The Struggle for the Soul of America: A Call to Action

In the late 1960’s, I protested against the Vietnam War. Along with millions of other Americans, I marched in New York and Washington against the War, and lobbied my congressman and senators to terminate it. Together we made a difference and helped end the war in southeast Asia.

Since then, I’ve participated in many protests including against nuclear weapons and the Iraq War, as well as for Black Lives Matter and women’s rights. While these were all critically important causes, they all lacked one vital factor that made the anti-Vietnam War protest so effective: every American had a personal stake in ending the war.

While these other critical issues personally impacted large segments of the population, none of them had the potential to affect everyone like Vietnam did. We had a draft back then. So, anyone of draft age, a son, a father, a friend or neighbor, could have been called up and sent to fight a war that more and more Americans came to oppose as it dragged on for years.

Also, for the first time, the war was in our faces. The lead story on the nightly news was the War. We saw the body bags as they arrived home. We saw distraught parents, sobbing widows, bewildered children. The war and its toll were inescapable.

Today we are in a different kind of war. It’s not halfway around the world, or the lead story on television every night. But, like Vietnam, it does have the potential to dramatically affect all of our lives. Unfortunately, while that is true, most Americans have not been able to grasp that reality in the way a deadly war did.

Today the War Against Democracy is raging in our country. And while, if we lose, it will drastically affect our lives, most of us are not engaged in the fight.

We read about the anti-democratic laws restricting our voting rights being enacted across the country and shake our heads. We are furious with the continuing Republican obstruction in Congress, where they won’t even investigate the attack on our government. We listen in disbelief as General Flynn calls for a coup to re-install Trump in the White House. Yet, for the most part, we go on with our lives doing little, if anything, to stop this madness.

I think to myself, if this were France, millions of people would be out in the streets. There would be a nationwide strike halting business as usual until something was done to ensure the government survives. Here, we write a check, call our congressperson, debate the issues, and go on about our daily lives. We allow Trump and his right-wing cohorts to get all the attention even though less than a third of the country supports him.[1] We are the silent majority.

Why are we silent? First, we feel helpless and/or hopeless. We are so overwhelmed with bad news to the point where we cannot imagine what to do. Second, many of us are too comfortable. We don’t immediately feel the consequences of what is happening. We are too removed from the struggle and the oppression to be compelled to act until it is too late. And third, we don’t believe it can happen in the United States. Autocratic coups are what happens in third world countries, but not here.

The January 6th insurrection demonstrated it can happen here. And it is personal. We can lose our right to choose who governs our country. Yes, it’s true that in many ways our right to choose has already been narrowed down unfairly or practically eliminated by power brokers. Still, if we fail to prevent the destruction of what’s left of our democracy, our ability to work together to rebuild it will be severely crippled, if not destroyed entirely.

Make no mistake. Our country is in crisis. We are on the brink of disaster. It’s time to organize. Our power is in our numbers. Take to the streets. Call for a nationwide strike and/or boycott. If you want to save our democracy, the time to act 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 (now RepresentUs New Mexico), 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/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/after-100-days-out-office-trump-s-support-softens-nbc-n1265457

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Are We in a Moment of Transcendence?

Last Tuesday, I celebrated my 76th birthday at Faywood Hot Springs south of Silver City, New Mexico. That morning my partner and I stepped outside our cozy cabin and a royal blue peacock appeared less than 20 feet away. We both felt great joy seeing this majestic creature with its amazing train of gorgeous feathers that had to be over six feet long.

The peacock is a symbol of transcendence and freedom. Encountering a peacock is said to be an omen of going beyond one’s personal boundaries and being “ready to shine out.” Feeling that my life is in a time of major transition, I sensed the appearance of this peacock — on my birthday, no less — was a sign for me to get out of my comfort zone and shift into a brighter, freer state of being. In the coming weeks and months, I believe how I might do this will become clearer.

Then, on Thursday evening, I watched President Biden address a joint session of Congress on national TV. As I listened to Biden, he appeared to have received a transcendent signal similar to the one I had gotten from the peacock. He was moving beyond his previous moderate political boundaries and imploring the American people to support bold, progressive proposals on everything from the economy and infrastructure to education and climate change:

“America is moving. Moving forward. And we can’t stop now. We’re in a great inflection point in history. We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better.”[1]

In essence, Biden was saying it’s time for the nation to abandon prior theories like “trickle down” economics that had never really worked anyway. Rather, he asserted that the country needed to turn the corner to a more inclusive, optimistic future built from the bottom up.

