Toronto Professor Shares ‘12 Rules’ for Fighting Chaos in the World

Toronto University professor and author Jordan Peterson had a long conversation with Glenn about psychology, faith, fresh beginnings and his upcoming book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,” on today’s show.

In his book, Peterson explored freedom and responsibility while distilling what people should know about the world into 12 rules.

One part of his research involved looking at what persuades individuals to do terrible things. We know people commit acts of great evil, but how do human beings become capable of it?

“I was interested in individual motivation, not the motivation of groups so much, but how and why people could find themselves as individuals in situations where they would be called upon and then do, commit acts of unimaginable brutality,” Peterson said.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: So a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine introduced me via YouTube to a guy named Jordan Peterson.

He is a clinical psychologist and cultural critic and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

He's a man that apparently makes a lot of people angry, at least those who are progressives and die-hards on the left. We're pleased to have him on with us now.

Professor, how are you, sir?

JORDAN: I'm very well. How are you doing?

GLENN: I'm good. I'm a new fan of yours. And, quite honestly, one of the most remarkable things I've heard you say, at least on a YouTube clip, you were asked the question about whether you believed in the resurrection. And I thought it was such a thoughtful answer. And such a brave answer, that I became an immediate -- immediate fan. Do you remember your answer?

JORDAN: I don't remember that -- I don't remember the specific answer that you're referring to. So I'm afraid I can't comment on it further. But I'm glad that you found it useful. I mean, it's a very difficult question obviously.

GLENN: Can you answer it now? I'd like to see where you stand today, if it's the same place.

JORDAN: Well, most of what I've been doing -- I've done a 15-part lecture series on the Bible. I've been approaching it psychologically. Which is not to say that it can't be approached religiously or theologically or as literature, in many different ways, but I've been approaching it psychologically.

And there's a deep psychological idea behind the -- behind the -- the symbol of the resurrection, which is obviously an extraordinarily powerful idea. It's gripped billions of people for thousands of years. It's an overwhelmingly powerful idea. And the psychological idea is that in order for human beings to be redeemed, in order for our psyches to be renewed, we have to be willing to let that part of us that's unworthy die so that a better part can come to life.

And you experience this every time you encounter a serious setback in life. You know, if you are betrayed by someone or you make a catastrophic error, you have to go through your past life with a fine-tooth comb and your assumptions and your actions, and you have to find which ones have served you badly and which ones need to be cast into the fire, so to speak. And that's very, very painful. It's something that's very hard for people to do, because that part of you that's made a mistake is alive.

And it doesn't want to be -- it doesn't want to be destroyed and revivified. But it's something that you need to continually engage in as you move through life, in order to stay on top of the ever changing environment.

It's like, a forest has to be renewed by fire. And the fire strips out the old growth and the deadwood. But it lets things come to life. And at minimum, from a psychological perspective, the idea of the resurrection portrays that fundamental reality.

It's the reality of being willing to let your old self die so that your new self -- your new better self can come into being. It's a particularly useful thing to think about around New Year's, right? Because that's something we dramatize at New Year's with the death of the old year and the rebirth of the new year.

It's associated as well, obviously with the idea of Christmas and the dawn of something new and redemptive.

So I don't know if that was the same answer --

GLENN: It wasn't. It wasn't. That was a good one. It wasn't. I'll let others find your talk on that and --

JORDAN: Okay.

GLENN: But it was a great answer. That was a good answer as well.

I was -- I really wanted to talk to you because you have -- you've led an interesting life. And the path that you have taken, after you finished school, you went over to Europe for about a year. And you decided to -- you were moved by the fear of the Cold War and World War II. And how could people do these things to each other?

A very similar journey in some ways that I have made in the last ten years. And I am seeing the seeds of really disturbing things happening in our society all around the world. And I'm wondering if you have an answer to understand it or to diffuse what we seem to be building now.

JORDAN: Well, I can see -- when I -- I wrote a book in 1999 called Maps Of Meaning, which took me about 15 years to write, so I wrote it between 1985 and 1999. And during that time, I was obsessed with the issues that you just described. And the issues for me were, number one, how -- and this is in relationship to the Cold War. So you how did you is it that the world could be split into two opposing, let's say, ideological camps, or at least two idea-based camps. And that that split was manifested itself with such intensity, that people on both sides of the divide were willing to put the entire -- what would you say? Put being itself at risk.

