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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can Democrats Make Lemonade Out of Election Lemons?

The Democrats got a crate load of lemons in Tuesday’s election results. They lost all three statewide races in Virginia.[1] And, while Pres. Biden won New Jersey by nearly 16 points a year ago, incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy barely eked out a victory in the governor’s race.[2]

Conventional wisdom is these results do not bode well for the Democrats’ chances in the 2022 mid-terms a year from now. But there may be a silver lining for the Dems if they can get their act together.

Since winning both houses of Congress and the presidency a year ago, Democrats have accomplished little for the American people. Their one major piece of legislation, the COVID relief bill passed last March,[3] has long been forgotten by most voters. What has been front and center for months, however, is the Democrats’ haggling over Biden’s social spending and climate package, the Build Back Better Act (BBB), while their infrastructure bill (BIF) languishes in the House after passing the Senate with bipartisan support. Progressives in the House have refused to support the BIF bill until they are assured that Senate Democrats will pass the BBB reconciliation bill. But, until moderate Sens. Manchin and Sinema get onboard, that assurance remains in doubt.[4]

If the Democrats are to have any chance of winning next November, they must heed the warning from the 2021 elections: Give Americans a positive reason to get out and vote for their candidates by passing these bills or suffer the dire consequences. In this year’s election, the Democrats fell way behind the Republicans in firing up their supporters.[5]

And the Democrats have no time to lose. They must pass these bills now so that the American people have sufficient time before the 2022 elections to enjoy and appreciate the many fruits contained in them. Here are a number of those benefits in the infrastructure bill:

  • Roads, bridges, airports, ports, public transit, broadband infrastructure, and power grid maintenance and expansion
  • Clean drinking water and removal of pollution from soil and groundwater
  • Energy job creation
  • Clean energy tax credits

The BBB reconciliation act includes these very popular provisions:

  • Universal pre-kindergarten
  • Paid family leave
  • Lower prescription drug prices
  • Clean energy tax incentives and fees
  • 15% minimum tax rate for large corporations
  • Childcare funding
  • Extension of the child tax credit
  • A middle and working-class families tax cut
  • A Medicare hearing aid benefit

Polls indicate a large majority of Americans approve of the BBB social services/climate act.[6] Since Republicans are united in opposing the bill, the Democrats should receive a significant election boost next year for providing these benefits to millions of Americans. A recent poll found that members of Congress who back the BBB agenda would receive a 17-point increase in support.[7]

So, the Democrats can make lemonade out of their 2021 election lemons by moving expeditiously to pass these two bills. But there is one additional piece of legislation that must accompany them. As I explained in last week’s blog, the Democrats must pass the Freedom to Vote Act to protect our voting rights against red state legislatures that are now passing laws to make it harder for Americans to vote and gerrymandering more Congressional districts to their unfair advantage.[8]

Without this additional bill, Democratic voters could be thwarted at the polls next year. We must contact our senators and representatives and urge them to pass all three of these measures. (https://clerk.house. gov/Members#MemberProfiles, 202-225-3121) and senators (https://www.senate.gov/ /senators/senators-contact.htm, 202-224-3121).

The future of our democracy hangs in the balance.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/579765-republicans-poised-to-sweep-virginia-stunning-democrats

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/11/02/us/elections/results-new-jersey.html

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/11/biden-1point9-trillion-covid-relief-package-thursday-afternoon.html

[4] https://www.wsj.com/articles/progressives-warn-democratic-leaders-on-possible-infrastructure-vote-11635413402

[5] https://www.alternet.org/2021/11/a-wake-up-call-for-democrats/?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8175

[6] https://democrats.org/news/new-polls-same-results-president-bidens-build-back-better-framework-is-extremely-popular/

[7] https://buildingbacktogether.org/news/icymi-new-building-back-together-poll-build-back-better-agenda-remains-deeply-popular-across-key-states-members-of-congress-who-back-agenda-see-17-point-boost-in-support/

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

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Why Aren’t Voting Rights Being Inserted in the Reconciliation Bill?

In last week’s blog, “Democrats’ Reconciliation Bill Must Include Voting Rights,” I asserted that the one thing that must be included in the Reconciliation Bill now being drafted in Congress is the 2021 Freedom to Vote Act.[1]I wrote that by inserting it in their first BBB (Build Back Better) reconciliation package, Democrats would prevent a Republican filibuster since the reconciliation process only requires a simple majority.”[2]

Furthermore, I explained that “(f)or the Act to qualify for reconciliation, Democrats must also include a specific funding amount, e.g., $2 billion, to assist the states in their implementation of the voting rights provisions.[3] Adding this relatively small amount to the reconciliation bill would be much easier than changing the filibuster rule since all 50 Senate Democrats support the Freedom to Vote Act,[4] which is not the case with the latter approach.”

