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: 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: Trump Is Rigging the Election, But We Will Stop Him

Trump and his Republican enablers are hard at work destroying our democracy. They are rigging the election in plain sight.

Without any evidence, Trump is laying the groundwork for disputing the election results by claiming that mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud.[1] He has even suggested the country may need a “do over” election since he contends that the only way he will lose is if the election is rigged.[2] Still, election experts state that “election fraud is extremely rare in all instances.”[3]

In June, Trump appointed a Republican Party megadonor, Louis DeJoy, as Postmaster General. With major investments in competing postal businesses, DeJoy’s directing the USPS is a huge conflict of interest.[4] Now he’s aiding his private investments, as well as Trump’s re-election efforts, by initiating debilitating changes at the postal service.

DeJoy has ordered the removal of hundreds of mail-sorting machines, aimed at slowing down mail service and jeopardizing mail-in voting around the country.[5] Seven such machines were recently removed from just one postal center alone in West Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold.[6] He has also had mailboxes removed in parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Montana, making it more difficult for people to vote by mail.[7]

But, it’s even worse than that. Former Republican National Committee chairman, Mike Duncan, is now the chair of USPS’ six-man board of governors—which rubberstamped DeJoy’s appointment. He is also the current chairman of the Senate Leadership Fund— a $100 million Republican super PAC. Plus, Duncan has “myriad links to companies with a direct interest in the postal service policy he oversees.”[8]

DeJoy has agreed to testify before Senate and House committees tomorrow and early next week to answer for his actions. And, while he has said that he will suspend his postal service cutting efforts until after the election, DeJoy stated that he has no intention of granting necessary overtime or replacing the mail sorting machines or mailboxes that have been removed.[9] So, can this Trump megadonor be trusted with our mail-in votes?

Not according to House Majority Whip James Clyburn. On Tuesday Rep. Clyburn stated that he is “not one bit” reassured by DeJoy’s promise that cost-cutting measures will be postponed until after the November election, ensuring that mail-in ballots are delivered on time.[10] One has to wonder what DeJoy will do come October when Trump, still trailing in the polls, pressures him.

Meanwhile, Trump’s Republican cohorts in the Senate are still refusing to provide funding so that the USPS can deliver mail-in ballots on time and the election process can be protected in each state.

If we are to save our democracy, we all must act to protect the postal service and our sacred right to vote. Here’s what we can do:

  1. Pressure DeJoy to restore all the equipment, services and personnel. Contact him at Louis DeJoy’s email is dejoy@usps.gov.
  2. Pressure the USPS board of governors — all of whom are Trump appointed and supported the $25 billion USPS funding now being held up by Senate Republicans — to require DeJoy to immediately restore all equipment, services and personnel. Contact them:
  1. Call Speaker Pelosi (202-225-4965) and your congressperson (Rep. Ben Ray Lujan at (202) 225-6190, Debra Haaland at (202) 225-6316, and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small 202-225-2365). Urge them to immediately pass a stand-alone bill providing $25 billion to ensure the USPS is fully operational as well as $3.6 billion for voter protection for the states to ensure all Americans can vote safely and every vote is counted in the November elections.
  2. Vote early, preferably in-person. Early voting in-person will guarantee your vote will be counted.
  3. If you need to vote by mail, the earlier you request your mail-in ballot and return it, the more likely your ballot will arrive on time and be counted. Check with your county clerk’s office for important deadlines.
  4. Organize to get others to vote early. Call/email everyone you know and urge them to vote early.
  5. Provide rides for others without vehicles to vote early. Check with your local party HQ to see if it is organizing rides.
  6. Assist others in obtaining and returning their mail-in ballots.
  7. Volunteer at your local party HQ or with an organization working on voter protection, such as:

The time to act is now. The survival of our democracy depends on all of us doing our part!

