Terry H. Schwadron
Aug. 14, 2020
What are we to make of Donald Trump saying openly what all of us know, but had not been acknowledged: He is manipulating the U.S. Postal Service for personal political advantage in a world that needs mail-in voting as a result of pandemic.
In other words, he is abusing his powers for personal gain — an impeachable offense that it is too late or too futile to try to bring a case right now.
And he does it on a day when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of Rhode Island state officials to expand mail-in voting — 85 days or so from Nov. 3, and only a few weeks from the opening of early voting.
Trump’s actions (or lack of action here) is “nasty” and “very radical,” in the words that he reserves for criticism of Democratic candidates who dare run against him. He is elected to run the government for us, not for himself, to re-state the obvious. He took an oath to uphold a Constitution that guarantees a right to vote for every citizen. And he swore to uphold ethics standards, even for the White House.
As an administrator, Trump’s job is to fix problems, not exacerbate them for his own perceived good. Can you imagine if this were reversed, and Trump might be losing because a Democrat was manipulating powers of government?
The way you win in an election is to have the best case, Mr. Trump, not the best bag of political trickery.
By comparison, Russian and maybe Iranian or Chinese monkeying in disguised social media posts either for Trump or for Biden or for chaos could not come close. Unions representing postal workers are willing to saywhat Louis DeJoy, Trump’s handpicked postal director, will not — that the postal services are deliberately slowing the mail, including sudden reorganizations and removal of mail-sort equipment.
Please do not forget, there is a lot more than elections riding on a working postal service. Like millions, I get my medications that way, and the rising numbers for e-commerce show that postal deliveries are keeping large segments of the consumer-based economy alive.
The politics here are easy to parse, like Nixon 101. Coronavirus makes voting hazardous for poll workers and voters alike, so states are moving to make it easier to vote from home despite made-up warning from Trump, who fears a widened vote total. So, rather than help protect against the fraud he sees possible, Trump is moving assertively to stop any funds from preparing for an increased vote.
That will allow a platform that allows him to decry negative voting results, and set off a holy mess once it turns into weeks before we hear results of the election.
Until now, Trump had taken the high ground here, insisting only that he was concerned about fraud, and mumbling to all that he sees a distinct difference between mailed-in absentee votes, which he does, and mail-in votes from distribution of ballot applications that states are starting to distribute.
It has been a feud that Trump was using for perceived leverage in stalled talks with congressional Democrats over the size and shape of a coronavirus stimulus and aid bill, which remains stalled.
Now, Trump has ‘fessed up that he has his administrative monkey wrench out — and we are all down in the ethical gutter.
Yes, there is now a new emergency bill pending in the House to order a stop to this political nonsense. Of course, it will require endorsement by the Senate Republican majority and a signature of the very president who sees it not in his personal interest.
But it will come too late for states already moving to start early voting. Several states have statues allowing mail-in voting, in which there are anti-fraud procedures already in place. Several others are waiving normal limitations, and sending ballot applications out, including Republican states, the result of disease.
Trump’s announcements that other countries are perpetuating fraud schemes to grab millions of paper ballots and signing your name or mine are without evidence or cause. He simply wants fewer people to vote altogether.
If I die because the post office has delayed delivery of my medicines, it’s not his fault.
Elections are facing this problem because of mismanagement of coronavirus; mismanaging the post office just adds insult to injury.
The House ought to censure him for throwing out practical sense as well as the Constitution.