The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Anti-American Republicans

On Friday, Congress passed a last-minute Continuing Resolution to avert a partial government shutdown and keep the government running until December 16. That gives Congress 10 weeks of breathing room to forge together a budget for the new fiscal year, which just began on October 1.

While Democrats overwhelmingly supported the Resolution, 25 Republican senators and 201 Republican House members voted against it. In total, only 32 out of 261 Congressional Republicans decided it was more important to keep our government running than to shut it down because they objected to certain measures or omissions.[1] Without a budget resolution all non-essential discretionary functions would have stopped this past Friday at midnight.[2] Over 85% of Republicans responsible for enacting our laws were willing to throw thousands of federal employees out of work, halt many federal programs that millions of Americans depend on, and greatly disrupt our economy rather than give Congress just 10 more weeks to pass a budget for fiscal 2023.

The stopgap spending bill provides $18.8 billion for Hurricane Ian and other disaster relief,[3] including $2.5 billion for those adversely affected by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire in New Mexico.[4] Despite Hurricane Ian’s devastation of their state, all 16 Floridian GOP members of the House voted against the Resolution.[5] (Incredibly, Florida Sen. Rick Scott joined in the dissent while Sen. Rubio failed to cast a vote.[6]) Apparently party politics are more important to them than their own constituents’ extreme hardship and their state’s dire need for aid in the face of this major catastrophe.

With November election day fast approaching, what were they thinking? How will Florida’s voters respond to their Republican representatives turning their backs on them in their hour of need. It’s also very telling that Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis voted against relief for the Northeast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy a decade ago when he was in Congress.[7] Ironically, he is now welcoming federal disaster assistance for his home state.[8]

You have to wonder how Republicans sleep at night. Putting their party ahead of their constituents’ urgent needs. Welcoming federal aid only when they believe it will further their political ambitions. You’d hope that voters would see through Republican hypocrisy and lack of compassion and reject their candidates at the polls. We’ll know if that’s the case in just a few short weeks.

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/politics/2022/09/30/congress-continuing-resolution-jackson-investiture/

[2] https://www.crfb.org/papers/qa-everything-you-should-know-about-government-shutdowns#whatservicesaffected

[3] https://federalnewsnetwork.com/budget/2022/09/house-passes-continuing-resolution-averting-government-shutdown-fda-furloughs/; https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/leahy-statement-on-final-passage-of-the-continuing-resolution-

[4] https://apnews.com/article/wildfires-fires-new-mexico-business-congress-a1c482f16a2d306cb9edfd9612992273

[5] https://www.axios.com/2022/10/01/hurricane-ian-florida-gop-marco-rubio-funding

[6] https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_votes/vote1172/vote_117_2_00351.htm

[7] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/30/hurricane-relief-votes-hypocrisy/

[8] https://apnews.com/a09c2b89211fba1a55a9b26f05d26203; https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/desantis-dials-down-rhetoric-biden-210148402.html

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: 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.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Time to Fight Back!

In response to the recent Supreme Court decisions undercutting women’s rights, environmental protection, gun control and more, I agree with environmentalist Bill McKibben. His recent observations remind me of the Chinese proverb, “in every crisis lies the seed of opportunity.[1] McKibben wrote:

A reasonable reaction to the week’s Supreme Court rulings, which culminated in Thursday’s gutting of the Clean Air Act, would be: we are so screwed.

But there’s another way to look at it: we can turn the right-wing’s wet dream into a nightmare for them if we fight back. If we seize it, we have the best opportunity in many years for reconfiguring American politics.

