The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will Republican State Legislatures Overrule the Results of the Next Presidential Election?

The current right-wing Supreme Court recently announced that in its next session it will hear the case of Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina case involving gerrymandered congressional district maps drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature. At the heart of this case is the radical doctrine labeled the “independent state legislature” theory.

Under the independent state legislature doctrine, state legislatures have absolute control over electoral votes in presidential elections. Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Laurence Tribe and Dennis Aftergut, counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy, explain that “according to this baseless notion, state legislatures can do whatever they want in manipulating elections no matter how extreme the results — principles of voter equality and fairness be damned, along with the state’s constitution, its governor and its courts.”[1]

In other words, if the Supreme Court adopts this theory, it could rule that a state legislature can disregard the vote of the people and award its state’s Electoral College votes to whomever it wishes. And four of the Court’s justices have already signaled support for this idea.[2] As Thom Hartmann recently observed, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution describes the state legislature’s role in presidential elections, but “doesn’t even once mention the popular vote or the will of the people:

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…”[3]

The operative word here is “Manner.” Under the questionable independent state legislature doctrine, a state legislature can employ whatever manner it so choses in determining which candidate receives its state’s electoral votes.

Tribe and Aftergut further argue that “Going into this November’s elections, 30 state legislatures are firmly in Republican hands, including in most of the battleground states that determine presidential election outcomes. Adopting the independent state legislature theory would amount to right-wing justices making up law to create an outcome of one-party rule.”[4]

That is why the 2022 elections for state legislators are vitally important. Some of those 30 Republican-controlled legislatures must be turned over to the Democrats in this November’s elections. If Americans who care about saving our democracy turn out in great number and elect Democratically controlled legislatures this fall in enough states to muster an Electoral College majority, then they would prevent the overturning of the 2024 presidential election under the independent state legislature doctrine.

Once again, it is up to us to spread the word and get out the vote! Democrats have so many critical issues supported by a clear majority of voters: abortion rights, climate change, gun control, voting rights and now saving democracy itself.

We must light a fire under all Americans who want our democracy to survive. We all must get involved and do everything we can to ensure that radical Republican state legislatures cannot overturn the will of the people in the 2024 presidential election.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.yahoo.com/news/op-ed-supreme-court-poised-123049971.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/07/01/beware-supreme-court-laying-groundwork-pre-rig-2024-election

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/op-ed-supreme-court-poised-123049971.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can Our Broken Democracy Be Fixed?

This past weekend Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago. At the same time, Jews were commemorating the liberation of their ancestors from Egyptian bondage. Together the Easter and Passover holidays raise a profound question for all Americans in these troubling times:

Can we liberate ourselves from the growing anti-democratic movement in our nation and resurrect our dying democracy?

Honestly, I am not very optimistic. Afterall, our political leaders seem much more interested in gaining and maintaining power than they are in solving our country’s problems. This is particularly true on the right. As I noted in my last blog, “with few exceptions the Republicans have been total naysayers and obstructionists.”[1]

So, what can we do? First, we must come to grips with the fact that we are in a fight for the very survival of democracy. We must press upon state and national Democratic leaders that this is the case and that they, along with us, must publicly stress that we are in this critical battle to save our democracy.

Second, we must call out by name the great many Republicans and the few Democrats who are blocking the effective functioning of our democracy. For instance, senators like Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, who opposed changing a rule that would have enabled the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act, guaranteeing the right to vote to all Americans.[2] And, the numerous Republicans who are acting to restrict the right to vote in many red states across the country.[3]

Third, we must hold Democrats’ feet to the fire. Voters need to be reassured that President Biden and his party understand their problems and are currently delivering effective solutions. Biden needs to fulfill his pledge to the 43 million Americans with student loan debt to cancel at least part, preferably all, of the $1.7 trillion student debt.[4] We must demand that he keep his promise and do it now.

Congressional Democrats have been trying unsuccessfully to pass Biden’s Build Back Better bill since last summer. Time is running out before November’s crucial elections. Sen. Manchin has been the primary holdout to adopting the legislation. Senate Democrats need to slim the bill down to its most popular provisions – reducing prescription drug prices, tax reforms, and climate investments – which they all can agree on.[5] We must strongly lobby our senators and representatives to adopt the bill immediately and get it on Biden’s desk.

