The Struggle for the Soul of America: A Time of Hope and Fear

We are living on the brink. On the one hand, the Electoral College will vote to elect Joe Biden as our next president on Monday.[1] Trump’s days in the White House are clearly numbered. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

In addition, an advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine on Thursday. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to give final approval to the vaccine on Sunday.[2] Help is on the way.

On the other hand, it could be well into next year before most Americans receive a vaccination. There may not be enough vaccine for everyone for quite some time.[3] Even then, a substantial part of the population may not agree to be vaccinated given the conspiracy theories and claims the pandemic is a hoax.[4]

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate are much more interested in shielding corporations from liability for negligently failing to protect their workers from contracting COVID than providing critical aid to cities and states trying to maintain essential services for their weary citizens.[5]

At the same time, 17 red states are supporting Texas’s Motion to File a Complaint in the Supreme Court to overturn Biden’s victories in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. One hundred and twenty-five sycophant Republican members of Congress are backing the quixotic lawsuit which seeks to invalidate millions of votes in four battleground states which gave Biden the presidency.[6] Their crazed support for an unhinged president is destroying our democracy.

While the court challenge has practically no chance of succeeding, it does foment unrest among a great number of the Trump base. It also adds fuel to the Republican effort to undermine the Biden presidency. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently asserted that the Senate will not consider confirming any Biden nominations as long as the election results are in dispute.[7] This does not bode well for efforts to heal our nation or a successful Biden presidency.

And, if that weren’t more than enough headwinds for the new administration to overcome, Biden seems to be getting in his own way. He fully understands how critical winning the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs is to accomplishing his legislative agenda. Still, Biden chose former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a white male who served as Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, to head the Agriculture Department over Rep. Marcia Fudge, a black woman with 12 years on the House agriculture committee.

Biden picked Vilsack despite the fact that he “owes a massive debt to top Black Democrats who were also pushing for Fudge — above all House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, whose well-timed endorsement very likely gave Biden the nomination.”[8] Naming Fudge would have boosted Stacey Abrams and other Democrats’ drive to achieve the huge black turnout Democrats need to prevail in the Georgia election.

Yet, all is not lost. Biden can accomplish a great deal even without the Democrats controlling the Senate, if he acts boldly with his power of executive orders. Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Franklin Roosevelt signed over 3,700 executive orders to help steer the country out of the Great Depression and mobilize the nation during World War II.[9]

Trump used executive orders to implement much of his agenda. Biden must, too. He can utilize these orders to marshal plans for expediting the distribution of the COVID vaccine, tackling climate change and getting the economy rolling again, among other priorities.

Our job is to keep the pressure on Biden to make sure that he employs his presidential powers fearlessly.  Let’s get to work.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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

[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/12/11/electoral-college-meeting-monday-hand-trump-loss-he-wont-accept/3807305001/

[2] https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-12-10-20-intl/h_4e54be4adce1922379b0d330a062361d

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/09/health/covid-vaccine-distribution-states/index.html; https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/12/next-six-months-will-be-vaccine-purgatory/617371/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/vaccine-biden-trump-leadership-challenge/

[5] https://time.com/5920242/mcconnell-torpedoes-covid-19-relief-deal/

[6] https://www.axios.com/house-republicans-texas-lawsuit-election-a33e2081-89fa-442a-b1f6-eb1fcf9f4b16.html

[7] https://news.yahoo.com/ted-cruz-says-senate-likely-145300566.html

[8] https://www.yahoo.com/news/joe-bidens-agriculture-appointment-slap-104002491.html

[9]https://www.voanews.com/2020-usa-votes/trump-biden-will-embrace-executive-orders

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will Loser Trump Still Get His Way?

Though Donald Trump lost his bid for re-election, he will not go quietly into the night. While some of his Republican colleagues are finally advising him to quit claiming phony massive voter fraud and concede the election, they fail to get the true nature of Trump’s devious game.

