The Struggle for the Soul of America: Are We on the Brink of a Second Civil War?

The question of whether the United States is on the brink of a second Civil War has become increasingly relevant since the January 6th insurrection. Even more critical, however, is this question: What do we do now to decrease political violence in our country and make another civil war much less likely?

There are some who have concluded that we are already in a second Civil War. A pretty good case can be made that they are correct, at least to some extent. Right or not, however, the more pressing question is: What do we do now to reduce political violence?

A September 2022 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that “17 percent of Americans somewhat or strongly agreed that political violence against those they disagreed with was acceptable, with slightly more Democrats agreeing with the statement than Republicans or independents.”[1] But when it comes to elected officials including Congresspeople, David Frum points out in a recent article in The Atlantic that “Only the GOP Celebrates Political Violence.”[2]

Reducing political violence is an urgent issue that Congress should have at the top of its agenda. But whether there are enough members of Congress to form a bipartisan coalition to effectively address it remains to be seen, especially in the current hyper-partisan atmosphere engulfing Washington.

Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld is a Senior Fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In testimony before the January 6th Select Committee, she proposed numerous actions Congress could take to reduce political violence. Among them was crafting “a political pact to reduce violent rhetoric and imagery among candidates and Members of Congress…with teeth (i.e. strict sanctions).” She also advocated for federal legislation banning private militias.[3]

Another effort Kleinfeld proposed was “programs that strengthen individual and community resilience to violence and protect targeted groups and their communities.”[4] This is where we can help.

Specifically, I believe we need to organize local and state-wide, non-partisan conferences focused on developing and implementing effective community-based strategies to reduce political violence. Such strategies might include counseling and educational programs for individuals and groups on the left and the right who may be susceptible to resorting to political violence. Job training and placement for such individuals could prove beneficial as well.

The rise of political violence threatens our democracy. We ignore it at our peril. Now is the time to take positive action to thwart it before it’s too late.

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://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-americans-think-about-political-violence/

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/10/pelosi-republicans-partisan-political-violence/671934/

[3] https://carnegieendowment.org/files/2022-Rachel%20Kleinfeld%20Jan%206%20Committee%20Testimony.pdf

[4] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats’ Silver Lining

With right-wing Republicans now in control of the House of Representatives, the chances of the Democrats passing any significant legislation in the current Congressional session are practically non-existent. Still, this new term could prove very beneficial to President Biden and his party come the 2024 elections.

The Democrats’ silver lining over the next two years is two-fold. First, the bills they passed in the last session will be bringing major benefits to the American people beginning now till well after the next election. For example, here are just some of the valuable aid Americans will receive from the Inflation Reduction Act[1] which not one Republican supported:

  • Medicare beneficiaries’ prescription drug costs will go down because of the provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.
  • Seniors with Medicare Part D will have their drug costs capped at $2,000 per year.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will be guaranteed that their insulin costs are capped at $35 for a month’s supply.
  • 3 million more Americans will have health insurance.
  • 7.5 million more families will be able install solar on their roofs with a 30% tax credit.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950/yr.
  • Advance cost-saving clean energy projects at rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people.
  • Millions of good-paying jobs making clean energy in America.
  • No family making less than $400,000 will see their taxes go up a penny.

In addition, the bipartisan Chips Act will create a great many new jobs in the semiconductor manufacturing industry.[2] And the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide $550 billion of new federal investments over five years in bridges and roads, public transit, broadband, water and energy systems.[3] These are just a few of the Biden administration’s accomplishments that will assist a great many Americans in the next couple of years. The last two bills also demonstrate that Republicans and Democrats can overcome their differences and work together to move America forward.

But what amounts to a second Democratic silver lining is the Republican response to the Biden administration now that they control the House of Representatives. Rather than proposing alternatives to the Democrats’ legislation that would also aid Americans in these difficult times, Republicans are calling for cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits,[4] two of the most popular government programs.

