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: The Anti-American Republicans

On Friday, Congress passed a last-minute Continuing Resolution to avert a partial government shutdown and keep the government running until December 16. That gives Congress 10 weeks of breathing room to forge together a budget for the new fiscal year, which just began on October 1.

While Democrats overwhelmingly supported the Resolution, 25 Republican senators and 201 Republican House members voted against it. In total, only 32 out of 261 Congressional Republicans decided it was more important to keep our government running than to shut it down because they objected to certain measures or omissions.[1] Without a budget resolution all non-essential discretionary functions would have stopped this past Friday at midnight.[2] Over 85% of Republicans responsible for enacting our laws were willing to throw thousands of federal employees out of work, halt many federal programs that millions of Americans depend on, and greatly disrupt our economy rather than give Congress just 10 more weeks to pass a budget for fiscal 2023.

The stopgap spending bill provides $18.8 billion for Hurricane Ian and other disaster relief,[3] including $2.5 billion for those adversely affected by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire in New Mexico.[4] Despite Hurricane Ian’s devastation of their state, all 16 Floridian GOP members of the House voted against the Resolution.[5] (Incredibly, Florida Sen. Rick Scott joined in the dissent while Sen. Rubio failed to cast a vote.[6]) Apparently party politics are more important to them than their own constituents’ extreme hardship and their state’s dire need for aid in the face of this major catastrophe.

With November election day fast approaching, what were they thinking? How will Florida’s voters respond to their Republican representatives turning their backs on them in their hour of need. It’s also very telling that Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis voted against relief for the Northeast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy a decade ago when he was in Congress.[7] Ironically, he is now welcoming federal disaster assistance for his home state.[8]

You have to wonder how Republicans sleep at night. Putting their party ahead of their constituents’ urgent needs. Welcoming federal aid only when they believe it will further their political ambitions. You’d hope that voters would see through Republican hypocrisy and lack of compassion and reject their candidates at the polls. We’ll know if that’s the case in just a few short weeks.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/30/congress-continuing-resolution-jackson-investiture/

[2] https://www.crfb.org/papers/qa-everything-you-should-know-about-government-shutdowns#whatservicesaffected

[3] https://federalnewsnetwork.com/budget/2022/09/house-passes-continuing-resolution-averting-government-shutdown-fda-furloughs/; https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/leahy-statement-on-final-passage-of-the-continuing-resolution-

[4] https://apnews.com/article/wildfires-fires-new-mexico-business-congress-a1c482f16a2d306cb9edfd9612992273

[5] https://www.axios.com/2022/10/01/hurricane-ian-florida-gop-marco-rubio-funding

[6] https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_votes/vote1172/vote_117_2_00351.htm

[7] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/30/hurricane-relief-votes-hypocrisy/

[8] https://apnews.com/a09c2b89211fba1a55a9b26f05d26203; https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/desantis-dials-down-rhetoric-biden-210148402.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Rosh Hashanah, Time for Reflection and a Fresh Start

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sunset this evening. For Jews, it’s a time for reflection, examining one’s life, making amends to those we’ve harmed and starting over with a fresh slate. Clearly, it’s an exercise that we all could benefit from engaging in.

While Rosh Hashanah focuses on our personal lives, it can also be a time when we look at our larger roles in our communities and in our nation. What have I been doing, or not done, to assist my community? What have I been doing, or not done, to support my country’s efforts to remain a democracy?

As we approach the critical November elections, I feel these questions are particularly pertinent. Though the issue of the future of American democracy will not explicitly be on the ballot, it casts a huge shadow over this fall’s elections.

