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: Where Do We Go from Here?

Last week’s blog featured Rick Hubbard’s 16-month walk across the country “to sound the alarm to the American people about the urgent need to fix our democracy.” (See https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog/.) Unfortunately, this past week Rick had to suspend his Walk.

Rick was about 40 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona when he got word that Sally, his partner of 30 years, was very ill. As important as the Walk is to Rick, he knew that he had to go back to Vermont immediately to support her. At the same time, Rick vowed that he would return to his Walk as soon as he could. When that will be is anybody’s guess.

Prior to Rick’s suspending his Walk, I spoke to him about focusing the message of his cross-country journey. We agreed that the freedom to vote was the crucial point he needed to promote on his Walk. That is, to fix our democracy we must protect and expand the freedom to vote, which includes at least these 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.

The goal is to make the freedom to vote a fundamental right just as public education is in our country.

The outcome of 2024 election will be critical to the future of our nation. It will determine whether the country moves further toward autocracy and fascism, or more in the direction of a functioning democracy. Guaranteeing and expanding the freedom to vote will go a long way toward the latter objective.

Still, it is obvious that we will not achieve the eight elements listed above in the next two years. Rather than scattering our energy and resources by trying to accomplish all eight, I believe we would be better off concentrating on two or three in the short time before the 2024 election. Which two or three to go for would be determined by which ones are:

  1. most likely to gain the greatest popular support,
  2. most likely to be achieved, and
  3. most likely to secure our democracy.

I’d like to know what you think. Please email me your choices in ranked order at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com and I will publish the results in next week’s blog. To build a strong democracy movement, we need to establish our priorities. What are our most pressing goals? If you feel something is missing from the above list, feel free to add it. I look forward to hearing from you.

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.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Walking Across America to Fix Our Democracy

On October 1, 2022, Rick Hubbard, a life-long activist, left Los Angeles and began walking across the country to sound the alarm to the American people about the urgent need to fix our democracy. His walk also aims to stimulate media attention to the critical issues facing our nation. Rick plans to complete his journey with a special event on the steps of the Capitol in Washington in January of 2024.

Turning 81 this month, Rick is a native Vermonter, retired attorney and former member of the National Governing Board of Common Cause. He has a long history of bringing vital national issues to the public’s attention. Over two decades ago, Rick walked for a week with Granny D, who crossed the country in 1999-2000 to highlight the need for campaign finance reform. Then he did a 450-mile jaunt in Vermont advocating for the same initiative. He’s also walked in New Hampshire and from Philly to D.C. for democracy reform.[1]

Rick sums up the need to fix our democracy like this:

Congress isn’t working for most people. Our political system gives many incentives to act in ways that place their own re-election interests, those of their wealthy and influential campaign funders, and those of their political party above the common, broad interests of the American people.[2]

Here’s what he believes we need to do to fix our democracy:

  • Reform our political process to get more competition, more turnover, and better representation for our common good and the future of our nation.
  • Work with others to support those in Congress willing to pass national standards, including the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, DC Statehood.
  • Ratify a Constitutional Amendment to transform our political system and move our country closer to realizing the true promise of democracy.[3]

You can read more about the issues Rick believes we need to address by going to his website https://www.fixourdemocracy.us/.

Rick will be walking through New Mexico in late January and early February 2023. The entire route of his walk can be found on his website. He plans to hold public events in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Vegas as well as in every state on his journey.

Clearly, Rick needs all the help he can get. This is a critical time in the history of our democracy. We all need to pitch in and do whatever we can if we want our American democracy to survive.

If you would like to volunteer or donate to support the Walk to Fix Our Democracy, it’s easy to do at https://www.fixourdemocracy.us/. If you would like to help organize one of the New Mexico events, contact me at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

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.rickhubbard.org/author/

[2] https://www.fixourdemocracy.us/faqs

[3] Ibid.

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: A Vasquez Win in New Mexico Can Help the Democrats Keep the House Majority

Next month’s midterm elections are now predicted to be much closer than anyone had thought they would be in early summer. Dave Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently observed that the Democrats now could “stave off a Republican majority.”[1] In fact, according to USA Today, just 12 races will determine which party controls the House of Representatives in 2023.[2] (Go to https://www.yahoo.com/news/republicans-flip-house-midterm-elections-090020617.html to ascertain these 12 critical House contests.)