The key thing to understand about these Supreme Court decisions is that they’re fantastically unpopular. On guns, on choice, and on climate the Court has taken us places Americans badly do not want to go. By majorities of two-thirds or more Americans detest these opinions; those are majorities large enough to win elections and to shape policy, even in our corroded democracy. The right, after decades of slow and careful and patient nibbling away at rights and norms is suddenly rushing full-tilt. That’s dangerous for us, but also for them. The force of that charge can, jiu jitsu-like, be turned against them.[2]

This past week in the case of West Virginia v. EPA, the Court found that the Environmental Protection Agency did not have the authority to regulate reducing carbon emissions under the 1970 Clean Air Act by forcing utility companies to shift from coal to renewable energy. The Court held that Congress did not specifically authorize the EPA to regulate CO2 in this way. The ruling effectively makes it much harder for the U.S. government to combat climate change.[3]

But it does much more than that. It opens the door to the Court’s usurping the role of ultimate policymaker in many other areas of our lives as well, be it education, healthcare or any matter where Congress has designated the power to regulate to the Executive branch. In a blistering dissent, Justice Elena Kagan accuses the Court majority of substituting its own ideas about policymaking for Congress’s: “…the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decisionmaker on climate policy.”[4]

What’s to prevent the Court from taking this same approach in other regulatory fields? In the short political term, according to McKibben, “a promise from every Democrat that they would overturn the filibuster and expand the Court if elected.”[5]

So, we need to get every Democratic candidate for federal office to make that promise on the record before the election campaigns heat up. That promise could well boost Democratic turnout in November. McKibben argues that “our majorities on these issues are large enough to overwhelm even these archaic structures. Seventy percent is enough.”[6] In fact, this fight must be taken to state legislative elections as well. (More about that in next week’s blog.)

While inflation and the economy will be important in voters’ minds, these recent unpopular Court rulings affecting all Americans could turn November’s election in the Democrats’ favor. Following the West Virginia v. EPA decision, on Thursday a coalition of 15 climate, environmental, and social justice advocacy groups, including the Center for Popular Democracy, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Indivisible, the Movement for Black Lives and the Working Families Party, called for the addition of four justices “to restore balance to the Court.”[7]

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) immediately joined this initiative. Markey asserted that “We cannot sit idly by as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution…We must also pass my Judiciary Act[8] to expand the Court to restore balance and legitimacy to the bench.”[9]

With just four months until the election, the battle lines have been clearly drawn. Support the coalition’s efforts. Urge your senators and Congresspeople to abolish the filibuster and pass the Judiciary Act of 2021. Our rights and American democracy depend on all of us fighting back now!

Bruce Berlin

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

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


[1]https://www.pinterest.com/pin/368169338291210377/#:~:text=In%20every%20crisis%20lies%20the%20seed%20of%20opportunity

[2] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/07/02/time-now-people-powered-backlash

[3] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/supreme-court-climegae-change-carbon-emissions_n_62b36169e4b06169caa14933; https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/06/30/epa-supreme-court-west-virginia/

[4] https://reason.com/volokh/2022/07/01/justice-kagan-throws-down-the-gauntlet-we-are-not-all-textualists-now/

[5] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/07/02/time-now-people-powered-backlash

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/06/30/markey-bowman-join-climate-coalition-urging-scotus-expansion

[8] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/04/15/combat-right-wing-assault-democracy-new-bill-would-add-four-seats-supreme-court

[9] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/06/30/markey-bowman-join-climate-coalition-urging-scotus-expansion

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Republican Dishonor Will Remain

“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”[1] That was the message Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), co-chair of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection, gave to Congressional Republicans as the committee’s historic hearings began on June 9th.

After concluding three public hearings, Cheney’s warning has become even more foreboding. Yet, despite Trump’s unforgiveable transgressions against American democracy, a great many Republicans continue to support him and believe his Big Lie that the election was stolen.[2] The power Trump has over his party is just mindboggling.

A major test of the impact of the Select Committee’s hearings will be to what extent they influence Americans’ opinions not only of Trump, but of his Congressional Republican enablers. In a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, “58% of Americans think Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the riot.”[3] That is six points higher than before the hearings began.[4]

As the hearings continue, I believe that majority will likely grow even larger.  In fact, “ex-justice department lawyers say new revelations at the hearings increase the likelihood that Trump will be charged with crimes involving conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding or defrauding the United States…”[5]

It stands to reason that an increasing majority would want to hold Trump’s Congressional enablers accountable as well. Afterall, the backing of a majority of Republican Congresspeople bolstered Trump’s baseless claims,[6] at least in the eyes of Trump voters.

