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: 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/

 

Is There A Silver Lining?

The 2016 presidential election was an excruciating experience for millions of Americans. Many are in a state of despair and disbelief. Like me, they wonder how we could possibly have elected Donald Trump as our president.

            This election pitted the Establishment against the Anti-Establishment. A great number of Americans, including many who worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, were fed up with a self-serving Establishment. After decades of being left on the sidelines, millions of voters enthusiastically backed Donald Trump, the political outsider who shrewdly crafted a message that addressed their frustrations. Finally, someone understood their anger and resentment.

            On the other hand, Hillary Clinton represented the epitome of the Washington insider. Most Democratic, and even some Republican, officials supported her. She had been around D.C. for almost 25 years. She knew how to play the game well and accomplished a good deal for our country over the years. But, in the end, Clinton had too much baggage to carry the day and win the big prize.

            Nevertheless, despite the looming darkness of a Trump presidency, there just may be a silver lining to this election. I have long thought that things may have to get worse before they could get better. Many of us have been willing to go along with the status quo because our own lives have not seemed to been affected very much by the corruption and gross inequality in our country. While we might donate to various social causes and/or write a letter to our state or federal representatives, the vast majority of good Americans have had little time for organizing and volunteering to build a fairer, more just political system.

            The election of Donald Trump very possibly changes all that. We have received a wake up call signaling that we are losing our democracy and becoming an oligarchy. With the implementation of Trump’s programs, I believe many more Americans will grasp how much politics and government policy can personally impact us in a negative way. Consequently, Trump’s election can be a great organizing tool for Democrats and progressives.

            Moreover, if Hillary had squeaked out a victory, Trump and the Republicans would have constantly been attacking her. It would have been as bad, if not worse than how they obstructed Obama. She would have had a hostile Republican House and Senate on her back all the time. We would have had more Washington gridlock, another government nightmare with little chance of Clinton successfully pursuing much of her agenda. And, what she was able to achieve would, most likely, have been watered down to meet Republican and, quite possibly, her own donors’ objections. While progressives would have been lobbying for stronger social programs and climate change legislation, it’s really hard to imagine how they could have achieved very much under such conditions.

            Now, instead, Trump and the Republicans control the whole government, ready to advance a right-wing agenda that favors big business, non-regulation and large tax breaks for the wealthy. Additionally, many of the hard-won, social justice advances of the last fifty years are in serious jeopardy. The lines between Trump’s course and one that would truly serve most Americans and our planet are now clearly drawn. That should make the need for building a broad-based, non-partisan national movement to revive our democracy even more urgent and, hopefully, our goal of a just society more obtainable. So let’s come together and get to work!

            Go to www.breakingbigmoneysgrip.com to learn how to get started. And, if you are in Santa Fe, come to the next meeting of the Democracy Organizing Committee on Monday, November 14, at 6:15 in the LaFarge Library Community Room.

 

We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

It’s been way too long since I’ve written here. Now, however, I’m setting the intention to blog twice a week, if not more. So, here goes….

While the 2016 election cycle is about to end, our work as engaged citizens is just beginning. I believe this election, regardless of who wins, has finally awakened the American people to the fact that we are responsible for the state of our union.

Whether our government functions in the best interests of the people is up to us. Too often we have allowed the politicians and special interests to determine policy without regard for the public interest. For example, when President Bill Clinton negotiated NAFTA, the North American Trade Agreement, was he looking out for American workers or big business? And, whose concerns guided our government’s decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial banking from investment banks? Wall Street or Main Street?

In 2003 when the Bush Administration promoted and initiated a war against Iraq, was that in the best interests of the American people? With then Vice President Cheney leading the way, Halliburton, Cheney’s former company, and other Big Oil corporations sought to profit from the needless killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the wasteful expenditure of trillions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.

More recently, when the 2008 Great Recession crippled the country, President Obama used our money to bail out Wall Street while doing little to help millions of his fellow citizens save their homes from foreclosure. In all these and other similar situations, the vast majority of Americans felt helpless, watched their government act against their best interests and did nothing.

But, the times they are a changing. A great number of Americans from all political persuasions are fed up with government as usual. They are giving notice that they will no longer stand by and allow Big Money and special interests to run the show. Whether they support Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, voters are angry and ready to fight for what they believe in.

When President Obama was elected, people thought he would deliver the”change you can believe in” that he had promised. They did not hold his feet to the fire to assure he would make good on his promises. While one can argue that Obama faced much opposition which obstructed his performance, we, the people, were not organizing the mass movement that would have provided the necessary support and force to overcome some of the obstacles he faced.

This time is different. We are under no illusions that either Clinton or Trump will produce the change most Americans desire. This time we know that it is up to us to battle for the kind of country we want. We must make our voices heard and demand real change for the public good, not the special interests. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.