The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Now or Never!

2021 is shaping up to be the most critical year for American democracy since the Civil War. The January 6th attack on the Capitol foreshadowed a political period of extreme uncertainty and potential disaster.

At the same time, the first couple of months of 2021 have given Americans substantial promise that the country will soon overcome the COVID pandemic and head toward a more normal way of life. Still, major obstacles may impede progress and ultimately destroy any chance for a brighter future in the near term.

To combat our nation’s health and political emergencies, the House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate the 2021 COVID relief bill and HR 1, the For the People Act. What is most striking about both of these bills is their popularity among Republicans throughout the country versus the lack of Republican support in Congress:

  • 59% of GOP voters favor the pandemic relief act, while 77% of all voters do[1]
  • 56% of GOP voters support H.R. 1, the For the People Act, while 67% of all voters do[2]

Yet not one Republican senator or representative favors either bill. With such bipartisan support across the nation, how can this be?

Despite their constituents’ support for relief and reform, Senate Republicans will have none of it. Rather, they would allow millions of Americans, including a great many of their own supporters, to continue struggling. Plus, GOP senators are fighting to block HR 1 and deny the right to vote to as many Americans as possible in order to grab power and maintain minority rule.

Enacting HR 1 into law this year is critical to protecting our democracy. It will restore and expand voting rights, protect the ballot, end gerrymandering and provide election security, among other important provisions.

While Congressional Republicans take issue with some elements of these bills, their overriding concern appears to be political. Though the Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans refuse to concede any authority to the majority party.

Congressional Republicans argue that the $1.9 trillion COVID bill is much larger than what is needed to assist millions of suffering coronavirus victim, health workers, schools, the unemployed, underfunded cities and others. Yet, those same Republicans had no hesitancy in 2017 in passing a huge tax cut creating a $1.5 trillion budget deficit that overwhelming benefited their wealthy donors, multi-national corporations and others who were hardly suffering and really didn’t need such largesse.[3]

Democrats, on the other hand, realize that past relief efforts like the 2009 Recovery Act may have fallen short.[4] They do not want to risk making the same mistake again, especially during the limited time they have the power to help everyday Americans, as well as fix our broken political system.

Senate Democrats must stick together. They must beat back Republican obstruction. As I noted in my February 26th blog, The Critical Fight to Save Our Democracy, “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…”[5]

We must insist that Senate Democrats do just that in order to save our democracy from being subverted by Republican voter suppression, gerrymandering and the like. Write, call and/or email your senators and urge them to protect our democratic rights. If not now, when?

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://morningconsult.com/2021/03/03/coronavirus-stimulus-voter-support-bipartisan/

[2] https://www.dataforprogress.org/blog/2021/1/22/majority-support-hr1-democracy-reforms

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/30/trump-tax-cut-law-investigation-worker-benefits

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/could-we-have-had-a-bigger-stimulus/2011/05/19/gHQAcBjGzH_blog.html

[5] https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/

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: Democracy Survived and the Fight Rages On

The Trump era was truly terrible, yet, in the end, there were some significant silver linings. Most importantly, our democracy survived after being severely tested. Like many Americans, I doubted whether the country would have made it through another four years of Trump’s corrupt, autocratic rule, enabled by a kowtowing Republican Party.

In fact, Trump’s regime was a wake-up call. If we want our democracy to endure, a large majority of Americans now understand that we must do more to protect and strengthen it. We came very close to losing our democratic republic. The next time an authoritarian politician threatens our nation, we might not be so fortunate.

In the last few years, social and political activism has skyrocketed.[1] Much of that was a backlash against the disgraced bully who just departed Washington. As a result, Biden carried Georgia and Arizona, two states the Democrats had not won since the 1990s. The Democrats also captured three Senate seats from those two states, giving them control of the upper chamber. We owe a great debt of gratitude to grassroots activist groups like Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA)[2] and Fair Fight in Georgia.[3]

While this is a time to celebrate the beginning of a new Democratic administration and Senate majority, we must be clear that the struggle for the future of our country is far from over. You have to look no farther than the current battle between Sens. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer over the filibuster to see how difficult that fight will continue to be.