The most effective way to hold those Republicans accountable would be at the polls this November. While conventional wisdom holds that the insurrection will not be a major issue in this year’s midterm elections, the Select Committee’s hearings could change that.

Of course, inflation and the economy will be very important factors in the election. However, if the hearings continue to provide overwhelming evidence of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election and destroy American democracy, then the seats of all the Congressional Republicans who gave credence to the Big Lie could be vulnerable. Instead of supporting Trump’s efforts to subvert the election, these Republicans could have stood up for the truth and our democracy. But their fear of Trump and their thirst for power were stronger than their allegiance to the Constitution and our democracy. For that, as Rep. Cheney noted, their dishonor will remain.

While Trump will not be on the ballot this November, the survival of our democracy will be. Republicans who supported Trump and his attempt to overturn the election are the enemies of democracy. They must be fully exposed as co-conspirators. Americans must understand that a vote for any of them is a vote to destroy our democratic process and create a Trump-led autocratic government. It is up to everyone who wants our democracy to survive to make that crystal clear to all Americans going to the polls this fall.

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.npr.org/2022/06/09/1104083111/liz-cheney-stark-message-gop-trump-supporters

[2] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/midterm-primaries-trump-retains-majority-gop-support-poll/story?id=84452201

[3] https://www.yahoo.com/gma/6-10-americans-trump-charged-130009380.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/19/trump-charges-january-6-hearings-capitol-attack

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

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will the January 6th Select Committee Succeed?

While it’s not a sure bet, I believe the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol will succeed. And, in my view, there is only one measure of success. That is, the Department of Justice will indict Donald Trump for crimes against our nation based on the evidence the committee presents to the American people.

The country is clearly divided on whether Trump is culpable for the insurrection. Thursday’s first televised hearing was only the beginning of the committee’s effort to lay out its case that he is criminally liable. With Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy) leading the charge, it was a good initial step.

The committee’s evidence was convincing that there was a conspiracy to overturn the election. For example, it showed video of a meeting between leaders of two far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, the night before the attack. Then Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards testified that she observed about 200 members of these groups marching to the Capitol at 10:30 the morning of the insurrection, well before Trump urged the crowd at the Ellipse to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”[1]

If the “riot” was a spontaneous response to Trump’s speech, why were these right-wing groups already meeting in advance of January 6th? Why were they encountering police at the Capitol prior to Trump’s Ellipse speech? It stands to reason that they must have conspired in advance to be on the frontline of the larger attack they knew was coming.

The essential question that the committee must answer with concrete evidence in its subsequent hearings then is, to what degree was Trump involved in the effort to overthrow our government. What did Trump do or not do to advance the insurrection and with whom did he interact? As Rep. Cheney asserted, that attempt went well beyond the January 6th attack on the Capitol. In fact, it continues to this day.

Cheney explained that over the course of several months Trump had a “sophisticated seven-point plan” to overturn the 2020 election and prevent the transition of presidential power. In the next couple of weeks, the committee’s hearings will provide substantial evidence of Trump’s central role in executing his plan. When all else failed, the January insurrection was the final stab at accomplishing his goal.

Other elements of Trump’s scheme included:

  1. Spreading false and fraudulent information to the American public claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him,
  2. Replacing the Acting Attorney General, so that the Department of Justice would support his fake election claims,
  3. Pressuring state election officials, and state legislators, to change election results,
  4. Instructing Republicans in multiple states to create false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress and the National Archives, and
  5. Summoning his supporters to Washington and directing them to march on the US Capitol.[2]

When you put this all together, it’s clear that Trump’s intent was to overturn the election and remain in power by unlawful means. In practically all criminal cases, proving the accused’s intent is a critical element in obtaining a conviction. It’s now up to the committee to present evidence in its upcoming hearings that establishes Trump’s intent beyond a reasonable doubt. If it can do that, and I think they can, Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice will prosecute Trump for crimes against the United States.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/06/09/january-6-committee-hearing-live-updates/7529743001/

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/09/politics/jan-6-hearing-cheney-trump-overturn-election-plan/index.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Enough Is Enough!