It doesn’t faze Trump that over 30 of his lawsuits alleging voter fraud or other election misconduct have been dismissed,[1] some even by Trump-appointed judges. As I noted in a prior blog, Trump craves the limelight. (“All Trump, All the Time,” 11/14/20, https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/2020/11/14/the-struggle-for-the-soul-of-america-all-trump-all-the-time/)

In this case, the spotlight is critical. His ongoing public battles keep Trump’s base engaged. His legal setbacks make him look like a wounded underdog and rile up his devoted legions even more. In fact, a growing number of them are readying for armed combat.[2] Whether or not Trump incites his loyal mob to violence, the threat of civil unrest could provide him with some bargaining power with prosecutors after he leaves office.[3] 

Plus, we know Trump’s clamoring about a stolen election will not let up once Biden takes the oath of office. He’ll do anything he can to make Biden’s presidency less than effective. His former rival, Hillary Clinton, predicts Trump “will immediately announce he is running again in 2024 when he leaves the White House” and have a “media outlet where he’s going to be peddling his stuff every day.”[4]

At the same time, Trump’s continued legal battles have afforded him a rich source of revenue. Since the election he has raised over $200 million to support his cause.[5] In his ever-cunning fashion, Trump has been funneling the money into a “Legal Defense Fund” which provides that the first 75 percent of every contribution would go to a new political action committee, Save America, that could fund “his political activities going forward, including staff and travel,” even personal expenses.[6] Grifter Trump is at it once again.

So, the question remains: Will there ever be a day of reckoning for Donald J. Trump? Biden has said that as president he will not interfere with the Justice Department’s determination whether to prosecute Trump. And Trump may even try to pardon himself before leaving office. Whether a president can pardon himself is an open question which the Supreme Court, with three Trump appointees, may ultimately have to decide.

If Trump goes free, he could run again in 2024. Even if he doesn’t avoid prosecution, another popular demagogue may one day challenge American democracy. Our country needs strong guardrails to protect against that possibility. We, the people must demand that the Biden Administration build them.

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.nytimes.com/2020/11/25/us/elections/trump-campaign-lawsuits.html

[2] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8928515/Trump-supporters-wield-ARs-wave-MAGA-flags-protests-Presidents-claim-election-stolen.html

[3] https://www.ajc.com/news/trump-faces-greater-risk-of-prosecution-after-leaving-office/AM6QDFHSPBERPCQEOYQD23FSFQ/

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/hillary-clinton-says-trump-not-212416731.html

[5]https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/03/politics/trump-fundraising-election-day/index.html;

[6] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: A Time for Serious Soul-Searching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.republicreport.org/2020/ten-reasons-trump-is-the-most-corrupt-president-in-u-s-history/

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

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

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

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

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

Give Thanks for State Republican Leaders Who are Resisting Trump’s Efforts to Overturn the Election

Congressional Republicans in Washington are trapped. While privately many of them think Trump should concede he lost the election, they fear that crossing Trump and his base by publicly stating their beliefs will damage their political futures.[1] Such statements could also hurt Republican chances of maintaining control of the Senate by dampening GOP turnout in the January 5th Georgia Senate runoff election.

Most Republicans don’t seem to have a problem with President Trump’s hell-bent efforts to undermine our democracy in order to stay in power.[2] In fact, some are actively assisting him while others are just silently acquiescing to his reckless disregard for the will of the voters.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, for instance, has taken the extremely unorthodox, and most likely unethical, step of calling election officials in several states regarding the legitimacy of certain ballots. Graham, a Trump ally, asked Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, “whether he had the power to throw out all mail ballots in counties where there were relatively high rates of rejection of mail ballots because their signatures did not match voters’ signatures on file.”[3]

Fortunately, Raffensperger resisted Graham’s overtures to manipulate the Georgia election results. While Graham denied it, Raffensperger felt the senator was pressuring him to throw out legally cast ballots.[4] After all, what legitimate business does a senator from another state have in scrutinizing the Georgia vote tally?