There’s no question that democracy is under attack around the country. The January 6th assault on the Capitol with the intent to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election is just the most blatant example. In the last year, there have been “more than 1,000 threats to election officials…, with more than 100 of them meeting the threshold for a federal criminal investigation. More than half of the potentially criminal threats were in highly contested states where allies of ousted President Trump tried to overturn the results, such as in Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin.”[1]

With only six weeks until election day, it’s time to quickly reflect on what we’ve been doing to safeguard our democracy, and then determine what we can do in these last few weeks to help fix the damage that has been done to our country. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Whether you are a Republican, Independent or Democrat, don’t vote for any Republican candidate and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Given the widespread Republican efforts to thwart democracy and win at all costs, electing any Republican will only strengthen the party’s ability to advance toward authoritarian rule. As Jill Lawrence of USA Today asserted, “the Republican Party is on a dark path and should not hold power anywhere until it comes back into the light.”[2]
  2. Urge your state and local law enforcement officers to take every precaution to ensure the safety of poll workers and other election officials, as well as to make sure that the elections are free and fair. Intimidation of elections officials cannot be tolerated.[3]
  3. Write letters to the editor explaining why our democracy is at risk and that everyone who cares about the future of our democracy must vote for Democrats.
  4. Support Democrats running for office, especially for Congress and Secretaries of State who oversee elections. Here in New Mexico, we have the opportunity to turn a red Congressional seat blue. Contribute to and work for Gabe Vasquez, the Democrat running in District 2 against MAGA Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell. Go to https://gabeforcongress.com/ to get involved in his campaign.

Time is running out. In the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, we need to reflect on our less than full support for democracy. Then, step up and give it everything we can in these last six weeks to ensure its survival. As Ben Franklin said when asked about the form of government the founding fathers were creating, “A democracy, if you can keep it.”[4] And keep it, we must.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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 o


[1] https://blog.ucsusa.org/derrick-jackson/democracy-under-attack-confronting-mounting-threats-to-us-election-workers/

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/news/care-country-rights-dont-vote-110005774.html

[3] https://blog.ucsusa.org/derrick-jackson/democracy-under-attack-confronting-mounting-threats-to-us-election-workers/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/quotes/9010/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Myth of a United States

From the founding of the United States till today, our country has portrayed itself as united. In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers asserted that we are “one people.”[1]

The preamble to the Constitution begins: “We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…”[2] And, when we pledge allegiance to the flag, we say: “”I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”[3]

But, from the birth of our nation over 240 years ago until today, the truth is our country has rarely been united. From the very beginning, we had slave states and free states forbidding slavery. Back then as is still true now, we had the property-owning class, or capitalists, overseeing the working class.

After slavery was abolished during the Civil War, we still had the segregationist South, in conflict with the North, which generally favored integration. And, of course, we now have the blue states strongly disagreeing with the red states over abortion rights, immigration, voting rights and other major issues.

I believe World War II was the last time our country was truly united. What brought us together was a common enemy, the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan), which threatened the freedom of all Americans. Yes, 9/11 brought us together as well, but it didn’t take long before we were once again at odds over the Iraq War.[4]

Since the Vietnam War in the 1960s, our nation has become more and more divided. Today we are almost as deeply split as we were during the Civil War. In fact, some are predicting that the United States is on the verge of a second Civil War. 

What separates us now strikes at the very foundation of our nation. While many Americans are fighting to maintain the democratic principles upon which the country was established, others wish to turn the United States into an autocracy, ruled by Donald Trump and his white supremacist, MAGA followers.

And they appear to be willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Be it storming the Capitol, suppressing the vote, rigging the elections, stacking the Supreme Court, or whatever else they can fabricate.

We are the only ones who stand in their way. It is up to all of us who still believe in democracy to make sure they fail. Despite what you may think of President Biden and the Democrats, they are our only hope of preserving some semblance of democracy in America.

In fact, in recent weeks the Democrats have demonstrated that they just might be up to this awesome responsibility. They passed the Inflation Reduction Act making the system somewhat fairer for we, the people, including lowering a number of prescription drug prices and imposing a 15 percent minimum tax on large corporations, while every Senate Republican opposed the bill.[5] In addition, they enacted the most notable gun safety legislation in decades[6] and a bill to assist ailing veterans.[7] And, in just the last few days, Biden stepped in to support rail workers and avert a strike that would have further increased inflation and devastated our economy.[8]

Despite right-wing opposition, the Democrats are employing the mechanisms of government to help Americans and move our country forward. With less than eight weeks left until the elections, we must do whatever we can to assure that the Democrats prevail in November.

