The Struggle for the Soul of America: The Democratic Party Must Revive Its Progressive Values

From FDR’s New Deal to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the Democratic Party took pride in being the party of the people. During this period, Democrats championed the rights of union members, women, black and brown minorities, the poor, whoever was getting shortchanged in American society. But when Bill Clinton won back the White House for the Democrats in 1992, the party began losing its way.

Clinton was the chair of the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council, that steered the party away from its progressive traditions and toward a centrist, business-friendly, Republican approach to government. In 1993, he “helped gut America’s manufacturing base by promoting and passing the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA,…” NAFTA failed to protect the interests of working Americans and “signaled that the Democratic Party—the “progressive” side of the U.S. two-party system—had accepted the reactionary economic ideology of Ronald Reagan…” (See

In 1996, Clinton worked with Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republicans to enact the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act which gave states control of welfare programs. According to the Atlantic, “‘Welfare reform’ didn’t fix welfare so much as destroy it,…” Twenty-plus years after the passage of welfare reform, the number of poor American children has exploded and black welfare recipients are subject to the system’s most stringent rules. (See and

In addition, Clinton curried favor with Wall Street at the expense of most Americans by signing into law more financial deregulation legislation than any other president, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. Among the worst acts was his dissolution of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which had protected people’s savings accounts from being used by investment banks on speculative financial deals. This was a major factor leading to the 2008 Great Recession.

When President Obama took over the Democratic Party, he followed in Clinton’s footsteps by bailing out Wall Street while providing little assistance to the millions of Americans who had lost their homes in the Great Recession. By the time Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016, the American people were fed up with the Establishment of both parties who favored Wall Street and their big donors over them. That opened the door to the White House to outsider Donald Trump.

Now outsider Bernie Sanders is leading the Democratic primary race. Given the recent history of the Democratic Party, it stands to reason that a major factor in Sanders’ rise in popularity is his rejection of the centrist establishment, Clinton approach of fostering close connections to Wall Street and Big Money. Somehow the party establishment has not gotten the message: The American people are tired of playing second fiddle to corporate America and Big Money interests.

Sanders promises to revive the progressive values of FDR, JFK and LBJ. He’s calling for what most Americans want: a $15/hr. living wage (67% according to Pew Research Center) , healthcare for all (56% according to Kaiser Family Fdn), stricter gun control laws (60% according to Pew), and a Green New Deal (80% of registered voters according to Yale Program on Climate Communication). Yes, it’s radical to the Establishment who want the government to continue protecting its interests at the people’s expense. But it’s not radical to all those who’ve seen little rise in their income, higher and higher health insurance and pharmaceutical bills, more and more friends and family shot to death, and the government doing very little to remedy these and other real problems.

People like MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews are the radical ones. His calling Sanders’ Nevada primary victory akin to the Nazis conquest of France is outrageous. The “liberal” media seems just as threatened by Sanders as the Establishment. They both fear losing their power and influence in the political arena, and don’t get how fed up so many Americans are with Washington and its do-nothing politics.

Trump conned America into believing he would clean “the swamp.” But, he’s only made it worse. If the Democratic Party wants to win in November, it better get behind the man that truly speaks for the people. Bernie looks like the real deal. He appears to be the only candidate who is building a mass movement, including millions of disillusioned and new voters, capable of the wave election needed to sweep Trump out of office. Given the chance, Sanders really could “Make America Great Again.”

Email the DNC at, Chris Matthews at, or, call MSNBC at (212) 664-4444 and tell them to stop bashing Sanders and work with him to defeat Trump.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See, 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

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Vote To Save Our Democracy

It’s no secret that our democracy is under attack by Big Money. The 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, which declared money is speech and corporations are people, alerted many Americans to just how critical the situation is. And, it’s only gotten a good deal worse since then.

With one party controlling the White House and Congress, our system of checks and balances has broken down. Whether it’s the appointment of federal judges, the protection of our environment, or issues of trade and tariffs, what the President and his party want becomes law. For all intent and purposes, bipartisan policymaking is dead.

Moreover, our country is more divided than since at least before World War II. For the most part, each side believes the other side is evil. At the same time, however, a clear majority of Americans agree on quite a bit. For example:

  • 97% support universal background checks for gun purchases (Quinnipiac University National Poll, February, 2018)
  • 77% want comprehensive immigration reform (Harvard-Harris Poll, January, 2018)
  • 65 % favor alternative energy development over expanding fossil fuel resources (Pew Research Center, January 2017)
  • 62% believe the federal government should ensure healthcare for all              (Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, July, 2017)

And, more than three-quarters of Americans, 78% according to an Issue One-Ipsos National Poll (July, 2016), desire new laws to reduce the influence of money in politics.