Finally, Americans need to truly understand what putting Republicans in charge of Congress in November would mean. Given how obstructionist they have been as the Congressional minority, it is not difficult to imagine how Republicans could completely thwart any Biden initiative for the remainder of his term in office should they gain control of Congress. Most likely no progress would be made on voting rights, tax reform, prescription drug prices, healthcare, climate change or almost anything else the president might propose to assist most Americans.

So, it is up to you and me. Together we must make crystal clear what is at stake in the coming election. We must call out those who are working to destroy our democracy. And we must demand that our Democratic senators and representatives act now. If our nation is to be liberated from the growing anti-democratic movement in its midst and our dying democracy is to be resurrected, we are the ones who must make it 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://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/

[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/democrats-rev-voting-rights-push-end-2021-senate-path-remains-n1286080#anchor-Aperfectstorm

[3] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/19-states-enacted-voting-restrictions-2021-rcna8342

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/more-since-biden-found-whether-102000786.html

[5] https://www.vox.com/2022/3/16/22955410/build-back-better-scenarios

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Are Democrats Turning the Corner?

The popular consensus until now has been that the Democrats are in deep trouble and will likely get hammered in the coming November elections. Considering their inability to pass the Build Back Better social reforms bill or voting rights protections and Biden’s low polling numbers, the Democrats clearly looked like big losers come next fall. Then suddenly, the winds of change appear to be turning in their direction.

One of the main issues that the failed voting rights legislation addressed was partisan gerrymandering.  Republican controlled state legislatures have been drawing House district lines that reduce the number of districts that favor Democrats. Since the GOP only needs to flip five seats to take control of the House, their gerrymandering efforts seemed to be getting the job done.

But the Democrats have been fighting back in the courts and winning. In fact, according to the L.A. Times, “when all is done, it’s even possible Democrats could emerge with a slight gain compared with the current maps.”[1] For example, the Ohio State Supreme Court struck down the Republican legislature’s partisan redistricting map.[2] And, on Friday the North Carolina Supreme Court did as well.[3] The Democrats’ chances of holding onto the House majority are clearly improving.

Another recent development that should help the Democrats next fall is Biden’s upcoming pick of a black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. While Blacks’ support of the Democratic Party has been waning since the 2020 election, Biden’s naming a black woman to the Court will likely reverse that trend. Republican opposition to this nomination will have racial overtones which will further motivate Blacks to get out the vote and defeat GOP candidates at the polls.

A third cloud looming over the Republicans’ election prospects is their response to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. This week the Republican National Committee formally censured the two members of their party, Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger, who serve on the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection. The RNC censure accused their two colleagues of “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”[4] Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority (72%) of Americans, including 45% of Republicans, believe the people involved in the attack on the Capitol were “threatening democracy.”5

Many GOP lawmakers are now downplaying what happened on January 6. The House Select Committee will soon hold televised hearings to lay out to the nation exactly what occurred then and leading up to that day. Will swing voters in November want to support those Republicans who not only refuse to acknowledge the truth regarding the attempted coup, but also continue to back Trump who is plotting to do it again?

Finally, Biden and the Democrats have a positive record that should increase their electoral fortunes. The recent tremendous rise in employment figures along with the great reduction in omicron cases give voters reason to stick with the Democrats. Of course, a lot can and will happen in the nine months until the election. But the Democratic picture is certainly brighter today than it’s been in quite some time.

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.latimes.com/politics/newsletter/2022-01-21/state-courts-rein-in-gerrymandering-a-help-to-democrats-essential-politics

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/04/north-carolina-congressional-map-struck-down-00005974

[4] https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/04/politics/liz-cheney-adam-kinzinger-censure-rnc/index.html

[5] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/majority-americans-jan-attack-threatened-democracy-poll/story?id=81990555

The Struggle for the Soul of America: A Build Back Better Act to Save the Democratic Congress and Our Democracy

If Pres. Biden and Congressional Democrats act quickly, they can still pass the Build Back Better bill and protect voting rights in time to save our democracy before the November elections.