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://abcnews.go.com/Politics/criticizing-voting-mail-trump-lady-request-mail-ballots/story?id=72371423

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-redo-idUSKCN25E297; https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/512424-trump-the-only-way-we-are-going-to-lose-this-election-is-if-the

[3] https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/07/829323152/fact-check-is-mail-ballot-fraud-as-rampant-as-president-trump-says-it-is

[4] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/08/13/fact-check-postmaster-general-louis-dejoy-invested-competitors/5550480002/

[5] https://news.yahoo.com/postmaster-general-louis-dejoy-121911696.html

[6] https://news.yahoo.com/postal-crisis-ripples-across-nation-160241436.html

[7] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/14/people-are-freaking-out-about-mailbox-removals-postal-service-says-its-routine/

[8] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/17/stamp-out-trump-attacks-our-postal-service

[9] https://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/2020/08/pelosi-postmaster-general-told-me-he-has-no-intention-of-allowing-overtime-or-replacing-any-equipment-removed/

[10] https://www.yahoo.com/news/james-clyburn-says-he-is-not-one-bit-reassured-by-trump-administrations-reversal-on-postal-service-cuts-232637160.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Do Your Part

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin

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

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

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/15/magazine/jon-stewart-interview.html

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will the Republican Party Go Down With Trump?

What will it take for Republicans in Congress to denounce President Trump’s lies, abuses of power and downright corruption? Or, is it just too late in the election cycle for such brave pronouncements?

Recently we have seen a number of former military brass and Republican cabinet members speak truth to power. But only Sens. Murkowski and Romney in the Republican controlled Senate have broken ranks with Trump. While many other Republican members of Congress  quietly agree with the generals and their two Senate colleagues, their fear of Trump’s retribution appears to be stronger than their love of country. It seems they would rather remain silent and see our democracy shattered, than reject Trump’s authoritarian rule and be primaried by a Trump sycophant in their next election bid.

More and more Republican heavyweights like former Pres. George W. Bush and Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.),[1] who served as Bush’s ambassador to the Vatican, are renouncing Trump. Yet, almost all congressional Republicans appear to be too scared of the bully in the White House to abandon the president, protect the Constitution and maintain their honor. At this point, it seems the only thing the Republican Party stands for is Trump, and, of course, lowering taxes for its wealthy donors.

With the election less than five months away, the Party appears to have given up on its options.  At this point, it is stuck with Trump. Those who can no longer stomach the president are jumping ship. If the Trump destroyer sinks in November, will the Party go down with its captain?

According to Jessica Taylor, Senate editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, the answer is “yes”: “Ultimately Senate Republicans’ fate will be tied to Trump…”[2] And, Trump’s approval ratings are sinking fast. He’s down 10 points in just the last month to 39% in the latest Gallup poll.[3]  In fact, Trump has become an albatross around the necks of a great many Republican candidates.[4] While anything can happen between now and the election, the odds of the Democrats gaining control of the Senate are clearly improving.

Another indicator that the Democrats’ chances are increasing is fundraising. The New York Times recently reported that the “Democrats raised substantially more money than Republicans did in the first quarter (of 2020) in the most pivotal congressional races.”[5]

That’s not to say the Democrats will have an easy time of it this fall. As I’ve noted before, the Republicans ability to interfere with the voting process will play a major factor in the election. Trump and the Republicans will do whatever they can to win. Voter suppression, closing numerous polling places, voter purges and challenging voters at the polls are just some of the tactics they’ll use to hamper Democratic turnout.[6]

While the tide is turning in the Democrats favor, we can’t take anything for granted. We all need to pitch in to ensure a huge voter turnout as well as a fair election.

Now is the time to get involved. Join the fight for free, fair, and secure elections at https://fairfight.com/ or the Voter Protection Corps at https://www.voter-protection.org/.

To learn how to help get out the vote, go to https://www.nonprofitvote.org/nonprofits-voting-elections-online/helping-people-vote/.

Together we can, and we will, revive democracy in 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.yahoo.com/huffpost/republican-voters-against-trump-wont-vote-125230045.html

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-11/trump-s-slipping-polls-make-gop-holding-senate-more-daunting

[3] https://news.gallup.com/poll/312572/trump-job-approval-slides.aspx

[4] https://trofire.com/2020/05/28/data-proves-trump-is-poison-for-republicans-running-for-office/

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/25/us/politics/trump-election-briefings.html

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/18/republicans-are-serious-about-voter-suppression-heres-how-stop-them/

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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

[1] https://www.yahoo.com/news/michigan-militia-puts-armed-protest-043435517.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

American Politics in Moral Free-Fall

            A dark cloud hangs over our country. With the recent Las Vegas mass murder and our government’s pathetic response to the devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico, America’s fall from grace quickens. While Donald Trump embodies much of that darkness, all of the blame for the ugly state of our country’s politics cannot be laid at his feet. Both political parties bear a good deal of the responsibility. When it comes right down to it, all that seems to matter to our politicians is winning and the money it takes to come out on top.

