The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can We Stop Social Media From Undermining Our Democracy?

If you haven’t seen Netflix’s docudrama, The Social Dilemma, I highly recommend you put it at the top of your “to-watch” list. It’s a deep dive into how Facebook, Google and other social media manipulate its users (us) and what that is doing to American society.

I am a fairly regular consumer of social media. I mainly use it to promote my book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, and to publish the blog you are now reading. After watching The Social Dilemma, my thinking about social media has shifted dramatically. While it provides some real benefits, I now understand that these huge companies have become an unbridled threat to our democracy.

The film brings to light that people are highly likely to believe false information on the internet, which, in turn, affects their off-screen behavior. For instance, 64% of the people in extremist groups on Facebook joined these groups because they were unknowingly seduced by information social media feeds them. By using algorithms, mathematical formulas derived from what we choose to look at on the internet, social media sends us computer messages and images that reinforce ideas and products that we have previously viewed. Algorithms often push content that ignites outrage and hate, and also amplifies biases within the data collected from our computer usage.[1]

According to an MIT study, false information on Twitter spreads six times faster than true information because people have a greater emotional reaction to fake news.[2] That’s how former President Trump was able to quickly spread his Big Lie about the election to millions of social media users. This enabled Trump to draw thousands of his outraged followers to Washington on January 6 who were willing to storm the Capitol and attempt to overthrow the government.

The Social Dilemma provides evidence of just how destructive social media is to American society in general as well. Social psychologist and New York University professor Jonathan Haidt notes a “gigantic increase” in depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide among pre-teen and teenage children, Gen Z, who have been on social media since mid-primary school.[3]

Haidt says that the numbers of teenage girls admitted to hospital for self-harm including cutting were stable until around 2011-13, but in the U.S. these have risen 62 per cent for 15-19-year-olds and 189 per cent for pre-teen girls; “that is horrifying…We’ve seen the same pattern with suicide,” he said. In older teen girls it’s up 70 per cent compared with the first decade of this century and “in pre-teen girls, who had very low rates [previously] it’s up 151 per cent and that pattern points to social media.”[4]

Jeff Orlowski, director of The Social Dilemma, says he feels afraid of political misinformation and concerned about “the breakdown of truth.” If people can’t agree on the truth, he notes, that puts society in jeopardy and makes it possible for democracy to fail.[5]

“We have a machine whose main currency is outrage and anger,” Orlowski concludes, “And if this is the trajectory that we’re being programmed down, if we are constantly being fed the things that made us outraged and angry — and that is our life experience and that’s what we see on a daily basis — how does it not end” in civil war or autocratic rule?[6]

Orlowski hopes his film can serve as a wakeup call that shocks the public into demanding the reforming of social media. We, the people need to lobby Congress to regulate social media just as public utilities like our electric companies are required to meet certain standards.

Rather than manipulating the public for nefarious purposes, social media must serve the public good. If Americans do not heed The Social Dilemma’s wakeup call, we do so at our own peril.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.                                                                                        

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

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


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Social_Dilemma

[2] Ibid

[3] https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/it-makes-you-want-to-throw-your-phone-in-the-bin-the-film-turning-teens-off-social-media-20200926-p55zhi.html

[4] Ibid

  [5] https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/09/18/social-dilemma-director

[6] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Critical Fight to Save Our Democracy

As vital as the COVID relief bill is to the health and wellbeing of the American people, so are the For the People Act[1] and the 2021 Voting Rights Act[2] to the survival of our democracy. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported:

REPUBLICANS’ WAR on democracy is gaining steam. Unable to persuade a majority of voters to vote for their presidential standard-bearer or Senate candidates in some key races, many have decided that instead of trying to compete in a free and fair vote they will make the contest less free and less fair. Republican state lawmakers are introducing voter-suppression bills all over the country.[3]

On February 8th, the Brennan Center for Justice published its report on Voting Rights. It detailed how serious this war on democracy really is:

In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced well over four times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to roughly this time last year. Thirty-three states have introduced, pre-filed, or carried over 165 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020).[4]

