The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Rosh Hashanah, Time for Reflection and a Fresh Start

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sunset this evening. For Jews, it’s a time for reflection, examining one’s life, making amends to those we’ve harmed and starting over with a fresh slate. Clearly, it’s an exercise that we all could benefit from engaging in.

While Rosh Hashanah focuses on our personal lives, it can also be a time when we look at our larger roles in our communities and in our nation. What have I been doing, or not done, to assist my community? What have I been doing, or not done, to support my country’s efforts to remain a democracy?

As we approach the critical November elections, I feel these questions are particularly pertinent. Though the issue of the future of American democracy will not explicitly be on the ballot, it casts a huge shadow over this fall’s elections.

There’s no question that democracy is under attack around the country. The January 6th assault on the Capitol with the intent to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election is just the most blatant example. In the last year, there have been “more than 1,000 threats to election officials…, with more than 100 of them meeting the threshold for a federal criminal investigation. More than half of the potentially criminal threats were in highly contested states where allies of ousted President Trump tried to overturn the results, such as in Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin.”[1]

With only six weeks until election day, it’s time to quickly reflect on what we’ve been doing to safeguard our democracy, and then determine what we can do in these last few weeks to help fix the damage that has been done to our country. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Whether you are a Republican, Independent or Democrat, don’t vote for any Republican candidate and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Given the widespread Republican efforts to thwart democracy and win at all costs, electing any Republican will only strengthen the party’s ability to advance toward authoritarian rule. As Jill Lawrence of USA Today asserted, “the Republican Party is on a dark path and should not hold power anywhere until it comes back into the light.”[2]
  2. Urge your state and local law enforcement officers to take every precaution to ensure the safety of poll workers and other election officials, as well as to make sure that the elections are free and fair. Intimidation of elections officials cannot be tolerated.[3]
  3. Write letters to the editor explaining why our democracy is at risk and that everyone who cares about the future of our democracy must vote for Democrats.
  4. Support Democrats running for office, especially for Congress and Secretaries of State who oversee elections. Here in New Mexico, we have the opportunity to turn a red Congressional seat blue. Contribute to and work for Gabe Vasquez, the Democrat running in District 2 against MAGA Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell. Go to https://gabeforcongress.com/ to get involved in his campaign.

Time is running out. In the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, we need to reflect on our less than full support for democracy. Then, step up and give it everything we can in these last six weeks to ensure its survival. As Ben Franklin said when asked about the form of government the founding fathers were creating, “A democracy, if you can keep it.”[4] And keep it, we must.

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 o


[1] https://blog.ucsusa.org/derrick-jackson/democracy-under-attack-confronting-mounting-threats-to-us-election-workers/

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/news/care-country-rights-dont-vote-110005774.html

[3] https://blog.ucsusa.org/derrick-jackson/democracy-under-attack-confronting-mounting-threats-to-us-election-workers/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/quotes/9010/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Myth of a United States

From the founding of the United States till today, our country has portrayed itself as united. In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers asserted that we are “one people.”[1]

The preamble to the Constitution begins: “We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…”[2] And, when we pledge allegiance to the flag, we say: “”I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”[3]

But, from the birth of our nation over 240 years ago until today, the truth is our country has rarely been united. From the very beginning, we had slave states and free states forbidding slavery. Back then as is still true now, we had the property-owning class, or capitalists, overseeing the working class.

After slavery was abolished during the Civil War, we still had the segregationist South, in conflict with the North, which generally favored integration. And, of course, we now have the blue states strongly disagreeing with the red states over abortion rights, immigration, voting rights and other major issues.

I believe World War II was the last time our country was truly united. What brought us together was a common enemy, the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan), which threatened the freedom of all Americans. Yes, 9/11 brought us together as well, but it didn’t take long before we were once again at odds over the Iraq War.[4]

Since the Vietnam War in the 1960s, our nation has become more and more divided. Today we are almost as deeply split as we were during the Civil War. In fact, some are predicting that the United States is on the verge of a second Civil War. 

What separates us now strikes at the very foundation of our nation. While many Americans are fighting to maintain the democratic principles upon which the country was established, others wish to turn the United States into an autocracy, ruled by Donald Trump and his white supremacist, MAGA followers.

And they appear to be willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Be it storming the Capitol, suppressing the vote, rigging the elections, stacking the Supreme Court, or whatever else they can fabricate.

We are the only ones who stand in their way. It is up to all of us who still believe in democracy to make sure they fail. Despite what you may think of President Biden and the Democrats, they are our only hope of preserving some semblance of democracy in America.

