Author Believes This Communist Government Deliberately Murdered 3 Million People

We will probably never have a final tally on how many people have died under communist regimes. But an author believes that Stalin’s Soviet Union deliberately set out to starve more than 3 million Ukrainian peasants – and she’s written a book detailing her evidence.

In “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine,” professor and author Anne Applebaum laid out her research showing that the Soviet Union methodically starved the people of Ukraine by sealing the borders, cutting off access to any available food and forcing them to live on grass, tree bark, pets and worse.

“This should be everywhere,” Glenn said of the history detailed in the book. “Nobody knows it.”

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: I'm really excited to have this woman on. Her name is Anne Applebaum. She has written a book that most people have never even heard of this. This is one of the most powerful stories that I have ever heard. When we were on Fox, we did a special on -- on this particular topic. And I could not believe the number of people from the Ukraine that wrote us or would stop me in the street and hug me and cry and say, "I can't believe somebody's finally -- are you kidding me?

This should be everywhere. Nobody knows it.

Now, Ann is an interesting woman, because she has all kinds of credentials. Yale. Everything else. She's worked everywhere. Economist, et cetera, etcetera. But she is also now a professor in London. And she runs Arena, a program on disinformation and the 21st-century propaganda. I would love to have time in our interview to talk to her about that as well.

The name of her book is Stalin's War on the Ukraine. Red Famine.

And she is with us now. Hello, Anne, how are you?

ANNE: Fine, thanks.

GLENN: Most people don't even know this story at all. And it is -- it's shocking when you hear it. Why has it been covered?

ANNE: Well, I should say first what the story is. The story is -- my book tells the story of an artificial famine. That means a mass starvation that was created by the Soviet state in the early 1930s. And although it affected many people in the Soviet Union, it was particularly targeted on Ukrainians, in an attempt to quell Ukraine's desire for independence and to eliminate the possibility of peasant rebellion. It was carried out.

Which we can talk about if you want. It was a long -- long buildup to it, including lots of disinformation and fake news, as we would now call it. And used HEP smeary grainy peasants. And then it was carried out by Soviet -- Soviet Ukrainian Russian bureaucrats. It was then covered up. Very, very deliberately. So much so, that even the census -- the Soviet census which -- you know, which counted how many people there were in each part of the country, covered up the missing people of Ukraine. It was -- there was one census that was carried out, that was suppressed, that showed the real numbers. And then another one was carried out that had fake numbers.

So it was very deliberately repressed and not discussed for many days, actually. It's only been possible recently to go back and look at archives and understand exactly what happened.

GLENN: So this story has ramifications today, because I think some things like this -- you point out at the end of your book a similar thought that this is -- this is kind of repeating itself with the disinformation and -- and right with the people of Ukraine. If you don't understand this, you may not understand why the people of Ukraine are very, very worried about people like Putin and -- and those who want to bring back the former Soviet Union or something like it.

So go back to the beginning.

When -- when Stalin came in with Lenin, they collectivized all of the farms, and it didn't work.

ANNE: Well, they didn't do that immediately. The collectivization began in 1929, by which the time Lenin was dead. But it was Stalin's initiative to repress the countryside.

And what collectivization meant was that ordinary people lost their property. So the state took over their farms and forced them to join state farms.

And many people resisted doing this. They didn't want to do it. They didn't want to give up their land. They didn't want to give up their cattle. They didn't want to give up their own tractors and give things up. But they were either coerced or forced or persuaded to do it.

GLENN: Or killed.

ANNE: Or killed. Well, and in some places, there was a very open rebellion against it. People actually took up arms and weapons. And they began shooting at Soviet commissars. And this, of course, is what alarmed Stalin.

GLENN: So it was my understanding -- and I could be wrong on this. It was my understanding that at least in Russia proper, the peasants went and pretty much killed the farmers because a lot of the farmers didn't want to go along with it and took the land. So nobody really even understands how to really farm. And so it made things much worse.

Is that true or not?

