Trump admits crippling Postal Service to sabotage 2020 election
Letter carriers load mail trucks for deliveries at a U.S. Postal Service facility in McLean, Va., Friday, July 31, 2020. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON–A president falling in the polls and desperate to hold onto power is delaying delivery of life-saving medicine and crippling the U.S. Postal Service to stop vote-by-mail.

It’s the latest scheme by GOP Oval Office occupant Donald Trump to win the 2020 election. And his new Postmaster General, Republican big giver Louis DeJoy, is doing his dirty work.

News reports say DeJoy has a spreadsheet of hundreds of mail-sorting machines he is pulling from post offices and sorting centers around the U.S. He specifically is yanking the machines that push through large, flat envelopes, just like the envelopes that enclose absentee ballots, to and from voters.

In addition, in cities from coast to coast, he has ordered the removal of outdoor mailboxes, particularly in neighborhoods with large minority populations. MSNBC  filmed crews yesterday as they tore out mailboxes in the streets of Oakland, California, and other cities.

No machines and no mailboxes equals delays. Delays equal late mail. And late mail equals votes that come in after November 3 and don’t get counted.

But the bigger deal is Trump’s declaration on August 13 that he won’t give one red cent to USPS, which is drowning in red ink due to a drastic revenue decline. Its money-making first class mail tanked thanks to business closures the coronavirus pandemic forced. The USPS board, backed by postal unions, seeks $25 billion to get through the end of the year. Polls show overwhelming support for that demand.

Not from Trump.

“Now they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business, a top program on his propaganda outlet. “But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting,” Trump declared, in a bold admission of his intentions.

Trump has repeatedly lied by saying mail-in voting is rife with fraud. He has said out loud, and other Republicans fear, that mail-in voting would drive turnout way up, especially among women, workers, Blacks, Latinos, and Indigenous people, all of whom would produce Democratic majorities.

So Trump also opposes a second pot of mail-in voting money in the House-passed Heroes Act, HR6800. It would help states fund their conversion to voting by mail. Until now, all voters in seven states, including Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Utah, mailed in their ballots. Hawaii joined them, in its congressional primaries this month.

Experts predict that, if allowed by officials, 74% of the country could vote by mail this November.  And one truth that has come from past voting by mail is that turnout skyrockets. That truth is one reason Trump’s top ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, D-Ky., deep-sixed HR6800, the $3 trillion economic aid bill the Democratic-run House passed in May.

But turnout could get hamstrung, and voters lose out, if the Postal Service lacks the machines, slows down processing, or runs out of money. DeJoy has already begun the slowdown, ordering Letter Carriers and Postal Workers to leave mail on loading dock floors rather than use overtime to deliver it.

And the head of the Iowa Postal Workers told several Internet news outlets that DeJoy’s underlings are already yanking the sorting machines out of their buildings.

What Trump did not tell Bartiromo, but has said in the past, is that he and the right-wingers on the White House staff want to privatize the Postal Service.

That would involve selling its profitable urban routes to private distributors, junking rural routes and their customers, firing workers, closing post offices, and ripping up the union contracts that cover its 604,000 workers, most of them women, people of color, veterans or combinations of those characteristics. Some 80%+ are union members.

“The U.S. Postal Service has long been an important source of decent jobs, particularly for people of color, who make up 40% of their workforce,” Postal Workers Legislative Director Judy Beard told an Institute for Policy Studies forum in July on the USPS and its future.

Starving the Postal Service also means depriving millions of postal customers of vital food and medicines they now get by mail, or making bills for utilities, rent, mortgages, and more come so late and go back so tardily that people get hit with billions of dollars in late fees.

Trump’s plan drew an immediate firestorm of tweets, alternating between slamming the slow deliveries of medicines and calling it out as a deliberate attempt to rig the election. That was also the theme of an ad campaign launched by VoteVets,  the pro-worker veterans group.

“Undermining the USPS is voter suppression—and it’s intentional,” Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., a Painters union member and House Progressive Caucus co-chair, tweeted.

“The USPS is enormously popular with the public & enjoys broad bipartisan support because of it. 4 million people a day get their prescription drugs. 100k veterans have a job at USPS. Everyone has equal access and rural America is cut off without it. Congress must act. #ReliefNow,” tweeted Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson.

“Seriously rural America. You OK with losing your post office and reliable delivery of your medicine so this guy can continue to lie about absentee/mail-in ballots?” asked former Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in another tweet. She drew 17,800 likes and 59,400 retweets.

And when one responder asked “Doesn’t Congress have to approve” such moves, McCaskill replied: “There are some guidelines they are supposed to follow but those will likely be ignored. Remember Trump’s motto for his entire business career: ‘Don’t like it? Sue me.’”

“The @USPS is an essential service and enshrined in our Constitution,” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., said. “Trump is intentionally trying to sabotage it to win an election. This is just another example of how Trump thinks he’s above the law. #SaveTheUSPS” Cicilline tweeted his comment the same day the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out a GOP attempt to restrict absentee balloting and vote-by-mail in Rhode Island. VoteVets sounded the same theme as Cicilline.

“Today and every single workday 330,000 veterans are due a prescription drug delivery by the U.S. Postal Service,” the voice-over says. “And today, tens of thousands aren’t getting their prescriptions because Donald Trump declared war on the mail.”

“Firing workers, disrupting deliveries, defunding operations. The thing is, this is just a warm-up for the fall. Donald Trump plans to disrupt absentee ballots and vote-by-mail for millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic he failed to control. Because Donald Trump knows if the mail delivers ballots to America’s veterans, we’ll deliver a message right back. You lose.”

Even as Trump tried to repress his foes’ votes, his Justice Department unleashed another PR move to play to his nativist base. After what it claimed is a two-year investigation, DOJ will sue Yale University for discriminating against whites in undergraduate admissions, unless Yale surrenders by August 27.

To rub it in, DOJ’s press release quoted famed Black abolitionist leader and orator Frederick Douglass—who Trump once said is still alive—to justify its case. Douglass said the purpose of government is to ensure “every American is equally protected in his civil or personal rights,” or so DOJ said.

DOJ alleged Yale sets quotas for Blacks, making it four to ten times more likely that a Black with the same academic credentials as a white or an Asian-American would be admitted. Yale responded by calling the lawsuit baseless, and asserting it follows Supreme Court rulings on college admissions. Those decisions say race can be a factor, but not the determining factor, in deciding whether to admit individual applicants.

There is one big irony in DOJ’s suit against Yale, unmentioned by either side. Historically, Yale did discriminate, as did other elite universities. Until the civil rights movement, those institutions and others gave preference to children of alumni, who were uniformly white and mostly Protestant, and to children of big givers, ditto. The victims of quite literal quotas? Blacks, Catholics, and Jews.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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