House Republicans are also prioritizing digging up dirt on the Biden administration with the creation of a wide-ranging investigative panel that will allow the party to examine any government agency or program that it views as suspect.[5] This appears to be an unnecessary duplication of effort and a waste of time and resources since Congressional committees already have the power to conduct oversight of the executive branch.[6]

The net effect of the Republicans’ approach will offer the 2024 voting public a stark choice between the parties:

Do Americans want to continue on the path of economic development, job growth, better healthcare, and climate change protection of Biden’s first two years in office? Or do they support the Republicans’ obstructionist agenda that offers nothing but more tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits for the rest of America?

I believe the Democrats will have a strong hand to play in the critical 2024 elections.

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.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/15/by-the-numbers-the-inflation-reduction-act/

[2] https://usafacts.org/articles/whats-in-the-recently-passed-chips-act/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ND-Economy&gclid=Cj0KCQiAn4SeBhCwARIsANeF9DId7YcgBe5VT0wQfu78MATA2I5__kGak6p0l5aa_sSKCCM7P7mG7vAaAkb1EALw_wcB

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/12/politics/infrastructure-projects-biden/index.html

[4] https://news.yahoo.com/republicans-signal-cuts-social-security-175927429.html

[5] https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/10/house-republicans-justice-department-00077108

[6]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_oversight#:~:text=Oversight%20also%20occurs%20in%20a,congressional%20support%20agencies%20and%20staff.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Right to Vote a Critical 2024 Election Issue

In my last blog, Where Do We Go from Here?,[1] I submitted that in order “to fix our democracy we must protect and expand the freedom to vote…” I suggested that would require at least these eight elements:

  1. The right of all citizens to vote and have their votes counted,
  2. Open primaries where everyone can vote regardless of party affiliation,
  3. The elimination of gerrymandering,
  4. The elimination of voter suppression efforts,
  5. Ranked choice voting (For an explanation of this process, see https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10837.)
  6. A Required minimum of 14 days of early voting all across the country,
  7. Easy access to drop boxes for voting in all districts, and
  8. Elimination of the Electoral College and the adoption of the national popular vote for president and vice president.

Since establishing all these reforms would take a great deal of time and resources, I asked my blog followers to prioritize the two or three they thought would be most likely to gain the greatest popular support and be achieved in the near term.

Though I did not receive enough responses to make any statistically relevant conclusions, the right of all citizens to vote and the elimination of voter suppression efforts were the two goals that people rated the highest. While the elimination of the Electoral College along with the institution of the national popular vote for president was also a priority, they are much more difficult to accomplish. Thus, less likely to be implemented any time soon.

Achieving the goals of establishing the right of all citizens to vote and eliminating voter suppression efforts would go a long way toward creating a level playing field in our elections. Making them top priorities in their 2024 platform would give Democratic candidates a clear advantage.

Ninety-five percent of both Democrats and Republicans believe “it is important that people who are legally qualified to vote are able to cast a ballot” according to a July 2021 Pew Research Center survey.[2]

At the same time, Democrats support making it easier for people to vote by a very wide margin over Republicans. Eighty-five percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say everything possible should be done to make voting easy. By contrast, just 28% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents say everything possible should be done to make voting easy.[3]

American democracy continues to be under attack by Trump and his followers. The future of our democracy will again be a critical issue in the 2024 election. Protecting the right to vote is central to its survival. The Democrats making the right to vote a top campaign issue will not only benefit their party, it could even determine whether our democracy survives.

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://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/

[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/07/22/wide-partisan-divide-on-whether-voting-is-a-fundamental-right-or-a-privilege-with-responsibilities/

[3] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/04/01/share-of-republicans-saying-everything-possible-should-be-done-to-make-voting-easy-declines-sharply/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democratic Turning Point Offers New Hope

Though the Democrats lost their House majority in the midterms, they gained much more in a variety of ways. In fact, as the 2024 elections come closer, I expect that their losing control of the House will likely strengthen the party’s resolve and prove a boon to its prospects of winning two years from now.