Meanwhile, red state legislatures are passing laws to make it harder for Americans to vote and gerrymandering more Congressional districts to their advantage.[5] The only way for the Democrats to protect our right to vote in 2022 is by passing the Freedom to Vote Act now. And the best way to ensure that it is enacted this year is by inserting it in the Reconciliation Bill. But, so far, the Democrats in Washington have not gotten the message.

Why? It may be that they are too busy negotiating the Reconciliation Bill with Sens. Manchin and Sinema to consider anything else. Or the Democrats may be thinking that their only option is to cut out a voting rights exception to the Senate filibuster.[6]

Regardless the reason, we must demand that Congress act to protect our voting rights and save our democracy. Time is running out. Write or call your Congressional representative at https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative, 202-225-3121, and your senator at https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm, 202-224-3121.

Tell them that they must protect our right to vote by including the Freedom to Vote Act with funding for its implementation in the budget reconciliation bill this year. If that fails for some reason, then they must reform the filibuster rules to allow voting rights legislation to pass by a simple majority. One way or another, Congress must get this Act passed this year.

Make your voices heard. Save our democracy from autocratic rule by the radical right. We owe it to ourselves, our children and future generations.

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.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/breaking-down-freedom-vote-act

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

[3] https://budget.house.gov/publications/fact-sheet/budget-reconciliation-basics; https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/verify/verify-what-is-budget-reconciliation-could-democrats-use-this-process-to-pass-voting-rights-or-immigration-reform-filibuster-congress-senate-schumer/65-4fdf7dcf-81ed-449e-95eb-1993f354c432

[4] https://www.democracydocket.com/alerts/senate-republicans-block-freedom-to-vote-act-from-floor-debate/

[5] https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2021-08-10/ap-republicans-reaped-biggest-redistricting-edge-in-decades

[6] https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/news/2021/10/25/506533/senate-must-reform-filibuster-pass-voting-rights-bills-senate-republicans-block-legislation/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Urgency of Boycotting Corporate America

In last week’s blog, “It’s Time We Take on Corporate America,”[1] I called for a massive boycott against the corporations and business associations lobbying to derail President Biden’s tax reform and spending package, Build Back Better (BBB).

The $3.5 trillion program these corporations oppose includes many provisions[2] that are very popular[3] with Americans:

  • lowering the cost of childcare and providing two years of universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year-olds
  • expanding Medicare to include coverage of dental, hearing and vision services
  • extending the child tax credit through 2025
  • cutting prescription drug prices
  • providing 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave
  • combating climate change
  • raising taxes on corporations and the very wealth

My blog stressed that corporate America is at the root of our country’s problem, Big Money’s control of government policy. A few years ago, I even wrote a book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America,[4] focused on this very issue.

Last week I pointed out how moderate Democrats like Sen. Manchin and Sinema are unwilling to support the $3.5 trillion BBB plan, in large part, because their very big contributors, for example, the pharmaceutical industry and the national realtors’ association, oppose it. While progressives and the Democratic leadership have strongly urged these moderates to unite with the rest of the party and pass the Biden agenda, they have stood firm in their opposition.

Unfortunately, the only ones who have the muscle to convince these Democrats to change their position on the BBB program are their major corporate donors. (A recent report, Behind the Curtain,[5] exposed the connections between Congress and their corporate sponsors.) And the only ones who have the power to stop the corporate lobbying against the BBB agenda and voting rights are American consumers. By refusing to patronize these companies, we can conduct a nationwide boycott forcing them to change the lobbying practices that protect their bottom line while jeopardizing our democracy.

But there’s yet another critical reason to boycott these companies. Following the January 6th insurrection, many corporate PACs suspended their political donations and promised to re-evaluate them in light of the attack on the Capitol and our democracy. However, just six months later these PACs (including American Airlines, GM and UPS) were back providing funding to members of Congress who opposed certification of the electoral college results and hindered the peaceful transition of power.[6] In effect, some of America’s largest corporations have given a “pass” to supporters of the insurrection as long as they continue to provide legislation beneficial to their companies.

Ultimately, an effective boycott must make it in a corporation’s interest to support what is in the public interest. That is, American consumers must make it perfectly clear that we will only use our purchasing power to patronize companies that promote our country’s core values and the common good.

