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On the United States Postal Service (USPS) Twitter page, you will find a very quaint image: an old, rusty mailbox with wide pink flowers growing on its side. A blur of greenery in the background. Birds chirping in the distance. A reliable, always-been system.
That’s not what the Postal Service looks like in the news nowadays. Instead, it’s become some kind of pawn in a political skirmish, in which its actual status seems to be ignored.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, voting by mail is a safer option in regards to public health. Voting centers are gathering centers — places where you will be around strangers, many possibly untested or even positive for COVID-19. To vote by mail is to protect yourself and others. And if it’s possible to do so, then that’s what any eligible citizen should do.
President Trump disagrees. Speaking on Aug. 12, he said, “Now they want to take it countrywide — mail-in voting. It’s going to be the greatest fraud in the history of elections.”
“They” are the Democrats. And to say that the Democrats themselves are aiming to “take [mail-in voting] countrywide” is ridiculous. Mail-in voting is already countrywide. It’s already a service of the federal government.
All the Democrats did was express support for keeping the same amount of funding for the Postal Service until at least after the election. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy had announced cost-cutting measures that would decrease cash flow into USPS, and the House approved a bill that reverses those measures.
It’s only logical, as experts predict that 70% of ballots cast in November will be submitted through the mail. Representatives want to be absolutely sure that no ballot is lost to lack of manpower or machinery, such as mail-sorting devices, many of which have recently been decommissioned).
The Democrats are not writing and mailing those ballots — citizens are.
For Trump to politicize the idea of voting, to imply that mail-in voting is an object of the Democrat agenda, is a dangerous abuse of his power as a cultish leader. His many Republican supporters, trained by his unfiltered, unchecked anti-Democrat rhetoric, may now associate mailing ballots with being a Democrat, the antithesis of their belief system.
Therefore, because of political alignment, a safer, pandemic-friendly action could be rejected in favor of in-person voting. Even worse, some may not vote at all.
Trump tweeted on Aug. 24, “all the Radical Left Democrats are trying to do with the Postal Service hearings is blame the Republicans for the FRAUD that will occur because of the 51 Million Ballots that are being sent to people who have not even requested them. They are setting the table for a BIG MESS!”
There’s something off about the anger present in his reaction to efforts to give people a safer option to act as members of a democracy.
After this election cycle, and after the pandemic has come to its elusive end, I do think that the Postal Service needs to absorb less government funding. It’s been losing money — billions of dollars every year — since 2007.
But while we’re at it, I’d also love to cut the budget for military spending into smithereens, and the budget for mass incarceration, and the budget for fossil fuel spending, and on, and on, and on.
Please vote. And if you are able, vote by mail. It may help shorten the pandemic by gathering less people, and I think that’s worth the stamp. Socially distance. Be safe. And never risk your health because a man puts his political agenda where it doesn’t belong.