None of these very popular policies have any chance of becoming law under the current administration. Clearly, our government does not represent the will of the great majority of the American people. While there are many reasons for this, the power of Big Money to unduly influence politicians and government policy to favor corporate America and special interests is the single most important factor. And, it’s been this way for a very long time.

Unfortunately, Washington politicians are not about to fix our corrupt political system. Other articles in this newsletter indicate what New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics (NMMOP) is doing to correct this abuse of power, which is destroying our democracy. But we can’t do it alone. Here are three things you can do to help:

First, join NMMOP (Go to in our work to eliminate the corruption of our government by Big Money;

Second, vote for candidates who will also fight to overcome this Big Money plague on our country: and

Third, send this blog to your friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to get involved. It’s going to take a mass movement to end this corruption and build a vibrant democracy of, by and for the people.

I hope to see you at the polls on Election Day and at our next general meeting on Saturday, November 17 at 10:00 a.m., at LaFarge Library, 1730 Llano Street in Santa Fe.

Bruce Berlin, President, New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics

Soul Searching

I feel that we each need to do some soul searching.  We know that our political system has been corrupted by Big Money.  As a result, our government serves special interests, Wall Street banks and Corporate America for the most part.  Meanwhile, Congress is so polarized that it can’t  agree to repair our failing infrastructure or fund a jobs bill.  The truth is that until we get money out of politics none of the major issues facing the country can be resolved in the public’s interest.

The big question is: Are we willing to take on Big Money?  Ask yourself, do you want your tax dollars to support bailouts for reckless Wall Street ventures, corporate welfare and government programs for millions of underpaid workers whose CEOs won’t pay a living wage? Do you want to live in a country where Congress members’ votes are bought by their Big Money sponsors in a corrupt system that disregards the public interest?

Are you willing to engage in a Democracy Movement to take control of our government away from Big Money and put it in the hands of the people?

[i] Strauss, Valerie. “New Census Data: Children Remain America’s Poorest Citizens.” Washington Post. September 17, 2013.

A New Beginning

April 4, 2015

Hi! And welcome to my new blog.  It’s spring and time for new beginnings on all levels — as individuals, in our communities, our country and the planet.  I feel most of us have been holding back in one way or another. Things are pretty uncertain in our world.  So, we have good reason to be a bit hesitant.

But, even if you feel you haven’t, that you’re on track and moving forward, you know and I know that there is always more that we could do.  Whether it’s with your inner work, family, community or the wider world, there is so much more to do.  No matter what direction I look, I hear and see people crying out for help.

Some of us turn away.  We can’t deal with it.  It’s too much.  But if not us, who?  That’s not to say we should be martyrs and sacrifice everything. We each must find our inner balance that allows us the maximum output.  So we are living at our highest frequency, and giving our lives and the planet our best shot.

I just want to suggest that we each go within, get in touch with our highest frequency and take a step or two or three up closer to that frequency.  If not now, when?

I’m just completing writing my first book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip: The Critical Struggle To Revive Democracy in America. (It should be available online in the next couple months or so.)  In it I submit that mass movements are what creates real change in our country, from the abolitionists that helped end slavery to women’s suffrage that resulted in the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote.  And, then there’s labor, Civil Rights, Feminist, anti-Vietnam War, the Environment, Gay and Lesbian Rights and so on.  When enough of us rise up, we can buck the power of the status quo and change the world.  It’s always an up hill battle.  But, the struggle is worth it.  And, in all those causes, people were called.  They knew in their hearts what was the right thing to do and they did it.

I feel it’s time for a new people’s movement — the Democracy Movement.  It’s the right thing to do.  We, the people, are losing our right to self-government.  Big Money and Corporate America have taken over.  For the most part, they control our state and federal governments.  And, while we can look the other way and say it’s too big to deal with.  “What can I do?”  The truth is it’s up to us to stand up as a people, right, left or center; Democrat, Republican or Independent; activist or apolitical; religious, spiritual or atheist; and take back our country from the super wealthy, the big banks and the coporate elite.  We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!

What do you think?