About Author: Bruce Berlin

Bruce Berlin is a retired, public sector ethics attorney. He is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution, and a practitioner of Buddhist meditation. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Are We on the Brink of a Second Civil War?

The question of whether the United States is on the brink of a second Civil War has become increasingly relevant since the January 6th insurrection. Even more critical, however, is this question: What do we do now to decrease political violence in our country and make another civil war much less likely?

There are some who have concluded that we are already in a second Civil War. A pretty good case can be made that they are correct, at least to some extent. Right or not, however, the more pressing question is: What do we do now to reduce political violence?

A September 2022 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that “17 percent of Americans somewhat or strongly agreed that political violence against those they disagreed with was acceptable, with slightly more Democrats agreeing with the statement than Republicans or independents.”[1] But when it comes to elected officials including Congresspeople, David Frum points out in a recent article in The Atlantic that “Only the GOP Celebrates Political Violence.”[2]

Reducing political violence is an urgent issue that Congress should have at the top of its agenda. But whether there are enough members of Congress to form a bipartisan coalition to effectively address it remains to be seen, especially in the current hyper-partisan atmosphere engulfing Washington.

Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld is a Senior Fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In testimony before the January 6th Select Committee, she proposed numerous actions Congress could take to reduce political violence. Among them was crafting “a political pact to reduce violent rhetoric and imagery among candidates and Members of Congress…with teeth (i.e. strict sanctions).” She also advocated for federal legislation banning private militias.[3]

Another effort Kleinfeld proposed was “programs that strengthen individual and community resilience to violence and protect targeted groups and their communities.”[4] This is where we can help.

Specifically, I believe we need to organize local and state-wide, non-partisan conferences focused on developing and implementing effective community-based strategies to reduce political violence. Such strategies might include counseling and educational programs for individuals and groups on the left and the right who may be susceptible to resorting to political violence. Job training and placement for such individuals could prove beneficial as well.

The rise of political violence threatens our democracy. We ignore it at our peril. Now is the time to take positive action to thwart it before it’s too late.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-americans-think-about-political-violence/

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/10/pelosi-republicans-partisan-political-violence/671934/

[3] https://carnegieendowment.org/files/2022-Rachel%20Kleinfeld%20Jan%206%20Committee%20Testimony.pdf

[4] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats’ Silver Lining

With right-wing Republicans now in control of the House of Representatives, the chances of the Democrats passing any significant legislation in the current Congressional session are practically non-existent. Still, this new term could prove very beneficial to President Biden and his party come the 2024 elections.

The Democrats’ silver lining over the next two years is two-fold. First, the bills they passed in the last session will be bringing major benefits to the American people beginning now till well after the next election. For example, here are just some of the valuable aid Americans will receive from the Inflation Reduction Act[1] which not one Republican supported:

  • Medicare beneficiaries’ prescription drug costs will go down because of the provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.
  • Seniors with Medicare Part D will have their drug costs capped at $2,000 per year.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will be guaranteed that their insulin costs are capped at $35 for a month’s supply.
  • 3 million more Americans will have health insurance.
  • 7.5 million more families will be able install solar on their roofs with a 30% tax credit.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950/yr.
  • Advance cost-saving clean energy projects at rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people.
  • Millions of good-paying jobs making clean energy in America.
  • No family making less than $400,000 will see their taxes go up a penny.

In addition, the bipartisan Chips Act will create a great many new jobs in the semiconductor manufacturing industry.[2] And the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide $550 billion of new federal investments over five years in bridges and roads, public transit, broadband, water and energy systems.[3] These are just a few of the Biden administration’s accomplishments that will assist a great many Americans in the next couple of years. The last two bills also demonstrate that Republicans and Democrats can overcome their differences and work together to move America forward.

But what amounts to a second Democratic silver lining is the Republican response to the Biden administration now that they control the House of Representatives. Rather than proposing alternatives to the Democrats’ legislation that would also aid Americans in these difficult times, Republicans are calling for cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits,[4] two of the most popular government programs.

House Republicans are also prioritizing digging up dirt on the Biden administration with the creation of a wide-ranging investigative panel that will allow the party to examine any government agency or program that it views as suspect.[5] This appears to be an unnecessary duplication of effort and a waste of time and resources since Congressional committees already have the power to conduct oversight of the executive branch.[6]

The net effect of the Republicans’ approach will offer the 2024 voting public a stark choice between the parties:

Do Americans want to continue on the path of economic development, job growth, better healthcare, and climate change protection of Biden’s first two years in office? Or do they support the Republicans’ obstructionist agenda that offers nothing but more tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits for the rest of America?