We must go the extra mile, make many phone calls, write postcards (Go to https://www.turnoutpac.org/postcards/), knock on doors, send donations. The future of democracy depends on what we all do to get out the vote and make sure that our nation does not succumb to the election deniers and far right conspiracy extremists. If ever your country needed you to stand up and get involved, it is now!

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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.ushistory.org/documents/declaration.htm

[2] https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/constitution?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvZCZBhCiARIsAPXbajtkXDb1iDTs6XOZWdFvpQarisNuvZktlvFd9MJuAYVnXr5kc50qtlcaAvEoEALw_wcB

[3] https://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm

[4] https://www.brookings.edu/articles/rally-round-the-flag-opinion-in-the-united-states-before-and-after-the-iraq-war/

[5] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/07/democrats-senate-reconciliation-votearama-00050222

[6] https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/23/politics/senate-bipartisan-gun-bill/index.html

[7] https://www.npr.org/2022/08/02/1115325176/pact-act-veterans-burn-pits-toxins-passes-senate

[8] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/biden-announces-tentative-deal-avert-us-rail-strike-rcna47850

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Trump Grapples for a Lifeboat as He Sinks Deeper into Troubled Waters

In the last month almost all the headlines have focused on former President Trump’s mishandling and concealing classified documents belonging to the government. Until very recently, it seemed like an open and shut case. Trump knowingly took the documents that belonged to the government. When he was asked to return them, he claimed he had. But a court-ordered search of Mar-a-Lago revealed that he still had many such documents in his possession in violation of federal law.

To no one’s surprise, Trump devised a scheme to delay the DOJ’s prosecution of this case. He got one of his hand-picked judges, U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, to order that a special master examinethe seized documents, telling prosecutors they cannot use the material until it is reviewed.[1] While legal experts believe the judge had no legal support for her ruling[2] and the Justice Department immediately appealed Cannon’s decision,[3] it is an open question as to the extent Trump’s maneuver will hamper the wheels of justice.

Though many are dismayed by his latest ploy, Trump is still in a heap of trouble. Former high ranking Justice Department lawyer Peter Keisler noted, “If the department concludes that the former president or others in his circle intentionally sought to deceive the government in order to obstruct its investigation, that would significantly elevate the seriousness of this already very serious matter.”[4]

From what we now know, it sure looks like Trump intentionally sought to deceive the government and obstruct justice. Nevertheless, his duplicity could unfortunately delay prosecuting him in this matter for some time.

Regardless, Trump is sinking deeper into troubled waters and his legal jeopardy will not go away. In fact, the DOJ’s continuing investigation into the January 6 insurrection and the conspiracy to have alternative electors overturn the 2020 election in a number of states will likely now receive greater scrutiny due to the delay in the concealment of government documents probe.

Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb (not the baseball hall of famer) contends that the chances of Trump being indicted by the Department of Justice are “very high.” He recently explained that Trump’s “interfering with Pence…trying to persuade him in a very aggressive effort not to certify the election, and to send certain electors back, I think that was criminal.”[5] He believes Trump’s most serious legal problems are due to the obstructive activity he took in connection with the Jan. 6 proceeding…and the attempts to interfere in the election count in Georgia,  Arizona, Pennsylvania and perhaps Michigan.”[6]

Still, there will be no resolution of any of this until after November’s election. Neither the DOJ nor the states’ prosecutors will want any hint that their actions are politically motivated. Yet Trump’s obsession with being in the limelight will clearly color this year’s elections as well as those in 2024. Sink or swim, Trump just can’t help himself.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/08/justice-appeals-trump-documents-special-master/

[2] https://truthout.org/articles/trump-appointed-judge-rejects-amicus-brief-in-bizarre-move-critics-say/

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/08/justice-appeals-trump-documents-special-master/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/republican-lawyers-trump-documents/

[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/09/ty-cobb-former-trump-white-house-lawyer-says-he-violated-constitution.html

[6] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Student Loan Forgiveness Controversy

Much has happened since I wrote my last blog in early August. While it’s hard to know where to begin, I think the student loan forgiveness controversy is an important issue that requires our attention.