One of those contests is right here in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which now includes some of Albuquerque’s westside as well as all of southern New Mexico. Democrat Gabe Vasquez is running to unseat Rep. Yvette Herrell, a first-term, MAGA Republican. A Vasquez campaign poll has its candidate in the lead by a mere one percentage point.[3]

While the economy and inflation are considered top issues around the country, a woman’s right to choose, voting rights and the threats to democracy are playing an important role in many undecided voters’ decisions. This is particularly true with the largest bloc of voters, women over 50 who comprised 30% of the 2020 electorate according to a recent AARP survey.[4]

Here’s where Congresswoman Herrell stands on these critical issues. She voted ‘NO’ on:            

  • The John R Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 (HR 4), which protects our elections from voter suppression
  • The Protecting Our Democracy Act (HR 5314), which addresses issues involving abuses of presidential powers, checks and balances and accountability
  • The Freedom to Vote Act (HR 5746 ), which protects and expands voter registration efforts
  • The Right to Contraception Act (H.R.8373 ), protects a person’s ability to assess contraception 
  • The Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022  (H.R.8297), which prohibits interfering with a person’s ability to access out-of-state abortion services
  • The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 (H.R. 8296), which codifies Roe v. Wade into law[5]

Herrell is so radical that she even signed on to a national abortion ban that doesn’t offer exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the woman.[6]

The two candidates could not be further apart on these key issues. Gabe Vasquez supports:

  • Ensuring safe, secure and fair elections
  • The right of every eligible American to vote and have his/her vote counted
  • Birth control
  • A woman’s right to choose[7]

If you want to support Gabe Vasquez’s campaign and the Democrats’ prospects of holding onto the House majority, go to his website (https://gabeforcongress.com/) and learn how you can help. Reach out to the people of NM District 2, especially women voters over 50. Let them know about these stark differences between the two candidates. Stress that their votes could determine whether a woman will have the right to choose as well as whether our democracy will even survive.

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.cookpolitical.com/analysis/house/house-overview/house-overview-gop-control-no-longer-foregone-conclusion

[2] https://www.yahoo.com/news/republicans-flip-house-midterm-elections-090020617.html

[3] https://sourcenm.com/2022/10/05/in-the-redrawn-2nd-congressional-district-a-fierce-fight-is-underway/

[4] https://www.politico.com/newsletters/women-rule/2022/10/07/the-most-important-voting-bloc-is-still-undecided-00060947

[5] https://www.bluecd2nm.com/yvette-herrells-voting-record.html

[6] https://dccc.org/100-days-without-roe-yvette-herrell-wants-to-make-it-worse/

[7] https://gabeforcongress.com/issues/

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will Republican State Legislatures Overrule the Results of the Next Presidential Election?

The current right-wing Supreme Court recently announced that in its next session it will hear the case of Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina case involving gerrymandered congressional district maps drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature. At the heart of this case is the radical doctrine labeled the “independent state legislature” theory.

Under the independent state legislature doctrine, state legislatures have absolute control over electoral votes in presidential elections. Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Laurence Tribe and Dennis Aftergut, counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy, explain that “according to this baseless notion, state legislatures can do whatever they want in manipulating elections no matter how extreme the results — principles of voter equality and fairness be damned, along with the state’s constitution, its governor and its courts.”[1]

In other words, if the Supreme Court adopts this theory, it could rule that a state legislature can disregard the vote of the people and award its state’s Electoral College votes to whomever it wishes. And four of the Court’s justices have already signaled support for this idea.[2] As Thom Hartmann recently observed, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution describes the state legislature’s role in presidential elections, but “doesn’t even once mention the popular vote or the will of the people:

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…”[3]

The operative word here is “Manner.” Under the questionable independent state legislature doctrine, a state legislature can employ whatever manner it so choses in determining which candidate receives its state’s electoral votes.

Tribe and Aftergut further argue that “Going into this November’s elections, 30 state legislatures are firmly in Republican hands, including in most of the battleground states that determine presidential election outcomes. Adopting the independent state legislature theory would amount to right-wing justices making up law to create an outcome of one-party rule.”[4]

That is why the 2022 elections for state legislators are vitally important. Some of those 30 Republican-controlled legislatures must be turned over to the Democrats in this November’s elections. If Americans who care about saving our democracy turn out in great number and elect Democratically controlled legislatures this fall in enough states to muster an Electoral College majority, then they would prevent the overturning of the 2024 presidential election under the independent state legislature doctrine.

