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: Time for All of Us to Go the Extra Mile for Our Country

Time is running out for President Biden and the Democratic Congress to restore our faltering country. Trump and his Republican cohorts are hell-bent on destroying American democracy and creating a one-party autocracy, if and when they gain control of the federal government.[1]

Denying the reality of man-made climate change, Congressional Republicans reject the need to protect our planet from the disastrous effects of global warming.

Snubbing the idea that easy access to guns is a primary reason for America’s mass murders epidemic, most Republicans rebuff the need for universal background checks and other meaningful gun control measures.

Renouncing a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body, Republican officials forbid abortion, even in the case of a 10-year-old rape victim.

The list goes on and on.

Most forecasts have the Democrats losing the House and possibly the Senate in this fall’s elections. Even if they only lose their House majority, the Democrats ability to pass any sensible legislative measures over Republican obstruction will be practically impossible. If they lose the Senate too, all of Biden’s judicial and executive branch nominations will be in hostile Republican hands as well.

It’s time to ask ourselves how much do we care about the future of our country? If there ever was a time our country needed us to step up and go the extra mile, it’s now. Together, I believe we can turn this around.

Though the Biden administration is well aware of the extremely harsh consequences of a Republican takeover, it seems unable or unwilling to meet the moment with the full power of executive authority while it still has the opportunity. Some Democrats and environmental groups are urging Biden to immediately declare a climate emergency to unlock the powers of the National Emergency Act to pursue actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build a better green economy.[2]

In announcing a recent series of executive actions targeting the climate crisis, Biden stopped short of the national climate emergency declaration called for by the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 1,200 other groups. “The world’s burning up from California to Croatia, and right now Biden’s fighting fire with the trickle from a garden hose,” said Jean Su, Energy Justice program director at the Center for Biological Diversity.[3]

The same is true in the administration’s efforts to combat gun violence. Calling on Biden to declare a public health emergency, Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign, exclaimed, “This should be an all-government, all-hands-on-deck approach to solve this issue…”[4]

Lindsay Nichols of the gun control group Giffords has called for Biden to eliminate background check loopholes through executive action. Nichols also wants the Department of Justice to scale up its anti-gun trafficking strike forces while others are demanding a White House office dedicated to addressing gun violence.[5]

Regarding abortion rights, Biden signed an executive order “directing his health department to expand access to abortion pills, beef up enforcement of Obamacare’s birth control coverage mandate and stand up an army of pro bono lawyers to help defend people criminally charged for seeking or providing the procedure.” Still “many activists and abortion providers voiced frustration with the measure’s scope, vagueness and timing and worried it would do little to influence the impact on the ground of mounting state bans.”[6]

So, there’s two things we all need to do. First, contact your senators and representatives as well as the White House. Urge them to do more. Go the extra mile for climate change, gun control and abortion rights.

Second, work to get out the vote in November (https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/help-get-out-the-vote/; https://ballotpedia.org/Get_out_the_vote) for all those candidates who support strong measures to solve these urgent issues. Together we can make a difference.

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.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/04/trump-republican-party-democracy

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/20/biden-announces-new-climate-change-programs-no-emergency-declaration.html

[3]https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/biden-stops-short-of-declaring-national-climate-emergency-2022-07-20/

[4] https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/3502639-biden-has-limited-options-but-there-are-some-things-he-can-do-on-guns/

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/08/biden-abortion-executive-order-00044647

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can Our Broken Democracy Be Fixed?

This past weekend Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago. At the same time, Jews were commemorating the liberation of their ancestors from Egyptian bondage. Together the Easter and Passover holidays raise a profound question for all Americans in these troubling times:

Can we liberate ourselves from the growing anti-democratic movement in our nation and resurrect our dying democracy?

Honestly, I am not very optimistic. Afterall, our political leaders seem much more interested in gaining and maintaining power than they are in solving our country’s problems. This is particularly true on the right. As I noted in my last blog, “with few exceptions the Republicans have been total naysayers and obstructionists.”[1]

So, what can we do? First, we must come to grips with the fact that we are in a fight for the very survival of democracy. We must press upon state and national Democratic leaders that this is the case and that they, along with us, must publicly stress that we are in this critical battle to save our democracy.

