By River Ashe Maynard
The United States Postal Service is one of the most crucial parts of the American infrastructure, making sure that citizens in almost every part of the country get their mail and important packages. It is so crucial, it is written into the United States Constitution.
However, it is not government funded, and relies on the sales of stamps, packaging and the costs of shipping to survive.
The USPS delivers to low-income and remote areas where Amazon and FedEx do not, charges a fraction of the price than other shipping services do and makes sure residents in rougher neighborhoods can receive and send packages with relative ease.
Despite this, President Donald Trump has begun trying to dismantle it piece by piece, determined to make matters worse, during a global pandemic in the middle of an election year. He also bashed USPS in a tweet December 2017:
“Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!”
The first step of his campaign to sabotage the mail-in voting system was put into place with the appointment of the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy. DeJoy is one of the President’s top donors, according to Newsweek. He has contributed more than $360,000 in funding Trump’s campaign since the beginning of the year. He also used to own a very successful rival company to the USPS, called New Breed Logistics, but sold it for a reported $615 million, according to The New York Times.
DeJoy has been a hugely detrimental addition to the USPS. He has sent memos to employees, telling them to stop recording their hours of overtime work, and to leave mail behind if it would make their routes slower, mentioned by Business Insider. Extra and late trips for left-behind mail are now prohibited, meaning that DeJoy has prioritized saving money over making sure that mail gets delivered promptly.
This would not be such an issue if the use of the USPS didn’t plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, if so many Americans did not depend on the system for key items such as the delivery of life-saving medications and the sending of mail-in votes in the upcoming election — something that has been encouraged, if not mandated, because of pandemic restrictions.
Since his appointment, various people on Twitter have claimed to see the removal of USPS mail trucks and post boxes. One user named Ricky Davila tweeted a picture of locked mailboxes in Burbank, California, on Aug. 16.
The image caused a flurry of concerned activity, with people insisting that this was clearly blocking people from using the facilities and showing what would happen when the election came around. These images have been debunked as normal post office happenings. However, the locked mailboxes were shown to be open on the other side, and the fear of mail tampering is real and rampant across social media.
Besides having a postmaster general meddling in one of the most important services in America, Trump has shockingly admitted that he wants the post offices to fail, stating in an interview with Fox Business:
“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
His attitude towards the USPS system is both conniving and classist and reveals a deep-seated fear of his that could easily become reality.
If people in low-income, liberal, or predominantly colored neighborhoods aren’t faced with the usual gerrymandering voting problems and can vote by mail, the chances of him being kicked out of office are astronomically higher.
Luckily for America, Postmaster General DeJoy may not be in his position much longer. Allegations have come to light accusing him of forcing employees in his other company to make contributions to the Republican party, and then reimbursing them through company bonuses and funds, according to Newsweek. The reimbursement of a political contribution is a felony offense.
President Trump is being forced to go along with the investigation, saying in a news conference on Monday that he would be, “open to investigating and potentially removing the head of the U.S. Postal Service over allegations of campaign finance violations,” according to Politico.
It is clear from his previous remarks that he was, and is still, in full support of DeJoy’s actions.