            Back in 2009, not long after Barak Obama was elected president, the Republican Congressional leadership agreed to a “strategy of all-out resistance” to the new Democratic president.1 Despite Obama’s considerable efforts to reach out to Congressional Republicans, they continually refused to work with him.2 Beating our first African-American president was much more important to the Republicans than helping millions of Americans obtain health insurance. That was the case despite the fact that Obamacare was fashioned after the conservative Heritage Foundation’s market-based proposal which Republican Governor Mitt Romney had already implemented in Massachusetts.3

                  Obama and the Democrats put politics before people as well. Rather than helping millions of Americans avoid losing their homes during the Great Recession, the Obama administration chose to direct almost all of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds to the Wall Street banks whose corrupt and fraudulent practices were largely responsible for the country’s economic collapse.4 Moreover, Obama refused to extract foreclosure relief measures from our nation’s biggest banks in return for the huge bailout they received. Apparently, Obama and his big banker appointees cared a great deal more about the president’s campaign contributors on Wall Street than they did about average Americans on Main Street. No Wall Street bankers went to jail for the grave damage they had caused the country.5

            Since then, our politics have only gotten worse. During the entire eight years of the Obama presidency, the Republicans were the ‘Party of No.’ Unprecedented in modern American history, they refused to work with the president on practically any issue. While they were unable to defeat Obamacare, the GOP’s obstructionism assisted them in attaining numerous victories. Not only did the Republicans win back the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, but they also denied Obama a Supreme Court appointment, won the White House in 2016 and placed their own conservative justice on the Court once Trump became president.

            Meanwhile, the Democrats continued to cozy up to Wall Street and their Big Money special interests rather than provide programs that would be most beneficial to the American people. That was the case even with Obamacare. While the program did extend healthcare to millions of previously uncovered Americans, it failed to offer a ‘public option,’ which would have helped keep consumers’ costs down. Instead of fighting for an alternative choice to compete with the insurance industry, Obama and Congressional Democrats sided with the private insurers and excluded the public option from the legislation.

            Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign further demonstrated where the Democrats’ loyalties lie. Clinton attended numerous gatherings hosted by her Big Money donors while failing to address the pressing concerns of blue-collar workers. But for the groundswell of support for Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election, the Democratic Party platform would not have focused on those issues either. Nevertheless, Clinton refused to endorse reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act and other strong Wall Street regulations, much to the delight of her wealthiest supporters.

            Trump and the Republican Party are also tied to Big Money, probably even more so. Despite his campaign promises to the contrary, Trump has not drained the Washington swamp. In fact, he has enlarged it by filling his cabinet with billionaires, who, like him, are more interested in profiting personally from their positions than they are in enhancing the public good. Take Steve Mnuchin, for example, one of several wealthy former Goldman Sachs executives now in Trump’s Cabinet. During the 2008 financial crisis, Mnuchin chaired OneWest Bank, which used fabricated and “robo-signed” documents to secure evictions, and routinely dispossessed the homes of senior citizens and people of color.6

            As Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin helped draft Trump’s new tax plan. Under this scheme, taxes will go up for many families that are just scraping by while the rich benefit. These tax increases will not pay for health care, food, or housing, but will provide the basis for lowering taxes on the wealthy, resulting in the richest one percent of families in the U.S., including Mnuchin’s, receiving an increase in income of 8.5 percent after taxes.7 This is just one of many giveaways for corporations and multimillionaires offered in the Republicans’ tax plan.

            Is there any way to stop this moral free-fall in American politics? Throughout our history Americans have risen up in mass movements — be it for women’s suffrage, labor, the environment or LBGTQ rights — and successfully demanded a reformation of our country’s values and priorities. Isn’t it time we do it again in the name of fairness and economic justice for all Americans?

Bruce Berlin is the president of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics (nmmop.org) and the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America.

1 See http://swampland.time.com/2012/08/23/the-party-of-no-new-details-on-the-gop-plot-to-obstruct-obama/.

2 See http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/73971-obamas-first-year-yields-few-results-in-drive-for-bipartisanship.

3 See http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/11/13/romneycare-vs-obamacare-key-similarities-differences/.

4 See http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/secret-and-lies-of-the-bailout-20130104.

5 See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency.

6 See https://newrepublic.com/article/133368/donald-trumps-finance-chair-anti-populist-hell.

7 See https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/10/03/lets-stop-gops-biggest-grift-all.