Last December I was part of a small contingent of New Mexicans that met with two of NM Sen. Ben Ray Lujan’s top staffers. We advocated for:

  • the elimination of all remaining sections of the Build Back Better (BBB) Act to which Sens. Manchin and/or Sinema still objected; and
  • the inclusion of the Freedom to Vote Act, which Manchin and Sinema support, in the BBB bill with a budget item for implementation so it meets (at least in part) the reconciliation process requirements.

While they considered our viewpoint, Lujan’s lieutenants rejected our proposal. For one, they did not believe voting rights belonged in the BBB bill and, rather, should stand alone. Last week that strategy failed when Senate Republicans along with Manchin and Sinema defeated a stand-alone voting rights act by rejecting a change in the filibuster which would have permitted the adoption of the bill.

How To Pass BBB and Voting Rights

Since the Democrats’ previous attempts to pass the BBB and the Freedom to Vote acts have failed, here’s how they should now proceed to have a better chance of success:

1. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has to make amends for his harsh remarks regarding Sen. Manchin’s rejection of the BBB legislation last year. Manchin is reported to be very upset about being publicly called out by Klain after the senator scrapped the bill.[1]

2. Pres. Biden needs to sit down with Manchin and Sinema and together agree on a BBB reconciliation bill in the range of $1.7 trillion. This would include the Freedom to Vote and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement acts which the senators already support. The stand-alone voting rights act couldn’t overcome the filibuster. Inserting voting provisions into the BBB reconciliation bill provides the only chance to enact them. That is because “reconciliation legislation limits Senate debate on the bill to 20 hours and therefore, is not subject to the filibuster,”[2] thus allowing a simple majority to pass the bill.

3. Senate Democrats must rename the bill. Labeling the legislation the Lewis-Manchin Build Back Better Act would recognize and reward Sen. Manchin for his central role in both drafting and enacting this historic legislation. It might also increase Manchin’s determination to have the bill enacted and his name enshrined in history. Additionally, the new name would acknowledge the late Rep. John Lewis’s valiant work in advancing voting rights. And, perhaps most importantly, the fresh title would help to unite the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party in their efforts to win the mid-term elections and save our democracy.

Overcoming the Obstacles to Enacting Build Back Better

A major hurdle to enacting the BBB bill is the requirement that the Senate parliamentarian determine whether sections of the bill meet the requirements for including them in the reconciliation legislation.[3]

However, the parliamentarian’s ruling is only advisory. So, if she determines that voting rights provisions are “extraneous” to the BBB act under the Byrd Rule guiding reconciliation, and must be eliminated, the Democrats would have to override her decision in order to include those provisions in the final bill.[4] In fact, the “law gives the presiding officer – and only the presiding officer – the initial authority to determine if a disputed provision violates the Byrd Rule.”[5] In this case, Vice President Kamala Harris would be the presiding officer and would rule in all likelihood that the voting rights provisions are not extraneous.

Arguing that voting rights are not extraneous, Democrats could assert that inclusion of those provisions in the BBB act is essential to safeguarding major portions of the bill from being overturned by the next Congress. Without protecting the right to vote, millions of Americans’ voting rights are now being severely compromised by state legislatures. That could radically change the composition of the next Congress which then might very well vote to eliminate the budget changes implemented by the BBB legislation, or to refuse to appropriate funding for those changes.

Democrats Must Play Hardball

Sen. Mitch McConnell ignored Senate rules and procedures to deny President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court a hearing on his nomination in the spring of 2016, many months prior to the fall election.[6] Then, when President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch was stymied by the Democrats’ filibuster in 2017, McConnell changed Senate rules to confirm Gorsuch by a simple majority.[7] Subsequently, he ignored established procedures and rammed through the Senate the confirmation of Trump’s nominee by a simple majority right before the 2020 election.[8]