As a nation, we are finally emerging from the shadows of a debilitating pandemic, a devastating recession, and a draconian administration. While we have not eradicated COVID, the government has made great strides in controlling it with over 230 million vaccinations since Biden took office.[2] In addition, the economy is quickly recovering with 6.4 percent growth in the first quarter of the year fueled by government aid and declining viral cases.[3] Yet, we still have a long way to go to realize the vision of “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

Unfortunately, there are those among us who do not want justice for all or the right to vote protected for everyone. As Biden reminded us in his address:

And if we are to truly restore the soul of America – we need to protect the sacred right to vote. More people voted in the last presidential election than any time in American history – in the middle of one of the worst pandemics ever.
 
That should be celebrated. Instead, it’s being attacked. Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send them to my desk right away.[4]

This is America’s moment of truth. Yes, we survived the January 6th attack on our democracy. But if we are to truly transcend racial bigotry and economic injustice, and forge a new era based on fairness and compassion, we must overcome the hate, ignorance and greed that runs rampant in our country. Biden’s proposals are showing us the way. The question is: Do the Senate and the American people have the wisdom and courage to follow his lead?

Bruce Berlin, JD


[1] https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/04/28/us/biden-speech-congress

[2] https://www.reuters.com/world/us/bidens-first-100-days-covid-19-jobs-foreign-policy-immigration-guns-dogs-2021-04-27/

[3] https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/29/economy-accelerates-last-quarter-484993

[4] https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgxwLtkVTzhlmHssBtdsGmFqLvdWQ

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Corporate America Joins the Battle for Voters’ Rights

It’s a cloudy, overcast day here at my home in the country outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico. While many of us have gotten vaccinated and are moving on with our lives, another momentous storm is sweeping across the country.

Yes, we do seem to be slowly beating back the COVID pandemic. In fact, Dr. Fauci recently indicated that “we would approach some degree of normality as we get towards the end of the summer and into the fall, and a considerable degree of normality” by next winter.[1]  I hope he’s right.

Yet, what’s happening today in America’s corporate boardrooms is anything but normal. As I noted in my blog of April 9 (https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/), Republican lawmakers throughout the nation are doing whatever they can to gain and maintain political power. In 47 states they are making it more difficult for people of color to vote, people much more likely to support Democrats.[2]

Now, a new voice has suddenly entered the fight to protect our voting rights. Hundreds of U.S. corporations and executives, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, G.M., Starbucks and Warren Buffett, recently signed on to a two-page ad in the New York Times and the Washington Post calling for the defense of Americans’ voting rights.[3]

And, in the irony of all ironies, the Republicans are up in arms. Here’s how Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, who knows how to talk out of both sides of his mouth better than any other politician, responded to the corporate support for voters’ rights:

“My warning to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” before unbelievably adding, “I’m not talking about political contributions.”[4]

This is the same Sen. McConnell who praised the 2010 Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that money is speech protected by the First Amendment and corporations are just like people who, therefore, have the right to finance election spending:

“For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process.” He hailed the decision as “an important step” in “restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups.”[5]

Of course, both parties take loads of campaign contributions from corporate interests.[6] However, the Democrats are not the hypocrites that McConnell and his Republican colleagues are. They don’t accept huge donations and then tell their corporate donors to stay out of politics.

But here’s where you come in. Tell these corporate contributors to put their money where their mouths are and back up their speech with effective action.

Do the following to help strengthen corporate efforts in the fight for voters’ rights:

  1.  Check out the NYT ad at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/business/dealbook/ceos-voting-rights.html
  2. Write down the names of companies that you do business with or from whom you buy their products.
  3. Write/email those companies. Tell them you are a customer of theirs and you support their stance on voting rights. Write to as many companies as you can.
  4. Urge them not to donate to any candidate or elected official (state or federal) who supports state or federal efforts to restrict voting rights in any way, or who was involved in the January 6 insurrection.
  5. Insist that they only donate to candidates and elected officials (state or federal) who support HR1/S1 (the For the People Act) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
  6. Contact your friends and family and ask them to take the above steps as well.