Second, we must call out by name the great many Republicans and the few Democrats who are blocking the effective functioning of our democracy. For instance, senators like Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, who opposed changing a rule that would have enabled the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act, guaranteeing the right to vote to all Americans.[2] And, the numerous Republicans who are acting to restrict the right to vote in many red states across the country.[3]

Third, we must hold Democrats’ feet to the fire. Voters need to be reassured that President Biden and his party understand their problems and are currently delivering effective solutions. Biden needs to fulfill his pledge to the 43 million Americans with student loan debt to cancel at least part, preferably all, of the $1.7 trillion student debt.[4] We must demand that he keep his promise and do it now.

Congressional Democrats have been trying unsuccessfully to pass Biden’s Build Back Better bill since last summer. Time is running out before November’s crucial elections. Sen. Manchin has been the primary holdout to adopting the legislation. Senate Democrats need to slim the bill down to its most popular provisions – reducing prescription drug prices, tax reforms, and climate investments – which they all can agree on.[5] We must strongly lobby our senators and representatives to adopt the bill immediately and get it on Biden’s desk.

Finally, Americans need to truly understand what putting Republicans in charge of Congress in November would mean. Given how obstructionist they have been as the Congressional minority, it is not difficult to imagine how Republicans could completely thwart any Biden initiative for the remainder of his term in office should they gain control of Congress. Most likely no progress would be made on voting rights, tax reform, prescription drug prices, healthcare, climate change or almost anything else the president might propose to assist most Americans.

So, it is up to you and me. Together we must make crystal clear what is at stake in the coming election. We must call out those who are working to destroy our democracy. And we must demand that our Democratic senators and representatives act now. If our nation is to be liberated from the growing anti-democratic movement in its midst and our dying democracy is to be resurrected, we are the ones who must make it happen.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


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

[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/democrats-rev-voting-rights-push-end-2021-senate-path-remains-n1286080#anchor-Aperfectstorm

[3] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/19-states-enacted-voting-restrictions-2021-rcna8342

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/more-since-biden-found-whether-102000786.html

[5] https://www.vox.com/2022/3/16/22955410/build-back-better-scenarios

The Struggle for the Soul of America: It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

(My remarks at a solstice gathering a few nights ago)

Two Hundred and Forty-five years ago this week just after the winter solstice on December 23, 1776, Thomas Paine wrote:

“These are the times that try men’s souls… Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”

Paine was with George Washington and the Continental Army when they were defeated at White Plains and Forts Washington and Lee in October and November of that year.  Washington’s troops retreated across NJ and into PA. Many were without shoes and sufficient clothing to protect them from the freezing winter. The dejected Continental Army then huddled along the west bank of the Delaware River on the verge of defeat.

But Washington was not about to give up. On Christmas night, December 25, 1776, the General led his ragged army across the icy Delaware River and embarked on a ten-mile march to Trenton, NJ, where they surprised and overcame 1500 enemy troops. A week later, they again prevailed at Princeton. It was a pivotal point that led to the defeat of the British and the birth of our nation.

87 years later, on Nov. 19, 1863, after one of bloodiest battles in our history, in the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln declared at Gettysburg: “that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Now, recalling how our foremothers and forefathers persevered and overcame great diversity so that American democracy might be born and grow, once again our collective survival as a free people is being tested.

We are again in times that try men’s and women’s souls. We are being challenged to the utmost by the COVID pandemic, right-wing voter suppression, a fascist ex-president’s attempt to overthrow our government and global climate change.

So, as the winter solstice ushers in the radiance of the approaching new year, we have the opportunity, perhaps you might say, the duty, to open our hearts and spread the light of peace and love to all our relations, and to contribute whatever we are able, to the work of overcoming this pandemic, protecting our planet Earth and preserving our democratic way of life.

May this begin tonight with each of us.

