: Yeah.

JEFF: And that's the hard part to take to accuracy and fact. But in my opinion, he killed over 200 -- 200 people.

PAT: Whoa.

GLENN: And how many -- how many people were tortured, and how long did some of those last?

JEFF: I have no idea.

GLENN: Okay. So you start your journey, and it takes you to some pretty amazing places. Places like my great grandfather may not have actually been hung. That may not be his body in the crypt underneath the ground. We'll get to you exhuming the body and what you found, because it's pretty stunning here in a second. But it also took you across the ocean to London. And you found some pretty solid evidence. Nothing rock solid, but some pretty solid circumstantial evidence that Jack the Ripper, who people believed at the time may have been an American, was actually your great grandfather. And we'll talk about it here in a second, when we come back.

GLENN: We are having a -- just a fascinating conversation with Jeff Mudgett. He is the great-grandson of H.H. Holmes, America's first serial killer, who if you do not know who H.H. Holmes is, I'm running the -- the His Story episode that we did over a year ago on H.H. Holmes tonight on TheBlaze, 7:00 p.m. It is bone-chilling, but fascinating.

You've never heard an American story like this one. You can find the book Bloodstains. Bloodstainsthebook.com.

There was an eight-episode title -- show called the American Ripper. And this goes to the great-grandson's theory that maybe my great grandfather was Jack the Ripper.

What made you think of this first, Jeff?

JEFF: Yeah. And, you know, to set it straight right off, Glenn. It's not a maybe to me. He was Jack the Ripper. This is what I used to do for a living. And while I can't conclusively prove it, I don't think there's any doubt that probably cause --

GLENN: If you Google right now and you Google H.H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper, I mean, they could be brothers at least. I mean, they look an awful lot alike.

JEFF: You know, and that's -- exactly, and that was a composite done by the BBC and Scotland Yard who came up with an identical resemblance, and then we also did it on the show.

So I can only -- when I was writing my book, I was contacted by a gentleman named Mark Potts from Pennsylvania, who has been studying Holmes and the Ripper his whole life.

And he gave me some information. I had the initial response that everyone has, Glenn, when a new suspect as to the identity of Jack the Ripper is raised: We all doubt it.

But I started looking into the evidence with an open mind. And lo and behold, I now have zero doubt. I even gave a TED talk about Holmes being Jack the Ripper.

GLENN: Oh, I have to watch that.

JEFF: And we put the audience to a vote. I swore them in as my jury, and we came out with 77 percent guilty.

So --

GLENN: So give me the high-level case here, that he's Jack the Ripper.

JEFF: All right. Here we go.

We've got a 5-foot 7-inch 150-pound, 25 to 35-year-old American doctor with expert anatomical knowledge and surgical skills, whose appearance bears a remarkable resemblance to the composite drawings generated from live eyewitness testimonies.

Our suspect is a proven killer, whose MO matches subsequent JTR-like killings in Chicago and New York. He was a remarkable writer with an intricate knowledge of how major media worked, and his handwriting is a likely match to the Dear Boss and Saucy Jack postcard, which in the opinions of expert English linguists, were written by an American trying to sound English.

I -- that is enough -- if Holmes were alive today, Glenn, we could go down and get a warrant for his arrest to have him stand trial for the murders of Catherine Eddowes and Elizabeth Stride.

GLENN: Do we have any evidence that he was there in England, that he had ever traveled abroad to England? Do we have anything?

JEFF: Yeah, during the show, my co-host, Amaryllis Fox, who was ex-CIA trained, she went down and researched the passenger list and found two or three with -- one with the Holmes' name, which was an alias, which is hard to establish as direct evidence. And then two other aliases that he likely used on the trip back.

We also have a letter from Holmes to his lawyer, stating that he was irritated with London because he could not find his favorite New York newspaper every day.

GLENN: And that letter was referring to the same time when Jack the Ripper was there?

JEFF: No, it's a different time. But we had already established that Holmes had made two or three trips to London in all likelihood.

