The Struggle for the Soul of America: Can Democrats Pull an Upset in this November’s Mid-term Elections?

(Note: I am taking a break. This is my last blog until after Labor Day. Back at you then.)

History tells us that the odds of the party occupying the White House winning the mid-term elections are pretty slim. “Since the end of World War II, the president’s party has lost House seats in all but two midterms: 2002 and 1998…”[1]

Until June 24th when the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade’s right to abortion,[2] it appeared the conventional wisdom would prevail, and a Republican red-wave tsunami was gathering steam. In the last six weeks, however, the tide has turned purple, if not downright blue.

So much is now going the Democrats’ way, it’s hard to believe. No one thought that red state Kansas would support abortion rights by 18 percentage points.[3] Nor did most people think that Sens. Manchin and Sinema would sign on to the Democrats’ climate, health care and tax legislation,[4] assuring its passage in the next week or so.[5] The renamed Inflation Reduction Act will bring the country close to its emission reduction goals of cutting carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030. It will also lower drug prices by permitting Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and extend the Affordable Care Act for three more years.[6]

In addition, here’s what else has recently boosted the Democrats’ chances in November:

Nevertheless, the elections are still three months away. While the Democrats now have a much stronger record to run on then they did just a couple of months ago, they will need an enthusiastic voter turnout, like the one in the recent Kansas primary affirming abortion rights, to upset the GOP and hold onto their Congressional majorities.

What was just a pipedream not long ago is now a realistic goal. With much of the Republican Party seeking permanent one-party rule,[8] the Democrats are finally giving voters good reason to stick with them by demonstrating that they can produce concrete results for the American people. Though it’s far short of the progressive ideal and not everything President Biden promised during the 2020 campaign, he and his party have made significant progress in the face of stiff Republican opposition. Just think what they could do if, we, the voters gave them greater majorities to work with in November. One can only hope. All of us working together to get out the vote can turn hope into reality this fall.

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://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-the-presidents-party-almost-always-has-a-bad-midterm/

[2] https://www.npr.org/2022/06/24/1102305878/supreme-court-abortion-roe-v-wade-decision-overturn

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/02/us/kansas-abortion-rights-vote.html

[4] https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/04/dems-agenda-energy-climate-bill-00049875

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/08/07/us/climate-tax-deal-vote

[6] https://www.yahoo.com/news/dont-believe-trump-gop-biden-130045250.html

[7] Ibid.

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/04/trump-republican-party-democracy

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Manchin and Schumer to McConnell and the Republicans, “Gotcha!”

Did Democrats Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer pull a fast one on Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, or what?

A month ago, Sen. McConnell declared, “Let me be perfectly clear. There will be no bipartisan USICA (a $52 billion bill to support the U.S. semiconductor industry) as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill.”[1]

Two weeks later Sen. Manchin put the brakes on the Democrats’ reconciliation bill. Believing that the partisan bill was dead, McConnell and 16 of his Republican colleagues then joined with all 50 Democrats to pass the CHIPS semiconductor bill on July 27. Within hours Sens. Manchin and Schumer announced an agreement on a $740 billion reconciliation bill[2] that McConnell can’t derail.[3]

It was the kind of cunning maneuver McConnell is known for, but this time the Democrats were in the driver’s seat. McConnell has been sticking it to the Dems for way too long. Could this just be the beginning of the payback McConnell and his right-wing colleagues clearly deserve?

The Democrats are finally learning to play hardball. And, right in the nick of time. With the mid-term elections fast approaching, the Dems need to demonstrate to the voting public the stark differences between them and the GOP. Forcing Republicans to vote on popular legislation they oppose, especially if the bill ultimately fails, helps the Dems make the case that the public needs to vote more Democrats into office if they want these bills to pass.