On the one hand, I understand the desire to relieve the burden of thousands of dollars in student loan debt that so many Americans carry. Those heavy debts prevent millions of people from buying homes or obtaining quality healthcare for their families, among other worthy goals. Often these very large debts are a drag on a borrower’s ability to live the American dream as well as on the nation’s economy. While student loans provided the opportunity for millions of Americans to attend college, for many they failed to generate the quality of life that a college education had promised. That just doesn’t seem fair.

In addition, Harvard economist Susan Dynarski, who once opposed student debt forgiveness, now believes that “targeted debt cancellation is the best way to undo the damage done to millions of borrowers by a persistently dysfunctional system of college funding and student loan repayment.” Ms. Dynarski argues that it was bad government policy that harmed student borrowers, “and it is government policy that should work to reverse it.”[1]

On the other hand, millions of other Americans never went to college for one reason or another. While they work hard to pay the rent and feed their families, many of them cannot afford to buy a home or obtain quality healthcare for their families either. Yet, they are now being told that their tax dollars will go to help pay off their fellow Americans’ student loan debt while they continue to struggle to make ends meet. That just doesn’t seem fair, as well.

In 2017, the Trump administration and the Republican Congress enacted a $1.9 trillion tax cut, which greatly favored corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the middle and working classes.[2] Now President Biden is offering relief to millions of people making less than $125,000 with college loan debt.

But what about the very large segment of working Americans who never went to college and don’t have student loan debt? Shouldn’t the government give them some financial relief in these difficult times, too? These are the people who make our country run: the store clerks, bus drivers, factory workers and restaurant staff. How can we afford to reduce corporate taxes and forgive student loans, yet not support those who are the backbone of America?

If the Democrats fail to rectify this gross inequity, they very well may lose at the polls and their right to govern. Hispanics and minority voters are already abandoning the Democratic Party.[3] The party needs to demonstrate that it cares about the working class and their issues.

One possible solution would be for the Biden Administration to provide a sizeable tax rebate to working class Americans who were never able to attend college. Biden needs to promise to do just that if the Democrats maintain their hold on Congress. That would give those voters a good reason to stick with the Democrats and boost turnout in November.

On top of that, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently suggested that Congress reverse the 2017 GOP tax cuts, which overwhelmingly benefited the rich and large corporations, to finance the cancellation of all remaining student loan debt. She noted that the government has “forgiven far, far more debt for business owners in the form of [Paycheck Protection Program loans to keep their businesses afloat] who didn’t need to meet ANY sort of income requirements or means testing for almost $1 TRILLION in forgiveness.”[4]

Republican lawmakers are now against Biden’s student loan forgiveness. But many of these critics took out Paycheck Protection Program loans that the government forgave. For example, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her husband, owned a construction business which received a $182,300 loan from the program, and the loan was forgiven.[5]

In addition, AOC indicated that if the Trump tax cuts were repealed there would be “money left over to contribute to universal childcare” and other needs of average Americans.[6] While most Congressional Democrats support the repeal, they don’t have the votes in the Senate to overcome a Republican filibuster. Unfortunately, two Democratic senators, Manchin and Sinema stand in the way of eliminating the filibuster.[7]

But, if the Democrats promise to repeal the filibuster, it would be another reason to vote for Democrats, boosting turnout and their chances of increasing their majority in the Senate.[8] Then, the Democrats could eliminate the filibuster and rescind the 2017 tax cuts. That sounds like a very winnable Democratic platform. And truly fair as well.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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.businessinsider.com/harvard-economist-opposed-student-debt-relief-loans-biden-forgiveness-cancellation-2022-8

