Bob Franken




We’ve all seen it, the motto we associate with the post office:
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Actually, it’s only the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service, as it has been for mailmen and -women since about 450 B.C. It’s not necessarily true, but it’s a grand tradition.
Compare that to the 2020 A.D. letter that the Postal Service sent to most states citing “a significant risk that some ballots will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them.”
Never mind all that tradition. Donald Trump seems to think he can gum up the works of mail-in ballot delivery so badly that it can’t do the job of encouraging Americans to participate in the fundamental responsibility and privilege of any citizen in a democracy to vote in free and fair elections. It’s so bad that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the House back from its sacred August break to deal with it, and several state attorneys general are pondering lawsuits. It’s obvious that Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans don’t have any intention of holding a free and fair election.
But this may be something else. This may be a bargaining ploy on the part of Trump to work a deal with the Democrats, who have been unwilling to budge from their $3 trillion coronavirus rescue bill because they believe they have leverage over Trump. Supporting that interpretation is the fact that Donald Trump is unduly blatant about his intentions with Postal Service cutbacks. First of all, he makes no bones about his campaign motivation, openly declaring that mail ballots nationwide could put his re-election in jeopardy.
Democrats want $28.5 billion to finance universal mail-in balloting and other aid, because of the dangerous pandemic, where voters might have to choose between risking infection if they show up to cast their ballots in person at the polling places on Election Day, or mailing them in. In spite of his opposition to using the mail — because of the alleged chance of fraud, with minimal evidence to support that concern — Trump has openly stated that he might abandon that position if the Democrats make the COVID deal Republicans want.

Trump and his new exceedingly pliable postmaster general, Louis DeJoy — a major donor to the Trump campaign, by the way — have ordered cutbacks in the Postal Service that Democrats and postal workers view as sabotage. That letter to most of the states warning that mail-in voters are in danger of disenfranchisement could easily be construed as heavy pressure on Democrats to be more cooperative when it comes to agreeing on a coronavirus rescue package. The only argument against that interpretation is that it would give Donald Trump too much credit. In spite of his ghostwritten bestseller “The Art of the Deal,” President Trump has proven to be a weak negotiator, usually outfoxed by world leaders and Congress, unfazed by his empty bluster.
Besides, since veterans receive their vital prescription medication and seniors get their Social Security checks by mail, he may have sown a political whirlwind that could blow back in his face. He has antagonized a lot of people, including, certainly, the rank and file who sort and deliver the mail, particularly since this whole thing might be another Trump schtick to distract attention from his COVID performance or other failures.
So this will not be a huge surprise. The National Association of Letter Carriers, with its 300,000 members, has endorsed Joe Biden, saying that Trump has for several years tried to “undermine” the post office. This, even though he frequently votes by mail, including this year. I suspect that more than a few people who would like to … uh … stamp out the president’s re-election have wondered whether the “snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” thingy applies to FedEx or UPS.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate,

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