For too long corporate America has been calling the shots in Congress as well as in state legislatures. If we want to hold onto our democracy and build a better future for all Americans, we must take control of government policies away from corporate America.

While there are valid objections to a nationwide boycott, here is how to address them:

  1. I’m in, but we’ll never get enough people to participate for it to be effective.

Well, if we don’t try, we’ll never know. The boycott will certainly need some well-known national sponsors like the AFL-CIO and other unions, Black Lives Matter, Common Cause, the Democracy Initiative, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Indivisible, the League of Women Voters, MoveOn and many others. With the right message and numerous large organizations behind it, millions of people could join a national boycott.

2. I really depend on Amazon, FedEx, etc. I need them and can’t give them up.

Practically all goods and services that these corporations provide can be obtained from other sources. While it may take some effort on our part, the stakes are too high to fail to act. The future of our democracy is at risk. If we want to save our country from authoritarian rule, we must be willing to sacrifice.

3. What about the workers who will lose their jobs when their companies are boycotted and can’t keep employing them?

As the boycott builds, a fund to supplement unemployment benefits for those laid off workers must be created by the participating organizations and individuals. They cannot become casualties of a national boycott.

I urge you to spread the idea of a national boycott to your friends and colleagues. If you are a member or contributor to a national organization, please send this blog to them and implore them to get involved. Together we can take back our government and 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://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/

[2] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/budget-reconciliation-bill-build-back-better-act/

[3] https://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/92121

[4] See https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/

[5] https://peoplesaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Behind-the-Curtain-final.pdf

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/15/american-airlines-overturn-election-january-6/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Where Will America’s Current State of Crisis Lead?

America is in crisis. From the ban on mandatory COVID masks and the ugly withdrawal from Afghanistan to the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion ruling and the attacks on our voting rights, the United States is anything but united. In fact, we are at a dangerous inflection point.

On the one hand, the country is confronted by a rising tide of fascism. Mark Green, the first public advocate for New York City and author (with Ralph Nader) of Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lawbreaking and Lies Betray All, recently wrote in the Washington Spectator, “If openly cheating to install permanent minority rule doesn’t spell out “fascism,” it’s hard to see what would.” Green explains:

Trump “closely followed the playbooks of Mussolini, Salazar, Putin, and Bolsonaro: propaganda packaged as reality, extreme nationalism, delegitimization of the media, erosion of public confidence in elections, glorification of the military, self-enrichment and nepotism, relentless lying and systematic corruption, incitement to violence, Nuremberg-like rallies, a creed-of-greed over the common good, admiration of fellow dictators, scapegoating immigrants, vilification of “the other,” and the provoking of constant crises that “I alone can fix.”[1]

While Trump lost the 2020 election, he and his extremist minions are not going away. The Center for the Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR) addresses the magnitude of the threat Trumpism poses:

“Even if Donald Trump disappears from the stage forever, this isn’t over. More than a hundred congressional leaders have contested a fair and democratic election with falsehoods and conspiracy theories…Fascism and conspiratorial thinking have seeped into the minds of millions of Americans. If we compare Mussolini’s March on Rome and Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch to Donald Trump’s Insurrection we should be reminded that the former examples were only the beginning of years of street violence. We can’t address this problem until we call it by its name: fascism.”[2]

On the other hand, President Biden and most Democrats are proposing a progressive agenda that would significantly improve the lives of most Americans. Their $3.5 trillion social infrastructure budget and the For the People Act mandating election reforms would create a more egalitarian America.[3]

While many Democrats are aware of the ominous threat presented by the radical right, they are not directly combatting it. Plus, Congressional Democrats can’t seem to come together to enact the policies and programs noted above that could effectively thwart the march to an authoritarian state.

As Green and CARR emphasize, we must acknowledge that what occurred in Germany and Italy in the 1930s is happening in our country today. Then, hopefully, we will be able to marshal the will and the resources to defeat American fascism before it is too late.

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://washingtonspectator.org/none-dare-call-it-fascism-why-not/

[2] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/countering-radical-right/american-fascism/

[3] https://www.reuters.com/world/us/after-setback-us-house-democrats-near-deal-biden-agenda-2021-08-24/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Republican Hypocrites Call for Biden’s Impeachment

A very dark cloud hangs over Afghanistan. Last Thursday Islamic state terrorists killed 13 U.S. troops and dozens of Afghan civilians attempting to escape through the Kabul airport.[1] Since the Taliban captured Kabul two weeks ago, about 117,000 people, mostly Afghans, have been evacuated from the country.[2] After 20 years of war, the United States is finally pulling out of Afghanistan, leaving the country in chaos.

