by Ben Jealous
(TriceEdneyWire.com)—The post office is one of the most respected institutions in America, a lifeline for millions of Americans, and a source of good jobs for thousands of Black people—and the Trump administration is trying to destroy it. Senate Republicans have a choice to make right now: are they going to side with the Trump administration’s political corruption, or with Americans who rely on the post office?
The corruption is so shameless that it’s almost hard to believe. Here’s how it works.
Louis DeJoy, a super-wealthy Trump donor with massive investments in competitors to the U.S. Postal Service, was put in charge of the agency in June, in spite of obvious conflicts of interest.
Almost immediately, Trump’s new Postmaster General forced postal workers to adopt operational changes that make it impossible for them to do their jobs well, causing serious delays in mail delivery.
Trump then used those delays to attack the post office as a “joke” and to claim that the post office can’t handle more people voting by mail this year. Trump wants to make it harder, not easier, for people—especially Black people—to vote.
Even before DeJoy came along, 2020 was already a difficult year for the post office, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.
In the spring, the Democrat-led House passed the Heroes Act, COVID relief legislation that included billions of dollars to keep the post office running because people across the country—in red and blue states, cities and rural areas—depend on it. But Trump threatened to veto the legislation and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell refused to even let the Senate vote on it.
And now that Trump has made the post office part of his political war on vote-by-mail, too many Republicans lack the courage to stand up to him—despite the hardship many of their constituents face in order to vote in person.
That has to stop right now, because not only is our election at risk, the attacks on postal workers’ ability to deliver the mail are putting people’s lives in danger.
At my organization, we’ve heard from veterans and cancer patients who rely on the post office for lifesaving drugs that keep their hearts pumping, their lungs working, and their diseases in check—deliveries that are now being dangerously delayed.
We’ve heard from people who run small businesses out of their homes and count on the mail to move checks and products—and who are losing business and money due to the new delays.
We’ve heard from a retiree whose insurance was cancelled because a renewal payment arrived after the deadline.
And we’ve heard from postal workers who see their job as a mission. They know their customers. They hate that they’re being forced to let those customers down by following the Trump team’s new rules.
Many postal workers are Black—about 177,000 of them in 2018, when they made up about 29 percent of the postal service workforce.
Unlike some of our national problems, this one has a pretty simple solution. Postal workers want to do their jobs. They want to play their part in helping people vote safely during this pandemic. Legislation to provide the postal service with the money it needs has already been passed by the House of Representatives. But it’s stuck in the Senate while Americans wait for Republican senators to do the right thing.
Let’s not wait quietly. Let’s make some noise. Get on the phone and make sure Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators know that they need to get out of the way and stop blocking the relief the post office needs.
(Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation.)