In addition to holding onto the Senate majority, here’s some other benefits the Dems reaped from the midterms. The November elections further cemented young voters support for the Democratic Party. The youth vote (18-to-29-year-olds) favored Democratic House candidates by 28 points over Republican candidates. While that’s about the same as in 2020, it’s considerably better than in 2016 when youth voters turned out for Democratic House candidates by 16 points over Republican candidates and by only a 12-point margin in 2014.[1]

Youth turnout in this election was the second highest in the last thirty years.[2] Given their 28-pont youth advantage and the fact that voters tend to stick with whichever political party they initially register with for years to come,[3] the Democrats’ future does appear bright.

At the same time, the recent election increased the Democrats’ standing among women voters as well. According to Elaine Kamarck, an expert on American electoral politics at the Brookings Institution, suburban women showed up en masse to help fuel Democrats’ better-than-expected showing. She noted that while women comprise 52% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 55% of the last presidential electoral vote.[4] Clearly, another good omen for Dems going into the 2024 election.

While this year’s voter turnout did not match the 2018 midterm record, it’s “on track to easily surpass other recent midterms.” And, in a number of battleground states, many of which the Democrats won, turnout exceeded 2018.[5] Again, a positive sign for the Dems since the greater the turnout, the more likely that they will win.

On the other hand, Republicans made gains among voters of color, though not to the degree previously predicted. Compared to the 2018 midterms, Hispanic and Asian support for the GOP jumped 10 and 17 points respectively, while Black voters shifted about 4 points to the right. Still, Democrats won the majority among Black, Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander voters in the 2022 midterms.[6]

In spite of the Republican takeover of the House and their gains with voters of color, Democrats have good reason for optimism besides what’s already been noted above. In just the last few days, a new generational team has arisen to takeover for Nancy Pelosi and her octogenarian squad. For the first time ever, a Black man, 52-year-old, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) will lead them. Katherine Clark (D-MA), a 59-year-old progressive, will be second in command. And, 43-year-old Peter Aguilar (D-CA), the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, will round out the new leadership team.[7] Among them, they cover just about all the critical constituencies Democrats need to energize in 2024: Blacks, Hispanics, women and youth.

Yet, thanks to the Republicans, there’s one more factor that will give the Dems momentum moving forward. The House Republicans have already signaled that they intend to focus on investigating, and even impeaching, President Biden, Attorney General Garland and others administration officials. Rather than providing an alternative policy agenda to the Democrats’ program, they will be spending precious taxpayers’ dollars and lots of Congress’s time on digging up dirt on the Biden administration that will go nowhere since the Dems will still control the Senate.

The 2024 electorate will then have a very clear choice. Will they vote for a far-right Republican Party seeking to cut Social Security and Medicare,[8] and eliminate a woman’s right to choose?[9] Or will they support the Democrats who enacted major legislation for the American people on infrastructure, veterans’ aid, manufacturing, climate change, prescription drug costs and more in the last two years?[10] And, but for the new GOP, obstructionist House majority, they would have continued to do so after 2022.

Which would you choose? I’m betting voters will go with the Dems, the party that still believes in democracy and supporting all Americans, not just the very wealthy and big business.