Once again, it is up to us to spread the word and get out the vote! Democrats have so many critical issues supported by a clear majority of voters: abortion rights, climate change, gun control, voting rights and now saving democracy itself.

We must light a fire under all Americans who want our democracy to survive. We all must get involved and do everything we can to ensure that radical Republican state legislatures cannot overturn the will of the people in the 2024 presidential election.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.yahoo.com/news/op-ed-supreme-court-poised-123049971.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/07/01/beware-supreme-court-laying-groundwork-pre-rig-2024-election

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/op-ed-supreme-court-poised-123049971.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Breaking America’s Gun Safety Gridlock

A new strategy may be emerging to break the logjam on legislation for gun safety. In The Atlantic magazine, senior editor Gal Beckerman proposes students, parents, and teachers take “the next three months to mobilize” a national strike when school starts again demanding gun safety laws. During the summer vacation, “they could create thousands of local committees supporting the strike and decide on what the national demand might be—say, an assault-weapon ban.”[1]

Beckerman points to the student movement after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Parkland students “built one of the most forceful movements around gun control to date…They also helped persuade Florida’s governor to sign a bill that raised the minimum age for purchasing a gun to 21 and extended the waiting period to three days.”[2]

Many unions were quick to denounce the shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 students and two teachers. American Federation of Teacher’s President Randi Weingarten, whose union has lost many members to gun violence, exclaimed, “Gun violence is cancer, and it’s one that none of us should tolerate for one single moment longer…We have made a choice to let this continue, and we can make a choice to finally do something—do anything—to put a stop to this madness.”[3]

Like most Americans, I am sickened by these school shootings as well as those in theaters, houses of worship and other public places. I agree with Weingarten that we can no longer tolerate this madness. But a national teachers’ strike is a big ask of public servants whose salaries do not often afford them the ability to build large bank accounts in reserve. Therefore, a fund to support striking teachers that many of us could support should be developed as soon as the organizing begins. (Note: This idea came from Margaret Lubalin, my editor/partner.)

With the help of the AFT and other unions, an extended national strike could be very effective. Hopefully, it would force Congress and state legislatures to act. With most Republicans opposing meaningful gun safety measures, it could also have a defining impact on some contested electoral races this November.

As momentum builds, the strike could be expanded to other issues as well. Whether it’s gun safety, abortion rights, voting rights or saving democracy itself, our country is at a dangerous stalemate. And let’s not forget the COVID pandemic and global warming.

Our nation is deeply divided on all these critical issues and at a loss as to what to do. Republicans blame the Democrats who control the government. They say elect them to run the country but have offered no sound solutions. Just recriminations and name-calling. They are obsessed with power and control. To them, their way is the only acceptable way. Democrats rightly respond that Republicans just obstruct any real effort to fix our problems.

The state of American politics is demoralizing and depressing. We once were better than this. A national strike for gun safety would be a big step forward toward bringing Americans of all persuasions together (over 90% want expanded background checks[4]) and making our country a healthier, safer place to live. The question is can we muster the strength and the will to overcome the gun lobby and its allies and find our way back to a more civil society before it’s too late.  Therein lies the struggle for the Soul of America.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/05/uvalde-school-shooting-gun-control-walkout/643120/

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://paydayreport.com/strikes-over-gun-control-erie-dc-teachers-went-on-strike-over-gun-control-weingarten-calls-for-action%EF%BF%BC/

[4] https://www.bradyunited.org/key-statistics?gclid=Cj0KCQjw4uaUBhC8ARIsANUuDjX4nlkbjeRY7qs1XkJePFdqdFrRdumlsGZbzF1N9xsOsBrY5-H8gWAaAmIjEALw_wcB

The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Future of Our Nation in Hands of a New Generation

This week my daughter graduates from UC Berkeley with a Master’s in Social Work. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

I want to say to her and to all those students graduating across the country: Congratulations! You’ve worked hard and achieved an important milestone. Your family and friends are very proud of you. I hope you are feeling immense gratification and delight in what you’ve accomplished. Pause for a moment to take it all in.

This is a time for reflection on how far you’ve come, as well as exploring what’s next. With the completion of your education, you are about to make your way in the world. This can be both difficult and exciting. Starting a career. Finding the right job. Deciding where to live. So much to consider.