Fortunately, the pro-democracy forces are not idly sitting back and watching these attacks on our right to vote: “To date, thirty-seven states have introduced, pre-filed, or carried over 541 bills to expand voting access (dwarfing the 188 expansive bills that were filed in twenty-nine states as of February 3, 2020). Notably 125 such bills were introduced in New York and New Jersey” alone.[5]

Nevertheless, the odds are against the pro-democracy factions. Republicans control more state legislatures than Democrats do. Those legislatures are now working to gerrymander more than enough Congressional districts to take back the House of Representatives in 2022.[6] If they prevail, the Biden administration will be obstructed by a hostile House from doing almost anything to help the American people. Just like the Republicans did to the Obama administration when they regained the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

This is why enacting HR 1 and the Voting Rights Act this year is critical. These new laws would take redistricting out of the hands of partisan legislatures. HB 1 requires states to adopt independent redistricting commissions for the purpose of drawing Congressional districts.[7]

Voters’ rights would be protected under these new statutes as well. HB 1 prohibits states from restricting an individual’s ability to vote by mail. The bill would also mandate that states make online voter registration available and establish 15 consecutive days of early voting for at least 10 hours a day, among numerous other provisions making it easier and safer to vote.[8]

We must do our part to ensure our rights as voters are protected. Write, call or visit your senators and Congresspeople. Urge them to do whatever it takes to pass these laws before it’s too late. That may mean all 50 Democrats voting to eliminate or alter the filibuster, which the Republicans will surely try to use to block these bills.

Still, the Democrats have an “ace in the hole.” A simple majority of the Senate could “carve out” election-reform legislation from the filibuster. That is the Democrats could vote to exempt any bill that expands voting rights from being subject to a filibuster, which Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has already proposed. That would preserve the filibuster for all other legislation while allowing Democrats to pass fundamental democratic reforms at a time when democracy has come under attack from the right.[9]

If the Democrats want to save our country from oppressive, minority rule for the foreseeable future, this is the step they must take. The survival of our democracy hangs in the balance.

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://democracyreform-sarbanes.house.gov/sites/democracyreform.house.gov/files/SIMPLE-SECTION-BY-SE CTION_H.R.-1_FINAL.pdf

[2]https://www.leahy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/John%20Lewis%20Voting%20Rights%20Advancement%20Act%20one%20pager.pdf

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/georgia-voter-suppression-bills-hr-1/2021/02/24/0c283eba-76e7-11eb-9537-496158cc5fd9_story.html

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

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/02/democrats-need-hr-1-and-new-vra-protect-party/617987/

[7] https://democracyreform-sarbanes.house.gov/sites/democracyreform.house.gov/files/SIMPLE-SECTION-BY-SECTION_H.R.-1_FINAL.pdf

[8] Ibid.

[9] https://www.vox.com/22260164/filibuster-senate-fix-reform-joe-manchin-kyrsten-sinema-cloture-mitch-mcconnell; https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/01/democrats-biggest-decision-nuking-filibuster/617854/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: To Save Our Democracy, Defeat Republican Racism

Racism is alive and well in America. And it’s what keeps the Republican Party ticking. Donald Trump, the party’s racist-in-chief, has made sure of that.

But Trump did not initiate GOP racism. In his new book, It Was All a Lie, Stuart Stevens, a life-long Republican operative, illustrates how racism has long been a central theme in the modern GOP playbook.[1] From Goldwater’s opposition to desegregation to Reagan’s “welfare queens” references to Trump’s command to the white supremacists Proud Boys “to stand back and stand by,” Republicans have rallied their supporters with racist rhetoric for decades.[2]

The Republican Party is all about power at any price. Since playing the race card works in America, it has had no problem using racism to build support and gain power. Consequently, over 80% of Republicans are white compared to less than 60% of Democrats, according to the Pew Research Center.[3]

At the same time, the GOP is actually losing a considerable number of its establishment-type followers due to Trump’s lies about the election and his promoting the insurrection against Congress.[4] As a result, the party is now dominated by Trump’s racist base. Anyone who doesn’t fall in line, like the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial, is censured or labeled a traitor by the party.[5]

Consequently, the GOP has become a racist, immoral cult, that employs anti-democratic tactics to gain control of government. And many red states are now implementing more voter suppression measures targeted at minorities to consolidate power:

“Republicans have introduced some 165 proposals in 33 states this year that would make voting more difficult. These include imposing new voter-identification laws, rolling back access to mail balloting and early-voting periods, and adding new hurdles to the voter-registration process.”[6]

In addition, red state legislatures are using gerrymandering to further solidify their clout. Taking the redistricting process out of the hands of partisan legislatures has never been more critical.

