Even before the 2016 primaries, even before Donald Trump was elected President, even before Americans began marching over concerns about immigration, women’s rights, the environment, health care, science, and more, Bruce Berlin was calling for a “Democracy Movement” that would mimic in size and impact such upheavals as the Suffrage Movement, the Civil Rights Movement or the Anti-Vietnam War Movement.
In his self-published treatise, Breaking BigMoney’s Grip on America, Berlin argues that our nation has become a plutocracy, run by the “economic elite.“ The results, he says, are exactly what we are seeing now:
--Lobbyists pushing the agenda of corporations and the wealthy, to the detriment of the people;
--Elected officials beholden to the big money that supported them – a reality only amplified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United;
--A revolving door of corporate executives and lobbyists swinging into and out of government, bringing with them their agendas benefiting companies and the affluent.
“It is the curse of unbound capitalism,” he writes, “that America’s factory workers, farmers, housewives, machinists, shopkeepers, and others have toiled to build, or fought to preserve, democracy in our country only to have the economic elite reap disproportionate financial benefits while tens of millions of Americans barely get by, many others are homeless, and over 15 percent live in poverty.”
For Berlin, like so many of us "unretiring" folks, the book is a culmination of his life's work as a lawyer mediator and social justice activist. It's clear he poured himself into it: the book, published in 2015, is filled with real facts supported by more than 200 footnotes (about 2 footnotes per page in this slim volume).
Even Obamacare, Berlin argues, was compromised by the influence of insurance companies; a health insurance VP and lobbyist helped the Senate draft it.
(And who knows what financial interests are helping to draft the Senate's current health care bill, being hammered out behind closed doors.)
Half of the book outlines the problem; the other half spells out a route to mobilizing the Democracy Movement Berlin envisions.
Given that the most expensive House race in U.S. history just took place in Georgia, it's clear that money alone will not create a "Democracy Movement." It's also clear that the money spent on that race -- some $60 million --- would leave the victor (it doesn't matter who) in serious debt to moneyed interests.