Together, with Corporate America on the side of protecting everyone’s right to vote and our demanding they withhold funding of Republicans working to restrict voting rights, we can be a powerful force in the struggle to save our democracy.

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/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fauci-breakthrough-infection-covid-vaccine-b1830303.html

[2] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-march-2021?ms=gad_voting%20laws_513381296572_8626214133_121430490955&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6-SDBhCMARIsAGbI7Ugdzt2p9ECuO9L4gAq34U9LPZvOTc2tbxNqs02ZMCZQmaEGpr038xAaAmYbEALw_wcB; https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-restrictive-voting-requirements-target-minorities

[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-14/corporate-america-unites-for-voting-rights-without-naming-plan; https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/business/ceos-corporate-america-voting-rights.html

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/07/mitch-mcconnell-georgia-citizens-united/

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://www.opensecrets.org/elections-overview/biggest-donors

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will Loser Trump Still Get His Way?

Though Donald Trump lost his bid for re-election, he will not go quietly into the night. While some of his Republican colleagues are finally advising him to quit claiming phony massive voter fraud and concede the election, they fail to get the true nature of Trump’s devious game.

It doesn’t faze Trump that over 30 of his lawsuits alleging voter fraud or other election misconduct have been dismissed,[1] some even by Trump-appointed judges. As I noted in a prior blog, Trump craves the limelight. (“All Trump, All the Time,” 11/14/20, https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/2020/11/14/the-struggle-for-the-soul-of-america-all-trump-all-the-time/)

In this case, the spotlight is critical. His ongoing public battles keep Trump’s base engaged. His legal setbacks make him look like a wounded underdog and rile up his devoted legions even more. In fact, a growing number of them are readying for armed combat.[2] Whether or not Trump incites his loyal mob to violence, the threat of civil unrest could provide him with some bargaining power with prosecutors after he leaves office.[3] 

Plus, we know Trump’s clamoring about a stolen election will not let up once Biden takes the oath of office. He’ll do anything he can to make Biden’s presidency less than effective. His former rival, Hillary Clinton, predicts Trump “will immediately announce he is running again in 2024 when he leaves the White House” and have a “media outlet where he’s going to be peddling his stuff every day.”[4]

At the same time, Trump’s continued legal battles have afforded him a rich source of revenue. Since the election he has raised over $200 million to support his cause.[5] In his ever-cunning fashion, Trump has been funneling the money into a “Legal Defense Fund” which provides that the first 75 percent of every contribution would go to a new political action committee, Save America, that could fund “his political activities going forward, including staff and travel,” even personal expenses.[6] Grifter Trump is at it once again.

So, the question remains: Will there ever be a day of reckoning for Donald J. Trump? Biden has said that as president he will not interfere with the Justice Department’s determination whether to prosecute Trump. And Trump may even try to pardon himself before leaving office. Whether a president can pardon himself is an open question which the Supreme Court, with three Trump appointees, may ultimately have to decide.

If Trump goes free, he could run again in 2024. Even if he doesn’t avoid prosecution, another popular demagogue may one day challenge American democracy. Our country needs strong guardrails to protect against that possibility. We, the people must demand that the Biden Administration build them.

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.nytimes.com/2020/11/25/us/elections/trump-campaign-lawsuits.html

[2] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8928515/Trump-supporters-wield-ARs-wave-MAGA-flags-protests-Presidents-claim-election-stolen.html

[3] https://www.ajc.com/news/trump-faces-greater-risk-of-prosecution-after-leaving-office/AM6QDFHSPBERPCQEOYQD23FSFQ/

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/hillary-clinton-says-trump-not-212416731.html

[5]https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/03/politics/trump-fundraising-election-day/index.html;

[6] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: A Time for Serious Soul-Searching

While the country dodged an authoritarian bullet by electing Joe Biden as our next president, we are far from out of the woods. This is truly a time for some deep national reflection.

Our country is deadlocked. Almost half of America believes the election was stolen and Donald Trump should be president for another four years. Despite the administration’s massive corruption and self-dealing,[1] over 73 million Americans voted to give Trump a second term. While the president has lost over 30 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election,[2] a great many Americans continue to stand by him.

