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.

 

 

 

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