Now Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democrats must play hardball as well. Bend Senate rules just as McConnell has done to secure what he wanted. Do whatever it takes to include voting rights protection in the BBB Act and get the bill to President Biden’s desk by the end of February. It may well save the Democrats’ control of Congress and Biden’s presidency as well as our democracy. Call Schumer’s office and your senators (202-224-3121) and demand they act 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://news.yahoo.com/joe-manchin-reportedly-furious-ron-150015171.html

[2] https://www.ncsl.org/blog/2017/01/13/how-the-congressional-reconciliation-process-works.aspx

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/verify/verify-can-the-senate-overrule-the-parliamentarians-recommendation-could-immigration-legislation-make-the-reconciliation-bill-budget-dreamers-biden/65-008d1307-74bc-42c3-abcf-76865b30c6d3

[5] https://www.legislativeprocedure.com/blog/2021/7/20/immigration-and-the-byrd-rule

[6] https://www.npr.org/2018/06/29/624467256/what-happened-with-merrick-garland-in-2016-and-why-it-matters-now

[7] https://www.npr.org/2017/04/06/522847700/senate-pulls-nuclear-trigger-to-ease-gorsuch-confirmation

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/27/us/mcconnell-barrett-confirmation.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Are Trump and His Republican Party Going Down?

The walls are closing in on Donald Trump. It’s now clear that Republicans in at least five states won by Joe Biden conspired to fraudulently overturn the 2020 presidential election. In one of those states, the Michigan “Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock said that the Trump presidential campaign directed Republicans in Michigan to seat fake GOP Electoral College delegates.”[1] No doubt Trump’s campaign directed the other states to do the same.

This effort was led by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.[2] It’s inconceivable that Giuliani would have implemented such a scheme without his client’s knowledge and approval.

At the same time, the New York Daily News has reported that NY “state Attorney General Tish James reveal(ed) that the cheating conman (Trump) we’ve known all these long decades cheated and conned in illegally misrepresenting the finances of his real estate firm.”[3] The Daily News editorial board called Trump “this miserable insipid democracy-threatening horror of a man.”[4]

Meanwhile, “a district attorney in Atlanta on Thursday asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help a criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.”[5]

And it does not appear that the conservative U.S. Supreme Court is ready to come to Trump’s rescue either. On Wednesday, in an 8 to 1 decision, the Court refused Trump’s request to block the release of White House records to the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.[6]

In the coming weeks how all these pieces fit together will most likely become abundantly clear when the House Select Committee conducts nationally televised hearings regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection. What will take longer to decipher is the American public’s response to what these hearings reveal. Specifically, how will the committee’s revelations affect next November’s elections?

We know that Republican members of Congress met with some of the rioters before January 6th. Reports indicate that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also interacted with them.[7] In fact, 147 Republican members of the House and Senate voted to overturn Biden’s election.[8]

Americans are about to learn who really tried to steal the 2020 election. Once they understand the extent to which Trump and the Republican Party went to unlawfully overturn the election will they be willing to trust them with the reins of power and vote them into office? While the Democrats recently lost the battle over voting rights, it appears they still may have a pretty good shot at winning the struggle for the soul of 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/news/michigan-gop-co-chair-says-004310038.html

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/politics/trump-campaign-officials-rudy-giuliani-fake-electors/index.html

[3] https://www.yahoo.com/news/digging-donald-trump-comeuppance-coming-090000451.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/us/politics/georgia-trump-election-investigation.html

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/us/politics/trump-supreme-court-jan-6.html

[7] https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/exclusive-jan-6-organizers-met-congress-white-house-1245289/

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/07/us/elections/electoral-college-biden-objectors.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Focus on January 6th Committee to Save Our Democracy

The chances of the Democrats enacting voter protection bills to safeguard our elections now seem all but dead. Since Sens. Manchin and Sinema are unwilling to alter the filibuster in order to pass the Freedom to Vote and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement bills, the Democrats must find another path to winning next November’s elections and saving our democracy.

Clearly that path will be uphill. The first mid-term elections after a new president enters the White House most often are won by the opposing party. With Biden’s approval ratings polling around 40% or below and his party’s legislative agenda stalled, it’s more than likely that the Republicans will take back the House and very possibly the Senate as well.