For example, take the bill enacting the right to contraceptives. A few days ago, Senate Republicans blocked the bill,[4] despite the fact that 84% of likely Republican primary voters support safe access to contraceptives.[5] Almost all House Republicans voted against this bill as well.[6] And most of them also voted ‘no’ on a same-sex marriage bill and a couple of other popular social issues.[7]

Even more reprehensible, last week Senate Republicans rejected a bill to assist veterans suffering from exposure to toxic chemicals while on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-five Republican senators blocked the measure, even though they had voted in favor of it just one month earlier. Their about-face was in retaliation for being outmaneuvered by Schumer and Manchin in the CHIPS Act voting previously noted. “Getting even” with the Democrats apparently overrode their longstanding strong support for our troops. This may very well cost the GOP when America’s veterans go to the polls this fall.[8]

Meanwhile, as the Justice Department begins to zero in on Trump’s criminal culpability for the January 6th insurrection, a bright light will also shine on his Republican Congressional enablers. McConnell and his colleagues who have failed to stand up to Trump are, in fact, accomplices to Trump’s crimes. If Senate Republicans had voted with the Democrats to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial after he had instigated the attack on the Capitol, he would have been barred from running for president again under Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution.[9]

The House Select Committee’s hearings have made it clear to millions more Americans how Trump and his party conspired to overthrow the 2020 election. All the Republican Congresspeople who voted against certifying that election and supported Trump’s Big Lie should be held accountable in my view. But that will be up to their constituents in November. The voters may yet reject those who chose overthrowing our government rather than upholding the Constitution, which they had sworn to defend.[10]

Though the polls and history suggest this is the Republicans’ year, recent events have given the Democrats renewed hope for winning the mid-term elections. In addition to all the above, abortion rights, gun control and climate change provide further Democratic momentum. And I just bought gas for under $4/gal. So, inflation may cease to be the overriding issue it has been projected to be. Then Democrats may well declare the ultimate “Gotcha” on the night of November 8th. Wouldn’t that be something?!

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://seekingalpha.com/news/3853443-mcconnell-looks-to-block-52b-in-chips-funding-over-spending-packages

[2] https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/07/joe-manchin-climate-bill-inflation-reduction-act.html

[3] https://www.businessinsider.com/mcconnell-assails-manchin-spending-deal-after-dems-strip-his-leverage-2022-7

[4] https://truthout.org/articles/republican-blocks-contraception-access-bill-from-coming-to-vote-in-senate/

[5] https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/07/19/poll-independent-womens-voice-republican-primary-voters-support-safe-access-birth-control-contraception/9921658251250/

[6] https://truthout.org/articles/republican-blocks-contraception-access-bill-from-coming-to-vote-in-senate/

[7] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/07/22/house-republican-votes-marriage-contraception/

[8] https://www.npr.org/2022/07/29/1114417097/veterans-burn-pit-bill-republican-senators

[9] https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/article-1/section-3/clause-7/#:~:text=Judgment%20in%20Cases%20of%20Impeachment,and%20Punishment%2C%20according%20to%20Law

[10] https://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Oath-of-Office/#:~:text=Today%2C%20Members%20of%20the%20House,following%20the%20official%20swearing%2Din.

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: Democrats, A Bird in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Bush

Democrats are furious that once again Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has thwarted their latest efforts to resurrect President Biden’s Build Back Better social agenda. Manchin wants to wait till September to see if inflation is slowing down before supporting clean energy and tax increases. At the same time, Manchin has said he would vote to lower prescription drug prices and extend Affordable Care Act funding now.[1]

Democrats should be very angry with Manchin after more than a year of trying to meet his everchanging demands. Still, here’s why Democrats should go along with the West Virginia senator and pass this much smaller bill now with all 50 of their senators aboard, and not wait for a potential larger measure later this year.

First, as the old saying goes, a “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”[2] Americans going to the polls this fall are more likely to remember what each of the two parties have done for them lately. The Democrats will be better off in November if they enact actual prescription drug and healthcare benefits this summer than if they hold out for a larger package that quite likely will not become law before the midterms. Most Republicans will not support even this smaller bill. Like inflation and the economy, drug prices and healthcare costs concern most voters.