Far right Republicans like Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley are calling for President Biden’s impeachment or resignation.[3] They and a host of other Republicans argue that “his decisions created an environment ripe for crisis that indicates he is not capable of leadership.”[4]

These Republicans choose to ignore the fact that in February 2020 the Trump Administration signed the Doha agreement with the Taliban to withdraw all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. It did this in exchange for the Taliban’s ceasing attacks on U.S. forces. This deal “was widely recognized as having thrown our allies [the Afghan government] under the bus, as the Taliban were free to carry on fighting the Afghan army as long as they didn’t attack U.S. forces.”[5]

At the same time, the deal strengthened the Taliban’s ability to overthrow the Afghan government. It included the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security force prisoners. For this and other reasons, “it was immediately clear to all observers that the treaty comprehensively removed incentives for the Taliban to compromise.”[6]

In other words, it was President Trump, not Biden, who set the stage for this Afghan catastrophe. And it’s laughable, as one observer noted, that Trump is blasting Biden for what’s happening in Afghanistan since “he was criticizing Biden for following through on his own exit strategy.”[7]

Like all of Trump’s presidential acts, the Doha Agreement and the U.S. troop withdrawal (Only 2500 remained when Biden took office.) were primarily motivated by Trump’s belief that it would benefit him personally in his 2020 re-election campaign.[8] For Trump and many Republicans to now call for Biden’s impeachment or resignation over the Afghan debacle is beyond the pale. Still, it’s typical Republican behavior to be outraged at their opponents’ actions while they find Trump and other Republicans’ more reprehensible conduct somehow acceptable.

For example, Republicans refused to impeach and convict President Trump when he incited a rightwing mob to storm the U.S. Capitol and prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. Plus, when the insurrection turned violent and Capitol police were being killed and maimed, Trump waited three hours before begrudgingly calling for reinforcements.[9]

Or, when the Democrats introduced the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voter Rights Act which would protect all Americans right to vote. The Republicans called this a “power grab” and “a stunning one-party takeover of voting laws and elections in our country.”[10] Yet, in red state after red state, they are the ones who are enacting voter suppression laws to ensure one-party Republican control of our government.[11]

It is incumbent upon the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party to expose the Republicans as the utter hypocrites they are. While the Democrats are far from perfect, unlike the Republicans, they do not make everything about political power. The pullout from Afghanistan, the impeachment of Trump and the current voting rights bills in Congress are all, first and foremost, for the benefit of the American people. That the vast majority of the Republican Party is, first and foremost, all about power puts American democracy in dire jeopardy.

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/2021/08/26/world/asia/kabul-airport-bombing.html

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/28/world/asia/afghanistan-evacuations.html

[3] https://www.yahoo.com/now/wave-republicans-call-biden-impeachment-223000412.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/afghanistan-airport-explosion-happened-under-biden-traces-back-trump-ncna1277755

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/19/us/politics/trump-biden-afghan-taliban.html

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/13/us/politics/trump-impeached.html

[10] https://www.foxnews.com/politics/rnc-exec-dems-hr-1-hostile-takeover-election-process; https://www.republicanleader.senate.gov/newsroom/remarks/hr-1-would-create-a-stunning-one-party-takeover-of-voting-laws-and-elections-in-our-country

[11] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-july-2021

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint

We are living in the most precarious of times. Our lives are at risk as the pandemic is on the rise once again. According to the New York Times, “(t)he Delta variant, a more contagious version of the coronavirus, is sweeping through the country. Fewer than half of Americans are fully vaccinated, exacerbating the situation.”[1]

At the same time, President Biden asserts our nation is facing the biggest threat to American democracy since the Civil War.[2] Many, including myself, agree. Across the country Republican state legislatures are enacting voter suppression laws and seizing the power to overturn the will of the voters in future elections.[3]

In order to meet these monumental challenges, we must be prepared for the long haul. It is becoming increasingly clear that neither Covid 19 nor the authoritarian right will be overcome easily or quickly. Under such circumstances, self-care and taking care of each other are essential.

I know that if I do not maintain my physical and mental health, there is no way I can help anyone else, let alone work to save America from the assault on our democracy now reigning down on us. We cannot allow these perilous threats to overwhelm us. If we do, we and our country are sure to lose.

Putting our heads in the sand will not work either. Some of us are throwing up our hands and saying that there is nothing I can do that will make a difference. While it may feel that way, it is far from the truth.