At the same time, more than 260,000 Americans have died from COVID 19 while Trump has refused to employ the immense powers of the federal government to curb the spread of the virus. As he continues to ignore this public health crisis, millions of Trump’s supporters still believe the virus is a hoax.

Meanwhile, as deaths from the virus continue to mount, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is attempting to undermine Biden’s future efforts to control the pandemic. Mnuchin is placing $455 billion in unspent coronavirus relief funds into an account that requires further congressional authorization to access, even though Congress had previously allocated the funds for emergency relief programs back in March.[3]

Plus, the Senate and House won’t put their differences aside for the good of the country. Once again, they have failed to pass a bill to help the millions who are suffering from the virus or have lost their incomes. Cities and states are also overwhelmed and desperately need federal assistance to keep their public health and other essential services operating.

Why is it so difficult for the country to come together to defeat this terrible common enemy, COVID 19? What don’t we understand? Why are we failing?

Political Science Professor Katherine Cramer at the University of Wisconsin points to a key factor underlying this dilemma. She explains:

There is a deep well of people in this country…who are sure the system is not working for them….(My book explores) the feelings of resentment many rural people in Wisconsin felt toward the urban elite. When Donald Trump won in 2016, partly by tapping into this resentment…I became aware just how surprised many in the cultural elite were about the challenges facing rural communities and the fact that many people living in these places feel they are not getting their fair share of attention, resources or respect. The shock at the closeness of the 2020 race suggests we are still unaware of the depth of this resentment.…What is the infrastructure that allows the hardships of so many to remain invisible?[4]

Mark Bauerlein, professor emeritus of English at Emory University, put it this way:

Ordinary Americans looked at the elite zones of academia, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington itself, and saw a bunch of self-serving, not very competent individuals sitting pretty, who had enriched themselves and let the rest of America slide,…putting the rank and file down for years.

(Trump) pinpointed them as the problem—the reason factories and small stores had closed, unemployment was bad, and PC culture had cast them as human debris. And millions cheered. …The outburst was a long time coming. Trump gave it an outlet, and the scorn for men and women at the top of our country is now widespread and frank. It’s not going to pass any time soon.[5]

John Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center, offered this solution to the problem:

(U)nless we address the root economic causes of many American voters’ anger and social alienation, we will remain a divided nation, with many remaining susceptible to the message of demagogues like Donald Trump.[6]

But the questions remain: Will Biden and his new Administration really get it? Will the Republicans continue to block progress in addressing these root economic causes?

Are they up to the challenge? To succeed, Sen. Bernie Sanders believes that “Democrats in Congress and the incoming Biden administration ‘must have the courage to take on the powerful special interests who have been at war with the working class of this country for decades.’”[7]

Will they? It is up to us to make sure they do, or we will lose what’s left of our representative democracy to the next populist authoritarian who comes along.

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.republicreport.org/2020/ten-reasons-trump-is-the-most-corrupt-president-in-u-s-history/

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/25/us/elections/trump-campaign-lawsuits.html

[3] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/11/25/flat-out-sabotage-already-underway-mnuchin-tries-put-455-billion-covid-funds-out

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-showed-us-america-005554050.html

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/11/25/prevent-another-right-wing-authoritarian-even-worse-trump-sanders-says-democrats

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Everything Must Be on the Table

If Joe Biden and the Democrats win in November, they must resolve to have everything on the table in order to fix our broken political system. Both our electoral and policymaking processes are fundamentally flawed when the desires of the majority of American voters are continually crushed by the minority.

The United States is a democratic republic. But there is nothing democratic about our nation when rampant corrupting influences control our political system: voter suppression, gerrymandering, corporate lobbying, the Electoral College and huge campaign donations, much of which is dark money the sources of which are intentionally hidden from public scrutiny.

Earlier this week, Biden indicated that he was not a fan of adding seats to the Supreme Court, i.e. court packing. At the same time, he noted that the Republicans rush to put the very conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett on the Court in the midst of a presidential election is a form of court packing.[1] While the Democrats don’t have the votes to block her nomination, they can, and they must, rebalance the Court as well as the entire federal judiciary, if Biden wins and they take back the Senate.

