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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin

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

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


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

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

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

[4] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can We Learn from the Wildfires?

Friday afternoon my friend John and I helped another friend evacuate his home to escape the wildfires raging in northern New Mexico. As I carried a few of the precious belongings he wished to save from the house to his SUV, I saw the billowing dark smoke ominously rising in the distant sky.

We had no idea how long it would take before the fire might engulf his home. But he could not wait to find out. He knew he must leave while he still could. It was truly a harrowing experience.

Later that evening another friend called John. She said the smoke at her home was making it difficult to breathe. Could she and her son seek refuge at John’s place? Their car packed with their most valued possessions, they arrived at John’s around 10 p.m. that night. Tragically, they had to leave their horses behind.

Both John’s home and my home are 25 miles or more west of the wildfires. Since the winds are blowing northeasterly, we do not appear to be in any danger. But those winds are wicked. While assisting our friend’s evacuation, gusts must have reached 60 mph at times. There’s no guarantee they won’t turn around and put us in harm’s way.

All this makes me stop in my tracks and rethink our current state. What could be more valued than a good friend willing to drop everything and come to your rescue at a perilous time? What could be more precious than a supportive community working together to save people’s homes from a deadly fire?

Yet, our political culture tends to distance us from neighbors with contrary views. Rather than seeking common ground to work on together, we try to overcome those who see things differently than we do. Just think how much better off our country would be if Democrats and Republicans, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, could work together for the common good of all Americans.

It can and does happen. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act which promotes online competition has broad bipartisan support. The bill would prevent the biggest platforms, such as Google and Facebook, from giving themselves an advantage over smaller competitors. The GOP joined the Democrats in supporting this legislation which prohibits big tech firms like Amazon from giving its in-house branded products a leg-up over other brands when someone is shopping on its site. Instead of backing their big business allies as they usually do, Republicans put the interests of the American people in fair competition first.[1]

But fires are not only erupting in our forests. In state houses across the country as well as in the halls of Congress, our politicians are throwing verbal fireballs at each other. If we are to rescue our democracy from these overheated partisan flames, this needs to stop. We need to find a way to reach well-meaning Americans with divergent views to lower the temperature and work together for the common good without sacrificing our values. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act is a step in the right direction.

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.wired.com/story/american-innovation-choice-online-act-antitrust-google-amazon/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Through the Darkness, Signs of Positive Change on the Horizon

We live in extremely challenging times. A great many of us are overwhelmed by what’s taking place in our country and in the world. Yet, as dark as it may seem, some encouraging signs of positive change are on the horizon.

The Ukrainian people in the face of a massive attack on their country are showing amazing courage and fortitude. An inspiration to all of us. “Ukrainian forces (have) continued to halt significant Russian battlefield gains,” according to recent reports.[1] At the same time, Russian protests against the war are steadily intensifying. More than 5,000 anti-war demonstrators were arrested in 69 Russian cities last Sunday alone.[2] Western nations have united to impose crippling sanctions against Russia in an effort to pressure Putin to end the war.[3] And military expert, retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman even predicted that “the Russian invasion into Ukraine marked the ‘beginning of the end’ for Russian President Vladimir Putin as casualties from the war grow.”[4]

On the home front, COVID cases are declining significantly.[5] Almost the entire country is open for business. The U.S. economy added a record 6.4 million new jobs in 2021.[6] And Congress finally passed a $1.5 trillion bipartisan budget, including support for Ukraine and climate protection.[7]

One of the most surprising signs of progress is in the redistricting battles occurring across the country. Republican gerrymandering was supposed to give the GOP a distinct, unfair advantage in November’s Congressional elections. But Democrats are winning redistricting court cases in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. According to CNN, “they now have a chance to come out better than expected, and perhaps even benefit from the new maps overall.”[8] With President Biden’s poll numbers finally rising, the Democrats just might have a chance of holding onto their majority in Congress next fall.[9]

Finally, slowly but surely, the January 6th insurrectionists are being brought to justice. Earlier this month, a federal jury convicted Guy Wesley Reffitt on the very serious charge of obstructing Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election. At the same time, the Justice Department announced the indictment of the former Proud Boys leader, Enrique Tarrio, on charges of conspiring with several of his top lieutenants to plan and launch the assault on the Capitol.[10]

Just this week Attorney General Merrick Garland stressed that “almost every U.S. attorney’s office in the country is working on this matter…People are working every day, 24/7, and are fully aware of how important this is. This had to do with the interference with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. And it doesn’t get more important than that.[11]

Meanwhile, the House Select committee investigating the insurrection, recently said in a court filing that it had gathered sufficient evidence to conclude that former President Trump and some of his allies might have conspired to commit fraud and obstruction by misleading Americans about the outcome of the 2020 election and attempting to overturn the result.[12]

We are moving forward. Truly positive change is on the horizon.