GLENN: Yes.

JORDAN: To arm ourselves so heavily, that we could destroy -- plausibly destroy everything. And that we might be willing to do that.

Why was it that people were so wedded to their beliefs and their opposing beliefs, that that seemed -- well, that that developed, let's say. Even though no one necessarily thought it was a good idea. It obviously developed.

And then a secondary question was: How is it that in the service of ideological possession -- let's say, people could commit acts of unbelievable brutality like those that characterized the -- the death camps in Nazi Germany and the Gulag Archipelagos in the Soviet Union and the absolute mayhem that reigned in Maoist China.

I was interested in individual motivation, not the motivation of groups so much. But how and why people could find themselves as individuals in situations where they would be called upon and then do -- commit acts of unimaginable brutality. Even when apparently normal in their psychological makeup.

So I was trying to delve into those two ideas.

The first, in Maps of Meaning. The first I wanted to went out was in this ideological war between the West and the Soviet Union, let's say, was that merely just a difference of opinion?

Let's say the post modernists might have it. Because post modernists don't believe that there are any belief systems that have anymore fundamental utility or reality than any others.

And so I was curious. Was it just a matter of opinion?

You know, with the Soviet Union taking the communitarian stance, let's say. And the West taking the capitalist democratic stance. But there was no right or wrong at the bottom of that. It was just a matter of arbitrary power.

So I spent a lot of time investigating the understructure of those belief systems, partly as a consequence of reading people like Nietzsche and Carl Jung, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and a variety of others. Some very great people.

And what I concluded was that this was not merely a matter of opinion, that there was something about the way we constituted our belief systems in the West, predicated as they are on the Judeo-Christian tradition that may -- and that being in turn predicated on something even deeper, something of even evolutionary significance, I would say, that made it quite evident to me that the idea of the supremacy of the individual that's emerged in the West is by no means merely another opinion. And the reason for that is two-fold, I think. The first is that the state cannot be the answer to our problems because the state is static, as indicated by its very name. The state is static. And it's composed of the contribution of the dead in the past. And no matter how great the dead were, they're dead. And they cannot respond in a vital way to the challenges of the present. The individual has to do that.

So even though the state and tradition is necessary, which every conservative would note in a moment, it's the individual that has to serve as the eyes and the voice as the state and revivify it when necessary. And it's part of that rebirth process.

GLENN: What you're saying is very similar to what Thomas Jefferson talked about. We can write it down now. But this will change and should change, and every single generation has to find it for themselves and has to -- and defend it and live it for themselves.

The dead should not rule beyond the grave.

JORDAN: Well, that's it.

Well, and, you know, you said every generation has to rediscover it. There's a motif that I've concentrated on quite extensively in Maps of Meaning, but also in my YouTube lectures, which is the archetypal motif of rescuing the father from the belly of the beast.

You see that, for example, one of the popular manifestations of that was in the Pinocchio story in the '30s, right? Where Pinocchio, to stop being a puppet, has to journey down to the darkest place there is and rescue his father.

And that is the -- that is the responsibility of the living, to the past. Is that we have to go back -- we have to go into chaos. The chaos, let's say right now being our current polarized political state, and find out what was wise and good and productive about the past and then lend it a new voice, a new vision. And that makes the individual -- the individual who does that, has an optimal combination of that dynamic living vision and voice, that's also symbolized, by the way, by the Christian idea of the word and the traditions of the past.

And that's the solution. So you said, well, what's the solution to the polarization that is -- is tearing us apart? Well, the polarization is a polarization of group identity, right? It's the left pushes forward an identitarian perspective, where group identity is the paramount feature of every individual. And the right does the same thing. Now, they're doing it for different reasons. But they're driven by the same belief that identification with the group is the highest moral virtue.

And that's -- that's -- well, I would say that's wrong.

GLENN: It is.

JORDAN: You have to have respect for the group. You have to have respect for your traditions and gratitude for them, rather than pride about them. Because you didn't produce them. Which is another reason why I think racial pride is -- even pride in tradition is a very bad idea.

Pride is a sin and goes before a fall. You should be humble and grateful for what the past has given you. And you should strive to embody the best of it and revivify it. And you should act as an individual. And I do believe the path of the divine individual, let's say, is actually the proper redemptive path. And I believe that that's the central message -- well, I think it's the central message of Judaism, especially with regards to the prophetic tradition. But it's most definitely the central message of Christianity. Because Christianity puts forward the notion that the individual is -- well, partakes of divinity.