Second, if a bill addressing climate change and other reforms does not pass before this year’s elections, Democrats will have another major issue to run on along with abortion rights, gun control, voting rights and saving democracy. Practically all Republicans are opposed to these initiatives and will vote against them. So, Democrats can tell the electorate that if they elect more of them to Congress this November, then they will be able to overcome the opposition and enact those measures next year.

And third, it is critical to get all members of Congress on the record concerning the cost of prescription drugs, healthcare and all these other important issues. Americans must be clear about where their representatives stand, and which party supports each of these critical matters:

Reducing healthcare costs                                                    Dem-yes         Rep-no

Universal background checks/gun safety                           Dem-yes         Rep-no

Ensuring the right of all citizens to vote                             Dem-yes         Rep-no

Guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose                            Dem-yes         Rep-no

Defending our country against autocracy and fascism      Dem-yes         Rep-no

Safeguarding our planet from climate change                   Dem-yes         Rep-no

Voters must also understand that Republicans reject these basic human rights so that Big Business and their wealthy donors can avoid paying their fair share in taxes and adhering to reasonable health, safety and democratic rules and regulations.

The choice is clear. The question is: Can the Democratic Party spell out in simple terms what is at stake in this fall’s elections so that all Americans will get it? And will we who already get it help spread the message? The future of our nation is in our hands.

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://news.yahoo.com/democrats-vent-fury-joe-manchin-205150433.html

[2] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/a%20bird%20in%20the%20hand%20is%20worth%20two%20in%20the%20bush

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: It’s Time to Fight Back!

In response to the recent Supreme Court decisions undercutting women’s rights, environmental protection, gun control and more, I agree with environmentalist Bill McKibben. His recent observations remind me of the Chinese proverb, “in every crisis lies the seed of opportunity.[1] McKibben wrote:

A reasonable reaction to the week’s Supreme Court rulings, which culminated in Thursday’s gutting of the Clean Air Act, would be: we are so screwed.

But there’s another way to look at it: we can turn the right-wing’s wet dream into a nightmare for them if we fight back. If we seize it, we have the best opportunity in many years for reconfiguring American politics.

The key thing to understand about these Supreme Court decisions is that they’re fantastically unpopular. On guns, on choice, and on climate the Court has taken us places Americans badly do not want to go. By majorities of two-thirds or more Americans detest these opinions; those are majorities large enough to win elections and to shape policy, even in our corroded democracy. The right, after decades of slow and careful and patient nibbling away at rights and norms is suddenly rushing full-tilt. That’s dangerous for us, but also for them. The force of that charge can, jiu jitsu-like, be turned against them.[2]

This past week in the case of West Virginia v. EPA, the Court found that the Environmental Protection Agency did not have the authority to regulate reducing carbon emissions under the 1970 Clean Air Act by forcing utility companies to shift from coal to renewable energy. The Court held that Congress did not specifically authorize the EPA to regulate CO2 in this way. The ruling effectively makes it much harder for the U.S. government to combat climate change.[3]

But it does much more than that. It opens the door to the Court’s usurping the role of ultimate policymaker in many other areas of our lives as well, be it education, healthcare or any matter where Congress has designated the power to regulate to the Executive branch. In a blistering dissent, Justice Elena Kagan accuses the Court majority of substituting its own ideas about policymaking for Congress’s: “…the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decisionmaker on climate policy.”[4]

What’s to prevent the Court from taking this same approach in other regulatory fields? In the short political term, according to McKibben, “a promise from every Democrat that they would overturn the filibuster and expand the Court if elected.”[5]

So, we need to get every Democratic candidate for federal office to make that promise on the record before the election campaigns heat up. That promise could well boost Democratic turnout in November. McKibben argues that “our majorities on these issues are large enough to overwhelm even these archaic structures. Seventy percent is enough.”[6] In fact, this fight must be taken to state legislative elections as well. (More about that in next week’s blog.)