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.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/10/russia-ukraine-war-military-dispatch-march-10-2022; https://us.yahoo.com/news/ukraines-army-vastly-outgunned-inflicts-211426968.html

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/10/anti-war-protests-intensify-in-russia-along-with-police-crackdown

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/05/world/europe/russia-ukraine-invasion-sanctions.html

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/vindman-beginning-end-putin-171123293.html

[5] https://www.axios.com/covid-cases-continue-steep-decline-in-us-420ab059-19df-4d4c-9052-178fe17aeb3e.html

[6] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-07/u-s-sees-record-job-growth-in-2021-after-millions-lost-in-2020#:~:text=The%20U.S.%20economy%20added%20a,Labor%20Department%20data%20released%20Friday.

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/10/us/politics/senate-spending-bill-approved.html

[8] https://edition.cnn.com/2022/03/08/politics/democrats-congressional-redistricing-fights-ctzn/index.html

[9] https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2022-03-08/bidens-approval-rises-in-crisis

[10] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/08/us/politics/guy-reffitt-jan-6-trial.html

[11] https://www.npr.org/2022/03/10/1085016383/garland-says-the-jan-6-investigation-wont-end-until-everyone-is-held-to-account

[12] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/08/us/politics/guy-reffitt-jan-6-trial.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Trump’s Cult of Personality Still Rising

For some time now, I have thought the current conditions in the United States are fairly comparable to the 1930s in Germany. Some of you reading this, like millions of other Americans, probably believe that what occurred there could not happen here. Regardless of what you believe, I urge you to read Robert Kagan’s recent opinion piece[1] in the Washington Post and think again.

Kagan argues that in all likelihood Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in 2024. And, as the future nominee, “Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way.” He concludes that a “Trump victory is likely to mean at least the temporary suspension of American democracy as we have known it.”[2]

Kagan is no raging left-wing radical. He is a co-founder of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. During the 2016 presidential election, Kagan left the Republican Party due to the party’s nomination of Trump and endorsed the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Like Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s, Kagan sees Trump’s increasing grip on the Republican Party as a cult of personality: “…for millions of Americans, Trump himself is the response to their fears and resentments. This is a stronger bond between leader and followers than anything seen before in U.S. political movements.”[3]

Trump enjoys unquestioning loyalty from his followers. Kagan notes that “They believe the U.S. government and society have been captured by socialists, minority groups and sexual deviants. They see the Republican Party establishment as corrupt and weak — “losers,” to use Trump’s word…They view Trump as strong and defiant, willing to take on the establishment, Democrats, RINOs, liberal media, antifa, the Squad, Big Tech and the “Mitch McConnell Republicans.” His charismatic leadership has given millions of Americans a feeling of purpose and empowerment, a new sense of identity…Trump speaks without embarrassment on behalf of an aggrieved segment of Americans, not exclusively White, who feel they have been taking it on the chin for too long….”[4]

Perhaps most striking is the majority of the January 6th insurrectionists “were middle-class and middle-aged; 40 percent were business owners or white-collar workers. They came mostly from purple, not red, counties. Most Trump supporters are good parents, good neighbors and solid members of their communities.”[5]

Like 1930s Germans, most Americans have refused to take a fascist takeover of this country seriously enough to try to prevent it. Kagan explains “the political and intellectual establishments in both parties have been underestimating Trump since he emerged on the scene in 2015.”[6]

Many others claim they understand what’s going on, but there is nothing they can do about it. Tragically, they are frozen in their fear and complacency. While the majority of us oppose the Trump authoritarian movement, we are ignoring the horrible consequences it will reign over us if we fail to actively resist and overcome it.

Meanwhile, the Democrats ‘can’t see the forest for the trees.’ While they continue to quarrel amongst themselves over the size of the proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better budget,[7] their failure to deliver for the American people helps make Trump’s autocratic case that “I alone can fix it.”[8]

Democrats must come together and pass the Freedom to Vote Act as well. It protects all Americans against Republican voter suppression laws and expands voters’ rights. Americans must have clear evidence that the Democrats have their backs. Without the quick passage and implementation of these two bills Trump’s cult of personality may soon rival Hitler’s Nazi Movement.