[2] https://www.americanprogress.org/article/tcja-2-years-later-corporations-not-workers-big-winners/

[3] https://www.npr.org/2022/07/23/1113166779/hispanic-and-minority-voters-are-increasingly-shifting-to-the-republican-party

[4] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/08/28/aoc-says-congress-could-reverse-trump-tax-cuts-cancel-all-student-debt

[5] https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2022/businesses-associated-with-these-gop-politicians-had-pandemic-loan-program-borrowings-forgiven/

[6] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/08/28/aoc-says-congress-could-reverse-trump-tax-cuts-cancel-all-student-debt

[7] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/07/26/really-inexcusable-progressives-lament-democrats-failure-reverse-trump-tax-cuts

[8] https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2022-election-forecast/senate/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can Democrats Pull an Upset in this November’s Mid-term Elections?

(Note: I am taking a break. This is my last blog until after Labor Day. Back at you then.)

History tells us that the odds of the party occupying the White House winning the mid-term elections are pretty slim. “Since the end of World War II, the president’s party has lost House seats in all but two midterms: 2002 and 1998…”[1]

Until June 24th when the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade’s right to abortion,[2] it appeared the conventional wisdom would prevail, and a Republican red-wave tsunami was gathering steam. In the last six weeks, however, the tide has turned purple, if not downright blue.

So much is now going the Democrats’ way, it’s hard to believe. No one thought that red state Kansas would support abortion rights by 18 percentage points.[3] Nor did most people think that Sens. Manchin and Sinema would sign on to the Democrats’ climate, health care and tax legislation,[4] assuring its passage in the next week or so.[5] The renamed Inflation Reduction Act will bring the country close to its emission reduction goals of cutting carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030. It will also lower drug prices by permitting Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and extend the Affordable Care Act for three more years.[6]

In addition, here’s what else has recently boosted the Democrats’ chances in November:

Nevertheless, the elections are still three months away. While the Democrats now have a much stronger record to run on then they did just a couple of months ago, they will need an enthusiastic voter turnout, like the one in the recent Kansas primary affirming abortion rights, to upset the GOP and hold onto their Congressional majorities.

What was just a pipedream not long ago is now a realistic goal. With much of the Republican Party seeking permanent one-party rule,[8] the Democrats are finally giving voters good reason to stick with them by demonstrating that they can produce concrete results for the American people. Though it’s far short of the progressive ideal and not everything President Biden promised during the 2020 campaign, he and his party have made significant progress in the face of stiff Republican opposition. Just think what they could do if, we, the voters gave them greater majorities to work with in November. One can only hope. All of us working together to get out the vote can turn hope into reality this fall.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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/why-the-presidents-party-almost-always-has-a-bad-midterm/

[2] https://www.npr.org/2022/06/24/1102305878/supreme-court-abortion-roe-v-wade-decision-overturn

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/02/us/kansas-abortion-rights-vote.html

[4] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/04/dems-agenda-energy-climate-bill-00049875

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/08/07/us/climate-tax-deal-vote

[6] https://www.yahoo.com/news/dont-believe-trump-gop-biden-130045250.html

[7] Ibid.

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/04/trump-republican-party-democracy

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Manchin and Schumer to McConnell and the Republicans, “Gotcha!”

Did Democrats Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer pull a fast one on Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, or what?

A month ago, Sen. McConnell declared, “Let me be perfectly clear. There will be no bipartisan USICA (a $52 billion bill to support the U.S. semiconductor industry) as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill.”[1]

Two weeks later Sen. Manchin put the brakes on the Democrats’ reconciliation bill. Believing that the partisan bill was dead, McConnell and 16 of his Republican colleagues then joined with all 50 Democrats to pass the CHIPS semiconductor bill on July 27. Within hours Sens. Manchin and Schumer announced an agreement on a $740 billion reconciliation bill[2] that McConnell can’t derail.[3]

It was the kind of cunning maneuver McConnell is known for, but this time the Democrats were in the driver’s seat. McConnell has been sticking it to the Dems for way too long. Could this just be the beginning of the payback McConnell and his right-wing colleagues clearly deserve?