While inflation and the economy will be important in voters’ minds, these recent unpopular Court rulings affecting all Americans could turn November’s election in the Democrats’ favor. Following the West Virginia v. EPA decision, on Thursday a coalition of 15 climate, environmental, and social justice advocacy groups, including the Center for Popular Democracy, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Indivisible, the Movement for Black Lives and the Working Families Party, called for the addition of four justices “to restore balance to the Court.”[7]

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) immediately joined this initiative. Markey asserted that “We cannot sit idly by as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution…We must also pass my Judiciary Act[8] to expand the Court to restore balance and legitimacy to the bench.”[9]

With just four months until the election, the battle lines have been clearly drawn. Support the coalition’s efforts. Urge your senators and Congresspeople to abolish the filibuster and pass the Judiciary Act of 2021. Our rights and American democracy depend on all of us fighting back now!

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.pinterest.com/pin/368169338291210377/#:~:text=In%20every%20crisis%20lies%20the%20seed%20of%20opportunity

[2] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/07/02/time-now-people-powered-backlash

[3] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/supreme-court-climegae-change-carbon-emissions_n_62b36169e4b06169caa14933; https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/06/30/epa-supreme-court-west-virginia/

[4] https://reason.com/volokh/2022/07/01/justice-kagan-throws-down-the-gauntlet-we-are-not-all-textualists-now/

[5] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/07/02/time-now-people-powered-backlash

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/06/30/markey-bowman-join-climate-coalition-urging-scotus-expansion

[8] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/04/15/combat-right-wing-assault-democracy-new-bill-would-add-four-seats-supreme-court

[9] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/06/30/markey-bowman-join-climate-coalition-urging-scotus-expansion

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Do Recent Decisions Expose Justice Clarence Thomas’s Impeachable Bias?

The struggle for the soul of America got a lot more real this past week. By the end of the week, the Supreme Court had handed down two major decisions imperiling the lives of most Americans.

On Thursday the Supreme Court struck down a New York state law requiring applicants for a license to carry a gun outside of their homes to have a “proper cause” to do so. The law had made it a crime to carry a concealed firearm without a license.[1] With the Court’s ruling, we are all in greater danger of being an innocent victim of a mass shooting wherever we go.

Then, on Friday the court overruled Roe v. Wade, the 50-year-old case which established the right to an abortion was guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Court found that abortion is not a Constitutional right, thereby giving individual states the power to set their own abortion laws.[2]

With Republicans controlling 26 state legislatures likely to ban abortion, millions of American women will now lose control over their reproductive health decisions.[3] Low-income women will be disproportionately affected since they lack the resources to travel to states where abortion will continue to be legal. The social injustice that the Court has unleashed is unconscionable.

While the conservative majority’s opinions are unnerving, Justice Clarence Thomas’s views deserve greater scrutiny. In the New York gun case, Justice Thomas’s majority opinion invalidated the gun control law because it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their rights under the Second Amendment.[4] Apparently, Thomas believes an individual’s right to carry a concealed weapon in public outweighs the state’s right to protect its citizens against being killed by an angry man in schools, theaters, churches or wherever. More than 98% of all mass shooters are men, often younger than 25.[5]

In overruling the right to an abortion, Thomas’s concurring opinion indicated that the courts’ rationale should also be used to overturn substantive due process cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.[6]

What is very telling, however, was Justice Thomas’s failure to include overturning the substantive due process right to interracial marriage established in the landmark civil rights case of Loving v. Virginia.[7] For those who are unaware, Thomas is black and his wife, Ginni Thomas, is white. His not objecting to the right to interracial marriage which is based on the same 14th Amendment “due process” clause clearly looks like a biased effort to protect his own marriage. This calls into question Thomas’s ability to be an impartial arbiter of the law.

But Thomas’s inability to be an objective judge goes way beyond shielding his interracial marriage. Thomas’s confirmation hearings were very contentious due to Anita Hill’s accusations of his sexual misconduct. Liberal Democratic senators made it a central focus of the hearings. Later a former law clerk remembered Thomas saying, “The liberals made my life miserable for 43 years…And I’m going to make their lives miserable for 43 years.”[8] Thomas’s desire for revenge while on the court raises serious questions about his impartiality.

