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: Can Dark Days Have a Silver Lining?

Wednesday was one of the darkest days in American history. Pro-Trump fanatics stormed the U.S. Capitol, overran an understaffed security force and forced Congresspeople and their staffs to run for cover. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer who supported Trump.[1]

The assault on the Capitol was a result of Donald Trump’s relentless, unfounded claims that the election was stolen and he actually won “by a landslide.” He had urged his supporters to come to Washington on January 6 for a “wild protest” against Congress’ certifying that Joe Biden had won the presidency. Trump implored his legions to march on the Capitol and take back their government.

Two burning questions immediately come to mind out of this horrific event: First, why weren’t the Capitol police better prepared and ready with sufficient backup for this well-publicized protest that was ripe to turn violent? And, second, will Trump and his Congressional rabble rousers be held accountable for this attempted insurrection? It will take weeks, perhaps months, for these and related matters to be resolved.

As ugly and tragic as that day was, I believe there is a silver lining. Trump has been using his false claims of a fraudulent election to keep a hold on his base and to raise funds for his post-presidency undertakings. Those pursuits include preparing for another possible run for the White House in 2024.

After Wednesday’s mayhem, the chances of Trump winning the presidency in 2024 are nil. While some of his base will surely stick with him, Trump’s insurrection was the final straw for many Republicans and Independents. The size of his following as well as the amount of funds in his campaign chest will surely shrink.

In fact, Wednesday’s insurrection increases the possibility that Trump will land in jail. While there was plenty of evidence of his criminal behavior prior to this week, Trump’s attempt to overthrow a legitimate election only adds fuel to the fire of prosecutors seeking to imprison him for his multitude of crimes.

Additionally, Trump has clearly created a deep chasm in the Republican Party that will take a long time to bridge, if ever. The Wall Street Journal, a Republican icon that had long backed the president, called for Trump’s resignation.[2] Others have suggested the formation of a third party to separate themselves from Trump’s Republican Party.[3]

This can only be good news for Biden, the Democrats and the American people. While the new administration’s task come January 20 will not be easy, having a divided opposition may well enable Biden to form a broader coalition to enact his agenda to help our nation. Already some Republicans have renounced their allegiance to the Party. In addition, Independents will be more inclined to favor the new administration. And, of course, the Democrats capturing control of the Senate will be a tremendous help as well.

In turn, this will assist the Democrats in holding onto Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024. The more they can accomplish for the American people in the next two to four years — whether it’s providing greater COVID relief, creating a living wage or reigniting the economy — the better the odds they will be rewarded at the polls by the voters.

Lastly, Trump’s disgraceful final act has given some Republicans the courage to stand up to him. With his reduced stature, his threats to find primary candidates in 2022 to run against Republicans who crossed him no longer will be the kiss of death. The fear of Trump’s wrath has lost a good deal of its potency.

American democracy has survived a deadly attack. But, let this be a vital lesson: we the people must not let down our guard. We must vigorously protect our democratic institutions and hold accountable those elected officials who do not.

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.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/brian-sicknick-capitol-police-officer-dies/2021/01/08/5552e036-51bc-11eb-83e3-322644d82356_story.html

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trumps-final-days-11610062773

[3] https://www.denverpost.com/2021/01/07/donald-trump-us-capitol-takeover-gop-split/

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: A Time for Serious Soul-Searching

While the country dodged an authoritarian bullet by electing Joe Biden as our next president, we are far from out of the woods. This is truly a time for some deep national reflection.

Our country is deadlocked. Almost half of America believes the election was stolen and Donald Trump should be president for another four years. Despite the administration’s massive corruption and self-dealing,[1] over 73 million Americans voted to give Trump a second term. While the president has lost over 30 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election,[2] a great many Americans continue to stand by him.

At the same time, more than 260,000 Americans have died from COVID 19 while Trump has refused to employ the immense powers of the federal government to curb the spread of the virus. As he continues to ignore this public health crisis, millions of Trump’s supporters still believe the virus is a hoax.

Meanwhile, as deaths from the virus continue to mount, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is attempting to undermine Biden’s future efforts to control the pandemic. Mnuchin is placing $455 billion in unspent coronavirus relief funds into an account that requires further congressional authorization to access, even though Congress had previously allocated the funds for emergency relief programs back in March.[3]

Plus, the Senate and House won’t put their differences aside for the good of the country. Once again, they have failed to pass a bill to help the millions who are suffering from the virus or have lost their incomes. Cities and states are also overwhelmed and desperately need federal assistance to keep their public health and other essential services operating.

Why is it so difficult for the country to come together to defeat this terrible common enemy, COVID 19? What don’t we understand? Why are we failing?

Political Science Professor Katherine Cramer at the University of Wisconsin points to a key factor underlying this dilemma. She explains:

There is a deep well of people in this country…who are sure the system is not working for them….(My book explores) the feelings of resentment many rural people in Wisconsin felt toward the urban elite. When Donald Trump won in 2016, partly by tapping into this resentment…I became aware just how surprised many in the cultural elite were about the challenges facing rural communities and the fact that many people living in these places feel they are not getting their fair share of attention, resources or respect. The shock at the closeness of the 2020 race suggests we are still unaware of the depth of this resentment.…What is the infrastructure that allows the hardships of so many to remain invisible?[4]

Mark Bauerlein, professor emeritus of English at Emory University, put it this way:

Ordinary Americans looked at the elite zones of academia, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington itself, and saw a bunch of self-serving, not very competent individuals sitting pretty, who had enriched themselves and let the rest of America slide,…putting the rank and file down for years.