Defeat is not an option. But neither is running ourselves into the ground. So, here are a few suggestions for staying engaged in these most difficult times without losing your health or your mind:

  1. Know that you are not alone. Join or form a support or affinity group. At least talk to a friend about how you’re feeling. Don’t keep it all inside.
  2. Get out in nature. A walk or hike can be very rejuvenating.
  3. Volunteer at a food bank, senior center or other service organization where you can feel you are contributing to making life better for someone.
  4. Do things you like to do, e.g., listening to music, reading a book, dancing, writing in a journal.
  5. Call or write the president and your senators and representatives. Let them know how you feel about the issues that concern you and what you want them to fight for.
  6. Contribute what you can to organizations that you feel are making a difference.
  7. Get involved in a cause you care about even if it’s just for a couple of hours a month.

For me, the key is balance. I know I cannot change the world by myself. I also know trying to do that just leads to burn out. We are in a marathon, not a sprint. We have to pace ourselves, taking time to recharge our batteries. Staying the course to save our democracy is what’s most vital.

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/2021/07/23/business/return-to-office-vaccine-mandates-delta-variant.html

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-voting-speech/2021/07/13/afd91f7a-e3d9-11eb-8aa5-5662858b696e_story.html

[3] https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/06/14-gop-controlled-states-have-passed-laws-to-impede-free-elections/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Spirit of the Fourth of July

It’s the Fourth of July, the birthday of our nation. We generally celebrate Independence Day as the day 245 years ago that the American colonies declared their freedom from British rule. But this year’s Fourth feels quite different.

This year many Americans are not celebrating. Rather, like myself, they are feeling disappointed, sad, even outrage. They are experiencing a great loss, the potential demise of our democracy.

Instead of celebrating, this year we are faced with the challenge of renewing our democratic freedoms, including our sacred right to vote. While the colonists fought the British for their right to independence, today we are called to fight for democracy and our voting rights.

The latest example that our democracy is in peril occurred this past week when the Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s restrictions on voting rights. Once again, the conservative court majority weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits any policy that “results in the denial or abridgment of the right to vote of any citizen on account of race or color.” The court found that Arizona’s policy of invalidating ballots cast in the wrong precinct and its law criminalizing the collection of mail ballots by third-party community groups or campaigns did not violate the landmark 1965 Act.[1]

The great majority of Americans, however, disagree with the Court and the Republican state legislatures that are restricting our right to vote around the country. Sixty percent of Americans support making it easier to vote by enacting automatic voter registration.[2] Even more, 68 percent, favor HR1/S1, the For the People Act which would protect and expand voting rights.[3]

So, in the spirit of the Fourth of July, it is incumbent upon all Americans who believe in the principles of democracy to join the struggle to protect our right to vote. Around the country, we are organizing, rallying and marching under the banner of Deadline for Democracy. We are demanding that Congress pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore our democracy. Go to https://deadlinefordemocracy.org/find-event to find an event near you.

Here in Santa Fe, our rally will be held on Sunday, July 11 at 11 a.m. It will take place at 106 S. Federal Place next to the downtown post office and feature NM Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, and other speakers. For details, go to https://act.indivisible.org/event/local-actions/163343.

If there ever was a time our country needed all of us, it is now. Stand up for your rights. Be part of a Deadline for Democracy rally. Call your senators and congressperson. We must save our sacred right to vote and rejuvenate our democracy. This is our country. Make your voice heard!

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://abcnews.go.com/Politics/supreme-court-upholds-arizona-restrictions-major-voting-rights/story?id=78182724

[2] https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/546166-majority-of-americans-back-making-voting-easier-poll

[3] https://www.newsweek.com/gop-opposes-hr-1-poll-finds-majority-republicans-support-election-reform-bill-1572166

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Retreat to Recharge

As we are all quite aware, we live in very tumultuous times. From the deadly pandemic to the resulting economic suffering, from the insurrection against the Capitol to the outrageous attacks on our voting rights, all Americans have been undergoing an extremely distressing period in our history.

These events not only upset our lives; they disturb our psyches as well. We get so stressed that we can’t sleep. Or we are so anxious that we forget to do the simplest things, like feeding the cat or watering the plants. Or we’re so angry we lose our peace of mind.

During times like these, I’ve found it’s helpful to take a time-out. Recently, I did a three-day, solitary retreat at the Lama Foundation north of Taos, New Mexico. While I was there, I meditated, read, wrote in my journal, walked in nature, and contemplated my life’s purpose.

