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.

 

 

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: People Power Can Win the Election

With less than four months before the election, the time to get involved is now. Even if Joe Biden was not your first, second or even third choice for president (He wasn’t in my top three either.), you cannot let that get in your way of taking action to rescue our country.

This election is really not about Joe Biden and whether he’s progressive enough, or fill-in-the-blank enough. Rather, the election is about saving our country from four more years of Donald Trump’s disastrous presidency and a Mitch McConnell-controlled, Republican Senate. If we fail to do whatever we can to oust Trump and his cronies, thus allowing them to run the country for four more years, what’s left of our tattered democracy will be destroyed. Additionally, our rights as citizens will be greatly diminished, or worse.

Many of us feel hampered by the need to quarantine due to the coronavirus. Others are feeling helpless in the face of Trump’s pervasive corruption, lies and fear mongering. What can one person do in the midst of the pandemic that can really make a difference?

The two most powerful forces in politics are money and people. We watch in disgust as big bucks unduly influences acts of Congress on a routine basis and often policy decisions in the White House as well.  Nevertheless, together we had the people power that helped end the Vietnam War. Together, we had the people power that gave the LBGTQ community equal rights. When enough of us work together, the American people are very powerful. And, together, we have the power that can throw Trump and his gang of sycophants out of office in November.

Right now we can exercise our power from the comfort and safety of our own homes. And all we need is our phones. Here are a few suggestions of how you can use your phone to help win the election and save the country:

  1. Call your friends and neighbors. If they don’t already get it, explain to them how critical this election is to — our safety, our healthcare, our children’s future, the makeup of the Supreme Court, the air we breathe and the water we drink, our immigrant families, our way of life as Americans, and practically anything else we can imagine. Then, urge them to get involved in the elections. Ask them to go to https://votesaveamerica.com/ and volunteer.
  2. Pick a swing state where a Democratic challenger can beat a Senate Republican. If you live in New Mexico, for instance, Arizona or Colorado are two nearby states that have competitive Senate races that Democrats can win. We can help take control of the Senate away from Mitch McConnell and put it in the hands of responsible leadership. Contact a voting rights organization in states (for example, Arizona Advocacy Network at https://www.azadvocacy.org/) and volunteer to assist in their efforts to protect voting rights and defend clean elections.
  3. Contact the campaign of a Democratic Senate challenger in any state with a winnable race and offer to make phone calls advocating that voters support the Democratic candidate. Former astronaut Mark Kelly (https://markkelly.com/) has a very good chance in Arizona as does former Governor John Hickenlooper (https://hickenlooper.com/) in Colorado.

These are just a few of the ways you can help save our country. The more of us who jump in, the more powerful we are and the more likely we will win in November. So, let’s get to work. Our country needs us now!

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: RepresentUs Comes to New Mexico

On Tuesday, July 7, New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics (NMMOP) became RepresentUS New Mexico, a state chapter of the national organization RepresentUs. Over 70 people attended the virtual launch. Sen. Tom Udall, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Mayor Alan Webber all spoke adding their support to this momentous occasion.

RepresentUs is a national, non-partisan, nonprofit organization that “bring(s) together conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass powerful anti-corruption laws that stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections.” (See www.represent.us.)

We believe this shift is a natural fit since our newly revised mission and goals closely align with those of RepresentUs. It marks the beginning of a new era in our efforts to revive democracy that NMMOP has been championing since its inception four years ago. By taking on the mantle of RepresentUs New Mexico, we are placing the fight against political corruption front and center.

RepresentUs New Mexico will continue NMMOP’s work with American Promise to promote a constitutional amendment limiting the influence of money in politics. Additionally, joining RepresentUs will sharpen our focus on rooting out the political corruption that Big Money perpetuates as well as give us greater resources to accomplish this goal.

Clearly, this is a huge undertaking. But RepresentUs has a plan that is already working to end political corruption. It has drafted a model anti-corruption act that has been adopted in a number of states. Here’s a brief informative video that explains how it functions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTP4uvIFu5c#action=share.

