The efforts to sabotage the United States Postal Service are anything but subtle. From mail sorting machines removed without reason, to even shelves taken away to slow down hand sorting, Donald Trump’s handpicked postmaster general Louis DeJoy isn’t threatening to destroy the Post Office; he’s destroying the Post Office.
The reason behind this also isn’t subtle. On Thursday, Donald Trump made it clear that he was attacking the Post Office explicitly to destroy its ability to handle mail-in ballots. "They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," said Trump. "But 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.” In the meantime, DeJoy has met directly with not just Trump, but Republican leaders while he has taken out existing leaders at the Post Office who might complain. Nothing about this is hidden or subtle: Donald Trump is engaged in open, explicit, direct sabotage of the upcoming election. And, as always, Republicans are on board.
As The Washington Post reported last week, Postal Service employees with decades of experience have disappeared from the organizational chart as DeJoy has created a whole new structure, with all new people, to execute his inside attack on the service. This isn’t coincidental or convenient.
Republicans know that Trump’s malignant bungling of the COVID-19 pandemic has generated an urgent need to conduct elections by mail. But Trump, Republican candidates, Fox News, right-wing radio, and social media have all been telling Trump’s base that COVID-19 is no big thing. Just the flu. Don’t be a sheep. Get out there, open the schools, go to work, and vote in person. The push for all this by Republicans is all one story, one strategy, designed to push their voters to the polls, and make sure the ballot box stays closed to Democrats.
That this plan involves putting their own voters at risk of illness and death isn’t an issue. Because it, at worst, allows Trump to make claims about “winning on Election Day.” Not only has Trump made it clear that he believes these are the only ballots that count (except, of course, when the mail-in ballot is his own), he has already primed Republican voters to not accept the results of the election if mail-in ballots are widely used. Finally, with the help of DeJoy, Trump means that mail-in ballots are essentially routed directly to the trash can.
This isn’t just a Trump effort. It’s a Republican effort. Not only are Republicans meeting with DeJoy to plan the destruction of the Postal Service, this isn’t the first time most of these Republicans have met DeJoy. He was a top Republican fundraiser who was actually in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention before being handed the keys to one of the nation’s most vital institutions. Republicans have long sought to destroy the Postal Service exactly because it’s a public service—now they have the incentive to really follow through, and someone in charge with the reckless disregard for law to make it happen. DeJoy’s efforts are already generating widespread delays, and threatening not just elections, but the delivery of checks, bill payments, legal documents, and vital medications.
Trump isn’t shying away from his statement that he’s deliberately sinking the Post Office in an effort to also destroy the election. On Thursday evening, Trump told White House reporters that “the reason the post office needs that much money is they have all of these millions of ballots coming in...” Trump is deliberately killing the Post Office in order to deliberately kill free and fair elections. He’s not hiding it; he’s saying it out in the open.
Meanwhile, the RNC—the same RNC that Louis DeJoy headed right before being sent to take over the Post Office—is engaged in a massive campaign to limit mail-in ballots. They’re spending tens of millions of dollars on lawsuits against states attempting to expand mail-in ballots and on lawsuits that would attempt to apply restrictions (like forcing voters to sign their ballot in front of a notary public while showing a photo ID) that would make the use of such ballots impractical. They’re spending millions more on advertising to undermine the validity of mail-in ballots.
Trump is right about one thing—giving the Post Office more money won’t fix this. Not as long as his postmaster general is engaged in deliberate election sabotage, and not as long as Republicans are joining in that effort.