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://abcnews.go.com/Politics/youth-voters-independents-boosted-democrats-midterm-exit-polls/story?id=92993573

[2] https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/diversity-inclusion/3730922-researchers-say-2022-election-had-second-highest-young-voter-turnout-in-last-30-years/

[3] https://slate.com/business/2010/12/why-do-voters-tend-to-stick-with-whatever-political-party-they-join-when-they-turn-18.html

[4] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/11/09/2022-midterms-women-and-suburban-voters-help-democrats-avoid-disaster/8318080001/

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/voter-turnout-2022-by-state/

[6] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/13/latino-voters-midterm-elections-republicans-00066618

[7] https://www.axios.com/2022/11/17/congress-house-democrats-minority-leaders-plan

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/02/us/politics/republicans-social-security-medicare.html

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/15/republicans-wont-stop-until-abortion-is-banned-across-america-and-it-could-be

[10] https://www.historycentral.com/Today/Summer2022.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Historic 2022 Midterm Elections

The predicted Red Wave of 2022 never reached the shore. While all the votes have not yet been counted four days after the election, it looks like the Republicans will eke out a slim majority in the House. Unbelievably, though, with about 30 races still undetermined, there is still a possibility that the Democrats could actually hold onto their House majority.[1] 

On the Senate side, the odds of the Democrats maintaining control are much more in their favor. With two races still undecided, the blue team needs to win just one of them. The Nevada senate contest is tightening, and which party will prevail is anyone’s guess.[2] If Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) pulls out a victory there, then the Democrats will have held onto their tiny majority. If she does not, then all eyes will be on the Georgia senate runoff on December 6th.  And I cannot believe that Georgia voters would elect the incompetent Republican Herschel Walker over the much worthier Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.[3]

Overall, however, the real winner in this year’s midterm election was the democratic process. Voters turned out in near record numbers because they understood that our democracy as well as a woman’s right to choose was on the ballot. It was the second highest turnout for a midterm since 1970.[4] A recent poll found that the future of democracy was very important to 80% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans in their voting decisions.[5]

At the same time, the “loser-in-chief” in this election was Donald Trump. Many Republicans are blaming him for the party’s poor results.[6] Even the conservative Wall Street Journal denounced Trump, calling him the Republican Party’s “biggest loser.”[7] In a number of high-profile races, the candidates he endorsed lost, most notably in Arizona, Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and quite possibly in Georgia and Nevada as well.[8]

But Trump’s losses Tuesday night will have even bigger consequences as he prepares to run for president in 2024. Already at least one Republican megadonor stated he won’t support Trump’s pending run for the presidential nomination.[9] Some Republican officeholders are also suggesting Trump shouldn’t be their presidential nominee.[10]

The right-leaning New York Post said it best on the cover of its Thursday edition:

“Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” The large cover text read: “Trumpty Dumpty.”[11]

See: https://nypost.com/cover/november-10-2022/

Yet, Trump’s biggest loss is still to come. As I predicted in my October 15th blog, “Donald J. Trump will be indicted before the spring of next year.”[12] When that happens, he will be fighting for his freedom more than for the 2024 Republican nomination. Many Republicans will see him as unelectable. His dream of returning triumphantly to the White House will be shattered. And, finally, America will be rid of this despicable egomaniac.

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.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/11/10/23451445/house-election-results-democrats-majority

[2] https://thehill.com/homenews/3730786-cortez-masto-draws-closer-to-laxalt-in-nevada-senate-race/

[3] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/runoffs-are-sort-of-georgias-thing-now/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/voter-turnout-2022-by-state/

[5] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/11/03/key-facts-about-u-s-voter-priorities-ahead-of-the-2022-midterm-elections/

[6] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2022/11/11/election-results-live-updates/10662035002/

[7] https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-is-the-gops-biggest-loser-midterm-elections-senate-house-congress-republicans-11668034869

[8] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/09/trump-endorsed-candidates-2022-election-results

[9] https://news.yahoo.com/billionaire-gop-donor-ken-griffin-073015070.html

[10] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/09/us/politics/trump-republicans-midterms.html

[11] https://nypost.com/cover/november-10-2022/

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

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Last Chance to Get Out the Vote and Save Our Democracy

With just a week to go before the mid-term elections, American democracy is on the ballot.