In fact, in recent weeks the Democrats have demonstrated that they just might be up to this awesome responsibility. They passed the Inflation Reduction Act making the system somewhat fairer for we, the people, including lowering a number of prescription drug prices and imposing a 15 percent minimum tax on large corporations, while every Senate Republican opposed the bill.[5] In addition, they enacted the most notable gun safety legislation in decades[6] and a bill to assist ailing veterans.[7] And, in just the last few days, Biden stepped in to support rail workers and avert a strike that would have further increased inflation and devastated our economy.[8]

Despite right-wing opposition, the Democrats are employing the mechanisms of government to help Americans and move our country forward. With less than eight weeks left until the elections, we must do whatever we can to assure that the Democrats prevail in November.

We must go the extra mile, make many phone calls, write postcards (Go to https://www.turnoutpac.org/postcards/), knock on doors, send donations. The future of democracy depends on what we all do to get out the vote and make sure that our nation does not succumb to the election deniers and far right conspiracy extremists. If ever your country needed you to stand up and get involved, it is 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.ushistory.org/documents/declaration.htm

[2] https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/constitution?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvZCZBhCiARIsAPXbajtkXDb1iDTs6XOZWdFvpQarisNuvZktlvFd9MJuAYVnXr5kc50qtlcaAvEoEALw_wcB

[3] https://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm

[4] https://www.brookings.edu/articles/rally-round-the-flag-opinion-in-the-united-states-before-and-after-the-iraq-war/

[5] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/07/democrats-senate-reconciliation-votearama-00050222

[6] https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/23/politics/senate-bipartisan-gun-bill/index.html

[7] https://www.npr.org/2022/08/02/1115325176/pact-act-veterans-burn-pits-toxins-passes-senate

[8] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/biden-announces-tentative-deal-avert-us-rail-strike-rcna47850

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Trump Grapples for a Lifeboat as He Sinks Deeper into Troubled Waters

In the last month almost all the headlines have focused on former President Trump’s mishandling and concealing classified documents belonging to the government. Until very recently, it seemed like an open and shut case. Trump knowingly took the documents that belonged to the government. When he was asked to return them, he claimed he had. But a court-ordered search of Mar-a-Lago revealed that he still had many such documents in his possession in violation of federal law.

To no one’s surprise, Trump devised a scheme to delay the DOJ’s prosecution of this case. He got one of his hand-picked judges, U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, to order that a special master examinethe seized documents, telling prosecutors they cannot use the material until it is reviewed.[1] While legal experts believe the judge had no legal support for her ruling[2] and the Justice Department immediately appealed Cannon’s decision,[3] it is an open question as to the extent Trump’s maneuver will hamper the wheels of justice.

Though many are dismayed by his latest ploy, Trump is still in a heap of trouble. Former high ranking Justice Department lawyer Peter Keisler noted, “If the department concludes that the former president or others in his circle intentionally sought to deceive the government in order to obstruct its investigation, that would significantly elevate the seriousness of this already very serious matter.”[4]

From what we now know, it sure looks like Trump intentionally sought to deceive the government and obstruct justice. Nevertheless, his duplicity could unfortunately delay prosecuting him in this matter for some time.

Regardless, Trump is sinking deeper into troubled waters and his legal jeopardy will not go away. In fact, the DOJ’s continuing investigation into the January 6 insurrection and the conspiracy to have alternative electors overturn the 2020 election in a number of states will likely now receive greater scrutiny due to the delay in the concealment of government documents probe.

Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb (not the baseball hall of famer) contends that the chances of Trump being indicted by the Department of Justice are “very high.” He recently explained that Trump’s “interfering with Pence…trying to persuade him in a very aggressive effort not to certify the election, and to send certain electors back, I think that was criminal.”[5] He believes Trump’s most serious legal problems are due to the obstructive activity he took in connection with the Jan. 6 proceeding…and the attempts to interfere in the election count in Georgia,  Arizona, Pennsylvania and perhaps Michigan.”[6]

Still, there will be no resolution of any of this until after November’s election. Neither the DOJ nor the states’ prosecutors will want any hint that their actions are politically motivated. Yet Trump’s obsession with being in the limelight will clearly color this year’s elections as well as those in 2024. Sink or swim, Trump just can’t help himself.

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/national-security/2022/09/08/justice-appeals-trump-documents-special-master/

[2] https://truthout.org/articles/trump-appointed-judge-rejects-amicus-brief-in-bizarre-move-critics-say/

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/08/justice-appeals-trump-documents-special-master/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/republican-lawyers-trump-documents/

[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/09/ty-cobb-former-trump-white-house-lawyer-says-he-violated-constitution.html

[6] Ibid.