This past week we witnessed yet another senseless mass shooting in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Our nation grieves for all the victims of this terrible tragedy, as well as for their families, teachers and classmates.

We have allowed these horrific events to occur for way too long without demanding concrete efforts to prevent them. Enough is enough!

In April 1999, we were shocked when 12 students and a teacher were shot and killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO.[1] In just five months this year there have already been 27 school shootings.[2] The next one could be at your child’s or grandchild’s school. They are all at-risk.

Since 2009, there have been 274 mass shootings in the United States, resulting in 1536 people shot and killed and 983 people shot and wounded.[3] The next one could be in your shopping mall or movie theater. We are all at-risk and we must have solid solutions to this deadly epidemic now.

There are two things that have real power in American politics. One is money and the other is people. I wrote a whole book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, on this topic several years ago. (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.) Given the most recent deadly shootings in Texas and Buffalo, New York, this issue is even more relevant today.

In the wake of these tragic events, the roles that both money and people play in dealing with gun violence in our country needs to be made clear to all Americans.

First, how effective is money in influencing public policy on gun control? In my book, I wrote:

“Though 92 percent of Americans want universal background checks for people purchasing guns, our elected officials’ personal ambitions override the public interest and dictate their political actions.”[4]

From 2000 to 2013, the gun lobby, which includes the National Rifle Association (NRA), the firearms industry, and the Gun Owners of America, has contributed a combined $81 million to congressional and presidential election campaigns to defeat gun control measures.[5] The gun lobby’s investment paid off when the Republican Congress refused to renew the ban on assault weapons after it expired in 2004.[6]

Back then, the U.S. senators who received the most campaign contributions from the gun lobby were Republicans like Roy Blunt (R-MO), who received $2.6 million from the NRA during his 2010 campaign, and Ron Johnson (R-WI), $1.2 million from the NRA.[7]

It’s no different today. The top 10 Senate recipients of NRA contributions are all Republicans. Leading the pack is Mitt Romney (R-UT) with over $13 million. Roy Blunt is still up there at number 3 with over $4.5 million. Number 10 is Bill Cassidy (R-LA) with a still sizeable $2.8 million.

When it comes to gun control policy, Republican senators choose taking money from the gun lobby over protecting American lives.

So, what about we, the people’s effect on gun control policy? The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is comprised of 47 national organizations working to reduce gun violence. Its coalition members include religious organizations, child welfare advocates, public health professionals, and social justice organizations.[8] However, their noble efforts have not borne much fruit.

Since the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Congress has not passed a universal background check statute or any other meaningful legislation to deal with the issue of gun violence in our country.[9]

How to get sensible gun control laws passed? We have to elect pro-gun control candidates and vote those gun lobby-dominated Republican senators out of office. While that will not be easy with all the campaign money they receive, the power of the people to force change can be formidable. Consider the Women’s movement and the Civil Rights movement.

According to the latest poll following the most recent Texas and Buffalo shootings, 65% of Americans support stricter gun control laws.[10]

We must make gun control a top issue in this year’s elections. Republican senators like Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are vulnerable on this as well as the other hot-button issue of abortion rights. Open seats in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio are winnable by pro-gun control Democrats as well.