The truth is that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans have been packing the federal judiciary with conservative judges ever since 2014 when they gained the majority in the Senate. During the last two years of the Obama Administration, McConnell blocked Obama’s 105 judicial appointments including Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. As a result:

“…Trump and McConnell have gotten over 200 federal judges and two Supreme Court Justices through the Senate, meaning over a quarter of all federal judges have been packed into our court system by Trump and virtually 100% of them have been straight and white, the overwhelming majority men.”[2]

But, it’s not just the federal courts that the Republicans have hijacked. Last February Majority Leader McConnell admitted he had 395 bills in his office passed by the House of Representatives that the Senate would not consider. And, 80% of the bills McConnell is now blocking from Senate consideration have bipartisan support.[3]

If Biden wins the election, which is looking likely, and the Democrats take control of the Senate, McConnell’s stranglehold on the legislative process and the federal judiciary will still continue as long as the filibuster remains in place. Once again, the will of the majority will be denied. Just like it has been in two of the last five presidential elections when the president-elect did not win the popular vote.[4]

An overwhelming Democratic victory next month is our only chance of restoring some measure of fairness, racial justice, compassion and common decency in our country. Despite Trump’s extensive efforts to steal the election, I believe that Biden’s chances of winning the election and the Democrats’ taking control of the Senate are good.

The best path to derailing Trump’s scams and ensuring a victory for democracy is a blue tidal wave on Election Day that will make it virtually impossible for Trump to muster the forces needed to overturn the results. The Democrats’ momentum is building. It’s up to us to make sure that it crests on Election Day. So, make a plan and go vote!

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.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/12/its-time-unpack-court.

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/08/27/rnc-mitch-mcconnell-has-been-key-confidante-donald-trump/5650153002/.

[4] https://time.com/5579161/presidents-elected-electoral-college/.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can Biden Turn On Turned Off Voters?

Here’s my main concern regarding Tuesday’s debate. It was so ugly that many undecided and sometimes voters will conclude the election is not worth their time, and just not vote. This plays right into Trump’s campaign strategy. Low voter turnout will help Trump declare victory on election night before all the Democratic mail-in votes are counted.           

If I were advising Biden, here’s what I would have him say to the those turned off voters:

“My fellow Americans. First, I want to say I’m sorry that you were exposed to such a disgraceful presidential debate on Tuesday evening. I tried to maintain a decent, respectful level of discourse with the president, but he continually interrupted me and the moderator, Chris Wallace. The president dragged the discussion down to a new low for presidential debates. Frankly, I was embarrassed for him.

“Since it was nearly impossible for me to get my message across while the president repeatedly talked over me, spewing out lies and distortions, let me now clearly state what I was trying to tell you during the debate:

“I care about the lives of all Americans. In order to get our country back on track, we must have a national plan to beat COVID 19, which has already killed over 200,000 of us. My plan will provide the resources, financial and material, which every state, red and blue alike, needs to safely re-open schools and businesses. We cannot fully restore our economy and get everyone back to work until we have this pandemic under control.

Next, we need to rebuild our economy. That means a living wage for all Americans in jobs that are safe for our workers and our environment. My economic plan will create millions of good-paying jobs in renewable energy, clean manufacturing and affordable healthcare.

“We also need to ensure that all Americans have affordable healthcare. To accomplish that, we must expand the Affordable Care Act to include a public option to bring healthcare costs down and help those Americans who can’t afford private health insurance. We must continue to protect all Americans with pre-existing conditions as well.

“And, we must protect our environment. Global warming is real. If we don’t take strong measures to fight it, the health of the entire planet, and all life, will be endangered. So, I will bring our nation back into the Paris Accords and take further steps to combat climate change.

Next, we need to restructure our political system, so that all Americans are fairly represented. Our current system gives two senators representing a state with 600,000 people the same voting power as the two senators from a state with 20 or 40 million people. The will of the majority is regularly suppressed by Republican senators that represent 15 million people less than their Democratic colleagues.[1]

“A similar situation exists in the Supreme Court where a majority of the justices have been appointed by presidents who were elected by a minority of the electorate. My administration will propose a plan where the majority will not continually be overruled by the minority, whether the issue is healthcare, climate change, energy policy, immigration, income inequality, racial justice or whatever.

“In addition, we need to eliminate the undue influence of Big Money in our political system so that all Americans have equal access to their representatives. That means closing the revolving door between Congress and corporate lobbyists as well as regulating campaign contributions and eliminating super PACs and dark money.