Five hundred and fifty-two Republicans are running for House, Senate, governor, secretary of state and attorney general across the country. Close to 40% (199 out of 552) of them fully deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election. According to FiveThirtyEight, these election deniers have a 95% chance of winning.[1]

Since the beginning of 2021, twenty-one states have passed forty-two restrictive voting laws.[2] While Republicans claim these laws protect the integrity of our elections, they know that making it more difficult to vote increases their chances of winning. And for the GOP, it’s all about winning and power. Whatever it takes to regain control of the government, Republicans are willing to do, whether it’s gerrymandering, voter suppression, voter intimidation, insurrection, you name it. Democracy be damned!

So, in this last week of the election, it all comes down to getting out the vote. According to the polls, there are a good number of close races which will decide control of the Senate. Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all neck and neck. Whatever you can do to help the Democratic candidate in these contests could make the difference. It’s not too late.

While the Republicans appear to be winning the House of Representatives, limiting their margin of victory to a small number will be important. In fact, some believe that the Democrats can still hold the House.

While you may not be a fan of film-maker Michael Moore, he is a strong advocate of democracy. Moore believes the Dems can still win. Here’s what he is doing to get out the vote. And he is asking us to pitch-in as well:

“To win, to make sure our large majority of climate-believing, reproductive rights-supporting, anti-capitalist-fighting, mass incarceration-liberating, voter suppression-smashing, universal health care-providing, union-organizing, affordable housing-creating and soon-to-be victors over the Republican Party — all of us MUST step it up in these final 8 days if we are going to pull off the upset of upsets and send the politically illiterate pundits and election-denying party hacks packing! Once and for all!

“I, too, must do more. While I can’t fly to a dozen states and go door-to-door with each of you this week, I can do the next best thing:  I can personally call your still-undecided brother-in-law and convince him to vote with us. Or your aunt who gave up voting a decade ago. Or your close friend that agrees with us but can’t stand Biden. That’s ok — let me talk to them. If you send me their phone number, I’ll try to call as many as I can every day for the next 8 days. I’ll listen to them and then I’ll do my best to convince them to join us. We’ve got nothing to lose here and everything to gain, one vote at a time….

“If you want me to call a relative or friend to convince them to vote, send me a private email to: MikesMidtermCalls@gmail.com with her/his/their name and number, what your relationship is to them (sister, brother, son, daughter, etc.), and the best time to call. NOTE: As I expect to receive a few thousand requests, I will only be able to do just so many calls…But it’ll be fun — and I think I can bring a few people along with us.

“I’m looking forward to joining with as many of you as possible…

“Let’s do this my friends! Time is running out. The hard work — convincing the vast majority of Americans to side with us on nearly all the major issues — that work is already done! They already do! Now all we have to do is get them to the polls! Easy-peasy! There’s at least 20 million more of us than the Republicans. I mean, talk about having a huge lead! Let’s not blow it. Let’s not fail and embarrass ourselves because we couldn’t get a voter 2 miles to the voting booth! 

“Let’s go! Let’s do this!”[3]

If you don’t think Moore is the right person to make that call, do it yourself. I’m calling my high school friend, Don. Who are you going to call? Together, we can make history!

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://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/republicans-trump-election-fraud/

[2] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-october-2022

[3] https://www.michaelmoore.com/p/mikes-midterm-tsunami-truth-33

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats Must Strengthen Their Closing Argument to Win the November Elections

We are in the home stretch of the November 8 mid-term elections. While Republican campaigns are keying in on inflation, the economy and rising crime rates, the Democrats are mainly focused on the threat to abortion rights. Though those rights are very important, there are other critical issues that the Democrats need to highlight in their closing argument to win this year’s elections.

In fact, the Democrats have a clear and compelling economic message for working Americans: We are on your side and much better for your pocketbook than the Republicans.

