V ery few things in American life these days enjoy the broad, cross-party and cross-ideology support as the U.S. Post Office. Enshrined as the only government agency specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the Postal Service has had its own share of woes and headaches – financial and political – for the better part of a century, but it still has mass support from across the political spectrum because it is the one federal agency which touches every American’s life almost every day.
It still maintains that strong support to this day, from sea to shining sea but especially in the heartland where rural life relies on the mail. Which is why it is so difficult to understand the pains the Trump Administration is taking to cripple postal operations. Current election-year politics aside, the White House’s war with the Post Office goes deeper than trying to influence the spread of mail-in ballots in an election; this attack began years ago with a refusal to even consider the necessary changes to make USPS stronger and healthier – changes which will require Congressional action and a president’s signature if they are to ever happen.
Suggested changes had support in both houses of Congress several times in the last decade but rarely made it very far into the convoluted process to become law. During the last three years, though, any legislation has been met head-on by direct attacks emanating from the White House, which reached a crescendo this spring with the appointment of a new postmaster general, Trump-donor and friend Louis DeJoy, and a host of quickly rolled out ill-conceived moves supposedly designed to rein in costs. We are heartened that DeJoy announced Tuesday afternoon that those measures are being halted at least through the election.
But those changes may be back after the election, so we could be facing it again and a deliberate slowdown in mail, delaying everything from critical prescriptions and paychecks to your grandson’s birthday card or your Douglas Budget arriving in your mailbox.
The pandemic and upcoming election have become political land mines with real consequences to our democracy, but the problems at the Post Service run much deeper and are more systemic than either event. And they need to be fixed by Congress and the President working together to salvage an important and integral part of American life.
If they don’t put aside the political animosity and deal with this latest crisis, we may be left without a postal service in many rural parts of this country. That would be a crisis no one would like.