Glenn, as you know, when you're dealing with Jack the Ripper and 130-year-old crimes, if you and I went back in a time machine, H.G. Wells time machine, and we filmed Holmes murdering one of the victims. We got blood. We had DNA. We brought -- we brought fingerprints back, the Ripperologist would still doubt my theories. And that's something that's hard to get around when you deal with Jack the Ripper.

Also, I think the show had a number of revelations, including the fact that we've now proven that the Dear Boss and Saucy Jack postcard were not hoaxes, as history has stated for over a century.

GLENN: What's an English lancet? And what role did that play in your work?

JEFF: I'm not an expert on surgical tools. I know -- are those dealt with bloodletting of a victim?

GLENN: I'm not sure. It's one of the artifacts that you found during the -- you know, the American Ripper, that linked Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes. It was called a lancet. So I don't know.

JEFF: Yeah, the tools you're talking about were found when we went to Indianapolis, the site where Holmes murdered one of his partner's young children. A horrible death. We found -- we had some people come up with a box of Holmes' artifacts. And inside those -- inside that box of these artifacts was a lancet from London which was a surgical tool.

GLENN: Okay. Okay. When we come back, they just dug his body up. And what they found inside the concrete crypt, next.

GLENN: Jeff Mudgett is with us, the great-grandson of H.H. Holmes. He has written a book called Bloodstains. You can find it at Bloodstains the book. His great, great grandfather was America's first serial killer. He was the guy they literally coined the term psychopath for. They didn't know how to describe him. People couldn't get his arms around him. Because he was so evil, beyond anything that really we have -- you know, I haven't thought of this, Jeff, but I know you have. Can you compare him to anyone in American history? I mean, I wouldn't even put him in with Jeffrey Dahmer, he's much more Nazi kind of Mengele kind of guy.

JEFF: Yeah. He gets into the -- into the leaders of history that we consider evil, the Hitlers and those. The only difference is, I don't know if they murdered with their own hands. They made orders for those to do it.

GLENN: Yes. Yes.

JEFF: Herman enjoyed murdering himself.

GLENN: When he was a teenager in New York, kids started to disappear. They thought later that he had murdered his best friend by pushing -- I think, if I remember right, pushing him out of a window, and then posed his body and watched him die. And that's what started this whole thing.

JEFF: Yeah. We tried to go back and research his childhood, you know, in New Hampshire. And, quite frankly, we were unable to dig up any direct evidence in order to make a -- you know, a statement regarding when he had first started murdering. Although, the legend from the time, as you state, many people associated with Herman went missing.

GLENN: Yeah. So he first went and he started marrying people. And, you know, they would disappear. He would murder their children. He went to Chicago. He built this house of horrors during the world's fair. And that's really kind of where it became untangled.

You, in your book, Bloodstains, you say that here's the -- not conclusive evidence, but some pretty good circumstantial evidence that he was Jack the Ripper. He comes back from London. He's -- was that before he had started building anything in Chicago, around the same time? Can you line that up for me?

JEFF: Yeah, that was before. And the interesting part about that, Glenn, is Scotland Yard followed him back across the Atlantic and actually researched Ripper-style murders in New York and were interested in similar-style killings in Chicago. But I believe didn't have the budget to continue their investigation.

So what we did on the show was to hire a Chicago detective who tracked down all the murders at the time. And as you stated in your narration, hundreds went missing during that time.

GLENN: Yeah.

JEFF: And lo and behold, as soon as Herman was back in Chicago, Ripper-style killings went through the roof. And then when he was arrested finally, they stopped.

GLENN: And it -- what's -- if you missed -- if you don't know who this guy is, tonight, on TheBlaze at 7:00 p.m., we're rerunning an episode of His Story. It's the story of America's first serial killer. And it is mind-boggling. And you don't want to miss it. I don't recommend you watch it with your children. Maybe your teenagers. But your children -- your little children will be freaked out of their mind. Because it is -- it's an amazing story.

So he's in Chicago. While he's in Chicago, he is actually looking for other places. He actually has a tie to Fort Worth, you know, where our studios are. We're in Dallas/Fort Worth.