The Democrats are finally learning to play hardball. And, right in the nick of time. With the mid-term elections fast approaching, the Dems need to demonstrate to the voting public the stark differences between them and the GOP. Forcing Republicans to vote on popular legislation they oppose, especially if the bill ultimately fails, helps the Dems make the case that the public needs to vote more Democrats into office if they want these bills to pass.

For example, take the bill enacting the right to contraceptives. A few days ago, Senate Republicans blocked the bill,[4] despite the fact that 84% of likely Republican primary voters support safe access to contraceptives.[5] Almost all House Republicans voted against this bill as well.[6] And most of them also voted ‘no’ on a same-sex marriage bill and a couple of other popular social issues.[7]

Even more reprehensible, last week Senate Republicans rejected a bill to assist veterans suffering from exposure to toxic chemicals while on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-five Republican senators blocked the measure, even though they had voted in favor of it just one month earlier. Their about-face was in retaliation for being outmaneuvered by Schumer and Manchin in the CHIPS Act voting previously noted. “Getting even” with the Democrats apparently overrode their longstanding strong support for our troops. This may very well cost the GOP when America’s veterans go to the polls this fall.[8]

Meanwhile, as the Justice Department begins to zero in on Trump’s criminal culpability for the January 6th insurrection, a bright light will also shine on his Republican Congressional enablers. McConnell and his colleagues who have failed to stand up to Trump are, in fact, accomplices to Trump’s crimes. If Senate Republicans had voted with the Democrats to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial after he had instigated the attack on the Capitol, he would have been barred from running for president again under Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution.[9]

The House Select Committee’s hearings have made it clear to millions more Americans how Trump and his party conspired to overthrow the 2020 election. All the Republican Congresspeople who voted against certifying that election and supported Trump’s Big Lie should be held accountable in my view. But that will be up to their constituents in November. The voters may yet reject those who chose overthrowing our government rather than upholding the Constitution, which they had sworn to defend.[10]

Though the polls and history suggest this is the Republicans’ year, recent events have given the Democrats renewed hope for winning the mid-term elections. In addition to all the above, abortion rights, gun control and climate change provide further Democratic momentum. And I just bought gas for under $4/gal. So, inflation may cease to be the overriding issue it has been projected to be. Then Democrats may well declare the ultimate “Gotcha” on the night of November 8th. Wouldn’t that be something?!

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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://seekingalpha.com/news/3853443-mcconnell-looks-to-block-52b-in-chips-funding-over-spending-packages

[2] https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/07/joe-manchin-climate-bill-inflation-reduction-act.html

[3] https://www.businessinsider.com/mcconnell-assails-manchin-spending-deal-after-dems-strip-his-leverage-2022-7

[4] https://truthout.org/articles/republican-blocks-contraception-access-bill-from-coming-to-vote-in-senate/

[5] https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/07/19/poll-independent-womens-voice-republican-primary-voters-support-safe-access-birth-control-contraception/9921658251250/

[6] https://truthout.org/articles/republican-blocks-contraception-access-bill-from-coming-to-vote-in-senate/

[7] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/07/22/house-republican-votes-marriage-contraception/

[8] https://www.npr.org/2022/07/29/1114417097/veterans-burn-pit-bill-republican-senators

[9] https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/article-1/section-3/clause-7/#:~:text=Judgment%20in%20Cases%20of%20Impeachment,and%20Punishment%2C%20according%20to%20Law

[10] https://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Oath-of-Office/#:~:text=Today%2C%20Members%20of%20the%20House,following%20the%20official%20swearing%2Din.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Time for All of Us to Go the Extra Mile for Our Country

Time is running out for President Biden and the Democratic Congress to restore our faltering country. Trump and his Republican cohorts are hell-bent on destroying American democracy and creating a one-party autocracy, if and when they gain control of the federal government.[1]

Denying the reality of man-made climate change, Congressional Republicans reject the need to protect our planet from the disastrous effects of global warming.