I believe the Democrats will have a strong hand to play in the critical 2024 elections.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/15/by-the-numbers-the-inflation-reduction-act/

[2] https://usafacts.org/articles/whats-in-the-recently-passed-chips-act/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ND-Economy&gclid=Cj0KCQiAn4SeBhCwARIsANeF9DId7YcgBe5VT0wQfu78MATA2I5__kGak6p0l5aa_sSKCCM7P7mG7vAaAkb1EALw_wcB

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/12/politics/infrastructure-projects-biden/index.html

[4] https://news.yahoo.com/republicans-signal-cuts-social-security-175927429.html

[5] https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/10/house-republicans-justice-department-00077108

[6]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_oversight#:~:text=Oversight%20also%20occurs%20in%20a,congressional%20support%20agencies%20and%20staff.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Downfall of Donald J. Trump

As we begin 2023, the future holds many uncertainties for Donald J. Trump. While no one knows his fate for certain, here’s how I see what’s coming for the former president and America’s number one grifter.

Donald Trump will be indicted before this coming summer. In my view, Special Counsel Jack Smith was hired by Attorney General Merrick Garland to prosecute the case against Trump, not to close it. Garland believed that putting Smith, someone outside the Justice Department, in charge of the case would make the prosecution less political. Whether that turns out to be the case remains to be seen and, in fact, may be irrelevant at this point.

Just this past week, Smith hired two seasoned attorneys who “have prosecuted some of the most high-profile public corruption targets of both political parties in recent years.”[1] Those targets included former Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, current New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and former presidential candidate Democratic Sen. John Edwards.

If Smith thought that the DOJ didn’t have the evidence to indict Trump, he wouldn’t now be hiring prosecutors experienced in handling complex public corruption cases. As a former New Mexico Department of Education prosecuting attorney, I know that prosecutors do not bring charges unless they are convinced that they have the evidence needed to convict. That would be especially true in the case of a former president.

Last November two reports by veteran prosecutors and top legal experts analyzed two criminal investigations into Trump. One involved Trump’s solicitation to commit election fraud including a call to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” 11,780 votes. In total, that report finds at least 11 charges that could be filed against Trump resulting from his efforts in Georgia. The other report explored the mishandling of sensitive government documents at Mar-a-Lago. Both reports concluded that “there is enough evidence to bring charges against the former president.”[2]

As a result, I believe Trump will be tried and convicted by the end of this year. His trial cannot be allowed to cloud the 2024 presidential primary season.

It’s difficult to predict the sentence Trump will receive for his crimes. A friend of mine recently suggested Trump would be placed under house arrest but would not have to serve any jail time. That would be letting Trump off way too easy for attempting to overthrow our government. I don’t believe a federal judge would be so lenient for such appalling crimes, especially by a former president. At the least, Trump will receive a multi-year suspended sentence, which would put him on strict probation, though I feel he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Whatever the sentence, Trump is sure to appeal. Ultimately, his fate will lie in the hands of the Supreme Court, ironically including the three justices he appointed to the Court. I’m thinking that at least five justices will have the decency and integrity to uphold his conviction and sentence.

Finally, there’s Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. Assuming he is convicted, Trump’s sentence must include invoking the 14th Amendment provision preventing any person from ever again holding public office who having previously “taken an oath…as an officer of the United States… to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”[3]

On the other hand, if Trump somehow avoids prosecution or is found not guilty, he still will not be elected president in 2024. The results of the 2020 and 2022 elections clearly demonstrated that Trump and his handpicked candidates are losers. The Republican Party hates losers. Trump’s base is shrinking[4] and will continue to do so as more and more evidence of his misdeeds are revealed to the public during his likely unprecedented nationally televised trial.