I realize that some may feel a three-day respite is an unaffordable luxury. But I believe even a day’s retreat or just two or three hours of stopping and reflecting can give one renewed energy to carry on.

When I returned from my retreat, I felt recharged with greater clarity about my life. So, I’m focusing on letting go of that which does not truly serve me now. I still believe it’s important to continue contributing to social and political advancement efforts. But I realize it’s essential as well that I balance my life by enhancing personal relationships and improving my spiritual practice. One supports the other.

With that in mind, I’m deepening my relationship with my partner and my community. At the same time, I’m working with the recently formed New Mexico Voting Rights Campaign. Our mission is “to bring together people of all political perspectives to defend our democracy through actions that both protect and expand voting rights and ballot access for all Americans.  We demand every vote be counted, every voice be heard, big money not influence elections and electoral districts be fairly determined.” A tall order, for sure.

Most Americans of all political persuasions want to protect their voting rights. That’s why we’re inviting you and everyone you know to come together for a rally in conjunction with a national effort to safeguard our right to vote.

On Sunday, July 11 at 11 a.m., we will gather at 106 S. Federal Place, Santa Fe, just east of the main post office. Our esteemed speakers, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez and N.M. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, are both champions of voting rights for all Americans.

There’s never been a more critical time to work to save our democracy. Your country needs you now. Come, join us!

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 (now RepresentUs New Mexico), 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/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: A Call to Action

In the late 1960’s, I protested against the Vietnam War. Along with millions of other Americans, I marched in New York and Washington against the War, and lobbied my congressman and senators to terminate it. Together we made a difference and helped end the war in southeast Asia.

Since then, I’ve participated in many protests including against nuclear weapons and the Iraq War, as well as for Black Lives Matter and women’s rights. While these were all critically important causes, they all lacked one vital factor that made the anti-Vietnam War protest so effective: every American had a personal stake in ending the war.

While these other critical issues personally impacted large segments of the population, none of them had the potential to affect everyone like Vietnam did. We had a draft back then. So, anyone of draft age, a son, a father, a friend or neighbor, could have been called up and sent to fight a war that more and more Americans came to oppose as it dragged on for years.

Also, for the first time, the war was in our faces. The lead story on the nightly news was the War. We saw the body bags as they arrived home. We saw distraught parents, sobbing widows, bewildered children. The war and its toll were inescapable.

Today we are in a different kind of war. It’s not halfway around the world, or the lead story on television every night. But, like Vietnam, it does have the potential to dramatically affect all of our lives. Unfortunately, while that is true, most Americans have not been able to grasp that reality in the way a deadly war did.

Today the War Against Democracy is raging in our country. And while, if we lose, it will drastically affect our lives, most of us are not engaged in the fight.

We read about the anti-democratic laws restricting our voting rights being enacted across the country and shake our heads. We are furious with the continuing Republican obstruction in Congress, where they won’t even investigate the attack on our government. We listen in disbelief as General Flynn calls for a coup to re-install Trump in the White House. Yet, for the most part, we go on with our lives doing little, if anything, to stop this madness.

I think to myself, if this were France, millions of people would be out in the streets. There would be a nationwide strike halting business as usual until something was done to ensure the government survives. Here, we write a check, call our congressperson, debate the issues, and go on about our daily lives. We allow Trump and his right-wing cohorts to get all the attention even though less than a third of the country supports him.[1] We are the silent majority.

Why are we silent? First, we feel helpless and/or hopeless. We are so overwhelmed with bad news to the point where we cannot imagine what to do. Second, many of us are too comfortable. We don’t immediately feel the consequences of what is happening. We are too removed from the struggle and the oppression to be compelled to act until it is too late. And third, we don’t believe it can happen in the United States. Autocratic coups are what happens in third world countries, but not here.

The January 6th insurrection demonstrated it can happen here. And it is personal. We can lose our right to choose who governs our country. Yes, it’s true that in many ways our right to choose has already been narrowed down unfairly or practically eliminated by power brokers. Still, if we fail to prevent the destruction of what’s left of our democracy, our ability to work together to rebuild it will be severely crippled, if not destroyed entirely.

Make no mistake. Our country is in crisis. We are on the brink of disaster. It’s time to organize. Our power is in our numbers. Take to the streets. Call for a nationwide strike and/or boycott. If you want to save our democracy, the time to act 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 (now RepresentUs New Mexico), 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/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/after-100-days-out-office-trump-s-support-softens-nbc-n1265457