And one of the things I pointed out in my Biblical lectures is an idea in Genesis, which I've studied in-depth, that at the beginning of time, God creates order out of chaos with the word.

And so the idea there -- the psychology idea is that there is something about communicative and productive, honest speech that encounters chaos and the unknown. That's the (foreign language) that exists before the beginning of the universe. And that -- that truthful and positive word spoken forth brings order out of chaos. Brings habitable order out of chaos. That's the creation story in Genesis. And part of that creation story is the idea that human beings are made in the image of God. And what that means is that we have the capacity and the moral obligation to speak truth to the -- speak -- to orient ourselves to the good and speak truth and to bring habitable order out of chaos.

And that's -- if we don't do that, then --

GLENN: Then what?

JORDAN: Then -- well, then chaos reigns. And things deteriorate into hell.

GLENN: And I think that's where we're headed. Back in just a second with Dr. Jordan Peterson.

STU: To hell?

GLENN: To chaos. I mean, we are seeing it grow every single day. And it's because we're stifling speech. Dr. Jordan period of time son. Psychology professor. University of Toronto. You can find him on YouTube. And watch the Pinocchio YouTube. It's remarkable.

GLENN: We're thrilled to have Jordan Peterson on, he is a professor at the University of Toronto, and a fearless defender of the truth. You get into a lot of trouble for the things that you say, because you don't agree with political correctness at all.

And, you know, we're struggling now with a way to tell the truth and not be destroyed by it.

Any tips?

JORDAN: Well, the first thing is that, you know, from one perspective, I've got in a lot of trouble. But I would say the net consequence has been overwhelmingly positive in all sorts of way, both personal and social.

But I would also say, a lot of it, Glenn, is having your fears in order. There's no doubt that telling the truth is a risky enterprise. But it's not even -- it's not even in the same category of risky as not telling the truth.

Like, the thing is the consequences of telling the truth might be immediate and self-evident. And the consequences of failing to speak the truth, hiding say or lying, are deferred and medium to long-term. But they're much more grotesque and terrible. Deceit and sins of omission, like failing to say what you really think to be the case, warps your character. And it sets you up for a terrible fall in the future.

And so, you know, people have been commending me on my bravery over the last year. And I think in some sense it's misguided. I'm not so much brave, as much as terrified of the right thing. And the last thing I want to do, and this is partly because of what I realized by analyzing what happened in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union and so forth. The last thing I'm willing to do is sacrifice my voice, let's say. Like, I'm way more terrified of that than of anything else.

And I just think -- I don't think that as a metaphysical statement. Although, it is

I think of it as a practical statement. If you lose your character because you lose your voice, well, as the Pinocchio movie puts it, you become a brain jackass. A puppet. You stay a puppet and become a brain jackass. And that's a really bad idea. You end up sold to the salt mines when that happens. It's not a good thing.

GLENN: Jordan Peterson. He's coming out with a new book in January. And I'd love to have him back. Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

We're going to continue our conversation with him in just a second.

You can find him online on YouTube. Just -- just Google search Jordan Peterson. Dr. Jordan Peterson. And I think you will -- you will spend the day really hearing the truth, I think, refreshingly for the first time.

VOICE: You're listening to the Glenn Beck Program. A guy I want you to get to know. His name is Jordan B. Peterson. JordanBPeterson.com is his web address. You can just find him. He's on YouTube. He's written several books.

He's got a new one coming out on January 12. Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I actually have an advanced copy. I'm going to be reading it over the holiday.

Professor, I'm glad to have you -- glad to have you on. And maybe you can help us find some -- some meaning or a direction to go here.

Both sides here in America -- I'm sure you're aware of what's happening here in America. It's gotten a little nuts.

JORDAN: Oh, it's the same in Canada.

GLENN: Is it?

JORDAN: Oh, yes. It's very bad.

GLENN: We're sitting here right now arguing over fake news. And it's amazing, if you're somebody who just doesn't have a side, your side is the truth, you're looking at both sides saying, you're both lying, and you're both telling the truth. It just depends on when and where.

And most people don't have a way to find the truth, or at least they're just -- they're -- they're willing just to go with whatever is on their side. And so the truth is kind of everywhere and yet nowhere in America.

How do you find the truth? How do you know what truth is?