In any event, Trump’s days are numbered.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

P.S. I want to take this opportunity to again thank my partner, Margaret Lubalin, for another year of suburb editing of my blog. She’s the best.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-01-06/special-counsel-jack-smith-hires-anti-corruption-prosecutors-in-trump-probe

[2] https://thehill.com/regulation/national-security/3742386-for-experts-the-evidence-in-two-probes-compels-charging-trump/

[3] https://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-14th-amendment-could-prevent-trump-from-office-2021-2

[4] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/12/13/trump-support-gop-2024-presidential-race-poll/10882346002/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Time to Renew Our Resolve for a Better World in the New Year

It’s the holiday season. Friends and families coming together to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. A time of giving and wishing good will to all. A time to envision peace on Earth.

While we take as much of a break as we can from all the world’s troubles, it behooves us to remember the good fortune we do have. Be it our health, the connections with our loved ones, a warm home, or whatever.

Most of all, I deeply appreciate my community, a group of friends and family whom I can count on and who can count on me. With all the hardship and impediments we face in the world, where would any of us be without the support we receive from those close to us? For most of us, community is our salvation in good times and bad.

Though we do our best to be of good cheer, there are many dark undercurrents dampening the holiday spirit. From the war in Ukraine to the scourge of COVID. From the gun violence taking more of our children’s lives[1] to the increase in hate crimes against Blacks, Latinos, sexual minorities, and Jews.[2] And on and on.

At the same time, there are promising signs of better times to come in the new year. The just released final report of the January 6th Committee provides a mountain of evidence that Trump and his co-conspirators will be held accountable for the insurrection against our government.[3] Gas prices are way down as inflation is falling.[4] And Congress has come to an agreement on a new budget preventing a potentially disastrous government shutdown.[5] Perhaps, we are turning a corner as the winter solstice ushers in more light into our world.

So, as this very difficult year comes to an end, we need to not only give thanks for our blessings, but also renew our resolve to make our communities, our country, and this world a better place in the coming year. Many of us donate to various charities, volunteer at local food banks, work to revive our democracy or a multitude of other worthy causes. But is there more we can do? Of course.

We live in perilous times. it is naïve to think that the government, the church, the union or whoever will save us. Together, we can create a better country and world for all of us in the coming year. As the light begins to come back again, now is a good time for each of us to ask what more we can do to make it so.

Wishing everyone joyous holidays and all the best in the new year.

Bruce Berlin

P.S. I’m taking the next week off. See you in two weeks. Happy New Year!

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.kff.org/private-insurance/press-release/firearms-are-the-leading-cause-of-death-for-children-in-the-united-states-but-rank-no-higher-than-fifth-in-other-industrialized-nations/

[2] https://www.voanews.com/a/us-hate-crimes-rise-during-first-half-of-2022-/6713791.html

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/22/us/politics/jan-6-committee-report.html?campaign_id=190&emc=edit_ufn_20221223&instance_id=80943&nl=from-the-times&regi_id=72679230&segment_id=120646&te=1&user_id=51750e72d4988f5b891f2289251150c2

[4] https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2022/12/07/inflation-is-falling-but-not-enough?utm_medium=cpc.adword.pd&utm_source=google&ppccampaignID=17210591673&ppcadID=&utm_campaign=a.22brand_pmax&utm_content=conversion.direct-response.anonymous&gclid=Cj0KCQiAwJWdBhCYARIsAJc4idCu03831lAmQ47YEA99ce_c63u_oLwLwpGfhyMDFdylwcL46ZzOCrAaAnoYEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

[5] https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2022/12/22/government-shutdown-appears-averted-as-senate-nears-a-deal-to-advance-17t-funding-bill/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Right to Vote a Critical 2024 Election Issue

In my last blog, Where Do We Go from Here?,[1] I submitted that in order “to fix our democracy we must protect and expand the freedom to vote…” I suggested that would require at least these eight elements:

  1. The right of all citizens to vote and have their votes counted,
  2. Open primaries where everyone can vote regardless of party affiliation,
  3. The elimination of gerrymandering,
  4. The elimination of voter suppression efforts,
  5. Ranked choice voting (For an explanation of this process, see https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10837.)
  6. A Required minimum of 14 days of early voting all across the country,
  7. Easy access to drop boxes for voting in all districts, and
  8. Elimination of the Electoral College and the adoption of the national popular vote for president and vice president.

Since establishing all these reforms would take a great deal of time and resources, I asked my blog followers to prioritize the two or three they thought would be most likely to gain the greatest popular support and be achieved in the near term.