We need to protect our children as well as all Americans. The best way to do that now is to get involved in this year’s election campaigns. We must make sure that the great majority of Americans who support gun control vote in November. It’s up to all of us to make that 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://www.history.com/topics/1990s/columbine-high-school-shootings

[2] https://www.npr.org/2022/05/24/1101050970/2022-school-shootings-so-far

[3] https://everytownresearch.org/maps/mass-shootings-in-america/

[4] Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, p. 24 (Santa Fe, NM: Our Time Books, 2016)

[5] Ibid, p. 23

[6] https://www.npr.org/2019/08/13/750656174/the-u-s-once-had-a-ban-on-assault-weapons-why-did-it-expire

[7] Ibid, pp. 23-24

[8] https://www.csgv.org/

[9] Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, p. 23

[10] https://morningconsult.com/2022/05/26/support-for-gun-control-after-uvalde-shooting/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can We Beat the Odds and Save Our Democracy?

I’m back. While it’s nice to get away, step out of my routine, and experience new adventures, more than ever I’m feeling that there’s no place like home. The comfort and security of one’s own home just can’t be beat.

At the same time, being away gave me a clearer, broader perspective on my life and the news of the day. In the coming weeks and months, I think you will see a somewhat different slant in my blog. Hopefully more personal and connected to our lives. So, here goes….

The odds are the Democrats will lose control of the House in the November elections. They could lose the Senate as well. Historically, the president’s party usually does poorly in midterm elections.[1]

While Washington politics seem far away from our everyday lives, we ignore what’s going on there at our own peril. Though the Democrats have not had an easy time of it, especially in terms of passing major bills in the Senate, they have significantly improved the lives of most Americans since taking control of the government a year ago January. Meanwhile, with few exceptions the Republicans have been total naysayers and obstructionists.

Take, for instance, the $1.9 trillion COVID Relief Bill Biden signed into law less than two months after taking office on January 20th of last year. Not one Republican supported that bill despite the dire needs of millions of Americans in the midst of the deadly pandemic. Among other benefits, the legislation provided $1,400 checks to millions of Americans including yours truly, extended unemployment benefits, increased the child tax credit, offered housing assistance to low-income Americans and expanded health care coverage.

Since then, the Biden administration has made significant progress in getting the pandemic under control. When he took office, the number of new cases averaged close to 200,000 a day. Now it’s less than 30,000 per day.[2] While almost one million Americans have died from COVID 19, the weekly death rate is now down to under 500.[3] Though there is more work to be done to overcome the virus and protect American lives, Senate Republicans are now blocking a $10 billion bill to continue the fight against COVID 19.[4]

Safeguarding our democracy is another critical area where Republicans have tried to obstruct Democrats’ efforts. Senate Democrats proposed an independent commission of experts, like the 911 commission, to investigate the January 6th insurrection. Senate Republicans blocked its creation fearing “the political damage that could come from scrutiny of the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob…”[5] Instead, the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, which Republicans also opposed, has become a political football. While Democrats want to shield our democracy from further assault, most Republicans downplay the deadly insurrection and continue to support the undermining of our democracy by Trump and his lies about the 2020 election.[6] If we sit back and allow right-wing Republicans to destroy our democracy, we will lose many of our precious rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution.

The country’s economy is yet another field where Democrats have advanced the nation’s position while Republicans ignore the facts and falsely rebut progress. “The economy created more than a stunning 6.6 million jobs in 2021 — more than the first three years of Donald Trump’s term combined — as the unemployment rate experienced the fastest one-year drop on record.”[7] Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel argues that the Biden economic recovery plan “is not working!”[8] Once again, Republican propaganda is blurring American voters’ ability to see what’s really going on.

Most recently, President Biden’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, soon to be the first black woman justice on the court, was confirmed with minimal Republican support. Forty-seven Republican senators voted against her confirmation despite her universally recognized qualifications for the position.[9] Fortunately, Republican prejudice and thirst for power failed to win the day.

Except for inflation and related issues – an essential piece of the puzzle Democrats are still working on — Americans strongly support Democratic positions on these matters.[10] But the Republican propaganda machine is very effective in persuading voters. We cannot let them continue to distort the facts and con the voters.

