Our Senators must stand up and support the Postal Service

The Post Office has been one of the most useful and revered agencies of government from the very founding of the United States. It helped to bring us together as a nation by facilitating communication and commerce from coast to coast. The institution of rural free delivery in 1896 ensured that rural Americans would be included in the growth of the nation’s prosperity.

Until 1971, postal operations were run by a Cabinet appointee, which allowed for political influence to enter into management of the mail. The U.S. Postal Service was set as an independent agency in 1971 to remove mail handling from the political arena. Since that time the system has been run in a cost-effective, non-partisan manner, earning the respect of its customers and the wider world.

Because of the friendly, efficient service they receive from the Postal Service, Americans rate it as their favorite government agency. The agency received a 91% favorability rating in a recent poll. It would be an obvious winner of any if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it award. Unfortunately, the 9% of people in the country who don’t love the Postal Service include Donald Trump, who has repeatedly villainized the Service since taking office.

Trump saw an opportunity to advance his vendetta against the Postal Service after he declared the coronavirus emergency in mid-March. The shutdown had a severe impact on postal operations, requiring an infusion of federal funds. Trump has strenuously opposed funding to shore up mail delivery. Democrats were able to get him to agree to loan the Service $10 billion as part of the CARES Act, but he has not yet released those funds.

Trump was able to get a political hack with no postal experience installed as head of the Postal Service in June and politics has since come rushing back into its operations. Trump has used the desperate funding needs of the Postal Service as a cudgel to fight his obsessive battle against mail-in voting. His captive Postmaster General has backed him up at every turn. We’ve recently learned that he’s been removing mail collection boxes, shutting down high-speed mail processors, substantially slowing down mail delivery and warning voters in 46 states that their mail-in ballots may not arrive in time to be counted. What next—misdirecting or losing ballots mailed from Democrat-leaning zip codes?

On August 13, Trump referenced Democrats’ efforts to obtain stimulus funding of $25 billion for postal operations in an overall stimulus package deal of between one and three trillion dollars. He said, “If we don’t make a deal, that means they can’t have the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.” In other words, Trump refused to agree to a new stimulus package for the economy because he does not want to help the Postal Service nor to facilitate mail-in voting. Funds to help jobless Americans, to prevent evictions, to help struggling state and local governments cope with the pandemic, and to fund efforts by schools to safely open, are being held hostage by Trump because of his vendetta against the Postal Service and mail-in voting.

Slowing the mail hurts all postal customers, not just the 2% of volume that might be generated by increased mail-in balloting. Checks for the elderly, unemployed, disabled veterans, and many others are arriving late, as are critical, health-sustaining drugs. Rural customers, who regard the postal system as a lifeline, are disproportionately affected. Former Navy Admiral William McRaven, who orchestrated the takedown of Osama Bin Laden, warns that Trump’s undermining of the Postal Service and mail-in voting is a threat to American democracy.

The time is now for Idaho’s Senators, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, to stand up for the integrity of our Postal Service and for our very democracy.


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4 thoughts on “Our Senators must stand up and support the Postal Service”

  1. Jim,

    Thank you for your continued articles that share your insights and knowledge with us. I am frustrated that more people in Idaho don’t form their opinions on at least some of the information that you have imparted. To me it seems like your articles have the effect of just preaching to the choir. This is not to denigrate your writings at all but the simple recognition that many Idahoans (I live in Idaho Falls) seem to ignore regardless of their political persuasions any ideas or information that don’t fall within their own political paradigms.

    Other frustrations of mine center on how powerless and hopeless I feel in simply encouraging people to use in greater depth their cognitive and analytical skills. So many people accept as gospel the utterings of some of the hacks that currently dominate the political and leadership stages of our nation.

    On a personal level I sometimes share a quote with these types of individuals by the English philosopher/sociologist Herbert Spencer whose words I try to practice when my thinking gets too one dimension and overly linear: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

    Again, thanks for your good work.

    1. Brian: I understand and share your frustration. Too many of our fellow citizens just react to events or statements in a knee-jerk manner. I don’t direct my opinion pieces to those folks. My target audience is those few people in the middle, who I call the persuadables. They don’t like name calling, which I grit my teeth and try to avoid, but they are willing to consider arguments on the merits of an issue. They can see, for instance, that with 22% of the world’s Covid-19 deaths and only 4.2% of the world’s population, our president has done a wretched job of responding to the pandemic. I’m not sure we can change the outcome of the presidential race in our state, but we can certainly prevail on the persuadables to whittle down Trump’s margin. That will help when the dust settles on the election. After Trump loses, people will have to reassess their political stance. We have gone through periodic bouts of political illness and have recovered each time– vilification of Irish immigrants in 1845-1850, Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, exclusion of Italians in the early 20s, incarceration of Japanese Americans in the 40s. We need to keep a healthy group in the persuadable category, working with the already committed folks, to pick up the pieces and rebuild when the country goes off the tracks. We are at that point now and I think things will work out. In my estimation, Trump is headed for an historic defeat and he will take a number of his sycophants along with him. As for Idahoans, I think there are more people than we know of who understand that the emperor is unclothed but are reluctant to speak out. I hear from some of them. Keep the faith. And thanks for getting in touch. Best wishes, Jim

  2. What is happening in this country? How could anyone threaten our postal service which we all take for granted. We have been voting by mail here in Central Oregon for over twenty years.

    1. It is a cynical ploy to shake public confidence in the election. By creating doubt about the integrity of the election process, Trump hopes to snatch victory from the looming jaws of defeat, as it were. I think it will backfire because he simply does not understand how important the Postal Service is to the American people, particularly those in rural areas. By undermining the Postal Service as part of his offensive against the election, he has stirred up a hornet’s nest.

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