Though I did not receive enough responses to make any statistically relevant conclusions, the right of all citizens to vote and the elimination of voter suppression efforts were the two goals that people rated the highest. While the elimination of the Electoral College along with the institution of the national popular vote for president was also a priority, they are much more difficult to accomplish. Thus, less likely to be implemented any time soon.

Achieving the goals of establishing the right of all citizens to vote and eliminating voter suppression efforts would go a long way toward creating a level playing field in our elections. Making them top priorities in their 2024 platform would give Democratic candidates a clear advantage.

Ninety-five percent of both Democrats and Republicans believe “it is important that people who are legally qualified to vote are able to cast a ballot” according to a July 2021 Pew Research Center survey.[2]

At the same time, Democrats support making it easier for people to vote by a very wide margin over Republicans. Eighty-five percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say everything possible should be done to make voting easy. By contrast, just 28% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents say everything possible should be done to make voting easy.[3]

American democracy continues to be under attack by Trump and his followers. The future of our democracy will again be a critical issue in the 2024 election. Protecting the right to vote is central to its survival. The Democrats making the right to vote a top campaign issue will not only benefit their party, it could even determine whether our democracy survives.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/

[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/07/22/wide-partisan-divide-on-whether-voting-is-a-fundamental-right-or-a-privilege-with-responsibilities/

[3] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/04/01/share-of-republicans-saying-everything-possible-should-be-done-to-make-voting-easy-declines-sharply/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Where Do We Go from Here?

Last week’s blog featured Rick Hubbard’s 16-month walk across the country “to sound the alarm to the American people about the urgent need to fix our democracy.” (See https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/.) Unfortunately, this past week Rick had to suspend his Walk.

Rick was about 40 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona when he got word that Sally, his partner of 30 years, was very ill. As important as the Walk is to Rick, he knew that he had to go back to Vermont immediately to support her. At the same time, Rick vowed that he would return to his Walk as soon as he could. When that will be is anybody’s guess.

Prior to Rick’s suspending his Walk, I spoke to him about focusing the message of his cross-country journey. We agreed that the freedom to vote was the crucial point he needed to promote on his Walk. That is, to fix our democracy we must protect and expand the freedom to vote, which includes at least these elements:

  1. The right of all citizens to vote and have their votes counted,
  2. Open primaries where everyone can vote regardless of party affiliation,
  3. The elimination of gerrymandering,
  4. The elimination of voter suppression efforts,
  5. Ranked choice voting (For an explanation of this process, see https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10837.)
  6. A Required minimum of 14 days of early voting all across the country,
  7. Easy access to drop boxes for voting in all districts, and
  8. Elimination of the Electoral College and the adoption of the national popular vote for president and vice president.

The goal is to make the freedom to vote a fundamental right just as public education is in our country.

The outcome of 2024 election will be critical to the future of our nation. It will determine whether the country moves further toward autocracy and fascism, or more in the direction of a functioning democracy. Guaranteeing and expanding the freedom to vote will go a long way toward the latter objective.

Still, it is obvious that we will not achieve the eight elements listed above in the next two years. Rather than scattering our energy and resources by trying to accomplish all eight, I believe we would be better off concentrating on two or three in the short time before the 2024 election. Which two or three to go for would be determined by which ones are:

  1. most likely to gain the greatest popular support,
  2. most likely to be achieved, and
  3. most likely to secure our democracy.

I’d like to know what you think. Please email me your choices in ranked order at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com and I will publish the results in next week’s blog. To build a strong democracy movement, we need to establish our priorities. What are our most pressing goals? If you feel something is missing from the above list, feel free to add it. I look forward to hearing from you.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Walking Across America to Fix Our Democracy

On October 1, 2022, Rick Hubbard, a life-long activist, left Los Angeles and began walking across the country to sound the alarm to the American people about the urgent need to fix our democracy. His walk also aims to stimulate media attention to the critical issues facing our nation. Rick plans to complete his journey with a special event on the steps of the Capitol in Washington in January of 2024.