Like everyone else, you will not be making these decisions in a vacuum. We live in extremely challenging times. In making your choices, you may have to take into account issues previous graduates have not had to consider: the state of the pandemic, major inflation and the rising cost of housing, climate change, the challenge to reproductive rights and more.

But there is one additional thing I urge you to think deeply about, and that is, the future of your country. Decades before you were born, a young, newly elected president, John F. Kennedy, in his 1961 inaugural address challenged all Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”[1]

Now more than ever, your country needs you. Your country has given you the opportunity to obtain a good education among many other advantages. And you alone will decide how to use them in your life.

At the same time, there is a very dark cloud hanging over our nation. It threatens all of us who believe in American democracy. That murky shadow is autocracy, and it imperils the freedoms and justice so many Americans have fought and died for.

Today we are seeing how destructive authoritarianism can be in Putin’s war on Ukraine. Here at home, we are experiencing this autocratic scourge from book-banning campaigns to laws restricting voting rights and eliminating reproductive rights. Most devastating was the January 6th attack on our Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the peaceful transfer of power. This coup was an affront to the most basic principles our nation founded on.

Though it was not of your making, you are now on the frontlines of an epic battle to save our democracy. Whatever you are planning to do as you begin your careers may very well be disrupted or even wiped out by an authoritarian, white supremacist government that could be in our country’s future.

That is why this November’s elections, and the 2024 election are so vital to the survival of our democracy. I urge you all to step up and get actively involved in them. Now is the time to take a stand. You, who are the future of our country, hold the nation’s fate in your hands.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

(P.S. Since I will be at my daughter’s graduation, I won’t be publishing a blog next week, but will be back the following week.)

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.archives.gov/milestone-documents/president-john-f-kennedys-inaugural-address

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: Are Democrats Turning the Corner?

The popular consensus until now has been that the Democrats are in deep trouble and will likely get hammered in the coming November elections. Considering their inability to pass the Build Back Better social reforms bill or voting rights protections and Biden’s low polling numbers, the Democrats clearly looked like big losers come next fall. Then suddenly, the winds of change appear to be turning in their direction.

One of the main issues that the failed voting rights legislation addressed was partisan gerrymandering.  Republican controlled state legislatures have been drawing House district lines that reduce the number of districts that favor Democrats. Since the GOP only needs to flip five seats to take control of the House, their gerrymandering efforts seemed to be getting the job done.

But the Democrats have been fighting back in the courts and winning. In fact, according to the L.A. Times, “when all is done, it’s even possible Democrats could emerge with a slight gain compared with the current maps.”[1] For example, the Ohio State Supreme Court struck down the Republican legislature’s partisan redistricting map.[2] And, on Friday the North Carolina Supreme Court did as well.[3] The Democrats’ chances of holding onto the House majority are clearly improving.

Another recent development that should help the Democrats next fall is Biden’s upcoming pick of a black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. While Blacks’ support of the Democratic Party has been waning since the 2020 election, Biden’s naming a black woman to the Court will likely reverse that trend. Republican opposition to this nomination will have racial overtones which will further motivate Blacks to get out the vote and defeat GOP candidates at the polls.

A third cloud looming over the Republicans’ election prospects is their response to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. This week the Republican National Committee formally censured the two members of their party, Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger, who serve on the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection. The RNC censure accused their two colleagues of “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”[4] Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority (72%) of Americans, including 45% of Republicans, believe the people involved in the attack on the Capitol were “threatening democracy.”5

Many GOP lawmakers are now downplaying what happened on January 6. The House Select Committee will soon hold televised hearings to lay out to the nation exactly what occurred then and leading up to that day. Will swing voters in November want to support those Republicans who not only refuse to acknowledge the truth regarding the attempted coup, but also continue to back Trump who is plotting to do it again?

Finally, Biden and the Democrats have a positive record that should increase their electoral fortunes. The recent tremendous rise in employment figures along with the great reduction in omicron cases give voters reason to stick with the Democrats. Of course, a lot can and will happen in the nine months until the election. But the Democratic picture is certainly brighter today than it’s been in quite some time.

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.latimes.com/politics/newsletter/2022-01-21/state-courts-rein-in-gerrymandering-a-help-to-democrats-essential-politics

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/04/north-carolina-congressional-map-struck-down-00005974

[4] https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/04/politics/liz-cheney-adam-kinzinger-censure-rnc/index.html

[5] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/majority-americans-jan-attack-threatened-democracy-poll/story?id=81990555