We cannot allow this to happen. Get out in the streets. March on Washington. We must act now 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-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/23/robert-kagan-constitutional-crisis/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/23/us/politics/democrats-budget-infrastructure.html

[8] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/trump-rnc-speech-alone-fix-it/492557/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Where Will America’s Current State of Crisis Lead?

America is in crisis. From the ban on mandatory COVID masks and the ugly withdrawal from Afghanistan to the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion ruling and the attacks on our voting rights, the United States is anything but united. In fact, we are at a dangerous inflection point.

On the one hand, the country is confronted by a rising tide of fascism. Mark Green, the first public advocate for New York City and author (with Ralph Nader) of Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lawbreaking and Lies Betray All, recently wrote in the Washington Spectator, “If openly cheating to install permanent minority rule doesn’t spell out “fascism,” it’s hard to see what would.” Green explains:

Trump “closely followed the playbooks of Mussolini, Salazar, Putin, and Bolsonaro: propaganda packaged as reality, extreme nationalism, delegitimization of the media, erosion of public confidence in elections, glorification of the military, self-enrichment and nepotism, relentless lying and systematic corruption, incitement to violence, Nuremberg-like rallies, a creed-of-greed over the common good, admiration of fellow dictators, scapegoating immigrants, vilification of “the other,” and the provoking of constant crises that “I alone can fix.”[1]

While Trump lost the 2020 election, he and his extremist minions are not going away. The Center for the Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR) addresses the magnitude of the threat Trumpism poses:

“Even if Donald Trump disappears from the stage forever, this isn’t over. More than a hundred congressional leaders have contested a fair and democratic election with falsehoods and conspiracy theories…Fascism and conspiratorial thinking have seeped into the minds of millions of Americans. If we compare Mussolini’s March on Rome and Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch to Donald Trump’s Insurrection we should be reminded that the former examples were only the beginning of years of street violence. We can’t address this problem until we call it by its name: fascism.”[2]

On the other hand, President Biden and most Democrats are proposing a progressive agenda that would significantly improve the lives of most Americans. Their $3.5 trillion social infrastructure budget and the For the People Act mandating election reforms would create a more egalitarian America.[3]

While many Democrats are aware of the ominous threat presented by the radical right, they are not directly combatting it. Plus, Congressional Democrats can’t seem to come together to enact the policies and programs noted above that could effectively thwart the march to an authoritarian state.

As Green and CARR emphasize, we must acknowledge that what occurred in Germany and Italy in the 1930s is happening in our country today. Then, hopefully, we will be able to marshal the will and the resources to defeat American fascism before it is too late.

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://washingtonspectator.org/none-dare-call-it-fascism-why-not/

[2] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/countering-radical-right/american-fascism/

[3] https://www.reuters.com/world/us/after-setback-us-house-democrats-near-deal-biden-agenda-2021-08-24/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats Must Make a Grand Bargain

Congressional Democrats are deadlocked. House moderates want to bring the Senate-passed bipartisan, $1 trillion infrastructure bill to a vote now.[1] Speaker Pelosi and House progressives, on the other hand, insist that the Senate must approve a much larger $3.5 trillion budget resolution and send it to the House before the House will take up the bipartisan Senate bill.[2] It’s their way of trying to ensure that the bigger transformational measure makes it over the finish line as well.

But Democratic House moderates and some in the Senate believe the two bills must be dealt with separately. Sen. Joe Manchin (D.-W.Va.) recently asserted:

It would send a terrible message to the American people if this bipartisan bill is held hostage. I urge my colleagues in the House to move swiftly to get this once in a generation legislation to the President’s desk for his signature.[3]

In addition, these same Democrats, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az), feel that the $3.5 trillion is just too enormous.[4]

At the same time, the Senate is still grappling with voting rights. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) top priority when the Senate reconvenes in September is to construct a voting rights bill that all 50 Democrats will not only agree on but will also provide for a filibuster carve-out to pass without any Republican support.[5]

The Democrats fate in the 2022 elections likely depends on their ability to pass all three measures. Given all their differing perspectives, can the Democrats find a grand bargain that both their Establishment and left wings can agree on?

