“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Today, everything has changed. Nothing remains the same. Including the unofficial motto above of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the steady work of the men and women of this iconic American institution. In an era of intense division when Americans cannot agree that the sky is blue on a cloudless day, and the entanglement of the current administration prevents Americans from receiving basic services, the motto above can be easily changed to read:
“Only the unlawful incursion of a despot administration hell bent on seeking to remain in power, and a multi-millionaire Republican influencer made postmaster general, who himself has blatant conflicts of interests, could keep these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Donald Trump’s self-appointed USPS board of governors’ named Louis DeJoy postmaster general on May 6. The same DeJoy who has contributed millions to Republican candidates, including Trump during his 2016 presidential run. The same DeJoy whose wife is being considered by Trump to be appointed ambassador to Canada. The same DeJoy who owns stock worth more than $100 million in UPS and FedEx. Imagine a country with no U.S. Postal Service. Imagine paying UPS or FedEx $5, $6 or $7 to mail the same #10 envelope across the country that currently costs you a meager 55 cents. Imagine how much DeJoy’s stock would be worth if UPS and FedEx delivered your mail instead. Far-fetched? Don’t bet on it.
On June 16, the very day DeJoy took over, the dismantling of the U.S. Postal Service began in earnest. There was no time to waste with eyes set on preventing millions of Americans from being able to cast absentee ballots in a national election in November in the middle of a once in a hundred years pandemic. Ballots by the way that have never been stained with the false Trump accusation of fraud and an upcoming election “that will be rigged.” It’s okay for Trump, his family, and cronies to vote by mail, but you and me? Not so much.
Don’t believe us? If you doubt that such an assault on an institution that has more than a 90% approval rating from the American public, can occur before our very eyes, then listen to the interview Trump gave Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo on Aug. 13 when he openly admitted his opposition to funding for the U.S. Postal Service and election security grants in an effort to stymie mail-in voting for the upcoming presidential election.
The coronavirus has devasted the U.S. Postal Service just as it has millions of other institutions and businesses. We often view USPS employees as heroic—and they deserve that distinction as couriers walk on average 12 miles per day, drivers and pilots crisscross the country daily, and sorters and clerks handle billions of pieces of mail each year. However, they are only human, many have fallen to the coronavirus, and so too have their family members. Instead of dealing with the absenteeism due to COVID-19 among his 200,000 employees or the lack of Protective Personal Equipment (PPEs) to keep them safe, DeJoy was more intent on inflicting damage.
The fact of the matter is DeJoy has removed more than 600 mail sorting machines across the country since taking over, yanked hundreds of mail boxes off the street in numerous states, curtailed overtime work, and has ordered postal delivery trucks to leave the docks even when they are empty. How’s that for cost-effectiveness? Sending a 53-foot trailer down an interstate with no mail in it? Just because the trucks “must leave on time.” We have learned in the past four years that we have been living in an insane world, but this is a sign of how bizarre our lives have become. Don’t believe us about empty delivery trucks? Check out online the investigative reporting done by NewsChannel 5 Investigates in Nashville, TN, and by Newsweek magazine, on the subject.
Between Aug. 23 and 25, DeJoy was called before both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. He was evasive, at times ignorant (he couldn’t explain to California Congresswoman Katie Porter how much it costs to mail a postcard), belligerent, and frankly, an outright liar. But what do you expect in an era when the rule of law has been dumped into the Potomac River?
Why would any Federally appointed official speak the truth or fear a charge of perjury when he or she knows that Trump’s Attorney General William Barr is there to protect him or her, along with the President’s self-interests? It’s hard to shake the imagery of Barr teaching DeJoy the “old Texas two-step” of evasion and bellicosity before he walked into his virtual grilling. Barr has mastered this. Well, it was a partial grilling at best, as Republican Senators and Congresspeople did little but lob softball questions DeJoy’s way.
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Democratic-led Congress, with some significant Republican support, have put a $25 billion funding bill for the U.S. Postal Service on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). What are the chances of “Moscow Mitch” and his cronies passing this much needed funding bill so that the USPS can survive in this pandemic and help ensure a fair election in November by delivering on-time mail-in ballots? About as much as DeJoy’s promise to not yank any more sorting machines or keep his maniacal fingers off the Postal Service. By the way, Trump says he will veto the bill anyway.
So this is what we have come to in this country. No one is safe from the coronavirus due to Federal ineptitude and nothing is sacred. In an all-out, right in front of your eyes, galling effort to suppress the vote by mail, Trump has laid his cards on the table. Yet, he also is doing harm to every American, including many who support and vote for him. What are seniors going to do when their prescription drugs arrive a week or two late? How are businesses large and small going to continue to pay their bills and keep operating effectively during this incredible slowdown of the U.S. Mail? Remember when your birthday card to Aunt Harriet would get to her in Portland, Maine, in two days or your heartfelt letter to your cousin Consuelo would lift her spirits in Portland, Oregon after the passing of her husband? Those days may be gone forever unless we as Americans rise up and help save the United States Postal Service.
There is hope though. Gazette Chicago saw hope and an indomitable spirt alive and well on August 21 at a press conference at the post office at 4601 S. Cottage Grove (see page one story). We saw USPS employees standing in unison with the promise that the mail and our sacred election ballots will be delivered on time, no matter what miscreants like DeJoy and Trump do and say.
So, make your plan to Vote in the November 3 election—by mail or in person. And, trust that your fellow Americans at the United States Postal Service have your back. They have for more than 225 years (the postal system was established a year before the country itself)—they do now, and they will continue to do so when we save our democracy, restore sanity to our lives, and take our country back in November.