ANNE: Well, it caused an enormous amount of chaos. It happened a little bit different in different places. And some joined the farms voluntarily. And some did not. But what it did was it caused enormous chaos in the countryside. It disorganized the entire agricultural economy.

But it also made it very easy for the state to begin to coercively collect food. And this is what laid the groundwork for the famine.

So the -- because food was all centralized, it meant that the state could send grain collectors who could come in and confiscate food. And the famine that was caused in 1932 and 1933 was caused by that.

So there was this atmosphere of chaos. People began to starve. And then the state began to literally remove food from people's homes. This wasn't about the weather. It wasn't about some kind of pestilence.

It was literally people came into peasant's homes. They took their food and confiscated it and left them to starve.

GLENN: It's -- in some ways, it's very much like the great leap forward with -- with Mao. What he did.

ANNE: Yes, very similar. Very similar.

The Chinese had a similar -- very similar thing happened in China.

GLENN: But there is, if I'm not mistaken, there is a difference here with the Ukraine. When did they start sending in the Russians to, you know, Russianize, if you will, the Ukraine? Was it at this time?

ANNE: Well, so Russiaification, which wasn't so much about sending in Russians, but about encouraging the use of the Russian language and sort of discouraging the use of the Ukrainian language, this did begin in the immediate aftermath of the famine. Because the famine was followed by a major attack on the Ukrainian intellectual league. So the artists, the writers, the scientists, the museum curators, these were all -- they were all arrested. Many of them were killed. Many of them were sent to the gulag. The labor camps.

So the Ukrainian elite was eliminated. And in its place, Russians or Russian speakers were replaced. So the idea was to eliminate Ukraine or the nation to sort of suppress it. I mean, they didn't really eliminate it altogether. But they suppressed the elite. They eliminated the most active part of the peasantry, and that made it easier to Sovietize it so that it became a willing part of the Soviet Union and not a problem for someone.

GLENN: So now Stalin is -- his philosophy is, you know, you didn't produce enough grain to pay us, let alone feed yourself. It doesn't matter. We're taking the grain.

Is that the idea? Or does he intend --

ANNE: Yes, that was the idea. That was the idea. They took -- they confiscated grain. And then for Ukraine, they made a series of special rules so that people were not allowed to leave Ukraine. They blocked the border of the republic.

GLENN: Now, was his intent to kill the population? Because he killed an astronomical number of people in a year?

ANNE: Yes, he did.

Yes, it's my contention in the book, and I've pulled together the evidence, that he intended to kill people in Ukraine. He wanted to suppress the peasantry and to remove its most active members. And he intended to kill people.

GLENN: And how many did he kill?

ANNE: The numbers are approximately 4 million.

GLENN: Jeez.

ANNE: And then -- then there -- you know, then depending on how you count, you can add others. But that's the. Number from 1931 to 1934.

GLENN: Okay. So, Anne, I don't want to compare things. Because you're comparing monsters to monsters. But even Hitler was not that efficient of killing 4 million people in one year.

Is it because the Soviets survived and buried this, or why is it that it's not out?

ANNE: They survived -- look, if Hitler had stayed in power, we might not know about the Holocaust. That's how it works. So Stalin stayed in power. His successors stayed in power. It was many, many decades before archives were open and real history could be done in Ukraine or anywhere else in the Soviet Union.

And in a world before the internet and before cable television and before talk radio, it was much easier to keep stories separate -- you know, just to suppress stories and prevent them from getting out.

Special efforts, I should say, were made to prevent western journalists and other journalists from writing about the famine. People who tried to write about it were at risk of being expelled from their job. And at that time, all news that came out of Moscow was censored. And there were one or two journalists who were deliberately collaborating. There were also some journalists who tried to expose it. But it was much easier at that time to clamp down on the story.

But not only to keep it from other Soviet citizens, but to keep it from the world.

GLENN: Duranty HEP was probably one of the more famous people that was collaborating and misled America. And said, you know, none of this is really happening. You're being lied to.