Turning 81 this month, Rick is a native Vermonter, retired attorney and former member of the National Governing Board of Common Cause. He has a long history of bringing vital national issues to the public’s attention. Over two decades ago, Rick walked for a week with Granny D, who crossed the country in 1999-2000 to highlight the need for campaign finance reform. Then he did a 450-mile jaunt in Vermont advocating for the same initiative. He’s also walked in New Hampshire and from Philly to D.C. for democracy reform.[1]

Rick sums up the need to fix our democracy like this:

Congress isn’t working for most people. Our political system gives many incentives to act in ways that place their own re-election interests, those of their wealthy and influential campaign funders, and those of their political party above the common, broad interests of the American people.[2]

Here’s what he believes we need to do to fix our democracy:

  • Reform our political process to get more competition, more turnover, and better representation for our common good and the future of our nation.
  • Work with others to support those in Congress willing to pass national standards, including the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, DC Statehood.
  • Ratify a Constitutional Amendment to transform our political system and move our country closer to realizing the true promise of democracy.[3]

You can read more about the issues Rick believes we need to address by going to his website https://www.fixourdemocracy.us/.

Rick will be walking through New Mexico in late January and early February 2023. The entire route of his walk can be found on his website. He plans to hold public events in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Vegas as well as in every state on his journey.

Clearly, Rick needs all the help he can get. This is a critical time in the history of our democracy. We all need to pitch in and do whatever we can if we want our American democracy to survive.

If you would like to volunteer or donate to support the Walk to Fix Our Democracy, it’s easy to do at https://www.fixourdemocracy.us/. If you would like to help organize one of the New Mexico events, contact me at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.rickhubbard.org/author/

[2] https://www.fixourdemocracy.us/faqs

[3] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Hold Ethically Challenged Supreme Court to Account

While we have left-leaning judges and right-leaning judges, Americans expect all judges to adhere to strict ethical standards. That would be especially true of justices who sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. Yet, the nine justices of the Supreme Court are the only judges in the country who are not bound by a written code of ethics.[1]

Chief Justice John Roberts has asserted that there is “no reason” to adopt a Supreme Court ethics code because members of his court consult a wide variety of other sources for guidance.[2] But recent revelations and events are proving him wrong.

The 25-Year Crusade to Overturn Roe v. Wade

In 1996, Rev. Rob Schenck founded Faith and Action, an ecumenical outreach ministry “to top-level government officials located in Washington, DC, throughout the United States and around the world…They seek to base their outreach on a personal relationship with the person targeted.”[3]

According to Rev. Schenck, Faith and Action aims to “win the hearts and minds of those who make public policy.” Its mission is to reintroduce the Word of God into the public debate surrounding legislation and policy matters.” It is a leader in the anti-abortion movement. Although it targets elected officials, government employees, Supreme Court justices and clerks, and other government personnel, it is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.[4]

As the leader of Faith and Action, Rev. Schenck was an effective, pro-life lobbyist working to influence members of the Supreme Court, especially Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas. Raising over $30 million, he recruited wealthy donors and encouraged “them to invite the justices to meals, to their vacation homes or to private clubs. He advised allies to contribute money to the Supreme Court Historical Society and then mingle with justices at its functions. He ingratiated himself with court officials who could help give him access.”[5]

Mr. Schenck said “his aim was not to change minds, but rather to stiffen the resolve of the court’s conservatives in taking uncompromising stances that could eventually lead to a reversal of Roe.”[6] Apparently, he succeeded. In the Court’s recent Dobbs case overruling Roe v. Wade, Chief Justice Roberts tried unsuccessfully to limit but still save the constitutional right to abortion. The five justices to his right refused to accept Roberts’ compromise.[7]

Court Leaks Raise Serious Ethical Issues

The fact that the pending Dobbs decision was leaked in advance raises additional ethical concerns. As noted by Newsweek, the leaking of the draft opinion with the names of the five conservative justices who had already signed on to it “made it nearly impossible for any of those five justices to change their minds.”[8]

It was clearly in the interest of Justice Alito, the author of the hardline Dobbs decision, to make certain that none of his fellow conservatives had a change of heart. In fact, there was a similar advanced leak of the Hobby Lobby ruling that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance covering contraception violated their religious freedoms.[9]

That 5-4 majority opinion which adversely affected the Affordable Care Act was also written by Alito in 2014. Rev. Schenck received the advance notice of the decision from a major donor who had had dinner with Justice Alito the previous night. He “used that information to prepare a public relations push“ that promoted his religious right organization.[10]

The Urgent Need for Reforming the Court

It’s bad enough that we have a Supreme Court heavily titled to the right. Now, on top of that, at least one justice appears to be very ethically compromised. In addition, Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, has called for an ethics probe into right-wing Justice Clarence Thomas’s alleged conflicts of interest in cases involving efforts to overturn the 2020 election in which his wife, Ginni, participated.[11]

