Donald Trump has given the phrase “saying the quiet part out loud” such a workout over the past four years that it’s going to need to be retired when he departs public life, but for now we’re going to keep needing the phrase, because he’s going to keep doing it. It was obvious that Trump didn’t want to fund the U.S. Postal Service because he wanted to block voting by mail as much as possible, and that he was holding up coronavirus stimulus negotiations because of the Postal Service component. But for those people who were denying the obvious, Trump went ahead and said out loud on Fox Business that this was his motivation.
Democrats, he said, were pushing for money for both the Postal Service and for elections expenses. “Now they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.” And, he said, “if they don't get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.” Trump made similar comments at his Wednesday coronavirus briefing.
Trump said he would not be approving a bill with Postal Service or elections funding. “They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess,” he said. “Are they going to do it even if they don’t have the money?”
Truly, this guy is like every bad movie where the villain stops to explain his dastardly plan and its creepy, terrible motivations. In the bad movie, that buys the heroes time to save the day. Here, it’s unlikely that congressional Democrats are going to be the heroes that swoop in and stop the villain in his tracks—Trump has a lot of power and a powerful helper in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and, let’s face it: We’re talking about House Democrats here. They called Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in for a strong talk … in mid-September.
But voters, the very people whose rights Trump is trying to weaken, could have something to say about it. Yes, Trump is making it harder to vote, but his attacks on both the Postal Service—the most popular part of the federal government, by the way—and on voting are drawing attention. People notice when their mail doesn’t come and they don’t have the prescription medications they need. As much as Trump is making it harder to vote against him, he could be giving more undecided voters the motivation to do so.
Trump and the complicit management he’s installed at the Postal Service are making a damn strong effort to get in the way of voting by mail, though. Not only is Trump blocking the needed funding for the Postal Service in the coronavirus stimulus, but his lackeys are making mail voting more expensive, notifying state election officials that if they want absentee ballots to arrive on time, they’ll need to pay 55 cents per ballot for first-class mail rather than paying 20 cents for bulk mail. Traditionally ballots have been treated as first-class mail at the bulk mail price, but that’s ending under Team Trump, and bulk mail under the Trump slowdown could take a reeeallllly long time. Election officials will have to decide between spending extra money they don't have in their budgets, telling people they have to get their ballots extremely far in advance, or disenfranchising people when ballots don’t arrive in time.
Trump may have found a more effective way to derail an election than calling for its delay or welcoming Russian interference. But he has given voters months to notice what he’s doing and get mad about it, and now he’s erased any doubt about the intentions behind his sabotage of the Postal Service.