Meanwhile, Trump summoned Michigan Republican legislative leaders to Washington on Friday in an attempt to pressure them to nullify that state’s electoral college votes for President-elect Joe Biden. After the White House meeting, the GOP lawmakers who met with Trump “committed to letting that certification process play out and undercut the false claims of nationwide voter fraud that Trump and his allies have continued to peddle.” They stated that “we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election.”[5]

On Sunday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, denounced Trump’s actions: “A pressure campaign on state legislators to influence the electoral outcome is not only unprecedented but inconsistent with our democratic process. It is time to begin the full and formal transition process.”[6]

Republican legislative leaders in other critical swing states Biden won are sticking by their election results as well. In addition to Michigan and Georgia, GOP lawmakers in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have asserted that they would not intervene in the selection of electors to try to flip their state’s electoral votes to Trump. “Such a move would violate state law and a vote of the people, several noted.”[7]

While Mitch McConnell and most of his Republican Senate colleagues have supported Trump’s efforts to undermine the election, courts across the country in more than twenty cases have repeatedly found no merit in Trump’s challenges to the election. So, as Thanksgiving approaches, we can give thanks for the honest Republican state officials who have resisted pressure to interfere with the election results in their states.

Despite everything that Trump and his cohorts have done to subvert the election outcome, we can breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that he has failed. On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of 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.cbc.ca/news/world/trump-threats-cost-1.5810848

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/opinion/trump-election-lies.html

[3] https://www.vox.com/2020/11/18/21571684/lindsey-graham-brad-raffensperger-georgia-ballots

[4] https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/16/lindsey-graham-georgia-2020-election-436910

[5] https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/20/politics/michigan-house-speaker-will-meet-trump/index.html

[6] https://www.adn.com/politics/2020/11/22/murkowski-calls-for-presidential-transition-to-begin-saying-trumps-attempts-to-influence-electoral-results-are-unprecedented/

[7] https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-legislature-pennsylvania-b199b2debc87fbb20612a48835bc0dba

The Struggle for the Soul of America: All Trump, All the Time

There are two things we know for certain about Donald Trump. First, he hates losing and will do anything to avoid it. And second, he always has to be the center of attention. Both of these egomaniacal traits are now on full display in the aftermath of the election.

If Trump had conceded after Biden was declared the winner on November 7th, the nation’s attention would clearly be focused on president-elect Biden as he chooses his team for the new administration. Instead, we see Trump grabbing headlines by claiming massive fraud, filing multiple lawsuits, firing top officials and putting the country on edge, fearing he could actually pull off a coup. It’s all part of Trump’s narcissistic game: Pay attention to Me, Me, Me all the time.

Trump doesn’t care what his refusal to concede is doing to the country. Time Magazine details how the country is “caught between crisis and confusion.”[1] In truth, Trump is most likely delighting in scaring his political opponents with the threat of a coup. It’s his payback for their rejecting him.

So, is all Trump’s bluster about his inability to accept defeat? Or is it really more about his incapacity to give up center stage? Clearly, both factors are at play. But, as this drama drags on, it appears that it may have more to do with the latter than the former.

In Friday’s New York Times, Maggie Haberman notes: “By dominating the story of his exit from the White House, (Trump) hopes to keep his millions of supporters energized and engaged for whatever comes next.”[2] In fact, Haberman reports that the “president has told some advisers that if the race is certified for Biden, he will announce a 2024 campaign shortly afterward.”[3]

Trump knows that his lawsuits to overturn the election are failing.[4] His highly paid lawyers are abandoning his efforts to destroy the integrity of our elections.[5] Officials in every state, Republican and Democrats alike, have found no evidence of voter fraud.[6] And, finally, some of his Republican colleagues are breaking ranks and acknowledging Biden’s victory.[7] Begrudgingly recognizing that he’s lost, Trump is plotting how to remain the center of attention after he leaves office. No matter what, it’s at the core of his shallow being.[8]

Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump has to be escorted out of the White House on January 20, 2021. That will get him more attention than leaving quietly. It would take some of the spotlight away from Biden’s Inauguration and make Trump’s day. That’s just who he is.