He was going to build a second hotel down here, but they -- the Texans kind of caught on to him, right?

JEFF: Yeah, Herman. You're right, he was going to build a second -- a bigger murder castle. Except that Herman's cons were finally catching up with him.

GLENN: Right.

JEFF: His assistants were starting to get jealous of the money that he had that he wasn't sharing with them. They were also beginning to grow scared of the fact that if you crossed Herman, you ended up missing.

GLENN: Yeah.

JEFF: And, you know, that can only go on so long, even with assistants that you consider very loyal. So it caught up with Herman, and he was arrested for, quote, unquote, stealing a horse in Texas.

PAT: Wow.

GLENN: So it was actually insurance investigators that eventually nailed him on the murders, right? They were following -- I can't remember exactly. You have to forgive me. It's been a year since I've gone through the story again. But wasn't it an insurance guy who was like, wait a minute. This scam is repeating itself and -- and they seem to be tied to him. Is that right? Is that how he got caught finally?

JEFF: That's absolutely correct. He was the master of insurance fraud. He started out, Glenn, by using skeletons. They would call them resurrectionists. He would dig them up. He would change their facial structure so that they couldn't be identified. And then he would turn them into an insurance company and collect the often as much as 10,000-dollar check.

And he grew tired of the digging up graves in the middle of the night. And he turned to murder more often.

GLENN: So he's arrested.

He goes to prison in Philadelphia. What was his prison time like? Was he -- was he popular? Was he like Jeffrey Dahmer, who eventually was shivved? Was he remorseful? What happened to him in prison?

JEFF: Oh, wonderful question. During the show, we actually interviewed the superintendent of one of the historical prisons in Philadelphia now. And she shocked us by explaining how Holmes ran the show. When he was in prison, he had his jail cell. The doors were open. He had reporters seeing him every day. He had a desk with his clothes hung up on the wall. Much like Al Capone did when he was in prison.

GLENN: So you believe -- if I'm not mistaken, you believe that he was not -- he never paid for his crimes. That he pulled a body double at the end. And it was not him hanging by the neck. There was no -- he was wearing a hood. But I think that's the way they all were hung at the time. Maybe I'm wrong on that. He said that he didn't want an autopsy on his body. That was honored.

And he was buried weirdly. And it was honored as well. Can you take me through what you think actually happened to him?

JEFF: I think you've explained it accurately. I -- and there aren't many that join me in this theory. But I believe he escaped execution and another was buried in his place. And I was hoping with American Ripper, in the final episode last night, that we would be able to answer that question definitively. And, quite frankly, I'm still -- I'm still questioning what we found and how that matches up with the evidence I have that it wasn't Holmes.

GLENN: Okay. So show me -- tell me what you found. You dig him up. He's your great grandfather. You dig him up. You want to have DNA testing.

He was buried in this sarcophagus. This giant, heavy, concrete sarcophagus, which he said, I want to be buried specifically between two plots in the Holy Cross Cemetery, in a concrete encasing. He wanted that because he didn't want anybody to dig up his body and do to him what he had done to others. That's the story. Is that true? And what did you find when you opened -- when you opened the sarcophagus?

JEFF: All right. We had some archeologists and anthropologists from the University of Pennsylvania doing the dig, all scientific. The judge that allowed my request for the exhumation demanded that it be done not as a media circus, but in the interest of history.

So we opened it up. We took his remains to the university, where these archeologists set them all out for us.

And, quite frankly, my first impression of the skeleton, Glenn, was that this wasn't Holmes. This was a strange-looking human being on the table, when all of the reporters had written story after story about what an elegant, handsome man Holmes was, that could seduce the ladies at his trial even.

GLENN: Yeah, but -- I mean, I would imagine he didn't look beautiful after being dead for over 100 years. How do you mean it didn't look right? I mean, what were you noticing?

JEFF: Yeah, the -- well, last night, you could -- the archeologist discussed that the skeleton is too short to be Holmes. And that the bone structure represented this muscular mass, which wasn't Holmes at all.