For the Senate Democrats to agree that they will never vote to eliminate the filibuster, as McConnell insists, would give the Republicans veto power over Biden’s legislative agenda. McConnell’s argument to maintain the filibuster is based on the need for minority rights, and, at the same time, quite cynical, almost laughable. Still, he does have a point. Afterall, the minority party represents millions of Americans whose voices should be heard. But what rights did McConnell afford the Democrats when they were in the minority? Absolutely none!

As majority leader during the last six years, McConnell blocked hundreds of the bills favored by the minority Democrats from ever being considered, let alone voted on by the Senate. Many of those bills even had bipartisan support. Having experienced how McConnell arbitrarily blocked their initiatives, including an Obama Supreme Court nomination, Senate Democrats are justifiably rejecting McConnell’s demands.[4]

At the same time, McConnell has put the Democrats in a bind. Since the Senate is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, the two sides must come to a written understanding on how the new Senate will operate. Until there is an agreement on a Senate organizing resolution, the Senate will continue to operate under the previous resolution which gave control of the chamber to the then-majority Republicans. Senate Democrats are livid at yet another McConnell power-grab and strongly support Sen. Schumer’s refusal to grant his requirements.[5]

So, as elegant as Biden’s call for unity was in his inaugural address, the prospects are not very good. Moving America forward cannot not be sacrificed on the altar of unity. Biden and Congressional Democrats must do what we elected them to do: Get the pandemic under control; get Americans back to work and school; and a host of other essential priorities. If they fail, the voters will turn back to the obstructionist Republicans in 2022. We must do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen.

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://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/04/trump-has-turned-millions-of-americans-into-activists.html

[2] https://bluetent.us/arenas/campaigns-elections/arizona-went-blue-thanks-to-latino-grassroots-LUCHA-election/

[3] https://fairfight.com/

[4] https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/21/politics/senate-filibuster-democrats-republicans-power-sharing/index.html

[5] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Promise of the New Year

Happy New Year! Finally, we can put 2020, the most difficult year in memory, behind us. And, while 2021 will present its own set of challenges, at least we can begin the new year on a hopeful note.

The first challenge of 2021 will be the Georgia runoff elections. In less than a week, Georgia voters will determine whether the new Biden administration will have the Senate support it needs to tackle head-on the pressing issues of our country. Hopefully, both Democrats will win, and Biden won’t have his legislative agenda stymied by Mitch McConnell and his Republican obstructionists.

Right now, it’s looking good for the Georgia Democratic candidates. But, even if they win giving the Democrats control of Congress and the White House, at least two other dynamics will influence the degree to which 2021 fulfills its promise.

First and foremost, Biden has to fully grasp the historic moment we are in. It’s fairly comparable to 1932 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt captured the White House from another failed president, Herbert Hoover, in the midst of the Great Depression.

Roosevelt gave the American people a positive vision and hope for a better future. He promised them a ‘New Deal.’ And he delivered by getting people back to work, creating prosperity and protecting their savings, providing relief for the sick and elderly, and getting industry and agriculture back on their feet.

Biden needs to offer the country this type of sweeping vision as well. To lift Americans up in these extremely difficult times and give the country an inclusive path to a brighter future, that promise must include conquering COVID 19, establishing social and racial justice, aggressively confronting the climate crisis, developing a sustainable economy with a living wage for every worker, guaranteeing affordable healthcare for everyone, and ensuring the right to vote for all Americans.

Second and of equal importance, like FDR, Biden cannot succeed on his own. Early in his administration, Roosevelt met with a group of labor leaders regarding their policy recommendations to assist the ailing workforce. FDR agreed with them and allegedly replied: “I want to do it; now make me do it.”[1]

In effect, Roosevelt was saying that “change had to come from the bottom up, not just from the White House.” He was indicating that “he needed the American people to continue pressing for the changes they wanted so he could have the strong backing required to ensure their enactment.”[2]

Now, the American people must press Biden for the changes we urgently need. That is the challenge we must undertake to create the just society we all deserve. So, let’s get to work. It will take all of us to fulfill the promise of the new year.

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://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/

[2] Ibid

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Republicans Who Stole Christmas

It’s Christmas, and the coronavirus relief bill is in limbo. While Congress is getting what it deserves – an 82% disapproval rating[1] – tens of millions of Americans are not getting the help they so desperately need.