As difficult as this transition period is, a light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to appear. American democracy will survive Donald Trump’s assault.

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://time.com/magazine/europe/.

[2] https://news.yahoo.com/trump-floats-improbable-survival-scenarios-131201231.html.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.npr.org/2020/11/10/933112418/the-trump-campaign-has-had-almost-no-legal-success-this-month-heres-what-they-ve.

[5] https://lawandcrime.com/2020-election/second-major-law-firm-representing-trump-in-election-lawsuits-abandons-ship/.

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/10/us/politics/voting-fraud.html.

[7] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/republicans-who-have-broken-trump-congratulate-biden-his-win-n1247278.

[8] https://qz.com/1141907/donald-trump-tweets-for-attention/.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Vote Today to Restore Our Democracy

The one good thing that Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party have done for American democracy in the last four years is expose how utterly broken our political system is.

Here are just a few examples of the president’s abuses of power and failures to properly use the office of the presidency:

  • The president blatantly uses his public office for private gain with impunity.
  • He does nothing to protect the American people from a deadly pandemic while hundreds of thousands of people are dying.
  • He sues to overturn the Affordable Care Act and eliminate healthcare for millions of Americans without providing a viable alternative.
  • He separates thousands of immigrant children from their parents putting many in cages in order to deter other immigrants from crossing the border.

And, McConnell has been the president’s partner in undermining our democratic system:

  • He has single-handily blocked the Senate from voting on hundreds of bills, many of them bipartisan, passed by the House of Representatives.
  • He has prevented the Senate from even considering President Obama’s nominations of over 100 judges.
  • He has rammed through a nomination to the Supreme Court eight days before the election after denying a hearing for another Supreme Court nomination by Obama many months prior to the last presidential election.

Plus, our political system is clearly broken when:

  • It permits a party, the Republicans, to control the U.S. Senate when its senators represent 15 million fewer Americans than Democratic senators do.[1]
  • The Texas Republican governor can reduce drop off boxes for absentee ballots to one per county when one county alone has over four million voters.
  • Voters, mainly non-white, in Republican-controlled states like Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina have to wait in line hours and hours to vote.[2]
  • One party, the Republicans, can uses various legal tactics to suppress the vote.[3]
  • The rights of all our citizens to vote is not protected and they do not have equal access to voting for the officials who govern our country.

Only one candidate for president, Joe Biden, and one party’s candidates for Senate, the Democrats, want to fix our broken political system. If you want our democracy to work for the people rather than for special interests and the very wealthy, go vote for them today. And, urge your friends and colleagues to do the same. The future of our democracy is at stake.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://thinkprogress.org/supreme-court-partisan-gerrymander-electoral-norms-c83345c150b3/.

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/17/long-lines-for-us-early-voting-underscore-hidden-barriers.

[3] https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/29/trump-suppress-vote-win-433460.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will Trump Leave the Country If He Loses?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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

[1] https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/10/trump-may-leave-country-if-he-loses-prison-criminal-prosecution.html.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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

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

[2] Ibid.

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

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

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Thwart Trump’s Election Scheme, Vote Early In-Person

In my book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, I wrote that America is at “a crossroads comparable to the one before the Civil War.” That was over five years ago. Before Donald Trump’s lawless, racist, divisive first term as president. Before our country had lost more than 200,000 lives, and counting, in a worldwide pandemic. Before the current economic crash caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and thousands of businesses to close forever. Before a vandalized Postal Service and a resurgent effort to suppress votes. And, before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death triggered the current Supreme Court nomination battle.

It’s mind-boggling to say the least! And, yet, we should prepare for it getting even more maddening, cause it very well could according to Barton Gellman in The Atlantic.