Fallon thinks the Senate Judiciary Committee “should immediately move to investigate the apparent leak by Justice Alito.” He believes that “Structural reform of the court, including strict new ethics rules, is needed now more than ever.”[12]

We cannot let this go. A thorough public investigation by Congress is required, and, possibly, impeachment proceedings. Call your senators and representatives. Demand action.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/01/supreme-court-ethics-code-judges-john-roberts.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith_and_Action

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/19/us/supreme-court-leak-abortion-roe-wade.html

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/26/politics/supreme-court-john-roberts-abortion-dobbs/index.html

[8] https://www.newsweek.com/conservative-likely-leaked-dobbs-decision-opinion-1755496

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/19/us/supreme-court-leak-abortion-roe-wade.html

[10] Ibid.

[11] https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-11-23/clarence-thomas-recusal-supreme-court-jan-6

[12] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/11/19/calls-ethics-probe-follow-bombshell-report-right-wing-attempts-influence-supreme

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democratic Turning Point Offers New Hope

Though the Democrats lost their House majority in the midterms, they gained much more in a variety of ways. In fact, as the 2024 elections come closer, I expect that their losing control of the House will likely strengthen the party’s resolve and prove a boon to its prospects of winning two years from now.

In addition to holding onto the Senate majority, here’s some other benefits the Dems reaped from the midterms. The November elections further cemented young voters support for the Democratic Party. The youth vote (18-to-29-year-olds) favored Democratic House candidates by 28 points over Republican candidates. While that’s about the same as in 2020, it’s considerably better than in 2016 when youth voters turned out for Democratic House candidates by 16 points over Republican candidates and by only a 12-point margin in 2014.[1]

Youth turnout in this election was the second highest in the last thirty years.[2] Given their 28-pont youth advantage and the fact that voters tend to stick with whichever political party they initially register with for years to come,[3] the Democrats’ future does appear bright.

At the same time, the recent election increased the Democrats’ standing among women voters as well. According to Elaine Kamarck, an expert on American electoral politics at the Brookings Institution, suburban women showed up en masse to help fuel Democrats’ better-than-expected showing. She noted that while women comprise 52% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 55% of the last presidential electoral vote.[4] Clearly, another good omen for Dems going into the 2024 election.

While this year’s voter turnout did not match the 2018 midterm record, it’s “on track to easily surpass other recent midterms.” And, in a number of battleground states, many of which the Democrats won, turnout exceeded 2018.[5] Again, a positive sign for the Dems since the greater the turnout, the more likely that they will win.

On the other hand, Republicans made gains among voters of color, though not to the degree previously predicted. Compared to the 2018 midterms, Hispanic and Asian support for the GOP jumped 10 and 17 points respectively, while Black voters shifted about 4 points to the right. Still, Democrats won the majority among Black, Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander voters in the 2022 midterms.[6]

In spite of the Republican takeover of the House and their gains with voters of color, Democrats have good reason for optimism besides what’s already been noted above. In just the last few days, a new generational team has arisen to takeover for Nancy Pelosi and her octogenarian squad. For the first time ever, a Black man, 52-year-old, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) will lead them. Katherine Clark (D-MA), a 59-year-old progressive, will be second in command. And, 43-year-old Peter Aguilar (D-CA), the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, will round out the new leadership team.[7] Among them, they cover just about all the critical constituencies Democrats need to energize in 2024: Blacks, Hispanics, women and youth.

Yet, thanks to the Republicans, there’s one more factor that will give the Dems momentum moving forward. The House Republicans have already signaled that they intend to focus on investigating, and even impeaching, President Biden, Attorney General Garland and others administration officials. Rather than providing an alternative policy agenda to the Democrats’ program, they will be spending precious taxpayers’ dollars and lots of Congress’s time on digging up dirt on the Biden administration that will go nowhere since the Dems will still control the Senate.

The 2024 electorate will then have a very clear choice. Will they vote for a far-right Republican Party seeking to cut Social Security and Medicare,[8] and eliminate a woman’s right to choose?[9] Or will they support the Democrats who enacted major legislation for the American people on infrastructure, veterans’ aid, manufacturing, climate change, prescription drug costs and more in the last two years?[10] And, but for the new GOP, obstructionist House majority, they would have continued to do so after 2022.