But there is still one promising prospect which could turn the November elections in the Democrats’ favor. In the next three to six months, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol will hold televised hearings to provide the nation with the full story regarding what happened and who was responsible for the insurrection.

From the evidence made public to date, it now appears that the attack on the Capitol was part of a larger, coordinated conspiracy, quite possibly criminal, to overthrow the 2020 presidential election and install Trump as president. In the latest development, Republican electors from seven states that went for Biden submitted fraudulent Electoral College certificates to Congress and the National Archives certifying that Trump won in their states. The fact that these seven certificates were all identical, including using the same typeface, indicates their submission was coordinated, perhaps by the Republican Party or the Trump White House.[1]

No doubt more about how this all transpired will be revealed by the House Select Committee during its televised hearings. The Committee may be able to connect the dots to demonstrate a conspiracy to put the outcome of the election in those seven states in question. Submitting the fraudulent Republican Electoral College certificates to Congress alongside the legitimate certificates would put the outcome of the election in those states in question. That, in turn, would give Vice President Pence a basis for throwing out the results in those states, all of which voted for Biden, when he conducted the Electoral College count in Congress on January 6th.  Without those states’ electoral votes for Biden, Trump could be declared the winner of the election. This scenario also bolsters Trump’s claim of massive election fraud.

The Select Committee hearings may very well give a great many Americans reason not to vote to put a bunch of corrupt Republicans who supported or participated in this scheme in charge of Congress. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the committee, recently claimed that the hearings “will blow the roof off the House.”[2] Stay tuned.

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.inquirer.com/opinion/fake-electoral-college-certificates-january-6-investigation-20220113.html; https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/12/politics/trump-overturn-2020-election-fake-electoral-college/index.html

[2] https://news.yahoo.com/jan-6-hearings-are-going-to-blow-the-roof-off-the-house-rep-raskin-says-221500327.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Signs of Hope in the New Year

While 2021 was a very challenging year in many respects, the new year is bringing some hopeful signs of better days ahead for restoring our democracy. When times look bad, it’s good to have reason for hope to keep us all going.

It has been a full year since the violent attack on our nation’s Capitol which killed five people and seriously injured over 100 police officers. More and more Americans are wondering whether those who conspired to overthrow our government will ever be held accountable.

Hope in the Department of Justice

On Wednesday, the day before the first anniversary of the insurrection, Attorney General Merrick Garland assured the nation that, “The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”[1] That means Donald Trump, the conspirator-in-chief, is not out of the woods and may very well be prosecuted and brought to justice.

Hope in President Biden

The next day, President Biden “ripped into Trump’s subversion of democracy and the refusal of most Republicans to stand up to the former president’s lies. In what was by far the most passionate, forceful and effective speech of his presidency, he moved democracy to the center of the nation’s political debate,” according to Washington Post political columnist E. J. Dionne Jr.[2]

Biden declared, “You cannot love your country only when you win…You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.” And he placed the responsibility on “all of us…to stand for the rule of law, to preserve the flame of democracy…(and) keep the promise of America alive.”[3] Hopefully, Americans of all political stripes will respond to Biden’s call. And it appears that they are doing just that.

Hope in Former Trump Administration Officials

A growing number of Republicans are working to prevent both another Trump presidency as well as more political violence undermining our democracy. Stephanie Grisham, former press secretary in the Trump White House, is helping to organize this effort. In the White House on January 6th, she observed that Trump was “gleeful” watching his supporters attacking the Capitol.[4] Another key organizer, former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff, Miles Taylor, also co-founded the Renew America Movement, a group to support candidates across the political spectrum that identify as being in favor of reforms to strengthen democracy.[5]

Meanwhile, numerous members of former Vice President Pence’s staff are cooperating with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. They include former chief of staff, Marc Short, as well as his former national security adviser, Keith Kellogg. In addition, multiple tiers of Pence’s staff who were at the White House on Jan. 6 have been “integral” in helping the committee flesh out what happened.[6]