RepresentUs New Mexico’s mission is to promote ethical government that adheres to the Constitution, respects the rule of law and serves the public good. Our goals are to:

  1. Enact a campaign finance amendment to the U.S. Constitution that establishes the government‘s authority to impose reasonable limits on campaign contributions and expenditures, and to require full disclosure and transparency.
  2. Enact Lobbying reform at the federal, state and local levels so that all of us are fairly represented, and the “revolving door” between government and wealthy organizations or individuals is closed.
  3. Eliminate the rigging (gerrymandering) of congressional and state representative districts so that every citizen is fairly and equally represented.
  4. Protect and enhance the right and ability to vote and ensure that every citizen’s vote counts equally.
  5. Enact anti-corruption, ethics and conflict-of-interest laws.
  6. Establish public financing for all federal, state and local elections.

For RepresentUs New Mexico to succeed, we need you. We must build a large and strong team of volunteers, supporters and directors to achieve our goals. If you are interested in joining our team and helping us lead the way to real political reform, please go to our website, nmmop.org, (which we are using until we finish building a new one for RepresentUs New Mexico). Please let us know you want to help by clicking on the “contact us” button at the top of the home page.

Imagine what we can accomplish together: a fairer, more just New Mexico and the revival of democracy in our country.

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: Do Your Part

Lately I’ve been struggling. Surely, I am not alone. Many others are wrestling with their consciences as well. On the one hand, I want to escape from the tsunami of chaos and pain that our country is enduring right now. At the same time, I feel a degree of guilt that I’m not doing enough to help alleviate the suffering and eliminate the injustices. Does this sound familiar?

I know that doing something, almost anything, that provides aid to those in need or supports the overhaul of our failing system can make a difference. If nothing else, it will make me feel better. If that’s not enough to motivate me to get off my butt and get involved, then my knowing that what I do will help relieve someone’s distress and/or advance the country toward a more equitable society should do it. If I’m not contributing in some way to the solution, then, as they say, I’m part of the problem.

While there’s an immense amount of work to be done to repair the harm and get the country on track, we cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand and become immobilized. Rather, I believe we need to pause, go within and examine ourselves, as well as the big picture.

Let’s ask ourselves: Where can I be most effective? What can I do that best utilizes my abilities and resources? And, how can I do it without getting burned out or despondent?

The truth is it’s up to all of us to abolish racism, reduce income inequality and fix our corrupt political system, among other pressing issues. Feeling guilty that I’m not doing enough only gets in my way of steping up and taking positive action. Making you feel guilty that you are not doing your part only isolates us from each other. We need to come together, work for the greater good and get the job done. Below are just a few of the many organizations which would love your assistance in accomplishing these goals.

And, as Jon Stewart poignantly observed in a recent New York Times Magazine interview,[1] we must address ‘why’ we are plagued with racism, police brutality, and a two-tiered society:

“(The) root of the problem is the society that we’ve created that contains this schism, and we don’t deal with it…

“It’s white people’s lack of being able to live up to the defining words of the birth of the country that is the problem.

“(The system) is incentivized for conflict as well as for corruption…which is money from large sources pouring into a place not to help, but to gain control…We’ve got a (expletive)-up permanent campaign system with too much money in it.

“What’s broken is the legislators’ ability to address the issues inherent in any society.”

Clearly, we have a number of systemic issues we must address as a nation if we are to begin to heal the country and move forward. Unfortunately, our current national leadership has no intention of doing this. Part of our job, then, is to install new leadership in Washington which understands these critical matters and has the courage and foresight to take them on.

At the same time, each of us must find the resolve to help stop the bleeding and rebuild our country. Here’s just a few suggestions of organizations you can contact to learn how you can help, or to obtain assistance for someone in need: New Mexico Government Assistance (https://www.newmexico.gov/i-need-assistance/), Black Lives Matter (https://blacklivesmatter.com/), New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics (http://nmmop.org/) which recently became RepresentUs New Mexico, Common Cause New Mexico (https://www.commoncause.org/new-mexico/) and Retake Our Democracy (https://retakeourdemocracy.org/).