“Finally, we need a voters’ bill of rights guaranteeing all Americans the right to vote and ensuring the integrity of our election system. Your vote should not be under attack from foreign intruders, white supremacists or your own elected representatives.

“This election is critical to safeguarding our democracy. I respectfully ask for your support and urge you to vote to elect a Democratic Senate.

Thank you all, and may God bless America.”

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.motherjones.com/politics/2020/01/gop-senators-representing-a-minority-of-americans-are-preventing-a-fair-impeachment-trial/.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Political Moneyball, A Winning Ticket

I get it. People are angry, afraid, even depressed, about what’s happening in our country and with the election. I have those feelings at times as well.  As we are living in extremely challenging times, these emotions are completely understandable.

What I have a hard time with is how people are responding to their feelings about what’s happening in our country. More times than I can count, I’ve heard, “I don’t know what to do.”

When your house is on fire, you don’t allow your fear or despair to immobilize you. You take action despite your scared or depressing feelings. Well, our country is on fire and we must act now, regardless of our feelings, in order to save our democracy before it burns to the ground.

I have learned through the experts and my own experience that an effective antidote to fear and anxiety is action. Doing something rather than hanging out with my fearful thoughts can take me out of my downward spiral and toward a more positive feeling about the future and my role in creating it.[1]

So, how can we collectively apply this remedy to our anxiety regarding the current election? A central source of our fear is Trump winning in November, destroying American democracy, and having four more years to establish an authoritarian government in our country.

While there are many actions we can take to help Biden and the Democrats win in November, I want to focus on one that may be the most effective. It’s a new take on “Moneyball.” Moneyball was originally a strategy developed to win in major league baseball by using smart statistics.  In political terms, it’s used to identify undervalued candidates as a way of leveraging the power of small donors and/or a relatively small number of voters.[2] In other words, where can we get the most bang for our buck?

Sam Wang is a Princeton neuroscientist who also founded the Princeton Election Consortium. Using Political Moneyball, he explains that a close race in a small state is where a small donation or a small number of voters could have the greatest impact on an election outcome.

For example, Prof. Wang compares the race in Kentucky between Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Amy McGrath with the Senate race in Montana between incumbent Republican Steve Daines and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. McConnell is a well-funded incumbent who appears to have a large lead in a solid red state. Donating $100 to McGrath’s campaign is not likely to make much of a difference.

On the other hand, Bullock and Daines are in a tight race in a low population state. Since campaigning is less expensive in Montana, your $50 or $100 donation will go further there in convincing a small number of voters to provide the “tipping-point support” for Bullock, putting him in the Senate. Not only is that outcome more likely than a McGrath win, but it also provides a better chance of the Democrats regaining the majority in the Senate.[3]

Prof. Wang’s Moneyball 2020 approach also indicates where our efforts in the presidential race would have the most impact. Those states are Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina. Other Senate races where a little will go a long way are in Alaska, South Carolina and Kansas.[4]

Here’s our chance to truly make a difference. Volunteer to make phone calls or give a donation in these states’ presidential races and Senate campaigns. We don’t have to be a Super PAC to have a real impact. Political Moneyball may just be our winning ticket.

Bruce Berlin, J.D

[1] https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-sz-001&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=sz&p=evidence+that+antidote+to+fear+is+action#id=8&vid=e0d1fe1bfa24ceb52155ae570bb88c19&action=view

[2] https://www.rawstory.com/2020/08/dont-waste-your-money-trying-to-beat-mitch-mcconnell-play-democracy-moneyball-instead/

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://election.princeton.edu/2020/08/09/whats-more-important-than-a-presidential-probability/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Depressing, But We Will Prevail

 Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently revealed that she is suffering from “some form of low-grade depression” due to the coronavirus lockdown, racial strife in the U.S., and the Trump administration. I have felt that way lately, too. No doubt many other Americans, perhaps you as well, are having similar feelings.[1]

Part of me would like to run away, escape from this madness we’re in. But, I know that would not solve anything. And, oddly enough, there’s nowhere to go. The rest of the world doesn’t want Americans bringing this deadly virus to their shores, so most countries have closed their borders to us.