The committee, of course, is the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection. The nation is being well served by its members and their work. Just think where the committee might be now due to Republican obstructive tactics, if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had kept the rest of his Republican picks on the committee after Speaker Pelosi refused to accept Trump allies Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks.[7]

Hope in former Republican officials

Staunch conservative, Bill Kristol, a former adviser to President Reagan, has formed Defending Democracy Together with other Never-Trump Republicans. The organization is dedicated to defending America’s democratic norms, values, and institutions. It recently hired lobbyists in an attempt to rein in presidential emergency powers, refine the federal government’s war powers and clarify Congress’s subpoena authority.[8]

Even ruthless Republicans like Karl Rove are denouncing the attack on the Capitol and demanding justice. He recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

To move beyond Jan. 6, 2021, we must put country ahead of party…There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy. Love of country demands nothing less. That’s true patriotism.[9]

Hope in Liz and Dick Cheney

The only Republican official who participated in the Capitol commemoration of the January 6th attack this past Thursday was Rep. Liz Cheney, Vice-chair of the Select Committee. Ironically enough, she brought her dad, Dick Cheney, along with her. The former vice-president, you may remember, was the mastermind of the Bush Administration and its fabricated justification for the immoral Iraq War.

Here’s what the elder Cheney had to say:

I am deeply disappointed at the failure of many members of my party to recognize the grave nature of the January 6 attacks and the ongoing threat to our nation.[10]

Hope for Democracy

A pro-democracy movement is growing across the political spectrum. The struggle for the soul of America is far from over. Hopefully, this movement will prevail and, as Lincoln pronounced in the midst of the bloody Civil War, our nation “shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”[11]

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.c-span.org/video/?c4994302/attorney-general-pledges-january-6-attack-perpetrators-held-accountable

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/06/biden-tells-truth-best-speech-his-presidency/

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/stephanie-grisham-trump-gleefully-watched-jan-6-1280113/

[5] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/06/former-administration-officials-block-trump-526623

[6] https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/mike-pence-staff-giving-goods-021846346.html

[7] https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/21/politics/nancy-pelosi-rejects-republicans-from-committee/index.html

[8] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/07/anti-trump-group-led-by-bill-kristol-hires-lobbyists-to-push-presidential-power-reform.html

[9] https://www.wsj.com/articles/republicans-jan-6-responsibility-anniversary-riot-storm-capitol-trump-protesters-investigation-11641417707

[10] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/01/06/dick-cheney-surprise-visit-capitol-jan-6-riot/9122457002/

[11] https://legacyneuro.com/gettysburg-address/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Could Court’s Anti-Abortion Ruling Backfire on Republicans?

Republican-controlled legislatures across the country are enacting laws suppressing voters’ rights and highly gerrymandering legislative districts to secure an unfair advantage in next year’s midterm elections. At the same time, in a recent Mississippi abortion law case Republicans are advocating for the Supreme Court to further limit abortion rights, or to overturn Roe v. Wade entirely.

So, what happens if the Court does further limit a woman’s right to an abortion next year? That ruling could very well create a backlash so strong that the Republicans’ efforts to skew the election in their favor is wiped out entirely.

Earlier this year Americans’ support for abortion in all or most cases was at 80%, according to Gallup.[1] And, a November Washington Post-ABC poll found broad agreement that women and their doctors should make decisions about abortion rather than being regulated by law. Overall, 75 percent indicated such decisions should be left to the woman and her doctor, including 95 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans.[2]

People on both sides feel very strongly about this issue. The Court’s decision in the Mississippi case next June is likely to motivate a great many voters. Most Democratic candidates will be promising to pass laws nationally and/or within their states legalizing abortion, while most Republican candidates will be supporting the Court’s decision further limiting or outlawing abortion. Given public opinion, championing a woman’s right to choose may well be a winning ticket in a good number of races.

While there is reason to hope that energizing pro-choice voters may be the silver lining to the Court’s anticipated anti-abortion decision, our voting rights still need protection.