For months, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has held up any substantial support for all those suffering due to no fault of their own. The pandemic has crushed the economy, exploded unemployment rolls, killed small businesses and crippled public services. Yet, McConnell, the head Senate Scrooge, refused to budge unless large corporations got another government handout shielding them from liability for failing to provide proper Covid-19 safety measures for their employees:

McConnell has insisted that Congress should take action to protect corporations that are alleged to engage in wrongdoing and endanger their employees, consumers and patients. Companies that don’t provide protective equipment or mandate physical distancing in the workplace, for example, would face no civil liability when their workers become sick…Even as Americans go hungry and confront homelessness, McConnell is trying to leverage the coronavirus emergency to greenlight corporate abuse, instead of helping vulnerable families.”[2]

Meanwhile, House Republicans have rejected President Trump’s proposal of $2000 to individuals as part of a coronavirus financial aid package, instead of the $600 agreed to earlier that “Trump criticized as too meager.”[3] How ironic that Trump is now the voice of reason.

And, if that weren’t enough, Georgia Republicans are doing whatever they can to ensure McConnell maintains his stranglehold on Congress and the government’s purse strings. With control of Georgia’s election process, they are now up to their old devious tricks: closing early voting locations and purging voter rolls to prevent Democratic leaning voters from casting their ballots in the January 5th runoff election which will determine who controls the Senate.[4]

While there are no easy answers to the deep divisions and injustices confronting our country, we are in the season of good will, something the Republican Party seems to know little about. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays this time of year focus on restoration, unity, hope and promise for one and all. As the new year approaches, we must keep these ideals foremost in our minds.

Even more than that, we must work together to put these ideals into practice in our communities, our work, our elections and throughout our country.  Let us vow to ourselves and each other that we shall overcome in the new year.

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://news.gallup.com/poll/1600/congress-public.aspx

[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/covid-stimulus-bill-held-hostage-mcconnell-over-corporate-get-out-ncna1251176

[3] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/house-republicans-block-bill-for-2-000-stimulus-checks-defying-trump-11608819760?mod=mw_more_headlines

[4] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/12/24/civil-rights-groups-denounce-georgia-officials-closing-early-voting-sites-ahead; https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/12/15/georgia-it-will-be-voter-turnout-vs-gop-voter-suppression

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Turning the Corner, Still Miles to Go

Monday is the winter Solstice. Slowly the light will return as the days grow longer. So, it is with change in our country as well.

While Biden won the presidency, the Democrats lost seats in the House and gained but one in the Senate. Though that number could increase on January 5 with the Georgia runoff election.

Americans have also begun receiving COVID 19 vaccinations. Yet, it may be six months or more before most Americans are vaccinated. Even longer before we all feel safe, perhaps by next fall. Still, the question remains: Will Trump’s base agree to be vaccinated?

Of course, a lot depends on the Georgia runoff. If the Democrats win both Senate races, Biden’s job will definitely be easier. Yet, ours will not. Regardless of the outcome in Georgia, the progressive movement will need to put maximum pressure on the new administration to act boldly on most fronts.

One exception is the coronavirus vaccination program where Biden seems committed to moving swiftly to ensure the wellbeing of all Americans. A second area where the president-elect appears to be making strong moves is fighting climate change. Biden has assembled a formidable team, headed by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, nominated to be Secretary of Energy, and former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in the new position of domestic climate tsar, to tackle this critical challenge.[1] And, the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland, first Native American in a cabinet position, to be Secretary of the Interior is a very positive sign as well.

Biden could take forceful action by executive order in numerous policy fields that would affect the lives of millions of Americans. For instance, he could raise the minimum wage on federal contractors to $15 per hour, forgive billions in federal student loans and drastically lower the price of selected essential drugs.[2] The growing progressive movement will need to keep pushing him on these and other issues.

At the same time, Biden appears willing to move to the right by contending that he can find common ground with some Republicans. A few Republican senators like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski may support some of his agenda to get the country back on track. Nevertheless, if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, Mitch McConnell will be calling the shots. In which case, we can expect a great deal of obstruction, as was McConnell’s strategy from the very beginning of the Obama administration.[3]

Biden was Obama’s vice president at the time. Hopefully, he learned something then about how the Republicans’ thirst for power overrides any sense of patriotic duty to support legislation to improve the economy or provide better healthcare for Americans.[4] Unlike Obama, Biden cannot allow his desire to work across the aisle get in the way of providing effective solutions to the pressing problems of our nation.