It’s a tall order, for sure, but here’s a possible solution:

First, Speaker Pelosi has to agree to bring up the bipartisan Senate bill for a standalone vote this week. This approach might garner some moderate Republican support in the House.[6] To avoid losing progressive backing in the House for such a vote, Senate Democrats would also consent to negotiate a final budget package between $3.0 and $3.5 trillion and pass it through reconciliation by September 20.

Second, House Democrats would agree to take up the Senate budget package and pass their version with a $3.0 trillion floor before the end of the fiscal year, September 30th. A joint committee would then work out the differences in early October for a final passage by mid-October. Providing a quick deadline would help keep progressives onboard.

Third and finally, all 50 Senate Democrats would settle on a voting rights bill to protect all Americans right to vote with a filibuster carve-out, pass it, and send it to the House for its approval within 30 days. Final passage of that bill would occur by early October.

Time is running out. Republican controlled state legislatures are already stacking the deck against the Democrats with new voter suppression legislation. America’s infrastructure is in dire need of rebuilding. An agreement along the lines outlined above would stop violations of our right to vote as well as provide a major boost to the economy and important social demands. But it will require all Democrats to compromise a little for the greater good of the nation and their party.

If the Democrats want to meet the needs of the American people and retain their majorities in both houses of Congress in next year’s elections, they must quickly find a consensus path forward.

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/deeply-divided-house-democrats-battle-165019605.html; https://www.politico.com/news/2021/08/23/pelosi-budget-package-showdown-506589

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.politico.com/news/2021/08/23/sinema-35t-spending-bill-506583

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-elections-senate-elections-bills-d417ab8e6db2726eb79a8f2ce28baeca

[6] https://www.politico.com/news/2021/08/23/mccarthy-bipartisan-infrastructure-bill-506465

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Time Running Out to Save Our Voting Rights

Like many Americans, I am thoroughly frustrated and disgusted with the state of our politics. It’s not just all about Trump’s corruption anymore. Finally, a bipartisan infrastructure bill looks like it’s going to make it over the goal line. But wait, even though 18 Republican senators support the legislation, a few GOP members want to drag the process out further,[1] taking away precious time from other pressing Senate business before its August break.

They don’t care. In fact, that’s their game plan. They couldn’t stop the legislation, so they’ll delay its passage to put roadblocks up against other bills, like the much larger $3.5 trillion partisan infrastructure package, they oppose. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense. They can’t prevent the bipartisan bill, but if they “play their cards right,” maybe they can stop the larger legislation. The needs of their states and the country be damned!

The Democrats can play the same game. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D -CA) says the House will not vote on the bipartisan infrastructure act until the Senate passes and sends the House the larger bill as well.[2] On the one hand, it makes perfect sense as a means of pressuring Senate Democrats to get the job done. On the other hand, isn’t it better to take the $1 trillion now, get started on repairing our crumbling infrastructure, put people back to work and, at the same time, keep fighting for approval of the larger package?

All of this political maneuvering over infrastructure has pushed the critical issue of voting rights onto the back burner. This certainly seems to have been part of the Republican calculus all along. Keep the focus on roads and bridges while GOP state legislatures decimate voting rights across the country.[3] Meanwhile, they’ll work with moderate Democratic senators like Manchin and Sinema to maintain the filibuster and prevent the Senate from passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.[4]

By the time the Senate completes its work on the two infrastructure bills and takes it summer recess, it just may be too late to stop the Republican attack on our voting rights from succeeding. The results of the 2020 Census data will be released in a few days on August 12.[5] This will allow state legislatures to begin the process of redistricting using gerrymandering to give them the probability of winning a greater number of Congressional seats than they would otherwise be entitled. Since Republicans control more state legislatures, they will most likely be the winners in the redistricting process.

Unless…the Senate Democrats can pass the voting rights protection bills before Republican state legislatures enact their gerrymandered redistricting boundaries. Given what we’ve seen so far, the chanced of that happening are slim.

However, there is a bit of hope. A small group of Democratic senators has been working behind the scenes to modify the For the People Act, S.1, and save our democracy. A vote on this revised bill is expected this week before the Senate takes its August break.[6]

Still, Republicans are dead set against any federal legislation that would override the states’ right to control their elections. Their resistance to S.1 supports GOP state legislatures’ efforts to restrict Americans’ right to vote. Like the original version of S.1, the modified bill will almost certainly not receive the 60 votes needed to override a Republican filibuster.