The right-to-choose movement cannot guarantee voting rights. Time is running out to get voting rights protection implemented in all states before next year’s election. Urge your representative (Call 202-225-3121) and senators (Call 202-224-3121) to pass the Freedom to Vote and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement bills now. The fairness of our elections as well as the future of our democracy hangs in the balance.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2021/11/30/how-americans-really-feel-about-abortion-the-sometimes-surprising-poll-results-as-supreme-court-weighs-overturning-roe-v-wade/?sh=60971f0c36c9

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/11/16/post-abc-poll-abortion-supreme-court/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Are Democrats Asleep at The Wheel?

While Senate Democrats continue to haggle over Biden’s Build Back Better package, Republicans across the country are plotting to make America a permanent one-party, authoritarian state. As Zack Beauchamp, senior correspondent at Vox, observed:

“We are suffering from the same rot that has brought down democracy in other countries: a party that has decided it no longer wants to play by the rules and that would instead prefer to rule as authoritarians rather than share power with its opponents…The escalation in authoritarian behavior since January 6, from both national and state Republicans, shows that things are worse than even some pessimistic observers have feared…It’s happened elsewhere. It can happen here, too.[1]

Though Democrats are well aware of Republican efforts at one-party domination, they don’t seem to have the will or the courage to do anything about it. In state after state Republican-controlled legislatures are enacting laws suppressing voters’ rights, particularly those of communities of color,[2] and highly gerrymandering legislative districts in their favor.[3]

Most recently, Georgia’s General Assembly approved a redistricting map giving the GOP dominance in nine of its fourteen congressional districts even though the state narrowly went for Pres. Biden last year and elected two Democrats to the U.S. Senate in January.[4] Other GOP state legislatures are gerrymandering congressional districts to their extreme advantage as well. They include Ohio, Texas, Utah, Indiana, Alabama, and North Carolina.[5]

Senate Republicans have consistently filibustered Democrats’ efforts to protect voting rights and eliminate political gerrymandering.[6] Since Democratic Sens. Manchin and Sinema strongly oppose changing the filibuster rule to allow a simple majority to pass voting rights bills, Senate Democrats have only one path to passing voting rights legislation. That is, inserting the Freedom to Vote Act[7] and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act[8] into the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, which the Democrats can pass with a simple majority. A budget item to provide funding for the states to implement the provisions of these acts would also be needed to meet budget reconciliation bill requirements.[9]

Some senators might object to this approach arguing that the Senate parliamentarian could rule that these voting rights bills do not qualify for inclusion in a reconciliation bill. However, the parliamentarian’s ruling is only advisory and can be overruled by the presiding senator, which in this case would be Democratic Vice-president Kamala Harris.[10]

Our democracy is at stake. Time is running out to get voting rights protection implemented in all states before next year’s election. Democrats must include voting rights in the BBB and pass the Act before the end of the year. Urge your representative (https://clerk.house. gov/Members#MemberProfiles, 202-225-3121) and senators (https://www.senate.gov/ /senators/senators-contact.htm, 202-224-3121) to adopt the above course of action. The fairness of our elections as well as the future of our democracy hangs in the balance.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2021/6/15/22522504/republicans-authoritarianism-trump-competitive

[2] https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/10/republicans-are-passing-rigged-maps-and-democrats-are-running-out-of-time-to-stop-it/

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/25/us/politics/republican-redistricting-swing-states.html

[4] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/11/22/total-asymmetric-warfare-georgia-gop-redraws-political-map-us-senate-dems-do-nothing; https://www.cnn.com/election/2020/results/state/georgia/president

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/15/us/politics/republicans-2022-redistricting-maps.html

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/03/senate-republicans-voting-rights-bill-john-lewis

[7] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/breaking-down-freedom-vote-act

[8]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lewis_Voting_Rights_Act#:~:text=The%20John%20Lewis%20Voting%20Rights,Holder%20and%20Brnovich%20v.

[9] https://budget.house.gov/publications/fact-sheet/budget-reconciliation-basics

[10] https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/verify/verify-can-the-senate-overrule-the-parliamentarians-recommendation-could-immigration-legislation-make-the-reconciliation-bill-budget-dreamers-biden/65-008d1307-74bc-42c3-abcf-76865b30c6d3

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Is Passing the Build Back Better Act The Ticket to Democrats Winning in 2022?