How ironic! Not that long ago the United States was the envy of the world. We were the home of the free, the land of opportunity. Now we are restricted to our homes for the most part. Traveling to other countries is out of the question. The rest of the world takes pity on us, the richest, most powerful country on the planet lacks the will to get the coronavirus under control. Our nation has nearly five million cases of the virus, with over 159,000 deaths as of August 6.[2] While we are only 4% of the world’s population, we have over 22% of the deaths from the virus.[3]

I’m getting more depressed. And, that’s without mentioning the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs. Or, a president who would rather spend the weekend playing golf than working to save the lives of tens of thousands of his fellow citizens. Or, a Republican-controlled Senate that refuses to spend $3.6 billion of our tax dollars to protect Americans’ right to vote, the lifeblood of our democracy. And on and on.

But here’s the good news. We can overcome all this adversity as well as any lingering depression. This November election can be an uplifting turning point. We can banish Trump and his cronies and set the country on a brighter, more humane path.

I believe it will all come down to who has the stronger will. Remember Star Wars where Luke Skywalker out dueled Darth Vader because The Force, a powerful desire for good to prevail, was with him. While Joe Biden may not be Luke Skywalker, he is our only hope of beating Trump, who clearly resembles Darth Vader and the Dark Side.

The question is do we, the people, have that powerful desire to turn our country away from the Dark Side. If we all protect the election process and turn out to vote in unprecedented numbers, we will prevail.

The great majority of Americans are good people who want the best for their families, their communities and their country. We know that Trump and his enablers are not what’s best for us or our country. That knowing can generate The Force — the will, the courage and the positive energy — to do whatever needs to be done to take back our country for the sake of our children and the planet.

It’s crunch time. Let’s get to work.

Here’s how to get started. Contact one of the following organizations or another you know that is doing similar work:

Bruce Berlin

With editing by Margaret Lubalin

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.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/08/06/899785192/michelle-obama-says-shes-dealing-with-low-grade-depression-amid-quarantine

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/gma/coronavirus-updates-us-records-over-52-000-cases-092351911–abc-news-topstories.html

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/06/us/united-states-failure-coronavirus.html

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Election Is About Us!

While anti-Trump sentiment is strong and growing, that by itself may not be enough to defeat the president in November. The Democrats could lose again unless Biden gives Americans a good reason to go to the polls and VOTE FOR him. And, there are more than a few good reasons.

Biden’s job is to convince the American people that voting for him is a vote for thwarting authoritarian government and overhauling American democracy.  That if you support his campaign and vote for him, you will be voting not only for decency, fairness and strong, knowledge-based leadership, but also a government that cares about, serves and respects all people.

A Biden administration will enforce equal justice under the law. It will support affordable healthcare for all, economic fairness and reforming policing practices. Plus, so much more regarding what concerns most Americans.

Our job is to protect the election process and get out the vote. We need to do whatever we can to ensure everyone who wants to vote can, and that all votes are counted. We also need to produce a massive voter turnout that leaves no doubt who will be America’s next president. And, it’s time we all got to work.

In last week’s post I noted that the election is about saving our “tattered democracy” and “our rights as citizens.” In fact, the election is about us. How much do we Americans really value our democracy? And, how hard are we willing to work from now until election day to protect our country from authoritarian rule?

If you agree, let’s get to work. We all need to get involved now before it’s too late.

Here are just a few of the many organizations already engaged in saving our democracy and voters’ rights issues. Reach out to one or more of them. If we all volunteered some of our time and made a donation, we could make a huge difference.

  • Vote Save America (https://votesaveamerica.com/) provides information about where you can volunteer, donate, and get involved where you are needed most.
  • Voter Protection Corps (https://www.voter-protection.org/) works to ensure that all eligible voters can register, vote and have their votes counted.
  • Arizona Advocacy Network (https://www.azadvocacy.org/) is fighting against voter suppression tactics and advocating to modernize outdated election rules that keep citizens from voting. It supports meaningful voting rights, ballot access, and political decisions driven by voters instead of money. Arizona is an important swing state.
  • Fair Fight (https://fairfight.com) promotes fair elections in Georgia – a battleground state – and around the country, encourages voter participation in elections, and educates voters about elections and their voting rights.

Encourage your friends, neighbors and others to help out as well. Pass this blog post onto them.

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.