JORDAN: Well, the first thing I would say is that you have to be very careful, if -- when making a claim that you can find the truth or that you know what the truth is.

But this question could still be answered. And I would say the way to start aligning yourself with the truth, which is a good idea, by the way, because the truth reflects reality. And it's good to have reality on your side, since there's a lot of it and not very much of you.

The first thing you do is restrict falsehood. And so I would say that if people are interested in telling the truth and abiding by the truth, which is the most practical thing you could do, the first thing is to stop lying. And you can tell when you're lying. You can do that by omission. You know, by failing to say something you believe to be true. Or by commission. By actually being deceitful.

You can tell if you're doing that, because it makes you weak. It makes you feel physically weak and ashamed. And everyone knows that. That's the voice of conscience.

And we -- because we're imaginative and because we can distort, manipulate our perception to our language, we're very tempted to live out falsehoods and to perceive falsehoods. You have to start humbly, sort of in your own -- well, there's this advice I've been giving to people, it's become somewhat of an internet meme, which is -- I think someone just sent me 50 bumper stickers with this on it. I've been telling people to clean their rooms, you know. Because one of the things I've noticed with the college-type activists is that they're -- they're very frequently young people who have no control whatsoever over their personal life. Everything about them is in disarray. And yet they're possessed by the idea that they can critique the general social structure and that they have the wisdom to put it right. It's like, you should attend to your own mistruths to begin with, your own personal life, and your own family. And get that straight.

It's very difficult. That's why it says in the New Testament, that you should remove the beam of wood from your eye before you worry about the dust mote in your neighbor's eye. That's a very wise statement. And it's not one that people like to hear.

Because, you know, when we want to come out for the truth, we want to do it in a grand gesture so that everybody notices. But to come out for the truth is something that you do humbly and privately. And even with a certain degree of embarrassment and shame. Because you become aware very rapidly of how many petty and terrible ways you're distorting your relationship with reality. It's embarrassing.

GLENN: But I don't know if people are embarrassed -- I mean, there are people -- you know, you know. You've got in trouble with them. That will look you straight in the eye and say, there is no biological difference between a man and a woman. Well, that is just --

JORDAN: I don't know if they'll look me straight in the eye and say that. You know what I mean? And I don't -- my -- my experience has been in situations like that, that words -- words of that form are not put forward with any strength.

And one of the things that's happened to me, Glenn, in the last year that's been extraordinarily interesting -- and I'm unbelievably fortune that it's occurred, is that every time I've been attacked by people who are putting forward the kind of ideology that you've been describing, it has backfired unbelievably spectacularly.

And so these untruths, let's say, they reveal themselves in people's gestures and attitudes. They make people resentful and vengeful. That's the worst of it.

But they also deprive their words of any real strength, which is partly why they have to be put forward with such vehemence and force and ideological exactitude. There's nothing really behind them.

And, well, that becomes quite evident. That becomes quite evident in the course of a genuine public discussion.

GLENN: What does it mean to be a Christian anymore? A lot of us --

JORDAN: I mean, what it should mean -- what it should mean -- and I'm speaking psychologically again here. I mean, Christ is the archetypal perfect man. Whatever that means. It's a concept that's really beyond understanding. Because we don't know our full extension. We don't know our full possibility or potentiality.

I mean, Christ himself said that the people that he left behind could do works greater than his, if they were willing to undertake the arduous pathway necessary to make that occur. So there's no underestimating the potential power and grandeur and nobility of the individual.

But the problem is, is that it requires -- it requires the adoption of infinite responsibility, let's say. You know, one of the things that characterizes Trump technically speaking is that he took the sins of the world unto himself. And that can be interpreted psychologically as well.

Like when I was reading about Auschwitz and about the behavior of the camp guards in Auschwitz, I wasn't reading about some evil Nazi who wasn't me doing these things. I was reading about me doing them.

And that's a terrible thing to apprehend. And to be a Christian, in any real chance, is to understand first that you bear the moral burden of the 20th century. And it's up to you to do something about it. And not to change other people. But to put yourself together so that the political situation warped and twisted around it, you are called on to do something reprehensible, that you would have the strength of character to refuse to do it. But to even develop that, you have to understand first that you're the person in that concentration camp who is having the -- you know, the person who has just been hauled off the rail cars, crammed in there like cattle, lined up, and then sentenced to carry a wet sack of salt that weighs 100 pounds from one side of the compound to another and back. And that you're the person who would enjoy doing that to someone, in such a terrible situation.