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.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/15/magazine/jon-stewart-interview.html

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: What Are We Called To Do Now?

I’ve just finished reading One Blade of Glass, Henry Shukman’s Zen memoir. An associate Zen master, Shukman is the leader of the Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe. His book is helping me be more present in the moment.

The other day I was hiking in Mineral Hill near Las Vegas, NM. Sitting down to rest, I experienced a Zen moment in the midst of a pine forest. My body resonated with the slender trees swaying in the wind. I sensed a kinship with the majestic granite boulders surrounding me. Like the timeless forest, I was present and very alive.

I felt a million light years away from all the madness of our “civilized” world. The current state of our country can drive me crazy, if I let it. Being in nature allows me to maintain a more balanced perspective, a calm centeredness.  I find it helps to step away from the insanity of our planet, seemingly on the brink of disaster.

As much as I am grateful to escape from the chaos, I feel some responsibility for how we got here, as well as where we go next. Whether actively involved or passively watching on the sidelines, I believe we all have some accountability for the state of our country, and we each play a role in determining how and where the country shifts and turns going forward.

At the same time, letting go, being in a Zen mindset, allows me to be more fully immersed in life, from dancing with the pine trees in the forest to combating corruption in government. Being present and engaged, I empty my mind and become open to the all-encompassing present.

It may sound pretty simple, but it’s not. Our monkey minds are always thinking, always wanting something, so busy we have a hard time being present in the moment.

And look where it’s gotten us. Rioting and killing each other in the midst of a deadly pandemic, with an unstable, autocratic president in charge. A really terrible movie, which tragically has come to life.

Isn’t it time we turned the page? What if we were quiet and went within, as the Coronavirus has given us the opportunity to do, and took a real hard look at our present moment?

In our quiet, inward perspective, what are we being asked to do? What is our highest calling at this moment when so many Americans, as well as multitudes around the world, are suffering? How can we heal our country when it’s so deeply divided? What can we do to lift up those our nation has left behind? How can we overcome fear and rekindle love and respect in our country?

This is the present moment we find ourselves in. Can we take it all into our hearts and follow our inner wisdom? Do we have the courage to act now for the good of all the people?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Going Within

My small neighborhood community in Mineral Hill outside of Las Vegas, NM, recently decided “going within” one day a week would be a valuable endeavor in these trying times when we are constantly being bombarded by outside stimuli. After one day of “going within,” I knew we were on to something.

On Wednesday I spent the day “going within.” No phones, no computers, no TVs, no interaction with anyone except for essential communication with my partner. In the morning I took stock of where I am right now. I wrote in my journal that “I’m feeling pretty good about my life.” That includes my relationships with my partner, my daughter and good friends; my health, my new home, my community, and even this blog. As I wrote, I realized how grateful I am for all that is going well in my little world.

During my afternoon of introspection, I recognized how clever it was of mother nature to require humanity to take a time out. I noted in my journal that “this is an incredible opportunity for me, everyone who has stopped the routine he or she normally follows, and the country as a whole, to go within.”

The next day a good friend called. I learned that a mutual friend of ours had suddenly become seriously ill and was taken to the hospital. Apparently, he was near death.

It was a true wake-up call. How quickly our lives can change. I was reminded how important it is to live each day to its fullest.

This led me to ask: How are we doing as a society? Why have we gotten so divided? Why can’t we live together? Why are people so driven to get as much as they can for themselves with no or little concern for how the less fortunate among us who are hurting, hungry, some homeless, are getting by or not?

It’s time for us to take a long, hard look at ourselves and our country. How can we inspire our country to live up to its honored values and highest potential for all Americans? We are in the midst of a spiritual crisis, as well as a health crisis and an economic crisis. Our country is at a moral crossroads: Will we take the highway to a better life for all, or the low road where it’s each one out for one’s self? This is the question we will answer in the fall election. But we can’t wait. Now is the time we must pave the way for a brighter, more equitable society.