Ron Brownstein’s recent article in The Atlantic (a must read) clarifies just how urgent this matter is and what needs to be done about it. He explains that Republicans “will likely return to power and control politics for the next decade or more,” if the Democratic Congress fails to pass HR 1 and a new Voting Rights Act (VRA) this year:

“Given the likelihood that, absent federal intervention, red states will enact severe gerrymanders and new obstacles to voting, the decision about whether to end the Senate filibuster to pass these two bills could shape the future of American politics more than anything else Democrats do in the next two years.”[7]

Congress should have the COVID relief bill on President Biden’s desk before the end of March. Once that is done, HR 1, the For the People Act,[8] and a strong VRA must be enacted into law before Congress’s August recess. In order to ensure government of, by and for the people, we all must put maximum pressure on Congress and the Biden administration in the coming months. Write or call your senators and representatives and the White House. Attend their town hall meetings this spring. Let’s make our voices heard loud and clear.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/02/it-was-all-a-lie-review-trump-republican-party

[2] https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-09-29/asked-to-condemn-white-supremacists-trump-tells-proud-boys-hate-group-to-stand-by

[3] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/10/26/what-the-2020-electorate-looks-like-by-party-race-and-ethnicity-age-education-and-religion/

[4] https://www.bostonherald.com/2021/01/13/republican-voters-leaving-party-after-pro-trump-mob-stormed-capitol/

[5] https://www.voanews.com/usa/us-politics/republican-groups-censure-party-lawmakers-who-voted-impeach-convict-trump

[6] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/02/democrats-need-hr-1-and-new-vra-protect-party/617987/

[7] Ibid.

[8] https://www.commoncause.org/our-work/constitution-courts-and-democracy-issues/for-the-people-act/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Imperative of a Second Trump Impeachment

With only days left in the Trump presidency many Republicans argued that the process to impeach Trump without hearings was being rushed. They also contended that impeaching Trump would only further divide the country when it was really time for national unity.

Could the Republicans be more hypocritical? First, they had no problem rushing through the Senate Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s life-time appointment to the Supreme Court right before Trump was defeated in the November election? Then, after the election, they spent two months dividing the country by backing Trump’s Big Lie that the election was rigged despite losing 61 court cases challenging the results of the election.[1]

The Republicans two-faced positions reinforce why it was imperative for the House of Representatives to impeach Trump again, as well as why the Senate must now convict him.

The most obvious reason for this second impeachment is Trump openly and methodically incited insurrection against our government. If such a heinous crime were to go unpunished simply because of a lack of time, it would be a blatant invitation for a future authoritarian president to attempt to overthrow our democracy again. As Republican Rep. John Katko of New York asserted, not holding the president accountable would be “a direct threat to the future of our democracy.”[2]

Another courageous Republican who voted for impeachment, Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington state, countered his party’s objections, stating “I will not use process as an excuse.” In fact, he regretted “not speaking out sooner” against Trump.[3]

Rep. Newhouse’s remorse points to another compelling motive for calling for a second impeachment so late in Trump’s presidency. Every Congressperson and Senator must be put on record and held accountable for his or her vote. When the American people go to the polls in 2022 and 2024, they must know whether their representatives stand for the Constitution and the rule of law, or for Trump and the autocratic rule of one man.

Which brings me to why the Senate must convict Trump. For four years, Trump has been dividing our country and attacking our democracy. He was never the president for all Americans and he is clearly unfit to be president. If Trump is found guilty, the Senate can then vote to bar him from ever again holding federal public office. We must urge our Senators to convict him and make sure that he can never hold the office of president again.