More than anything, Republicans’ unwillingness to put their country above their own political interests may be the most persuasive reason for Biden to act quickly and decisively. He really has only two years to prove to the American people that the Democrats are the better party to lead the country.  

With a very slim majority in the House, the Democrats may likely lose their control of Congress in the 2022 elections unless Biden and his party can produce results the voters truly appreciate. We must do whatever we can to ensure the Democrats get the job done now.

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.ft.com/content/c468eb5b-0b86-43c7-b20d-646948e77c66

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/15/progressives-have-bold-agenda-biden-should-act-their-priorities-his-first-100-days/

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/republicans-had-it-in-for-obama-before-day-1/2012/08/10/0c96c7c8-e31f-11e1-ae7f-d2a13e249eb2_blog.html

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/18/future-could-be-bright-so-republicans-are-trying-make-sure-it-isnt/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: A Time of Hope and Fear

We are living on the brink. On the one hand, the Electoral College will vote to elect Joe Biden as our next president on Monday.[1] Trump’s days in the White House are clearly numbered. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

In addition, an advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine on Thursday. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to give final approval to the vaccine on Sunday.[2] Help is on the way.

On the other hand, it could be well into next year before most Americans receive a vaccination. There may not be enough vaccine for everyone for quite some time.[3] Even then, a substantial part of the population may not agree to be vaccinated given the conspiracy theories and claims the pandemic is a hoax.[4]

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate are much more interested in shielding corporations from liability for negligently failing to protect their workers from contracting COVID than providing critical aid to cities and states trying to maintain essential services for their weary citizens.[5]

At the same time, 17 red states are supporting Texas’s Motion to File a Complaint in the Supreme Court to overturn Biden’s victories in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. One hundred and twenty-five sycophant Republican members of Congress are backing the quixotic lawsuit which seeks to invalidate millions of votes in four battleground states which gave Biden the presidency.[6] Their crazed support for an unhinged president is destroying our democracy.

While the court challenge has practically no chance of succeeding, it does foment unrest among a great number of the Trump base. It also adds fuel to the Republican effort to undermine the Biden presidency. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently asserted that the Senate will not consider confirming any Biden nominations as long as the election results are in dispute.[7] This does not bode well for efforts to heal our nation or a successful Biden presidency.

And, if that weren’t more than enough headwinds for the new administration to overcome, Biden seems to be getting in his own way. He fully understands how critical winning the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs is to accomplishing his legislative agenda. Still, Biden chose former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a white male who served as Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, to head the Agriculture Department over Rep. Marcia Fudge, a black woman with 12 years on the House agriculture committee.

Biden picked Vilsack despite the fact that he “owes a massive debt to top Black Democrats who were also pushing for Fudge — above all House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, whose well-timed endorsement very likely gave Biden the nomination.”[8] Naming Fudge would have boosted Stacey Abrams and other Democrats’ drive to achieve the huge black turnout Democrats need to prevail in the Georgia election.

Yet, all is not lost. Biden can accomplish a great deal even without the Democrats controlling the Senate, if he acts boldly with his power of executive orders. Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Franklin Roosevelt signed over 3,700 executive orders to help steer the country out of the Great Depression and mobilize the nation during World War II.[9]

Trump used executive orders to implement much of his agenda. Biden must, too. He can utilize these orders to marshal plans for expediting the distribution of the COVID vaccine, tackling climate change and getting the economy rolling again, among other priorities.

Our job is to keep the pressure on Biden to make sure that he employs his presidential powers fearlessly.  Let’s get to work.

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/2020/12/11/electoral-college-meeting-monday-hand-trump-loss-he-wont-accept/3807305001/

[2] https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-12-10-20-intl/h_4e54be4adce1922379b0d330a062361d

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/09/health/covid-vaccine-distribution-states/index.html; https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/12/next-six-months-will-be-vaccine-purgatory/617371/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/vaccine-biden-trump-leadership-challenge/

[5] https://time.com/5920242/mcconnell-torpedoes-covid-19-relief-deal/

[6] https://www.axios.com/house-republicans-texas-lawsuit-election-a33e2081-89fa-442a-b1f6-eb1fcf9f4b16.html

[7] https://news.yahoo.com/ted-cruz-says-senate-likely-145300566.html

[8] https://www.yahoo.com/news/joe-bidens-agriculture-appointment-slap-104002491.html

[9]https://www.voanews.com/2020-usa-votes/trump-biden-will-embrace-executive-orders

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Vote Today to Restore Our Democracy

The one good thing that Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party have done for American democracy in the last four years is expose how utterly broken our political system is.