(Trump) pinpointed them as the problem—the reason factories and small stores had closed, unemployment was bad, and PC culture had cast them as human debris. And millions cheered. …The outburst was a long time coming. Trump gave it an outlet, and the scorn for men and women at the top of our country is now widespread and frank. It’s not going to pass any time soon.[5]

John Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center, offered this solution to the problem:

(U)nless we address the root economic causes of many American voters’ anger and social alienation, we will remain a divided nation, with many remaining susceptible to the message of demagogues like Donald Trump.[6]

But the questions remain: Will Biden and his new Administration really get it? Will the Republicans continue to block progress in addressing these root economic causes?

Are they up to the challenge? To succeed, Sen. Bernie Sanders believes that “Democrats in Congress and the incoming Biden administration ‘must have the courage to take on the powerful special interests who have been at war with the working class of this country for decades.’”[7]

Will they? It is up to us to make sure they do, or we will lose what’s left of our representative democracy to the next populist authoritarian who comes along.

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.republicreport.org/2020/ten-reasons-trump-is-the-most-corrupt-president-in-u-s-history/

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/25/us/elections/trump-campaign-lawsuits.html

[3] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/11/25/flat-out-sabotage-already-underway-mnuchin-tries-put-455-billion-covid-funds-out

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-showed-us-america-005554050.html

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/11/25/prevent-another-right-wing-authoritarian-even-worse-trump-sanders-says-democrats

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: Will Trump Leave the Country If He Loses?

For the first time President Trump has publicly contemplated losing the election. At a campaign rally last Friday evening he speculated, “Maybe I’ll have to leave the country” if I lose.[1]

While he probably didn’t realize it, Trump was, in effect, admitting he is guilty of serious crimes, crimes that would land him in prison if he doesn’t leave the country. Fleeing their country is what disgraced dictators do when they are thrown out of office. They escape to avoid being jailed or worse.

The Justice Department has determined that a president can’t be indicted and tried while he is still in office.[2] Trump knows that his only safe place in the nation right now is the White House. Once his presidency ends, Trump will be subject to prosecution, and most likely be found guilty.

Why else would a wealthy businessman like Trump think he would “have to leave the country”? If he were innocent, wouldn’t he want to stay, clear his name and live the rest of his life in his beloved America?

Consider that he has multiple properties in the U.S., including his luxurious Mar a Lago estate in Florida. His business headquarters is in New York. Plus, his whole family lives in the states. There is only one reason Trump would feel he had to leave the country if he loses: to avoid prison.

The Democrats should make Trump’s tacit admission of guilt a central theme of their closing argument in the election. Make it clear that Americans don’t want to re-elect a president who knows he is guilty of egregious felonies against the nation and given the chance will likely commit many more crimes in a second term.

It’s up to all of us to vote him out. Then, before he can leave the country, LOCK HIM UP!

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/2020/10/trump-may-leave-country-if-he-loses-prison-criminal-prosecution.html.

[2] https://www.vox.com/2019/7/24/20708393/robert-mueller-report-trump-olc-justice-department-indictment-charge-sitting-president.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Everything Must Be on the Table

If Joe Biden and the Democrats win in November, they must resolve to have everything on the table in order to fix our broken political system. Both our electoral and policymaking processes are fundamentally flawed when the desires of the majority of American voters are continually crushed by the minority.

The United States is a democratic republic. But there is nothing democratic about our nation when rampant corrupting influences control our political system: voter suppression, gerrymandering, corporate lobbying, the Electoral College and huge campaign donations, much of which is dark money the sources of which are intentionally hidden from public scrutiny.

Earlier this week, Biden indicated that he was not a fan of adding seats to the Supreme Court, i.e. court packing. At the same time, he noted that the Republicans rush to put the very conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett on the Court in the midst of a presidential election is a form of court packing.[1] While the Democrats don’t have the votes to block her nomination, they can, and they must, rebalance the Court as well as the entire federal judiciary, if Biden wins and they take back the Senate.

The truth is that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans have been packing the federal judiciary with conservative judges ever since 2014 when they gained the majority in the Senate. During the last two years of the Obama Administration, McConnell blocked Obama’s 105 judicial appointments including Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. As a result:

“…Trump and McConnell have gotten over 200 federal judges and two Supreme Court Justices through the Senate, meaning over a quarter of all federal judges have been packed into our court system by Trump and virtually 100% of them have been straight and white, the overwhelming majority men.”[2]

But, it’s not just the federal courts that the Republicans have hijacked. Last February Majority Leader McConnell admitted he had 395 bills in his office passed by the House of Representatives that the Senate would not consider. And, 80% of the bills McConnell is now blocking from Senate consideration have bipartisan support.[3]

If Biden wins the election, which is looking likely, and the Democrats take control of the Senate, McConnell’s stranglehold on the legislative process and the federal judiciary will still continue as long as the filibuster remains in place. Once again, the will of the majority will be denied. Just like it has been in two of the last five presidential elections when the president-elect did not win the popular vote.[4]

An overwhelming Democratic victory next month is our only chance of restoring some measure of fairness, racial justice, compassion and common decency in our country. Despite Trump’s extensive efforts to steal the election, I believe that Biden’s chances of winning the election and the Democrats’ taking control of the Senate are good.

The best path to derailing Trump’s scams and ensuring a victory for democracy is a blue tidal wave on Election Day that will make it virtually impossible for Trump to muster the forces needed to overturn the results. The Democrats’ momentum is building. It’s up to us to make sure that it crests on Election Day. So, make a plan and go vote!

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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

[1] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/12/its-time-unpack-court.

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/08/27/rnc-mitch-mcconnell-has-been-key-confidante-donald-trump/5650153002/.

[4] https://time.com/5579161/presidents-elected-electoral-college/.