Which would you choose? I’m betting voters will go with the Dems, the party that still believes in democracy and supporting all Americans, not just the very wealthy and big business.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/youth-voters-independents-boosted-democrats-midterm-exit-polls/story?id=92993573

[2] https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/diversity-inclusion/3730922-researchers-say-2022-election-had-second-highest-young-voter-turnout-in-last-30-years/

[3] https://slate.com/business/2010/12/why-do-voters-tend-to-stick-with-whatever-political-party-they-join-when-they-turn-18.html

[4] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/11/09/2022-midterms-women-and-suburban-voters-help-democrats-avoid-disaster/8318080001/

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/voter-turnout-2022-by-state/

[6] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/13/latino-voters-midterm-elections-republicans-00066618

[7] https://www.axios.com/2022/11/17/congress-house-democrats-minority-leaders-plan

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/02/us/politics/republicans-social-security-medicare.html

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/15/republicans-wont-stop-until-abortion-is-banned-across-america-and-it-could-be

[10] https://www.historycentral.com/Today/Summer2022.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Historic 2022 Midterm Elections

The predicted Red Wave of 2022 never reached the shore. While all the votes have not yet been counted four days after the election, it looks like the Republicans will eke out a slim majority in the House. Unbelievably, though, with about 30 races still undetermined, there is still a possibility that the Democrats could actually hold onto their House majority.[1] 

On the Senate side, the odds of the Democrats maintaining control are much more in their favor. With two races still undecided, the blue team needs to win just one of them. The Nevada senate contest is tightening, and which party will prevail is anyone’s guess.[2] If Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) pulls out a victory there, then the Democrats will have held onto their tiny majority. If she does not, then all eyes will be on the Georgia senate runoff on December 6th.  And I cannot believe that Georgia voters would elect the incompetent Republican Herschel Walker over the much worthier Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.[3]

Overall, however, the real winner in this year’s midterm election was the democratic process. Voters turned out in near record numbers because they understood that our democracy as well as a woman’s right to choose was on the ballot. It was the second highest turnout for a midterm since 1970.[4] A recent poll found that the future of democracy was very important to 80% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans in their voting decisions.[5]

At the same time, the “loser-in-chief” in this election was Donald Trump. Many Republicans are blaming him for the party’s poor results.[6] Even the conservative Wall Street Journal denounced Trump, calling him the Republican Party’s “biggest loser.”[7] In a number of high-profile races, the candidates he endorsed lost, most notably in Arizona, Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and quite possibly in Georgia and Nevada as well.[8]

But Trump’s losses Tuesday night will have even bigger consequences as he prepares to run for president in 2024. Already at least one Republican megadonor stated he won’t support Trump’s pending run for the presidential nomination.[9] Some Republican officeholders are also suggesting Trump shouldn’t be their presidential nominee.[10]

The right-leaning New York Post said it best on the cover of its Thursday edition:

“Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” The large cover text read: “Trumpty Dumpty.”[11]

See: https://nypost.com/cover/november-10-2022/

Yet, Trump’s biggest loss is still to come. As I predicted in my October 15th blog, “Donald J. Trump will be indicted before the spring of next year.”[12] When that happens, he will be fighting for his freedom more than for the 2024 Republican nomination. Many Republicans will see him as unelectable. His dream of returning triumphantly to the White House will be shattered. And, finally, America will be rid of this despicable egomaniac.

Bruce Berlin

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/11/10/23451445/house-election-results-democrats-majority

[2] https://thehill.com/homenews/3730786-cortez-masto-draws-closer-to-laxalt-in-nevada-senate-race/

[3] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/runoffs-are-sort-of-georgias-thing-now/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/voter-turnout-2022-by-state/

[5] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/11/03/key-facts-about-u-s-voter-priorities-ahead-of-the-2022-midterm-elections/

[6] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2022/11/11/election-results-live-updates/10662035002/

[7] https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-is-the-gops-biggest-loser-midterm-elections-senate-house-congress-republicans-11668034869

[8] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/09/trump-endorsed-candidates-2022-election-results

[9] https://news.yahoo.com/billionaire-gop-donor-ken-griffin-073015070.html

[10] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/09/us/politics/trump-republicans-midterms.html

[11] https://nypost.com/cover/november-10-2022/

[12] https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/