Postal Service is an important U.S. institution
We address a letter or a package. We put it in the mail. Sometimes we wait in line at the post office. We pay the postage, the letter or package is then sent on its way, and we go on with our day.
Did you know or had you forgotten that the post office is provided for in the U.S. Constitution? “The Congress shall have power…To establish Post Offices and post Roads…” Article I, Section 8, Clause 7.
The framers of the Constitution considered the post office essential to the functioning of a democratic republic, which is what our nation is supposed to be.
Now that the coronavirus pandemic has moved the critical act of voting in part away from the polling place and to the United States Postal Service, there appears to be a deliberate effort on some in Washington, D.C., to restrict the operations of the USPS.
When this country was formed, it was a loose confederation of newborn states, each possessing a character as unique as the people who lived in them. The postal service was meant to link every park of every state together with every other part of every other state.
As the nation solidified and grew, the United States Postal Service brought word from distant relatives, carried the annual Sears catalog to remote fans and outposts, and carried news informing citizens of national and international events.
It has delivered a letter from many a serviceman or woman from the battlefield to an anxious parent. It has delivered letters to Santa Claus from children, who have enclosed a Christmas wish list. Today, it delivers electrical and water bills, and mail is how some customers pay those bills. It also delivers much-needed medication.
Even today, the USPS travels to the most isolated regions of our nation to deliver the mail, in the worst weather, under difficult circumstances if that is what’s required, and all for an accessible price.
President Trump and his appointed Postmaster General says the postal service is not making a profit. The USPS is not a business, but a government service and as such it is to look out for the welfare of all of its people. The government can and should build efficiencies into their operations, but profit is not the aim of the USPS. It is a public service.
A public service is an act that someone or some entity performs for the benefit of all or some of the people. The USPS provides a public service to approximately 330 million Americans. And in this time of national crisis, when people are hurting economically, unemployed, sick, and scared, and with a critical election coming up in about 70 days, a service that will timely deliver prescriptions, paychecks, ballots, packages from distant loved ones, learning materials to students with poor or no internet service, and more is more important than it’s ever been.
Mail-in voting isn’t some iffy proposal, it’s a practice already in place in a majority of states. Local elections officials understand that the COVID-19 pandemic raises serious concerns about the safety of voting in person.
Many states will not be able to open the customary number of polling places because of health risks. That puts a greater onus on the federal government to make sure that it can hold up its end of the guarantee for fair elections inherent to representative democracy and deliver mail-in ballots reliably and on-time. That is nothing short of a sacred duty.
The USPS does not exist to put profits into anyone’s pockets; rather it is there to serve the whole of us — whether we’re wealthy or not, live in a blue, red, or purple state, agree with the ruling party or never will.
The post office performs a public and vital service, and it is up to Congress to adequately fund it. It is not up to the president, but to Congress.
It’s time for the White House and Congress to stop messing around and fix the mail.