Here are just a few examples of the president’s abuses of power and failures to properly use the office of the presidency:

  • The president blatantly uses his public office for private gain with impunity.
  • He does nothing to protect the American people from a deadly pandemic while hundreds of thousands of people are dying.
  • He sues to overturn the Affordable Care Act and eliminate healthcare for millions of Americans without providing a viable alternative.
  • He separates thousands of immigrant children from their parents putting many in cages in order to deter other immigrants from crossing the border.

And, McConnell has been the president’s partner in undermining our democratic system:

  • He has single-handily blocked the Senate from voting on hundreds of bills, many of them bipartisan, passed by the House of Representatives.
  • He has prevented the Senate from even considering President Obama’s nominations of over 100 judges.
  • He has rammed through a nomination to the Supreme Court eight days before the election after denying a hearing for another Supreme Court nomination by Obama many months prior to the last presidential election.

Plus, our political system is clearly broken when:

  • It permits a party, the Republicans, to control the U.S. Senate when its senators represent 15 million fewer Americans than Democratic senators do.[1]
  • The Texas Republican governor can reduce drop off boxes for absentee ballots to one per county when one county alone has over four million voters.
  • Voters, mainly non-white, in Republican-controlled states like Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina have to wait in line hours and hours to vote.[2]
  • One party, the Republicans, can uses various legal tactics to suppress the vote.[3]
  • The rights of all our citizens to vote is not protected and they do not have equal access to voting for the officials who govern our country.

Only one candidate for president, Joe Biden, and one party’s candidates for Senate, the Democrats, want to fix our broken political system. If you want our democracy to work for the people rather than for special interests and the very wealthy, go vote for them today. And, urge your friends and colleagues to do the same. The future of our democracy is at stake.

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://thinkprogress.org/supreme-court-partisan-gerrymander-electoral-norms-c83345c150b3/.

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/17/long-lines-for-us-early-voting-underscore-hidden-barriers.

[3] https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/29/trump-suppress-vote-win-433460.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Thwart Trump’s Election Scheme, Vote Early In-Person

In my book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, I wrote that America is at “a crossroads comparable to the one before the Civil War.” That was over five years ago. Before Donald Trump’s lawless, racist, divisive first term as president. Before our country had lost more than 200,000 lives, and counting, in a worldwide pandemic. Before the current economic crash caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and thousands of businesses to close forever. Before a vandalized Postal Service and a resurgent effort to suppress votes. And, before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death triggered the current Supreme Court nomination battle.

It’s mind-boggling to say the least! And, yet, we should prepare for it getting even more maddening, cause it very well could according to Barton Gellman in The Atlantic.

I was going to write this week’s blog on how Mitch McConnell’s decision to rush another conservative justice onto the Supreme Court would test the Democrats ability to finally stand up for our democracy and restructure a more representative government, assuming they win the White House and the Senate in November.

But then, I read the soon-to-be published cover story of the November edition of The Atlantic entitled, The Election That Could Break America, and realizedI was putting the cart before the horse. Right now, all of our focus must be on the election itself, not what might come afterward.

In his must-read piece in The Atlantic, Barton Gellman, a three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, writes:

“According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe-harbor deadline expires.”[1]

It can’t be any clearer: Trump plans to win re-election by whatever means necessary. And we need to do whatever it takes to stop him and his Republican enablers.

Gellman suggests “…voting in person after all. More than half a million postal votes were rejected in this year’s primaries, even without Trump trying to suppress them.”[2]

As I advocated in my blog last week, “The best way to avoid this disastrous outcome (of a Trump victory) 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.”[3]

So, vote early in-person, and make sure to urge all your friends, family and colleagues to vote early in-person as well, especially those who live in battleground states.

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.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=cr&utm_campaign=oct-cover-actives-digital&utm_content=20200923&silverid-ref=NjI4MjU2NjM2OTI4S0.

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/.

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/