It is up to all of us to help get the truth out to our fellow Americans before this year’s critical November elections. While I find the state of our nation’s politics pretty depressing, I know how critical these elections are. Like many of you, I am fed up, but I am not willing to give up. American democracy is too vital to our way of life.

I urge you to stand with the millions of Americans who care about the future of our nation.

Write letters to the editor! Support Democratic candidates! Join the fight to save our democracy!

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/22899204/midterm-elections-president-biden-thermostatic-opinion

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases.html

[3] https://usafacts.org/visualizations/coronavirus-covid-19-spread-map/

[4] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-relief-deal-senate-10-billion-republicans/

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/28/us/politics/capitol-riot-commission.html

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/06/us/politics/jan-6-capitol-riot-aftermath.html

[7] https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/biden-era-job-growth-good-gop-literally-speechless-rcna15144

[8] Ibid.

[9] https://news.yahoo.com/ketanji-brown-jackson-supreme-court-senate-vote-first-black-woman-181745296.html

[10] https://www.axios.com/poll-ketanji-brown-jackson-senate-supreme-court-38763a57-f656-44a5-939b-94443042abb1.html; https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/02/house-jan-6-committee-popular-republicans-526092;

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats and Our Country Owe Liz Cheney a Deep Debt of Gratitude

How ironic that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy) is leading the charge to save our democracy from Trump and his Republican enablers. Until last May, Cheney was the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.[1] She voted with Trump’s positions 93% of the time.[2] And, she’s the daughter of arch-conservative Republican icon, former Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Nevertheless, Rep. Cheney has chosen to stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law in the face of extreme pressure from her own party. Last Friday the Republican National Committee voted to formally censure Cheney and her fellow Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger for joining the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The RNC’s resolution censuring the two Republicans claimed they were participating in the “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”[3] Really?!

Here’s what Cheney is actually doing to save our democratic government. First and foremost, she is giving the House Select Committee’s investigation credibility that it would not possibly have been able to garner without her. When the third highest member of the House Republicans who voted in lockstep with Trump for four years bucks her president and the Party line, the country pays attention. Even diehard Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell want to know what Cheney and her committee are going to reveal to the public.[4]

In addition, Cheney’s work in the effort to get to the bottom of how and why the insurrection occurred is helping to divide Republicans and aid Democrats. Republican Leader McCarthy and most elected party officials continue to support Trump and his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. They downplay the riot and promote authoritarian causes like banning books and demonizing the press.[5]

At the same time, the anti-Trump/pro-democracy Republican movement is slowly growing, thanks in part to Rep. Cheney’s outspokenness. Recently, it gained momentum when Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence joined its ranks.[6] As this movement grows and the Republicans become more divided, the Democrats’ chances in the November mid-term elections will also expand. When the House Committee’s hearings reach across the country on national television, swing voters who fear the demise of our democracy will side with the Democrats.

Finally, Cheney’s leadership is strengthening the committee’s resolve. According to the New York Times:

“Some of the Democrats on the committee were concerned that if the panel was too aggressive, Republicans might turn the tables on the Democrats whenever they took back control of the House. But Ms. Cheney insisted that the committee be as aggressive as possible. She said that the panel would face significant resistance from Mr. Trump’s inner circle, and that the committee would be criticized no matter what it did, so there was no reason to hold back in the face of efforts to impede its work.”[7]

I never thought I would say this, but thank you, Liz Cheney, for all you are doing to save our democracy.

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.cnn.com/2021/05/12/politics/liz-cheney-gop-conference-vote/index.html

[2] https://cowboystatedaily.com/2021/01/26/liz-cheney-voted-with-trump-more-often-than-matt-gaetz-did/

[3] https://time.com/6145764/rnc-censures-liz-cheney-adam-kinzinger-january-6-donald-trump/

[4] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/mcconnell-says-jan-6-committee-s-findings-are-something-public-n1286194

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/22/republican-authoritarianism-is-here-stay/

[6] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2022/02/08/is-trumps-hold-on-the-republican-party-getting-weaker/

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/05/us/politics/january-6-committee.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