Image for post
Image for post
Rural delivery in Indiana 120 years ago. From the Postal Service’s own website

Why Isn’t The US Postal Service Still A Major Campaign Issue?

If Trump’s re-elected 100% it will be rendered unrecognizable from what you’ve always known. He’s said that.

So we’re not just just talking about delays in ballots getting delivered. But let’s start with that:

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. has in fact ordered the postal service to report to him daily on the status of on-time delivery leading up to the election, with 92-million mail ballots passing through the system. And so far, it’s not good. In several major cities in swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, as much as 60% of mail isn’t being delivered on time these days.

Nationwide, the Postal Service reports at least 40% of mail isn’t getting delivered on time every day. Now, that number may seem shocking on the face of it, but doesn’t mean very much by itself. But compare it to the Postal Service’s own records for earlier in year, and the decline is astonishing. Back then by the same measures, on time delivery was running at more than 90% across the country, meaning only 10% of mail wasn’t getting there on time.

But of course that was before Trump handpicked one of his chief fundraisers, Louis DeJoy to take over as Postmaster General. The Postal Service says it’s doing better with ballots, which it’s prioritizing over other mail. But still the overall trend is down, astonishingly so, with deliveries continuing to fall short at increasingly bad rates.

So now we’ve got some numbers. But we all deduced this was going on already anyway, right?

I don’t know about you, but happens with some frequency these days that a package will appear oh-so-close to delivery, and then it starts wandering… Further and further away from me, sometimes 3, 4, 5 states away before finally turning around and getting to my mailbox.

Or even more frequently, I’ll get a tracking alert saying my package will be delivered that day, or even that it’s already been delivered. But when I check tracking details, I immediately see there’s no way that possibly can be true. Since the package is often several states away. This type of error has never worked out in my favor: where the location of the package was wrong and the notification of imminent delivery was right.

With regular mail, since I can’t normally track it, it’s harder to say. But what’s easy to say is this kind of thing didn’t happen in the past. At least not this noticeably.

So why aren’t Democrats taking more notice and making more of it?

Even if President Trump had no evil intent, making a decision to disable or at least restructure the Postal Service in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of an election year, makes no sense. And provides a strong enough point to slam him on alone.

Yet talk about the deliberately broken down Postal Service took a long time to bubble up this summer. And then seemed to disappear as soon as Trump’s now relatively newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, pledged he’d stop tearing machinery out of post offices and throwing it away until after the election. But wouldn’t restore any of it either. Since then, until this week really, some scattered stories about how the damage might have already been done. But not much else.

Why not? Seems to us a guarantee of a broken Postal Service in the future would resonate with people in rural areas, for whom it’s a real lifeline, as well as senior citizens and veterans, a lot of whom get medications by the mail. They would be severely impacted by further service cuts or even elimination of rural delivery, and/or massive price hikes that would almost certainly result from any form of privatization. Both of which Trump has said he intends to do.

Image for post
Image for post
Rural delivery in Missouri in 1940. (From the Postal Service’s own website)

Have Democrats decided those groups of people can’t do with more persuading? Or do they figure the young people in big cities they’re trying to get out and vote don’t really care about mail delivery?

I don’t know, but it’s perplexing. Because the argument against Trump in this case is so compelling. And it’s something the President can’t lie his way out of because anyone who gets mail sees it happening right under their noses.

So I’m making one final appeal to Democrats to consider revisiting this as at least a piece of your campaign messaging before Election Day.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store