ANNE: Yeah. So the two important journalists of the story, one of them was Walter Duranty, who was actually British, but he was at that time working for the New York Times, who wrote a famous piece saying, there is no famine. Russians are hungry, but not starving. It's all been exaggerated.

And then there's another journalist, a Welsh journalist, called Garrett Jones HEP on sort of somewhat -- he said he was going to visit a tractor factor at hashy. (?) started walking down the tracks and actually saw within Ukraine at the height of the famine in the spring of 1933. And he wrote about it actually in -- in the British press. After he left.

But the question of prestige, he didn't have the clout that Durant had. And also, it's important to remember, (?) people were worried about Hitler, who was just then coming to power. People were looking to do deals with the Soviet Union. People didn't want to hear that it was a catastrophe. Interesting, if you (?) and this applies to other countries too. It's almost always a reflection of our own politics. You know, American politics at that moment, nobody (?)

GLENN: So, Anne, I want to stop there and then come back. (?) I think there are things that people don't want to hear. But Putin is -- is cut from this same cloth. And we'll go there, when we come back.

GLENN: Talking to Anne Applebaum. Her latest book is called Red Famine: Stalin War on Ukraine.

STU: And I know (?), but before we move on. You talk in the book about some of the real horror stories from this period. People who were imprisoned and forced to only drink snow that was dripping through and melting into, you know, their storage area where they were being kept. We've heard stories over the years of cannibalism and, you know, children being shot as they went to try to grab potatoes to eat. Are these stories largely true? Has any of it been exaggerated? What did you find?

ANNE: No, I found a lot of it was true. The cannibalism stories are in the archives. In that, local policemen would be told about the stories. They would investigate them. Sometimes they would arrest people as canals. And that's part of the public (?) record. The extraordinary thing is that they were recording what was happened (?) there was no particular reaction to the extraordinary phenomenon of multiple cannibals suddenly appearing in what had been a very law-abiding part of the world up until now. There's a huge memoir and oral history as well, I should say, and I use quite a lot of that in the book, to give people subscriptions and how think emotionally (?), but really, quite a lot of the worst stories are, as I said, they're part of the archive. They're part of the police record. There's no doubt that these things happened.

GLENN: I have just about a minute here before another break. But tell me, who was it that was shooting? Were they crans shooting crans? How did they -- how did you get to be on Stalin's side?

ANNE: Well, usually what there were in each village or each part of the country, there were these activist (?) and carry out this repression. And the teens very often had Russian members or people from the cities. But very often, they had some local Ukrainian collaborate rarities as well. And this is very (?) interesting. The question being, why would people collaborate? And that's actually the story about how you create hatred over a long period of time. You know, there was a kind of drumbeat of hatred towards the so-called ghoul axe. (?) blocking our revolution. And hiding our grain from us. And people had this propaganda drummed into their head over and over again. (?) it was in their interest to believe it. Or they were hungry. To they agreed to go along with it. So you did have some local people collaborating with outsiders in effectively the murder of their neighbors. If you go into somebody's house (?) they're not allowed to leave. Then you know they're going to die.

GLENN: You can see where I'm going to take this next, on the hatred that she just talked about. It's happening all over the world. It's happening in Russia. It's happening here in America. The lesson that we can learn from Red Famine. When we come back.

GLENN: What ills America now is hatred. And hatred and distrust on both sides. And we're currently looking into Russia. And you're on one or the other side. You know, Trump was luding with Russia. And, you know, he's a bad guy because of it. Or Hillary Clinton was turning a blind eye to Russia. And she was working with the Russians on that dossier. Blah, blah.

We keep going back and forth. And it's dividing us into Democrat, Republican. Instead of taking a step back. Wait a minute. What do both of those stories have in common? And that's Vladimir Putin and Russia.

And as we have been talking about for a while on this program, Russia's intent is to cause chaos and hatred between us. And, you know, for any role that we play in that, we're going to be held eternally responsible. Because we're going to tear each other apart. And if you introduce hunger and fear, it's going to happen a lot faster than it's happening right now.

