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/

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Trump’s War on Our Right to Vote

No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. So, Democrats have reason to feel a little optimistic as a number of prominent Ohio Republicans have begun organizing to defeat President Trump.[1] In fact, more and more Republicans from Arizona to North Carolina to Florida are ready to dump Trump.[2]

Still, we cannot relax for one minute. Trump will not go quietly into the night. He and his enablers are using every conceivable ploy to preserve his hold on the presidency. Nothing is beneath this con artist. Just last week Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor whom the president recently appointed to that position, issued a sweeping overhaul of the USPS aimed at sabotaging efforts to carry out critical mail-in-voting in November’s election.[3]

On top of that, Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have filed a number of lawsuits contesting the expansion of mail-in-voting and seeking to limit access to the polls in November.[4] In addition, Senate Republicans, backed by Trump, are refusing to provide any funding to support and secure the election despite the major challenges to voting presented by the pandemic,[5] as well as substantial reports that Russia is again meddling in our elections.[6] Trump and the Republicans’ failure to fund election protection clearly reflects their belief that this will boost Republicans’ chances in November.

In effect, Trump and the Republican Party are waging a war against democracy and our right to vote. Among other tactics, the RNC is hiring 50,000 foot soldiers/poll observers to harass and intimidate voters, particularly minorities, in key precincts around the country on Election Day.[7]

Fortunately, a number of progressive social action groups are fighting back. The Daily Kos, for example, has a plan to arm millions of grassroots activists with the facts they need to spread the truth about voting by mail. Among other things, it is also recruiting thousands of volunteers to help people vote. See https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/8/11/1968468/-Vital-Information-About-Voter-Registration-and-Suggestions-for-Getting-Out-the-Vote.

Here are some other organizations working to protect our voting rights that would welcome your help:

I urge you to get involved. Join the fight to protect the election and save our democracy before it’s too late. The stakes are too high to sit this one out.

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.yahoo.com/news/ohio-republicans-against-trump-no-110016392.html

[2] https://rvat.org/

[3] https://www.salon.com/2020/08/08/friday-night-massacre-at-us-postal-service-postmaster-general-boots-top-brass-ahead-of-election_partner/

[4] https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/trump-campaign-2020-voter-suppression-consent-decree-1028988/

[5] https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/509466-gop-sparks-backlash-after-excluding-election-funds-from-covid-19-bill

[6] https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-07/russia-trying-to-undermine-biden-in-election-white-house-intelligence-report-says

[7] https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/trump-campaign-2020-voter-suppression-consent-decree-1028988/

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Depressing, But We Will Prevail

 Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently revealed that she is suffering from “some form of low-grade depression” due to the coronavirus lockdown, racial strife in the U.S., and the Trump administration. I have felt that way lately, too. No doubt many other Americans, perhaps you as well, are having similar feelings.[1]

Part of me would like to run away, escape from this madness we’re in. But, I know that would not solve anything. And, oddly enough, there’s nowhere to go. The rest of the world doesn’t want Americans bringing this deadly virus to their shores, so most countries have closed their borders to us.

How ironic! Not that long ago the United States was the envy of the world. We were the home of the free, the land of opportunity. Now we are restricted to our homes for the most part. Traveling to other countries is out of the question. The rest of the world takes pity on us, the richest, most powerful country on the planet lacks the will to get the coronavirus under control. Our nation has nearly five million cases of the virus, with over 159,000 deaths as of August 6.[2] While we are only 4% of the world’s population, we have over 22% of the deaths from the virus.[3]

I’m getting more depressed. And, that’s without mentioning the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs. Or, a president who would rather spend the weekend playing golf than working to save the lives of tens of thousands of his fellow citizens. Or, a Republican-controlled Senate that refuses to spend $3.6 billion of our tax dollars to protect Americans’ right to vote, the lifeblood of our democracy. And on and on.

But here’s the good news. We can overcome all this adversity as well as any lingering depression. This November election can be an uplifting turning point. We can banish Trump and his cronies and set the country on a brighter, more humane path.