Bruce Berlin

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will Justice Be Done?

As more and more facts regarding the January 6th attack on the Capitol come out, it’s clear that this was a coordinated conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election and keep then President Trump in the White House. In addition, Trump incited the insurrection and did nothing to stop it for several hours while law enforcement officers fought the rioters and four people died.

Consider the following:

  1. For months before Election Day, Trump repeatedly told his supporters falsehoods about voting, including that Democrats had “rigged” the election. Trump ramped up the rhetoric after he lost the election, filing court challenges in battleground states unsuccessfully trying to get judges to reverse the outcome.[1]
  2. In December 2020, Trump issued a battle cry to his supporters, encouraging them to gather on his behalf on Jan. 6. On December 18th, he tweeted, “We won the Presidential Election, by a lot.  FIGHT FOR IT. Don’t let them take it away!”[2]
  3. Just two days before the attack on the Capitol, Trump declared that the Democrats are “not taking this White House — we’re going to fight like hell, I’ll tell you right now… We’re going to take it back.[3]
  4. Two organizers of the January 6th attack said they took part in “dozens” of planning meetings with members of Congress, their top staff and White House staff prior to that day. These organizers indicated that Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows played a significant role in discussions regarding the planned protest. One of the planners explained, “Meadows was 100 percent made aware of what was going on,” adding that he was “a regular figure in these really tiny groups of national organizers.”[4]
  5. Meadows discussed the appointment of an alternate slate of electors. He “loved” the plan which included a January 5th recommendation of putting the National Guard on “standby.”[5]
  6. Former Trump Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller told a House of Representatives panel that he spoke with Trump on Jan. 3. Trump wanted Miller to place National Guard troops in Washington to protect his supporters at the Jan. 6 rally.[6]
  7. At the rally, Trump repeatedly said there was a need to “fight.” He said, “Unbelievable, what we have to go through…you have to get your people to fight…We’re going to have to fight much harder, and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our constitution. Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy…because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”[7]
  8. Trump was clearly aware that the vice president was in danger that day. He had a callous disregard for Mr. Pence’s safety.[8]
  9. At the White House, advisers were trying to get Trump to do something, but he rebuffed calls to intercede. The president, advisers said, was expressing pleasure that the vote to certify Mr. Biden’s win had been delayed and that people were fighting for him. “According to public reports, he watched television happily — happily — as the chaos unfolded,” Sen. McConnell noted. “He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election. Even after it was clear to any reasonable observer that Vice President Pence was in serious danger, even as the mob carrying Trump banners was beating cops and breaching perimeters, the president sent a further tweet attacking his own vice president.”[9]
  10. At 1:49 pm, the chief of the Capitol Police made a frantic call to Gen. Walker, the head of the D.C. National Guard, for support. Walker did not receive approval from Acting Defense Sec. Miller to send Guard troops until 5:08, over 3 hours later.[10]

The case is now in the hands of Attorney General Merrick Garland. More damning facts are sure to be revealed. Trump, Meadows, and other government officials who participated in the conspiracy to overthrow our government must be prosecuted and imprisoned for treason. We all must demand that the Department of Justice ensure that justice is fully and swiftly served so, as Lincoln implored the nation at Gettysburg, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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.poynter.org/fact-checking/2021/a-timeline-of-what-donald-trump-said-before-the-capitol-riot/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/578251-jan-6-protest-organizers-say-they-communicated-with-conservative

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2021/12/08/meadows-pushed-for-alternate-slate-of-electors-following-trumps-loss-documents-show/?sh=57c9fb016795

[6] https://www.reuters.com/world/us/congresswoman-says-trump-administration-botched-capitol-riot-preparations-2021-05-12/

[7] https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2021/a-timeline-of-what-donald-trump-said-before-the-capitol-riot/

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/13/us/politics/trump-capitol-riot.html

[9] Ibid.

[10] https://www.npr.org/2021/03/03/973292523/dod-took-hours-to-approve-national-guard-request-during-capitol-riot-commander-s

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/