We're talking to Anne Applebaum. She wrote the book, Read Famine. She writes on page 358, (?) 80 years later, the Russian FSB, the institutional successor of the KGB, continues to demonize its opponents using propaganda and disinformation. The nature and form of hate speech in Ukraine has changed, but the intentions of those who employ it have not. In the past, the Kremlin uses language to set people against one another, to create first and second class citizens, to divide and distract.

In 2014, Russia's state military described Russian forces carrying out an invasion of Crimea in eastern Ukraine, as -- as suppress patriots. And those fighting fascists and Nazis. (?) an extraordinary (?) complete with fake stories that Ukrainian nationalists have crucified a baby, for example. Fake photographs followed. Not only inside Russia. But on Russia state-sponsored media around the world.

This is happening. And it's not happening just in Ukraine. It's happening to us as well. And we have got to separate ourselves from it.

And Applebaum joins us again. Red Famine. What do we learn now, Ann, from this? Well, I think (?) you pointed to the main link between the past and the present.

The same kinds of propaganda campaigns and the same kind of hate campaigns that the Soviet state ran in the past, are now being run by the Russian government in the present. I -- if I had some early warning of it, or many (?) I travel a lot in the Baltic states. And I saw this beginning several years ago.

The attempt to -- the backing of extremist political parties, mostly far right parties in the region. The use of -- using the tools provided by social media to target particular kinds of audiences. The creation of fake stories and so on.

That's actually been in the Russian intelligence repertoire for some time now. The fact that we only noticed in the United States doesn't mean it's been around for a while.

GLENN: People don't understand. I know you run a program, an arena on disinformation (?) people don't understand that this is -- you know, it sounds like old school Soviet stuff. That millennials are not aware of at all. And people don't understand, we're being manipulated. And not just by Russia. But we're manipulating each other.

And it's happening. And no one thinks their side is part of it. And all sides are part of it.

ANNE: Yes. I think some sides have made -- have set out to be more manipulative than others.

GLENN: Yes.

ANNE: I would say, you began a few minutes ago by talking about mistakes made by mainstream broadcast media.

I mean, at least those media have a procedure by which they admit mistakes.

GLENN: Yes.

ANNE: And they say those are mistakes. (?) he doesn't take them back. When he says things that are dishonest.

So there are some differences here. But, yes, I think the -- the system whereby both foreign actors and domestic actors are able to insert false stories into -- you know, into people's Facebook feeds, into what people see on -- you know, on the internet now is certainly -- it makes -- all these things are much faster and easier to do than they were in the past. So these Soviet disinformation campaigns would take many years. They would plan them. (?) now it can be done in a matter of minutes. It's very, very cheap. It's very easy. As you know, particularly well, it's not just the Russians who do it. Anybody can do it who has a little bit of money and a little bit of spare time.

GLENN: So when Romney was running conservatives like me, I could not -- I couldn't get the left to listen and say, no, no, Putin is a bad guy, and Russia is refighting the Cold War. Now that Trump is in office, you can't convince the -- the conservatives that Russia is bad.

How do we -- how do we lock ourselves to some principles here on Putin and get the word out that he is a very dangerous character that is, you know, trying to destabilize the entire West and correct the great mistake that he saw as the end of the old Soviet empire?

SPEAKER: Yes. Well, all you have to listen (?) that's what his officials say they're doing. They -- they openly want to unpick international institutions. They're opposed to the European Union. They're opposed to NATO. They're opposed to the American -- the transatlantic alliance. (?) if American troops are gone from Europe, that would give that much more leeway to (?), I mean, I suppose it was hard to take them seriously in the past. Because economically, they're not a great power anymore. And they even seem to be shrinking. But what we I think didn't reckon is the -- (?) how inexpensive it is nowadays to do -- to do propaganda and political campaigns. With very little money, they can support far right extremist groups. They've gotten interest now in gun clubs. I would be interested to know what their relationship is with the it, Florida (?) and they're looking forward to support extremist, anti-systemic and anti-fascist groups all over in Europe. And I suspect they're doing it in the US too. So pay attention to what they say and what they do. It should be enough to convince whatever American of whatever their politics. That this is something we need to be aware of. We need to be thinking about. These are -- this is an anti-Democratic -- an anti-American regime.