Yet, some Democratic senators are determined to secure our voting rights. As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) explained, “…we’re going to keep at it until we get it done.”[7] Sen. Jeff Markley, (D-Ore.) added, “We’re very aware that action has to be extremely urgent when we return” in September.[8]

Will the Senate Democrats act swiftly enough? And will they get all their colleagues, including Manchin and Sinema, onboard to prevent a filibuster from derailing this critical legislation? The answer to these questions may very well determine the fate of 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.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/8/us-senators-labour-on-1-trillion-infrastructure-package;

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/08/07/senate-bipartisan-infrastructure-deal-502752

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/pelosi-again-says-no-vote-on-bipartisan-infrastructure-deal-2021-7

[3] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-july-2021

[4] https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/15/joe-manchin-kyrsten-sinema-filibuster-481568

[5] https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2021/news-conference-2020-census-redistricting-data.html

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-democrats-eye-new-vote-on-voting-rights-before-summer-break-as-party-faces-pressure-to-act/2021/08/05/8501dbde-f5ea-11eb-9068-bf463c8c74de_story.html

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Political Leaders Refuse to Face the Truth

While Democratic senators spent precious weeks haggling with their Republican colleagues over a bipartisan infrastructure bill that should have been a no-brainer, GOP-controlled state legislatures have been undermining our democracy in broad daylight. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “17 states have enacted 28 new laws restricting voting rights so far this year, with dozens more expected to pass in Republican-led legislatures.”[1]

If that isn’t bad enough, Democrats from President Biden to Sen. Manchin (D-WV) are complicit in this demolition of democracy by failing to provide vital support for the only measures that can prevent it. Rather than calling for abolishing the filibuster or a carve out for voting rights to enable passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voter Advancement Act, the White House is banking on “out organizing” the Republicans’ voter suppression laws and gerrymandering efforts in the 2022 election.[2] Michael Li, the Brennan Center’s senior counsel for its Democracy Program, called this strategy “clueless and depressing.”[3]

If you favor the Democrats or just free and fair elections, you should be truly disheartened by all this. But then, Republicans are not satisfied with just rigging the voting process to give them an unfair advantage in future elections. They also want to rewrite history, so Americans won’t hold the black mark of the Trump inspired January 6th insurrection against them come the 2022 election.

One member of the “law and order” party called the attack on the Capitol “a normal tourist visit.”[4] Other Republicans described the Trump supported rioters as “patriotic political prisoners” and blamed Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the violence, as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) himself did.[5]

Rather than stand up for the Capitol police who protected them from the violent protesters, the great majority of Congressional Republicans have sacrificed the truth to protect their corrupt boss, Donald Trump, as well as to coverup their own disgraceful behavior.

We are living in a country where the leaders of both major political parties are unwilling to face the truth and act accordingly in the best interests of our nation. Biden and his lieutenants refuse to accept the fact that the only way to have free and fair elections is to abolish or reform the filibuster. This may well cost the Democrats the 2022 elections and the rest of us our democracy.

At the same time, Republican leadership refuses to admit that Trump and his loyal followers attempted to overthrow our government and should be held accountable. And this failure could result in the Republicans losing next year’s election as well. A recent poll in a red Tennessee district indicated that pro-democracy Republicans (34% in the poll) stated “there was no chance that they would consider a candidate who voted to block the certification of the presidential election after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.”[6] One hundred and forty-seven Republicans, eight senators and 139 representatives, voted not to certify President Biden’s election.[7]  Their re-election is at-risk.

Both parties seem to have lost their way and the ability to do the right thing. It is up to us, the American people, to set them straight. But can we, and how, before it is too late?

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/news/2021/07/09/dnc-strategy-denounced-clueless-and-depressing-amid-gop-assault-voting-rights

[2] https://www.alternet.org/2021/07/joe-biden/

[3] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/07/09/dnc-strategy-denounced-clueless-and-depressing-amid-gop-assault-voting-rights

[4] https://news.yahoo.com/house-republican-defends-normal-tourist-visit-comment-about-jan-6-insurrection-162631530.html

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/31/us/politics/jan-6-capitol-riot-pelosi.html

[6] https://newrepublic.com/article/162996/democrats-2022-house-liz-cheney-republicans

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/07/us/elections/electoral-college-biden-objectors.html