I believe it will all come down to who has the stronger will. Remember Star Wars where Luke Skywalker out dueled Darth Vader because The Force, a powerful desire for good to prevail, was with him. While Joe Biden may not be Luke Skywalker, he is our only hope of beating Trump, who clearly resembles Darth Vader and the Dark Side.

The question is do we, the people, have that powerful desire to turn our country away from the Dark Side. If we all protect the election process and turn out to vote in unprecedented numbers, we will prevail.

The great majority of Americans are good people who want the best for their families, their communities and their country. We know that Trump and his enablers are not what’s best for us or our country. That knowing can generate The Force — the will, the courage and the positive energy — to do whatever needs to be done to take back our country for the sake of our children and the planet.

It’s crunch time. Let’s get to work.

Here’s how to get started. Contact one of the following organizations or another you know that is doing similar work:

Bruce Berlin

With editing by Margaret Lubalin

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

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

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/08/06/899785192/michelle-obama-says-shes-dealing-with-low-grade-depression-amid-quarantine

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/gma/coronavirus-updates-us-records-over-52-000-cases-092351911–abc-news-topstories.html

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/06/us/united-states-failure-coronavirus.html

 

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Right To Vote

As I write this, civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis is being laid to rest in Atlanta, Georgia. Lewis fought his whole life for the African Americans’ right to vote. “In March 1965, a 25-year-old Lewis, then chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, led hundreds of protesters on a march…to draw attention to the need for voting rights for African Americans across the South.”[1] Fifty-five years later, that fight is still being waged.

The Selma to Montgomery march that Lewis led was instrumental in passing the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013, however, the Supreme Court’s landmark Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted critical elements of the 1965 Act, thus allowing states to enact discriminatory voting laws.

Last December, the House passed a bill that would restore those vital sections of the law. And this week the House honored Lewis by renaming that bill the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.[2] But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked the Senate from considering the bill.[3]

In May, the Democratic-led House passed a coronavirus relief act that included $3.6 billion to bolster 2020 election security during the pandemic. Once again, McConnell rejected the measure. He and his Republican colleagues don’t seem to care about securing Americans’ right to vote. Their latest relief proposal doesn’t include one penny to protect this November’s election, despite Trump’s predictions of massive election fraud.

Still, McConnell had the gall to stand before Lewis’s casket and proclaim, “History only bent toward what’s right because people like John paid the price.”[4] McConnell knows it’s right to restore voting rights and fund election security, but he’d rather protect his Senate Republican majority than the people’s right to vote.

There’s no question that the pandemic will make this year’s election more difficult. While a great number of people will want to avoid the polls and vote by mail, many states as well as the federal government have not taken any steps to accommodate them. Some states even greatly increased the problem in their primary elections by significantly reducing the number of polling places.

In McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, for example, officials reduced the number of polling places outrageously from 3,700 to fewer than 200.[5] With Republicans in charge in a plurality of states, their strategy seems to be to limit the number of actual voters, particularly African Americans, to increase their chances of winning.

So, what can we do? Since Republicans only play hardball, we need to convince Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats that they must play hardball as well. Call Speaker Pelosi and your Democratic Congresspeople ( 202-224-3121) and urge them to make the $3.6 billion for election protection in their relief bill non-negotiable. Tell them that the right to vote is sacred and they must force McConnell to bring the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to the floor for a vote. Tell them they owe it to the legacy of John Lewis.

The future of our democracy depends on all Americans being able to cast their ballots and every vote being counted.  We can’t afford to lose this fight. Pass this blog on to your friends and colleagues. Urge them to call as well.

Also, contact one of these organizations to learn how else you can help protect our elections and save our democracy:

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.facingsouth.org/2020/07/john-lewiss-final-fight-restore-voting-rights-act

[2] https://www.aol.com/urgent-essential-john-lewiss-death-172520491.html

[3] https://thehill.com/homenews/house/509160-james-clyburn-to-propose-renaming-voting-rights-bill-after-john-lewis

[4] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/pelosi-mcconnell-praise-john-lewis-as-late-congressman-honored-at-capitol-2020-07-27

[5] https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/06/kentucky-slashes-polling-places-voting-rights-mcgrath-booker-lebron-james/