GLENN: The -- the main guy here for the alt-right, I'm trying to remember his name. Spencer. Yeah, Richard Spencer. His wife is the English translator for Aleksandr Dugin, who if you think Putin is scary, Dugin is even more frighting.

ANNE: Dugin is the ideological who has created also completely contentious vision of Russia as some conservative leader or some kind of favor (?) anybody who knows Russia well and has been there and knows anything particularly about the Russian elite knows this is an entirely phony picture of how they actually -- of how they lived their lives. But he has seen what he perceives to be as a weakness. And we encourages this idea that Russia can encourage some kind of antimodern -- anti-Democratic conservative revival.

GLENN: So, an an, how do we accomplish one thing? (?) you said earlier that people didn't want to look at this. (?) we haven't changed as people. In fact, I think it's becoming easier and easier for us just to look at the news that we want to look at.

And, in fact, we have things like Facebook that through algorithms, is helping us disconnect from anything that disagrees with us. How do we -- how do we break this

ANNE: Well, one -- so (?), first of all, I think it's important for people to understand that they live in echo chambers. (?) that were recommended to you because the algorithm thinks you will like it. Or even just because your friends think you will like it. And so everybody has -- I think it's kind of a civic duty to pay attention to what the other side is saying, even though you disagree with it. It's a civic duty to use critical thinking and (?) does it come from a news organization that facts check and that admits mistakes when it makes them? Or does it come from some kind of propaganda outlet? I think we're all now, as never before, responsible for understanding the political world that we live in and trying to make sense of it. And also, by the way, teaching children about it.

I think younger people, in particular, need to learn how to read the internet and how to know what it is that they're seeing, that's true and that's not. It would help a lot of people that read history as well. Because some of this is new because technology is new and some of it is old, as you would discover if you read my book.

GLENN: Yeah, the plans are exactly the same. The technology is (?) for those who wish --

ANNE: Exactly. The technology makes it -- the phenomenon of echo chambers has also changed things a little bit. It means it's much harder for people to -- harder for people to feel decade to those who are somehow on the other side.

GLENN: Yeah.

ANNE: Unless it's just to denounce them. The internet enables new kinds of identity. You now identify with a group you recognize online. It doesn't it doesn't have to be only online. (?) who you see on TV. It gives you a sense of personal identity, as well as giving you some information.

GLENN: What sticks out is the way Stalin used traitor. And we're hearing that -- we're hearing that now on both sides of the aisle. If you don't toe your party's line, if you have a party, if you don't toe your party's line, you can be called traitor and enemy and everything else. And, I mean, that -- that has a long history.

ANNE: The fact that the American president (?) is a kind of breakthrough. That is a Stalinist phrase. It gave anybody who knows history, a real feeling of chill and fear. Because that's --

GLENN: It did me.

ANNE: That was the kind of language that was used to demonize people and was used to eventually kill them in the past.

GLENN: Ann Applebaum, thank you so much.

ANNE: Thank you. (?)

STU: The book is called Red Famine. Stalin's war on Ukraine. By an Applebaum. It's definitely worth a read. We did a documentary on this back when we were on Fox that covered this as the documentary. And just attempting to find pictures to support (?) was incredibly difficult. The amount of research that goes into this book is really impressive. And she found, I mean, amazing photos and real-life accounts of what happened at that time. And it's really in-depth. And it's one of the most important stories that I think a person who thinks of themselves of well-informed doesn't know.

GLENN: It's a big piece of history.

STU: Really big.

GLENN: Big piece of history. We all know what the Nazis did. So many of us don't know what the Russians did. And this is just an absolute horror show. And as she says in the last part of her book, it's repeating herself. Dugin, Putin, they are doing it again.

And we must learn for -- from history, or we will repeat it.

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.