We are at a defining moment in our history. This issue is above politics. It goes to the core of who we are as a nation. Unfortunately, too many of our elected officials have put party politics before country for too long.

As citizens who will help determine the future of our country, we all must decide whether or not we are for the rule of law when we vote for our future representatives.

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.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/politics/elections/2021/01/06/trumps-failed-efforts-overturn-election-numbers/4130307001/

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/01/13/us/trump-impeachment#which-republicans-voted-to-impeach-trump

[3] Ibid.

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: In-Person, Early Voting Best Way to Defeat Trump

While mail-in voting may be the safest way to protect yourself from the coronavirus, it may be the riskiest way to protect the country from four more years of a Trump presidency.

Most predictions suggest Trump will be leading on election night since Republicans are much more likely to vote in-person and have their votes counted that night. Forty-eight percent of Democratic voters indicate they will vote by mail. But only twenty-three percent of Republicans intend to mail-in their November election ballots.[1]

Once all the mail-in ballots are counted in the subsequent weeks, Trump could very well lose the election since the great majority of those ballots will presumably be from Biden supporters. But, what if all the millions of mail-in ballots are not counted by the cut-off date?

This year the deadline for all votes to be tallied is December 14, when the Electoral College will meet and determine each candidate’s total number of electoral votes. We all know that Trump will do just about anything to win re-election. That includes demanding recounts and likely challenging the legitimacy, perhaps, of each mail-in ballot, one-by-one, delaying the completion of recounts indefinitely.[2] Consequently, some states may not be able to certify their election results by the deadline.

In 2000, the Supreme Court decided the election before all the ballots were counted. If recounts are delayed by Trump’s legal challenges and the Electoral College does not produce a certified majority of 270 electoral votes in time, the election is determined by the House of Representatives. Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, in such circumstances each state casts one vote for president and vice president. Since the Republicans control a majority of the state delegations in the House, Trump could be re-elected by the House of Representatives.[3]

The best way to avoid this disastrous outcome is for as many Biden supporters as possible to vote early in-person, not by mail. The Democrats need to be winning or at least be very close to a majority on election night, which will make it more difficult, if not impossible, for Trump to claim victory. Then the completion of recounts will be important to both campaigns, and delays and interference would be less likely.

Early, in-person voting is a lot safer than voting on election day. Since there are many different dates when one can vote early, lines will be much shorter. I’ve voted early numerous times and have rarely experienced any lines. Thus, if you are wearing a mask and social distancing, early voting can be quite safe.

Early, in-person voting can save our democracy. The earlier the better. And, be sure to tell your friends and family: Vote early, in-person!

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.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/08/18/election-2020-biden-voters-twice-likely-vote-mail-survey-finds/3394795001/

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-could-huge-number-mailed-154542232.html

[3] https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-could-huge-number-mailed-154542232.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Not Just About Trump; The Election is About Us!

Donald Trump thinks everything is about him.  And many people do believe the election is all about him. Afterall, every day the news is filled with another Trump lie or political gambit made for the purpose of advancing his re-election.

Most recently, we learned from Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, that Trump admitted he downplayed the coronavirus despite knowing the dangers it posed. He defended his decision stating he did not want to cause a panic among the American people.[1] But, Trump followed his deception with more unfounded claims that the coronavirus would disappear before summer.[2] Fearing the spreading virus would hurt his re-election prospects, Trump toned down the looming threat rather than taking steps to protect the American people.

Clearly, Trump’s performance as president is a major factor in the November election. Has he done a good enough job to deserve a second term? Or, is Trump so corrupt and dishonest that he must be rejected on election day? Most Americans have strong opinions, one way or another, about this. 

What kind of country do we want to live in?

But I believe the election is really about us, “We, the people.“

What kind of country do we want to leave to our children and grandchildren?

And, most importantly, what are we willing to do, to sacrifice, right now to ensure that the United States survives as a democracy that represents and serves all the people?

In other words, what will we do between now and November 3 in answering these questions? We can sit on the sidelines, saying we can’t do anything that will really make a difference. Or, we can work to make sure we have a government that represents us and our interests?