Snubbing the idea that easy access to guns is a primary reason for America’s mass murders epidemic, most Republicans rebuff the need for universal background checks and other meaningful gun control measures.

Renouncing a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body, Republican officials forbid abortion, even in the case of a 10-year-old rape victim.

The list goes on and on.

Most forecasts have the Democrats losing the House and possibly the Senate in this fall’s elections. Even if they only lose their House majority, the Democrats ability to pass any sensible legislative measures over Republican obstruction will be practically impossible. If they lose the Senate too, all of Biden’s judicial and executive branch nominations will be in hostile Republican hands as well.

It’s time to ask ourselves how much do we care about the future of our country? If there ever was a time our country needed us to step up and go the extra mile, it’s now. Together, I believe we can turn this around.

Though the Biden administration is well aware of the extremely harsh consequences of a Republican takeover, it seems unable or unwilling to meet the moment with the full power of executive authority while it still has the opportunity. Some Democrats and environmental groups are urging Biden to immediately declare a climate emergency to unlock the powers of the National Emergency Act to pursue actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build a better green economy.[2]

In announcing a recent series of executive actions targeting the climate crisis, Biden stopped short of the national climate emergency declaration called for by the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 1,200 other groups. “The world’s burning up from California to Croatia, and right now Biden’s fighting fire with the trickle from a garden hose,” said Jean Su, Energy Justice program director at the Center for Biological Diversity.[3]

The same is true in the administration’s efforts to combat gun violence. Calling on Biden to declare a public health emergency, Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign, exclaimed, “This should be an all-government, all-hands-on-deck approach to solve this issue…”[4]

Lindsay Nichols of the gun control group Giffords has called for Biden to eliminate background check loopholes through executive action. Nichols also wants the Department of Justice to scale up its anti-gun trafficking strike forces while others are demanding a White House office dedicated to addressing gun violence.[5]

Regarding abortion rights, Biden signed an executive order “directing his health department to expand access to abortion pills, beef up enforcement of Obamacare’s birth control coverage mandate and stand up an army of pro bono lawyers to help defend people criminally charged for seeking or providing the procedure.” Still “many activists and abortion providers voiced frustration with the measure’s scope, vagueness and timing and worried it would do little to influence the impact on the ground of mounting state bans.”[6]

So, there’s two things we all need to do. First, contact your senators and representatives as well as the White House. Urge them to do more. Go the extra mile for climate change, gun control and abortion rights.

Second, work to get out the vote in November (https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/help-get-out-the-vote/; https://ballotpedia.org/Get_out_the_vote) for all those candidates who support strong measures to solve these urgent issues. Together we can make a difference.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/04/trump-republican-party-democracy

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/20/biden-announces-new-climate-change-programs-no-emergency-declaration.html

[3]https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/biden-stops-short-of-declaring-national-climate-emergency-2022-07-20/

[4] https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/3502639-biden-has-limited-options-but-there-are-some-things-he-can-do-on-guns/

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/08/biden-abortion-executive-order-00044647

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats, A Bird in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Bush

Democrats are furious that once again Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has thwarted their latest efforts to resurrect President Biden’s Build Back Better social agenda. Manchin wants to wait till September to see if inflation is slowing down before supporting clean energy and tax increases. At the same time, Manchin has said he would vote to lower prescription drug prices and extend Affordable Care Act funding now.[1]

Democrats should be very angry with Manchin after more than a year of trying to meet his everchanging demands. Still, here’s why Democrats should go along with the West Virginia senator and pass this much smaller bill now with all 50 of their senators aboard, and not wait for a potential larger measure later this year.

First, as the old saying goes, a “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”[2] Americans going to the polls this fall are more likely to remember what each of the two parties have done for them lately. The Democrats will be better off in November if they enact actual prescription drug and healthcare benefits this summer than if they hold out for a larger package that quite likely will not become law before the midterms. Most Republicans will not support even this smaller bill. Like inflation and the economy, drug prices and healthcare costs concern most voters.