Democrats appear to be banking on passing Pres. Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) package as their ticket to winning next year’s midterm elections. The House’s approval of the BBB Act on Friday does give the Democrats momentum toward that goal. Still, getting the bill through the Senate will be challenging. And, while I believe it will finally pass, the shrunken BBB Act by itself will most likely not give Democrats the huge boost they will need to maintain control of Congress in next year’s elections.

The good news for the Democrats is they have a great deal more to run on than the BBB Act. Last March they passed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, the American Rescue Plan. That legislation provided needed help to tens of millions of people, reducing high levels of hardship, helping school districts address student learning loss, and bolstering the economy. Among other pluses, it expanded unemployment benefits, health coverage, child tax credits, food support and housing assistance.[1] Despite all the hardship Americans were undergoing, not one Republican voted for this urgently needed relief act.[2]

On top of that, the Democrats recently enacted a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. This legislation was critical to repairing and upgrading our nation’s deteriorating infrastructure. While some Republicans did support this bill, the vast majority of them turned their backs on our economy’s dire need for a solid, revamped infrastructure.

Assuming the BBB Act does become law, Biden and the Democrats will have pumped in close to $5 trillion dollars into the economy in one year. On top of that close to six million new jobs have been created and the unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent.[3]

Even with all these positives, the outlook for the Democrats is not good. Record inflation is hurting most people in their pocketbooks. The battle to control COVID is still raging. Americans are angry, fearful and have not been as divided since the Civil War. And Biden and the Democrats are receiving most of the blame. Less than 40 percent of the population approve of their performance.[4] Haggling over the BBB package clearly has not helped them either.

For example, Sens. Sanders and Bennet take issue with the bill’s increase in the SALT (State and Local Taxes) cap deduction. They argue it’s another tax break for the wealthy and will cost the government billions of dollars.[5] Sen. Sanders put it this way:

“You can’t be a political party that talks about demanding the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and then end up with a bill that gives large tax breaks to many millionaires. You can’t do that. The hypocrisy is too strong. It’s bad policy, it’s bad politics.”[6]

The Democrats’ struggle over raising the SALT cap exposes how vulnerable they will be in 2022 election and why they cannot rely on the BBB Act alone to get them over the finish line. As Sen. Sanders explained, it sends the wrong message to average Americans and gives the Republicans a great message to run on: “Democrats are the party of the rich.” Fortunately, the Democrats are working on a SALT cap compromise that will blunt this characterization.[7] But whether it will be sufficient remains to be seen.

There’s yet another issue regarding how effective BBB will be as a Democratic campaign energizer next year. That is, the voting public may not significantly benefit from the Act prior to the November election since many of the popular health benefits will not kick in until 2023 or later.[8]

Finally, BBB fails to address voting rights. Without protecting our right to vote, the Democrats have practically no chance of winning the House and little hope in the Senate next year. As I’ve noted in previous blogs, GOP legislatures around the country are enacting laws to suppress the vote, gerrymander congressional districts in their favor and control the administration of the elections giving them the ability to overturn the elections in their states.

The Democrats have no time to lose. They must settle their differences now and begin promoting their case that they are the party that truly supports the American people in these difficult times.

Urge your representative (https://www.house.gov/representatives, 202-225-3121) and senators (https://www.senate.gov//senators/senators-contact.htm, 202-224-3121) to protect our right to vote and resolve these other issues immediately. The fairness of our elections as well as the future of our democracy hangs in the balance.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/american-rescue-plan-act-will-help-millions-and-bolster-the-economy#unemployment

[2] https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/republicans-promote-pandemic-relief-voted-77527236

[3] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/11/05/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-october-jobs-report/

[4] https://nypost.com/2021/11/18/biden-approval-rating-hits-36-percent-in-quinnipiac-poll/

[5] https://www.wsj.com/articles/pelosi-says-house-democrats-will-add-paid-leave-back-to-bill-11635951745

[6] https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/18/democrats-agonize-tax-cuts-rich-522859

[7] Ibid.

[8] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/dems-stuffed-bill-popular-health-093014592.html