If your answer is, get to work, I want to reiterate what I said in my last post. It’s that important. (See https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/.) I explained how average voters like you and me could have a true impact on the outcome of the election by engaging in Political Moneyball. That is a method of leveraging the power of small donors and/or a relatively small number of voters.[3] If you haven’t read last week’s blog post, I encourage you to go back and check it out.

According to Princeton Prof. Sam Wang’s Moneyball 2020 approach, our efforts in the presidential race would have the most impact in Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina. Plus, Senate races where we can make a big difference are in Alaska, South Carolina and Kansas.[4] Volunteer to make phone calls or give a donation in these races.

Make a date. Put it on your calendar for this week to contact one or more of these organizations where your support could alter the outcome in a critical campaign:

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

Make a date. Put it on your calendar for this week to contact one or more of these organizations where your support could alter the outcome in a critical campaign:

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.politico.com/news/2020/09/09/trump-bob-woodward-book-411225

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/28/yet-again-trump-pledges-that-coronavirus-will-simply-go-away/?arc404=true

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

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

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 the Fourth Quarter

The fanfare of the national conventions is over. We’re now entering the fourth quarter. The game – the most important election of our lifetime — is on the line.

So much is riding on the outcome of November’s election. From the survival of our democracy to our ability to confront climate change to racial justice to conquering the coronavirus and saving tens of thousands of lives, and more. It’s mind-boggling!

Time to bring in the A team. And, that’s all of us.

Are you ready to get out there and give it your all? Because that’s what it’s going to take to beat this corrupt president and his enablers. We know what we are up against: Trump and a Republican Party that will lie, cheat and do just about anything to win and remain in power.

It’s time we played offense. We can’t just keep defending the USPS or our right to vote, or whatever Trump decides to attack tomorrow. We need to work together to fix our election process and guarantee the right to vote for all Americans.

LeBron James, the star of the Los Angeles Lakers, has the right idea. First, he launched the More Than A Vote coalition (https://www.morethanavote.org/) to combat systemic, racist voter suppression by educating, energizing and protecting the Black vote. One of the organization’s initiatives is creating safe, socially distanced voting precincts in cities with large minority populations by working with owners of stadiums and arenas to open their sites for voting this fall.[1]

Most recently, James is helping spearhead a multimillion-dollar effort to recruit poll workers in Black electoral districts ahead of November’s elections. The project focuses on attracting poll workers through a paid advertising campaign and a corporate partnership program that encourages employees to volunteer.[2]

James and his team are asking all of us to help by volunteering to work the polls on Election Day. He’s encouraging everyone to help educate, energize and protect Black voters however we can.

Another way to get involved is by working with a voters’ rights organization like When We All Vote (https://www.whenweallvote.org/) in the most vulnerable communities. When We All Vote is a non-partisan group launched in 2018 by co-chairs Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.[3] Its mission is to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and working in strategic partnerships to reach every American.

A final course of action, one that I’m choosing, is to work in one of the battleground states where the election is likely to be decided. This year there are as many as eleven states up for grabs, including two of New Mexico’s neighbors, Arizona and Texas.[4] With your phone and computer, you don’t even have to leave home to make a difference. If you want to make calls to voters in swing states, here’s a link to sign up: https://www.mobilize.us/dailykos/event/291103/?link_id=1&can_id=2f6a8fdbd4b45d218a8ceaf1fe99a47a&source=email-re-humiliate-trump-make-national-phone-calls-to-voters-in-battleground-states&email_referrer=email_904518&email_subject=re-humiliate-trump-make-national-phone-calls-to-voters-in-battleground-states

The fourth quarter clock is starting. Grab your phone and your computer and get in the game of our lives. Together we can win this election for democracy!

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

[1] https://theundefeated.com/features/more-than-a-vote-a-letter-to-fans-to-fight-black-voter-suppression/

[2] https://fox59.com/news/politics/lebron-james-helps-launch-multimillion-dollar-effort-to-recruit-poll-workers-ahead-of-elections/

[3] https://www.whenweallvote.org/

[4] https://electoralvotemap.com/2020-battleground-states/

 

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