Donald Trump doesn’t like the U.S. Postal Service. He threatened to veto the $2 trillion stimulus bill if it contained any money for the postal service. The $13 billion grant the original bill had in it was removed and a $10 billion loan was substituted.
Trump has been complaining about the postal service for some time. He complained that it wasn’t charging Amazon, another favorite target of his, enough to deliver its packages. The Post Office desperately needs the income it gets from Amazon, providing “last mile” service to deliver some of its packages.
Here’s another seemingly unrelated pet peeve of the current president. He doesn’t like mail-in balloting, even though he votes by mail. He says mail-in balloting promotes fraud in elections. No independent study or investigation corroborates that charge. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has put the two things together and suggested that Trump would like to kill the Post Office so that mail-in balloting, which older and poorer voters need to vote, would not be possible.
Sounds ridiculous? We’re talking here about the person who has claimed that the Coronavirus was no problem before he implored Americans to stay home and then suggested that enough was enough and that they should go to church on Easter before he said maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. This is the same person who claimed absolute authority to tell Americans when to go back to work before he “authorized” state governors to decide when residents of their states could leave their homes before he cheered on demonstrators in Michigan, Virginia and Minnesota who were demanding to be “liberated” from their governors’ shelter in place orders.
So, no, it’s not ridiculous under the circumstances to believe that Trump would like to kill the Post Office so that people he believes don’t support him can’t vote. Imagine the United States being the only country in the developed world to be without a postal service. The Founding Fathers thought postal service was important enough to put it into the Constitution. Abolishing our postal service would no doubt have profound economic and social consequences, but that seems to be of little import to the current occupant of the White House. His self interest–and it seems to be more than mere malicious whimsy–is the prime consideration.
It’s hard to exaggerate and a little frightening to realize the irrationality of the times we’re living in. We have a president–he can’t be called a leader–who claims vast powers for himself, but in the midst of a crisis declines to use them. He claims authority, and takes credit for positive results but declines responsibility for any negative outcomes.
We have had presidents in the past, some of them great leaders, who achieved great things–Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Lyndon Johnson. They were great men, but each of them also had flaws. We’ve had mediocre presidents who accomplished little, but none of them set out to act solely for his own self aggrandizement–until now.
We are living in an Orwellian nightmare where truth is labelled as lies and lies as truth, where reporting of facts is labelled “fake news” while official lies in the form of presidential pronouncements come cascading out of the White House. In the Soviet era history was rewritten to reflect the party line. In our era the president doesn’t wait to rewrite history; he simply denies today what he said yesterday.
Some of us–we hope many of us–will survive this calamity. It will not be the last potential calamity we face. Another virus may appear. The impact of climate change will doubtless grow. Nature will bestow its rewards and exact its toll. We need to anticipate, plan and prepare so we don’t find ourselves in the same situation we’re in now.
The question for now is what will be different when we are threatened in the next few years if we still have the same “leadership” that we have now?