I was going to write this week’s blog on how Mitch McConnell’s decision to rush another conservative justice onto the Supreme Court would test the Democrats ability to finally stand up for our democracy and restructure a more representative government, assuming they win the White House and the Senate in November.

But then, I read the soon-to-be published cover story of the November edition of The Atlantic entitled, The Election That Could Break America, and realizedI was putting the cart before the horse. Right now, all of our focus must be on the election itself, not what might come afterward.

In his must-read piece in The Atlantic, Barton Gellman, a three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, writes:

“According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe-harbor deadline expires.”[1]

It can’t be any clearer: Trump plans to win re-election by whatever means necessary. And we need to do whatever it takes to stop him and his Republican enablers.

Gellman suggests “…voting in person after all. More than half a million postal votes were rejected in this year’s primaries, even without Trump trying to suppress them.”[2]

As I advocated in my blog last week, “The best way to avoid this disastrous outcome (of a Trump victory) is for as many Biden supporters as possible to vote early in-person, not by mail. The Democrats need to be winning or at least be very close to a majority on election night, which will make it more difficult, if not impossible, for Trump to claim victory.”[3]

So, vote early in-person, and make sure to urge all your friends, family and colleagues to vote early in-person as well, especially those who live in battleground 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.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=cr&utm_campaign=oct-cover-actives-digital&utm_content=20200923&silverid-ref=NjI4MjU2NjM2OTI4S0.

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Not Just About Trump; The Election is About Us!

Donald Trump thinks everything is about him.  And many people do believe the election is all about him. Afterall, every day the news is filled with another Trump lie or political gambit made for the purpose of advancing his re-election.

Most recently, we learned from Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, that Trump admitted he downplayed the coronavirus despite knowing the dangers it posed. He defended his decision stating he did not want to cause a panic among the American people.[1] But, Trump followed his deception with more unfounded claims that the coronavirus would disappear before summer.[2] Fearing the spreading virus would hurt his re-election prospects, Trump toned down the looming threat rather than taking steps to protect the American people.

Clearly, Trump’s performance as president is a major factor in the November election. Has he done a good enough job to deserve a second term? Or, is Trump so corrupt and dishonest that he must be rejected on election day? Most Americans have strong opinions, one way or another, about this. 

What kind of country do we want to live in?

But I believe the election is really about us, “We, the people.“

What kind of country do we want to leave to our children and grandchildren?

And, most importantly, what are we willing to do, to sacrifice, right now to ensure that the United States survives as a democracy that represents and serves all the people?

In other words, what will we do between now and November 3 in answering these questions? We can sit on the sidelines, saying we can’t do anything that will really make a difference. Or, we can work to make sure we have a government that represents us and our interests?

If your answer is, get to work, I want to reiterate what I said in my last post. It’s that important. (See https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/.) I explained how average voters like you and me could have a true impact on the outcome of the election by engaging in Political Moneyball. That is a method of leveraging the power of small donors and/or a relatively small number of voters.[3] If you haven’t read last week’s blog post, I encourage you to go back and check it out.

According to Princeton Prof. Sam Wang’s Moneyball 2020 approach, our efforts in the presidential race would have the most impact in Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina. Plus, Senate races where we can make a big difference are in Alaska, South Carolina and Kansas.[4] Volunteer to make phone calls or give a donation in these races.

Make a date. Put it on your calendar for this week to contact one or more of these organizations where your support could alter the outcome in a critical campaign:

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

Make a date. Put it on your calendar for this week to contact one or more of these organizations where your support could alter the outcome in a critical campaign:

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.politico.com/news/2020/09/09/trump-bob-woodward-book-411225

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/28/yet-again-trump-pledges-that-coronavirus-will-simply-go-away/?arc404=true

[3] https://www.rawstory.com/2020/08/dont-waste-your-money-trying-to-beat-mitch-mcconnell-play-democracy-moneyball-instead/

[4] https://election.princeton.edu/2020/08/09/whats-more-important-than-a-presidential-probability/