Well, that's what it means at least in part to be Christian. It means to first of all come to terms with the fact that the terrible corruption and malevolence of human beings is something that characterizes you and that you have an obligation to understand that and to work to rectify it. Because the consequence of not doing it is dreadful, beyond imagining. So it's very difficult for people to do that.

You know, in Darthius speak (inaudible), the brothers -- the little story called The Grand Inquisitor where Christ comes back to earth and surveils during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. And he's raising the dead and performing miracles and being a general good guy and causing a lot of trouble. And the inquisitor has him arrested and thrown into prison, and to be executed. And the inquisitor tells him that the burden that he's placed on human beings is just to great, and that the church has spent centuries trying to modify his demands so that normal people could tolerate it. You know, and there's really something to that.

The burden -- the moral burden that's placed on someone who claims to be a Christian is so fundamentally unbearable. But the alternative is worse. So that's where we're at. We need to bear the burden and the responsibility of constraining evil in your own heart and then trying to work to make the world a better place. Or you invest in the hell that you produce for not doing so.

GLENN: I'm struck by the fact that courage really is a muscle and misunderstood. You're not going to be able to rise to the occasion in horrific situations like in the past and the 20th century if you don't rise to the occasion now. If you don't --

JORDAN: Yes. That's exactly right. Well, which also shows you that what you do right now, day to day, the way you conduct yourself with your husband or wife and at work and with your family, despite the fact that those things are day to day, they're not mundane or trivial. They're vitally important.

Because you put your finger on it precisely. It's that, if you can manifest a good character under normal circumstances, then perhaps you'll have developed the sort of character that will enable you to stand up properly in the midst of a catastrophe.

One of the things I've been telling people who watch my videos who are overwhelmingly young men, by the way, is that they should strive to be the person who is the most reliable. They should strive to be the most reliable person at their father's funeral.

That's a good goal. That's a goal that's indicative of the development of some -- of a proper tragic sensibility with regards to life, and the formulation of some real character in the face of that tragedy.

Now, young people now are fed such a diet of pablum. You know, they're told to develop their self-esteem and to be happy and to be free. And to -- to follow their impulses wherever they might lead. And it's not nourishing. Young men, in particular, are dying -- I mean, literally, they're dying because of that. They're dying spiritually, and they're dying -- well, they're dying in actuality as well.

Because being human requires a noble mode of being. You can't tolerate yourself if you're weak and deceitful and arrogant and resentful. You just hate yourself. And that's -- and then you do harm to yourself and to others.

It's much better to be called forward to do something noble and courageous. And I've been absolutely struck, Glenn, that the thing that's been most surprising in the last year, I would say, is when I'm doing my public talks. And this is especially evident in this Biblical series, which has been packed, by the way. It's sold out every day -- every time we posted one, which is completely bizarre.

But, anyway, every time in those public forums where I talk about responsibility and truth to these audiences, mostly of young men, they're on the edge of their seats. Man, you can hear a pin drop. It's every time. It's intense. And I think it's because since the mid-60s, no one has taken -- and young men in particular and shook them and said, look, you know, you're not who you could be. Get your act together. You know, stand up. Tell the truth. Take your place in the world. And fortify our culture, instead of being whiney and resentful and weak and nihilistic and cowardly and ideologically possessed and immature.

GLENN: Dr. Jordan Peterson.

I don't even feel comfortable anymore calling you by your first name.

Dr. Peterson, I have to tell you, I get an opportunity to talk to a lot of amazing people, and I have met some truly great people. This has been -- the last 15 minutes has been one of the more remarkable times of my life. You are a -- you are a man for this time. And I -- I hope to be able to meet you in person sometime. But we will be watching from afar. I thank you for everything that you're doing.

JORDAN: Well, thanks for being patient, Glenn. And Merry Christmas to you and all your audience.

GLENN: Merry Christmas.

JORDAN: Yeah.

(music)

GLENN: I have to go back and find what he said about the resurrection. And play it for you. Because it was just so honest and so raw and so personal.

And it's amazing. Because he -- he said, I'm -- I don't know what to think. I don't know what to think. You know, my logic tells me no. But everything in me says yes.

And -- and obviously, a man who, whether he's a Christian or not, boy, seems to exemplify Christianity.

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.