So they went with dental records, Glenn. Which matched those of the physical given to, quote, unquote, Holmes before the execution by the prison physician. And what I tried to raise over and over again was, that wasn't Holmes who was examined by the physician. And those -- those dental records don't match for a reason. It wasn't him.

As a matter of fact, the physician in his Juma (phonetic) report states, wait a minute. Wait a minute. When he walks into the cell -- his quote is, this isn't the guy in the papers, in the pictures, this isn't him. That's what the physician said, Glenn.

So I tell you what, the mystery hasn't been solved yet.

GLENN: Wow. Have you done a DNA test? Could you not -- I mean, you should be able to see if your DNA is his DNA.

JEFF: The DNA test was done. It was sent to a laboratory in London. They're one of three in the world that can do ancient DNA like we needed.

In my opinion, it's inconclusive. History believes it was conclusive. That's why they ended the show last night as they did.

So I'm going to try to convince them into continuing the series maybe with a two-hour special so that I can sit down with someone like you or maybe Bill O'Reilly. But we need to talk through the evidence piece by piece and see if we can answer it.

GLENN: Well, I'm fascinated by his story. I'd love to help you in any way, even if it is just matching you up with Bill O'Reilly. Because I am fascinated by this story.

The skull still contained brains. Is that unusual for a body this old?

JEFF: One of the scariest moments of my entire life, Glenn. And they didn't show it last night for reasons I tried to get them to explain this morning. At the university, I took the skull in my hand, much like Hamlet, the scene from Hamlet, looked into the eyes. And as I rolled the skull in my hand, it flopped in my hand.

GLENN: Ugh.

JEFF: And I was lucky not to drop it, to break the skull, to tell you the truth. I grabbed the scientist by the collar and pulled her over and said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait. What's flopping in my hand?" She goes, "There's nothing flopping in your hand."

And I said, "Yes, there is. Here, you try." And it flopped in her hand. She looked inside, his brain was still intact, Glenn, after 120 years.

STU: What?

GLENN: Any idea why?

JEFF: I asked her. She had no idea why.

GLENN: This is bizarre.

JEFF: The Holmes' mystery continues.

PAT: Weird. Wow.

GLENN: You ever feel -- is this a blessing or a curse, for you?

JEFF: You know, I used to think it was a curse, Glenn. But now that I get the opportunity to go on great shows like yours and explain to the world that, if we do this right, we can prevent serial killings in the future, I think it's a blessing.

GLENN: Well, that would be a noble, noble goal and a great thing that would come out of this horror. But I agree with you, he was not -- he was -- he was more than sick. And there was something -- you know, he said he was born with evil in him. I believe that to be true. But there's also something else going on inside of him. And if we can figure out anything that would help others, it would make this sad story and horror story -- American horror story -- at least have a happier ending.

The name of the book is Bloodstains. It's Bloodstainsthebook.com.

You were going to say?

JEFF: You know, think about that brain preserved at the University of Pennsylvania, and 50 years from now, science expanding to the level where we can look into that to see what he actually was.

GLENN: Are they preserving his brain?

JEFF: Yes.

GLENN: Jeff, I would love to meet you sometime. Because you are just fascinating. I'm not sure I would want to have dinner with you. But you are truly a fascinating guy.

Jeff Mudgett, the great-grandson of H.H. Holmes. Thank you so much, sir. Appreciate it.

JEFF: Hey, it's been an honor. And like I say, your narration of the Holmes story is the best I've ever heard.

GLENN: Can I just ask you -- and I don't mean this to pile on compliments. I'm confused. What is it that you thought was different or that we captured that was different?

JEFF: Well, I'll explain it like this, I've read everything that's ever been written about Holmes, Glenn, and the way you described it captured the evilness of this man. It's not another Jeffrey Dahmer. It's not that. It was something more than that. And I think you captured it.

GLENN: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it, Jeff. Jeff Mudgett. Bloodstains. In the book -- or, Bloodstainsthebook.com is where you can find more information. And tonight, the episode he was just referencing is going to be rebroadcast at 7:00 p.m., only at TheBlaze.com.

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.