In fact, just today Thomas exhibited his lack of judicial objectivity when he was the lone dissenting vote in the Court’s refusal to hear the Coral Ridge Ministries Media appeal. That case challenged the liberal higher bar for public figures to claim libel that was established in the 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan.[9] Another example of Thomas’s bias against liberals unduly influencing his judicial decisions.

Last January Thomas was the only dissenting vote when the court rejected Donald Trump’s bid to block the release of his presidential records to the House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. Later, the Washington Post revealed that Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, sent then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows texts urging him to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results after Trump’s loss to Joe Biden.[10]All the other conservative justices, three even nominated by Trump, rejected Trump’s request. Did Ginni Thomas’s involvement in the efforts to overturn the election influence Justice Thomas’s dissent?

Maybe it’s time for Congress to examine Justice Thomas’s lack of judicial impartiality. Along with the Court’s dangerous decisions last week, this is another issue to raise in the November elections. Another reason to vote against the Republicans who want Thomas to remain on the bench, who support carrying concealed weapons without a good reason and who deny a woman’s right to choose. Democrats need to make all this very clear to the voters in the fall. More than ever, we need to get out the vote in order to save and restore our rights.

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.cnbc.com/2022/06/23/supreme-court-strikes-down-new-york-gun-law-restricting-concealed-carry.html

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/24/roe-v-wade-overturned-by-supreme-court-ending-federal-abortion-rights.html

[3] https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/10/26-states-are-certain-or-likely-ban-abortion-without-roe-heres-which-ones-and-why

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/23/supreme-court-strikes-down-new-york-gun-law-restricting-concealed-carry.html

[5] https://www.menagainstgunviolence.org/men-and-gun-violence-stats; https://www.statesman.com/story/news/politics/politifact/2022/05/27/fact-check-most-mass-shooters-ages-18-19-texas-school-shooting-uvalde-robb-elementary/9933032002/

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/24/us/clarence-thomas-roe-griswold-lawrence-obergefell.html

[7]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia#:~:text=Loving%20v.%20Virginia%2C%20388%20U.S.,Amendment%20to%20the%20U.S.%20Constitution

[8] https://www.businessinsider.com/clarence-thomas-told-clerks-he-wants-to-make-liberals-miserable-2022-6

[9] https://www.cbs58.com/news/supreme-court-declines-to-revisit-landmark-first-amendment-decision-leaving-higher-bar-for-libel-in-place

[10] https://www.businessinsider.com/clarence-thomas-only-justice-dissent-in-trump-january-6-bid-2022-3

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Republican Dishonor Will Remain

“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”[1] That was the message Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), co-chair of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection, gave to Congressional Republicans as the committee’s historic hearings began on June 9th.

After concluding three public hearings, Cheney’s warning has become even more foreboding. Yet, despite Trump’s unforgiveable transgressions against American democracy, a great many Republicans continue to support him and believe his Big Lie that the election was stolen.[2] The power Trump has over his party is just mindboggling.

A major test of the impact of the Select Committee’s hearings will be to what extent they influence Americans’ opinions not only of Trump, but of his Congressional Republican enablers. In a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, “58% of Americans think Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the riot.”[3] That is six points higher than before the hearings began.[4]

As the hearings continue, I believe that majority will likely grow even larger.  In fact, “ex-justice department lawyers say new revelations at the hearings increase the likelihood that Trump will be charged with crimes involving conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding or defrauding the United States…”[5]

It stands to reason that an increasing majority would want to hold Trump’s Congressional enablers accountable as well. Afterall, the backing of a majority of Republican Congresspeople bolstered Trump’s baseless claims,[6] at least in the eyes of Trump voters.

The most effective way to hold those Republicans accountable would be at the polls this November. While conventional wisdom holds that the insurrection will not be a major issue in this year’s midterm elections, the Select Committee’s hearings could change that.

