Why won’t the Democrats act more aggressively?
So now the Post office is under attack. Snail mail has turned downright sluggish, to quote a local business journal. As if it weren’t already hard enough to do business in the current economy. Now, businesses and citizens have to contend with bags of mail sitting undelivered in our post offices.
In our own lives, we have been affected by the slowdown of the post office. My wife receives a monthly check that used to arrive by the second day of the month like clockwork. This month, it arrived the 13th day of the month, a full ten days after it was sent. And this is for a letter coming from a city just a few miles down the street. As my wife said, “I could have walked there faster.”
Fortunately for us, we don’t rely on the mail as some others do. We don’t rely upon it for the delivery of medicines, for example, most of our income is deposited directly into our accounts, and we pay most of our bills electronically. Most of our communications are via email or skype. In some ways, then, we are symptomatic of the problems facing the post office: people just don’t use the mail like they used to. But others are not so lucky.
Ironically, what prompted the slowdown of our post office is Trump’s fear of a flood of mailed-in ballots voting him out of office. I say this is ironic because the post office did nothing to slow the flow of the opioid fentanyl through its system. And the mail volume created by the peak of mail-in ballots is nothing compared to what the post office manages each holiday season.
And for those who claim Trump has nothing to do with the postal slowdown, including Trump himself, just days ago he admitted as much. This is one of the behaviors I have a particularly hard time understanding. How can his supporters argue that he is right today when he was supposedly right saying the exact opposite days ago? Then again, very few of Jim Jones’s followers refused to swallow the poison willingly.
Thank Goodness we have the Democrats in charge of the House. As I have written in the past, I am a huge supporter of Nancy Pelosi’s. I have a great deal of faith in her judgment, and have enjoyed watching her run circles around Trump and his minions. So I am excited to see what her response is.
Pelosi’s response was… a strongly worded statement, made with the support of 192 House Democrats, calling upon the Postmaster General to halt his attack upon post office operations. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a big-time Trump donor whose conflicts of interest are legion, was only appointed to the position in May has taken to his mission of destroying the post office with relish. In fact, he may be one of Trump’s most competent appointees, given how much damage he has inflicted so quickly. I’m sure this strongly-worded statement will make him immediately change his actions.
To her credit, Pelosi is now talking about bringing back the House from recess to address this crisis. That can’t happen soon enough, though. People are suffering from medication or checks being delayed, and the post office has already signaled that it likely will not be able to deliver all mail-in ballots on time. Indeed, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which had originally scheduled a hearing for September 19, moved the planned hearing to August 24. It is not yet clear if DeJoy will attend, suggesting once again the ineffectiveness of these steps.
To be clear, the post office is among the few fundamental functions of the federal government that directly affect most Americans. Indeed, it is mentioned in the Constitution. Unlike local and state governments, which provide roads, police and schools we all utilize, most people don’t interact with the federal departments. Indeed, even the Department of Education acts indirectly, not providing any substantive interaction with most Americans. And the interstate highway system is largely financed by the states. But the post office… all of us interact directly with that. To hobble its operations points to this administration’s fundamental antipathy to any governmental action that benefits society as a whole.
But this article is not about the outrage of Trump’s attack on the post office. Instead, it is to express frustration with the lame response we have gotten used to as Democrats. Part of the reason Trump and DeJoy feel empowered to behave in this way is because of the ineffectiveness of the Democratic response.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe has been tweeting out ideas about what the Democrats need to do to defend the post office. These would be great first steps, albeit largely symbolic ones.
Where are our Attorneys General, so many of them Democrats? In most states, creating barriers to voting is illegal, and certainly, state prosecutors can pursue charges under the federal law 18 USC section 1703 that makes interference with post office operations a felony.
I have often written about the weak responses Democratic elected officials have had to a number of crises. I urged state governors to arrest federal secret police officers illegally arresting protesters. More than a year ago, I begged the House to take aggressive steps to address the lack of compliance with its subpoenas. I lamented the lack of criminal prosecutions against bankers in the wake of the 2008 financial scandal.
Indeed, it seems that whenever a response is demanded, Democrats manage to find the least effective option. The only thing that can change that approach is continued pressure from grassroots Democrats.
One of my political heroes Franklin Delano Roosevelt once told a group of labor leaders after he had been re-elected “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”
Elected officials can become too comfortable in their Beltway bubble. I have witnessed this happening myself. Political activism is a two-step process. First, we must elect the officials most open to our agenda, in other words Democrats. Second, we need to hold their feet to the fire after the election, making sure they behave more aggressively.
For much of my career as a political activist I have felt like a voice calling out in the wilderness, begging Democrats to be more aggressive. Many of my fellow liberals and progressives chose to cast protest votes, helping elect George W. Bush and Donald Trump, among others. For the first time in my life, I am seeing political activism that is both demanding and tempered by political reality. I can only hope it continues, because that is the only way we will accomplish real change.