By going within during this slowdown period, we have the opportunity to re-evaluate our nation’s priorities. Since we don’t have the national leadership to provide support and guidance in these troubled times, it’s up to us to find our way together.

We have many ways to get involved. Unite America (https://www.uniteamerica.org/) is working to make voting secure and accessible during COVID-19. When We All Vote (https://www.whenweallvote.org/) is focused on expanding vote-by-mail, early voting and online voter registration. Here in New Mexico, we can work on issues to revive our democracy with New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics (https://nmmop.org), Retake Our Democracy (https://retakeourdemocracy.org/), Common Cause New Mexico (https://www.commoncause.org/new-mexico/), or a number of other non-profit organizations.

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.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Many Republicans Oppose Trump, Too

In last week’s blog I wrote that “nothing less than the survival of American democracy is at stake” in this year’s election. I noted that Prof. Peter Dreier of Occidental College believes the election is “about democracy vs. fascism.”

One reader retorted that my blog gave her a good laugh. Another thought Dreier’s remarks were just liberal bluster. Though most of you didn’t respond, I’m sure many agreed with Dreier’s dire warning.

Whether one is conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, it’s hard to understand how one cannot take what’s happening in our country seriously.  Armed militia recently marched on the Michigan statehouse protesting the governor’s coronavirus-related restrictions.[1] Pres. Trump not only rejects Congress’s power of oversight,[2]  but he also refuses to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to save American lives.[3] And, just yesterday Trump fired another independent executive branch watchdog who found fault with his administration.[4]

Trump has absolutely failed to protect Americans against the coronavirus. Many health professionals fighting the virus still do not have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need. While Trump praises healthcare workers, his failure to fully employ the DPA has resulted in “shortages across the country…so severe that a number of hospitals are trying to come up with ways to innovate using the same PPE more than once — a practice that was unheard of in the United States prior to the coronavirus crisis.”[5] Still, it’s mind-boggling that this pandemic which has affected 100,000s of Americans, and killing 1000s of people daily, has become a political football.[6]

Yet, Democrats are not the only ones fed up with Trump. Conservative attorney George Conway, husband of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, and Rick Wilson, former Republican consultant, are leading a group of Republicans called the Lincoln Project which aims to make Trump a one-term president.

The Lincoln Project as well as many other conservatives firmly believe Trump is a danger to the nation.[7] In fact, nearly a quarter of Republicans think that the party should nominate someone other than Trump as their 2020 presidential nominee.[8] In addition, “highly respected and renowned conservative political columnists like Jennifer Rubin, George Will, Kathleen Parker, Jonah Goldberg and others have long been writing about his incompetence, egotism, ignorance of foreign policy, dishonesty, cruelty and overall lack of integrity. Even the very conservative Wall Street Journal is publishing editorials and columns against his incompetence and lies.”[9]

Regardless of this Republican rebellion, Trump still has a strong following. Fortunately for the country, they are in the minority. But that is not enough reason to believe Trump will lose in November.

Trump is a very clever salesman, an unrelenting con artist. He still has powerful people like Mitch McConnell and wealthy donors like Sheldon Adelson supporting him. And, most Republicans will do just about anything to win.

So, it is up to us, the American people, to save our country from the ruin that a second Trump term will surely bring. We must do everything we can to get everyone registered to vote and then follow through by voting, demand the right to mail-in voting and do whatever else we can to ensure an overwhelming defeat of a president who doesn’t care about the American people or our country, but only cares about 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.yahoo.com/news/michigan-militia-puts-armed-protest-043435517.html

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/us/trump-signing-statement-coronavirus.html

[3] https://doyle.house.gov/media/press-releases/congressman-doyle-demands-president-trump-use-defense-production-act-save

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/pompeo-fires-state-dept-watchdog-024122794.html

[5] https://truthout.org/articles/trump-says-doctors-and-nurses-running-into-death-is-beautiful-thing-to-see/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=104d96e5-c966-4ea1-9126-6d44080cd4b2