Of course, inflation and the economy will be very important factors in the election. However, if the hearings continue to provide overwhelming evidence of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election and destroy American democracy, then the seats of all the Congressional Republicans who gave credence to the Big Lie could be vulnerable. Instead of supporting Trump’s efforts to subvert the election, these Republicans could have stood up for the truth and our democracy. But their fear of Trump and their thirst for power were stronger than their allegiance to the Constitution and our democracy. For that, as Rep. Cheney noted, their dishonor will remain.

While Trump will not be on the ballot this November, the survival of our democracy will be. Republicans who supported Trump and his attempt to overturn the election are the enemies of democracy. They must be fully exposed as co-conspirators. Americans must understand that a vote for any of them is a vote to destroy our democratic process and create a Trump-led autocratic government. It is up to everyone who wants our democracy to survive to make that crystal clear to all Americans going to the polls this fall.

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/2022/06/09/1104083111/liz-cheney-stark-message-gop-trump-supporters

[2] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/midterm-primaries-trump-retains-majority-gop-support-poll/story?id=84452201

[3] https://www.yahoo.com/gma/6-10-americans-trump-charged-130009380.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/19/trump-charges-january-6-hearings-capitol-attack

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/07/us/elections/electoral-college-biden-objectors.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will the January 6th Select Committee Succeed?

While it’s not a sure bet, I believe the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol will succeed. And, in my view, there is only one measure of success. That is, the Department of Justice will indict Donald Trump for crimes against our nation based on the evidence the committee presents to the American people.

The country is clearly divided on whether Trump is culpable for the insurrection. Thursday’s first televised hearing was only the beginning of the committee’s effort to lay out its case that he is criminally liable. With Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy) leading the charge, it was a good initial step.

The committee’s evidence was convincing that there was a conspiracy to overturn the election. For example, it showed video of a meeting between leaders of two far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, the night before the attack. Then Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards testified that she observed about 200 members of these groups marching to the Capitol at 10:30 the morning of the insurrection, well before Trump urged the crowd at the Ellipse to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”[1]

If the “riot” was a spontaneous response to Trump’s speech, why were these right-wing groups already meeting in advance of January 6th? Why were they encountering police at the Capitol prior to Trump’s Ellipse speech? It stands to reason that they must have conspired in advance to be on the frontline of the larger attack they knew was coming.

The essential question that the committee must answer with concrete evidence in its subsequent hearings then is, to what degree was Trump involved in the effort to overthrow our government. What did Trump do or not do to advance the insurrection and with whom did he interact? As Rep. Cheney asserted, that attempt went well beyond the January 6th attack on the Capitol. In fact, it continues to this day.

Cheney explained that over the course of several months Trump had a “sophisticated seven-point plan” to overturn the 2020 election and prevent the transition of presidential power. In the next couple of weeks, the committee’s hearings will provide substantial evidence of Trump’s central role in executing his plan. When all else failed, the January insurrection was the final stab at accomplishing his goal.

Other elements of Trump’s scheme included:

  1. Spreading false and fraudulent information to the American public claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him,
  2. Replacing the Acting Attorney General, so that the Department of Justice would support his fake election claims,
  3. Pressuring state election officials, and state legislators, to change election results,
  4. Instructing Republicans in multiple states to create false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress and the National Archives, and
  5. Summoning his supporters to Washington and directing them to march on the US Capitol.[2]

When you put this all together, it’s clear that Trump’s intent was to overturn the election and remain in power by unlawful means. In practically all criminal cases, proving the accused’s intent is a critical element in obtaining a conviction. It’s now up to the committee to present evidence in its upcoming hearings that establishes Trump’s intent beyond a reasonable doubt. If it can do that, and I think they can, Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice will prosecute Trump for crimes against the United States.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

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

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


[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/06/09/january-6-committee-hearing-live-updates/7529743001/

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/09/politics/jan-6-hearing-cheney-trump-overturn-election-plan/index.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