  • In less than two years of the Biden administration, the unemployment rate has fallen to just 3.5%, matching the level before the COVID pandemic.[1]
  • Since Biden became president, over 10 million jobs have been created, “…the most new jobs during the first 20 months of any U.S. presidential administration, ever.”[2]

Sen. Bernie Sanders is right, the Democrats must take the fight over the economy to the Republicans in these final weeks of the campaign. Sanders argues:  

  • We have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in the modern history of this country. Is there one Republican prepared to raise taxes on billionaires, or do they want to make a bad situation worse by extending Trump’s tax breaks for the rich and repealing the estate tax?
  • Today, 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions work for starvation wages. Is there one Republican in Congress who is prepared to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour?
  • Corporations are charging Americans outrageously high prices, while enjoying record breaking profits. Republicans talk a lot about inflation. But what are they going to do about it? Does one of them have the courage to consider a windfall, profits tax? Absolutely not.[3]

To make matters even worse, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is calling for cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits if the Republicans win control of Congress in next month’s election.[4] This should frighten all seniors and motivate them to get to the polls and vote Blue. Democrats need to make sure that all senior citizens are fully aware that their critical entitlements are endangered if the GOP wins the election.

At the same time, Republicans are indicating they want to make the 2017 Trump tax cuts permanent if they retake Congress. You may remember that these cuts “resulted in a massive windfall for large corporations and the wealthy.”[5] Once again, Republicans aim to make the rich richer at the expense of seniors on fixed incomes and middle- and working- class Americans.

Actually, it’s the Democrats that are the party of fiscal responsibility, not the Republicans. In the just completed 2022 fiscal year, the Biden administration oversaw the largest one-year decline in the federal deficit in American history.[6]

Meanwhile, the national debt rose “by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. That’s nearly twice as much as what Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards and every other type of debt other than mortgages, combined…”[7]

Democrats must underscore that GOP tax cuts, including a sharp reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%,[8] boost inflation just like the increased spending Republicans oppose.[9] While Republicans blame Democrats for inflation despite the fact it’s a global phenomenon and not the result of Biden’s policies,[10] they are fine with increasing inflation when it benefits their wealthy contributors.

Then there’s the issue of rising crime. Republicans have a much worse record on deadly crime than Democrats. A March 2022 report found:

  • In 2020, per capita murder rates were 40% higher in states won by Donald Trump than those won by Joe Biden.
  •  8 of the 10 states with the highest murder rates in 2020 voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election this century.[11]

And, finally, voting rights.  A report by the Brookings Institute found that laws restricting the right to vote have largely passed in Republican states and laws expanding voting rights passed in Democratic states.[12] Again, the Democrats are on the side of the American voter and need to proclaim that they are the party that will protect voting rights and save our democracy.

Unfortunately, Republicans are much better at messaging than Democrats as they twist the truth. It’s up to all of us to help clarify what they are really about and who is truly on the side of the American people in these last weeks before election day. It’s not too late, but we must act now!

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.npr.org/2022/08/05/1116036160/the-unemployment-rate-fell-to-3-5-matching-its-lowest-level-in-the-last-50-years

[2] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/for-biden-10-million-new-jobs-isnt-good-enough-182825191.html

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2022/oct/10/democrats-midterms-victory-economy-bernie-sanders

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/10/18/mccarthy-gop-medicare-social-security/

[5] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/10/17/if-they-retake-congress-gop-plan-make-trump-tax-cuts-rich-permanent

[6] https://www.yahoo.com/news/biden-touts-federal-deficit-largest-170103774.html

[7] https://www.propublica.org/article/national-debt-trump

[8] https://www.propublica.org/article/national-debt-trump

[9] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/10/17/if-they-retake-congress-gop-plan-make-trump-tax-cuts-rich-permanent

[10] https://www.epi.org/blog/rising-inflation-is-a-global-problem-u-s-policy-choices-are-not-to-blame/

[11] https://www.thirdway.org/report/the-red-state-murder-problem

[12] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2021/10/26/voter-suppression-or-voter-expansion-whats-happening-and-does-it-matter/

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: 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