[6] https://thehill.com/homenews/coronavirus-report/497529-governors-warn-covid-relief-is-becoming-a-political-football

[7] https://www.c-span.org/video/?471995-5/washington-journal-rick-wilson-discusses-campaign-2020

[8] https://www.yahoo.com/news/nearly-quarter-likely-republican-voters-173919559.html

[9] https://www.wiscnews.com/baraboonewsrepublic/opinion/columnists/nash-column-trumps-finally-worn-out-welcome-with-many-in-gop/article_6dc396e4-5c95-540a-8aa7-7d033c2e945c.html

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Our Democracy’s Last Chance

Recently Donald Trump proclaimed: “When somebody’s president of the United States, the authority is total.”

While he got pushback from both Republicans and Democrats who renounced his authoritarian stance,[1] Trump continues to conduct the office of the presidency without any real restraints. With conservative Republicans in charge of the Senate and the U.S. Supreme Court, the other two branches of government have done practically nothing to impede Trump’s autocratic ways.

Earlier this month, Trump fired intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson because he had “lost confidence” in him. Still, it was hard to miss Trump’s true reason: Atkinson’s finding that a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s Ukraine actions, which resulted in his impeachment, were both “credible” and “urgent.”[2]

A few days later, Trump removed Glenn Fine, the independent watchdog responsible for ensuring the proper administration of the relief act. By getting rid of Fine, Trump eliminated scrutiny of how his administration would be using our taxpayer funds.[3] According to the Washington Post, Fine’s dismissal appears to be part of a larger endeavor to purge oversight of Trump and his cohorts.[4] Trump’s attempt to eliminate independent oversight is just the latest example of his increasing autocratic control over the federal government, as well as Congress’s failure to maintain any real checks on his executive power.

Both the President and Congress are responsible for the demise of our democracy. And, while the Republican Party has supported Trump’s authoritarian takeover of our government, the Democrats, though not nearly as reckless as the Republicans, must share some of the blame for the failure of our government to represent us. Afterall, Big Money and Wall Street clearly dominate both the Democratic and Republican parties. That control laid the foundation for an American plutocracy, which ultimately has led to the authoritarian Trump regime.

By now it should be clear that Americans cannot rely on any party or person to save our democracy from being dismantled by Trump and the Republicans. Only we, the people, have the power and ability to do that. But do we have the resolve and perseverance to turn back the authoritarian tyranny confronting us and build a fairer and more just society?

It is a huge task. We only have six months until the November election. There is no time to waste. Nor, can we withdraw from the election battle or indulge in recriminations against the Democrats for nominating Joe Biden rather than our preferred candidate. The stakes are too high.

Regardless of your main concern, be it climate change, immigration reform, affordable healthcare, income inequality, or some other, if Trump and the Republicans who control the Senate are not defeated in November, your cause will be lost. And, we know that the Trump mob will use every trick available to win re-election.  So, we must focus our energy and resources on what is most important to ensure winning the election. Here are five key strategies:

  1. A massive voter registration campaign
  2. Alerting the public to the extreme threat a second Trump term poses
  3. A concerted effort to expand early voting
  4. Establishment of the universal right to mail-in voting, and
  5. Protecting the U.S. Postal Service from being defunded or privatized

The only way to ensure victory in November is through a huge voter turnout, so large that Trump and the Republicans cannot steal or contest the outcome. Now is the time to act. Get involved in a voters’ rights group like the Voting Rights Alliance at https://www.votingrightsalliance.org/ or the Election Protection coalition at https://866ourvote.org/. Together we can, and will, save our democracy.

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.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/04/14/trump-claim-total-authority-claim-10th-amendment/2988013001/

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/04/trump-atkinson-fired/

[3] https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/07/trump-removes-independent-watchdog-for-coronavirus-funds-upending-oversight-panel-171943

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/14/trump-is-waging-war-our-inspectors-general-congress-needs-choose-side/