Alan Zendell, August 16, 2020
Until 2018, most Americans silently watched, cringing at the things Donald Trump said and did, but they were disturbed enough by then to vote Democrats back into the majority in the House. We have more and better reasons to be disturbed now, but this year we cannot wait until Election Day. The time to act is now.
It‘s impossible to overstate how important this is. It would be bad enough if the president had simply appointed a new Postmaster General charged with bankrupting the Postal Service, but he appointed a man with a huge financial stake in a company that would stand to make enormous windfall profits if the USPS were privatized. It’s no surprise that Louis DeJoy has a glaring conflict of interest – that’s the norm in the Trump administration from the president himself on down.
As bad as that sounds, the reality is far worse. The pandemic has redefined the 2020 election along with almost everything else we do. Trump still refuses to take the basic actions recommended by his entire public health team. There is no national mask mandate, and virus testing is still far below the level required to control the spread of the virus.
If the nation’s anxiety level weren’t high enough, Trump turned up the amplitude by demanding businesses remain open and all schools begin in-person instruction by September, even in high infection areas, again contradicting his health advisors. It’s part of his cynical pretense that everything is normal to keep financial markets strong regardless of how many lives it costs.
Most Americans fear crowds despite the president’s false narrative. They don’t want to stand in long lines or be pressed into crowded voting places, especially if our changing climate throws us a major November storm. Forcing them to vote in person, especially those of limited resources, would depress the turnout in a way that everyone understands would be Trump’s best chance at re-election. Trump admitted on Fox Financial News that he is deliberately hamstringing the Postal System to prevent universal voting by mail, and his lackeys in the USPS warned almost every state that they might not be able to deliver all the ballots if everyone votes by mail.
None of the president’s staff deny that he is trying to rig the election. DeJoy even admitted removing high speed sorting machines and canceling all overtime for postal workers. In the wake of those actions, the Republicans in the Senate ran for cover to avoid being interviewed when Mitch McConnell adjourned the session without considering the House bill that would keep both the Post Office and struggling, out-of-work Americans afloat. It’s the most brazen power grab in American history, one that has the potential to destroy our two-party political system if it’s allowed to continue.
But we the people are not powerless to stop it. Like most of Trump’s actions, this one is a deliberate overreach of presidential power intended to intimidate the opposition. He has the legal right to refuse to negotiate but he cannot destroy the Postal system without the complicity of Senate Republicans, twenty-three of whom are on the ballot in November.
The truest definition of patriotism is putting the nation ahead of personal or political gain in times of crisis. That’s where we are now, folks. Whether you want Trump to be re-elected or defeated, that decision cannot come at the expense of the integrity of the election. Honest elections are probably the only things Washington’s Federalists and Jefferson’s Republicans agreed on except the need to be free of King George.
Every American who cares more about America than politics MUST act now. Let Mitch McConnell know you won’t tolerate inaction by Senate Republicans. They need every vote they can get, and they won’t ignore millions of emails. Take five minutes and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More importantly, the president cannot prevent every American from requesting a mail-in ballot in accordance with state laws. If every registered voter requests one at the earliest date allowed by state law and returns it immediately, the Postal Service is required by federal statute to deliver it even if it has to re-institute the Pony Express. The Constitution requires the Congress to adequately fund the Post Office. Knowing there will be in excess of 100 million ballots, USPS can easily plan for and process them if it is given the resources.
Most jurisdictions also provide drop boxes in which voters can deliver their ballots directly to their local Board of Elections, bypassing the mail entirely (and saving 55 cents per stamp.) If Trump gets away with cheating by suppressing the vote, we can blame him, but we’ll all have to live with knowledge that everyone who didn’t take action abetted his crime.