Second, if a bill addressing climate change and other reforms does not pass before this year’s elections, Democrats will have another major issue to run on along with abortion rights, gun control, voting rights and saving democracy. Practically all Republicans are opposed to these initiatives and will vote against them. So, Democrats can tell the electorate that if they elect more of them to Congress this November, then they will be able to overcome the opposition and enact those measures next year.

And third, it is critical to get all members of Congress on the record concerning the cost of prescription drugs, healthcare and all these other important issues. Americans must be clear about where their representatives stand, and which party supports each of these critical matters:

Reducing healthcare costs                                                    Dem-yes         Rep-no

Universal background checks/gun safety                           Dem-yes         Rep-no

Ensuring the right of all citizens to vote                             Dem-yes         Rep-no

Guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose                            Dem-yes         Rep-no

Defending our country against autocracy and fascism      Dem-yes         Rep-no

Safeguarding our planet from climate change                   Dem-yes         Rep-no

Voters must also understand that Republicans reject these basic human rights so that Big Business and their wealthy donors can avoid paying their fair share in taxes and adhering to reasonable health, safety and democratic rules and regulations.

The choice is clear. The question is: Can the Democratic Party spell out in simple terms what is at stake in this fall’s elections so that all Americans will get it? And will we who already get it help spread the message? The future of our nation is in our hands.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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://news.yahoo.com/democrats-vent-fury-joe-manchin-205150433.html

[2] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/a%20bird%20in%20the%20hand%20is%20worth%20two%20in%20the%20bush

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will Republican State Legislatures Overrule the Results of the Next Presidential Election?

The current right-wing Supreme Court recently announced that in its next session it will hear the case of Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina case involving gerrymandered congressional district maps drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature. At the heart of this case is the radical doctrine labeled the “independent state legislature” theory.

Under the independent state legislature doctrine, state legislatures have absolute control over electoral votes in presidential elections. Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Laurence Tribe and Dennis Aftergut, counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy, explain that “according to this baseless notion, state legislatures can do whatever they want in manipulating elections no matter how extreme the results — principles of voter equality and fairness be damned, along with the state’s constitution, its governor and its courts.”[1]

In other words, if the Supreme Court adopts this theory, it could rule that a state legislature can disregard the vote of the people and award its state’s Electoral College votes to whomever it wishes. And four of the Court’s justices have already signaled support for this idea.[2] As Thom Hartmann recently observed, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution describes the state legislature’s role in presidential elections, but “doesn’t even once mention the popular vote or the will of the people:

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…”[3]

The operative word here is “Manner.” Under the questionable independent state legislature doctrine, a state legislature can employ whatever manner it so choses in determining which candidate receives its state’s electoral votes.

Tribe and Aftergut further argue that “Going into this November’s elections, 30 state legislatures are firmly in Republican hands, including in most of the battleground states that determine presidential election outcomes. Adopting the independent state legislature theory would amount to right-wing justices making up law to create an outcome of one-party rule.”[4]

That is why the 2022 elections for state legislators are vitally important. Some of those 30 Republican-controlled legislatures must be turned over to the Democrats in this November’s elections. If Americans who care about saving our democracy turn out in great number and elect Democratically controlled legislatures this fall in enough states to muster an Electoral College majority, then they would prevent the overturning of the 2024 presidential election under the independent state legislature doctrine.

Once again, it is up to us to spread the word and get out the vote! Democrats have so many critical issues supported by a clear majority of voters: abortion rights, climate change, gun control, voting rights and now saving democracy itself.

We must light a fire under all Americans who want our democracy to survive. We all must get involved and do everything we can to ensure that radical Republican state legislatures cannot overturn the will of the people in the 2024 presidential election.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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.yahoo.com/news/op-ed-supreme-court-poised-123049971.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/07/01/beware-supreme-court-laying-groundwork-pre-rig-2024-election

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/op-ed-supreme-court-poised-123049971.html