Politicizing the Post Office and the benefit of the doubt

You’ve read the stories. Postmaster Louis DeJoy is slowing the mail down and interfering with the operation of the Post Office to screw up voting by mail.

Is he really?

Or has our lying, corrupt President just behaved so badly that whenever there is doubt, we assume the worst?

What would you see if you gave DeJoy the benefit of the doubt?

We’re looking at everything about the Post Office with foreknowledge of President Trump’s clear desire to stop or slow down voting by mail. Trump said this:

He also said this about requests to fund the Post Office in the latest emergency response bill:

They want $25 billion for the post office. 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. Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. 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.

So from Trump’s perspective, the fight for the Post Office is inherently political.

But imagine, for a moment, that it wasn’t, and that DeJoy is actually trying to do his job. Does this explain what we’re seeing?

First off, there is a funding problem with the Post Office. It either needs more money, or there have to be changes to make it more efficient.

While DeJoy is a Trump donor, he was also the CEO of a logistics company — exactly the background that would be appropriate to make the Post Office more efficient.

Would such changes potentially include reducing overtime for postal workers? Of course.

Would it involve removing sorting machines for classes of mail that are declining in volume? It could.

Would it involve removing extra mailboxes in places where they’re not needed as much? Or replacing vandalized mailboxes? Sure.

Mail service will get slower. But that’s what happens when you cut costs.

If this were not in the run-up to an election, no one would even care about this stuff.

The visuals are terrible — and ambiguous

When you see truck like this and you’re ready to believe there is something corrupt going on, you’re going to get outraged:

The move comes just days after President Donald Trump suggested he was purposely working to make it difficult block mail-in voting and the United States Postal Service​ in an effort to thwart Democrats’ election preparation efforts.
Photo: Colin Moore via Patch

What about this map of where sorting machines are being removed and where Clinton lead the 2016 election?

r/TexasDemocrats - This map overlays places where mail sorting machines are being removed (red circles) with places where HRC had a lead in the 2016 election (blue dots)

Looks terrible. Clearly, you have to be worried when you see activity that will slow the mail in Florida, Texas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. But if your conspiracy theory runs this way, then you’d expect to see this activity not in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California, where Trump is going to lose anyway, but in Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, where the election will be close.

And Trump wants people to vote by mail in Florida, where there are old people who support him.

The proof is weak, but the theory is attractive

Are Trump and DeJoy messing with the mail to screw up vote by mail in the election? That’s hard to prove. (If you want a more detailed and balanced view of the issue, read this.)

The problem is that it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect, given the constant bashing of Democrats, lying about Democrats’ records, whining about mail-in voting, and complete inability to tell a straight and accurate story that characterizes this administration.

The Post Office is a constant refrain in the Democrats’ fundraising emails, because it’s popular and it’s easy to blame Trump for screwing around with it.

DeJoy has ceased the removal of mailboxes and sorting machines and will testify to Congress. He’ll have a perfectly reasonable explanation for what he was doing. And not only that, but assuming Biden wins, whoever takes over the Post Office next will almost certainly be undertaking activities like this for efficiency’s sake.

But it doesn’t matter. Trump has made himself impossible to trust on any issue. Screwing around with the Post Office to interfere with mail voting sure sounds like what he’d do. So he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt.

Strangely, all this raising of alarms will likely reduce voting by mail by folks who are afraid to vote in person because of concerns about coronavirus. It may make people fail to vote at all. A lot of those people may be Biden voters. So this whole controversy may end up serving Trump’s ends, even if the amount of actual corrupt interference with voting by mail is negligible.

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  1. I am disappointed that you chose to waste your time, and your readers’ time, suggesting that we should not really be concerned with the Republicans’ repeated assaults on the integrity of the upcoming election, of which Trump’s attacks on the Post Office are a part. There is absolutely no question that the overall Republican strategy is to prevent as many voters as possible from voting (purging roles, intimidating poll watchers, etc.) and to prevent the counting of votes that people do manage to cast (creating doubt about the ability of the Post Office for example.)

    I got a sense that you felt that you were somehow enhancing your reputation or credibility by being a bit contrarian with your suggestion that there might not be any sinister intent behind the turmoil at the Post Office.

    1. While I agree with your position about Republican strategy, I regret to point out that your response is mostly an ad hominem evaluation of the motivation for Josh’s post, rather than a reasoned counter-argument. Based on following this blog, I think you have to up your game if you want to persuade either Josh or people inclined to agree with his position.

  2. I must agree with Richard Bell. The plain, simple understanding–what Talmudists call the p’shat–is the understanding that follows from this recent admission by Trump:

    They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox & Friends.


  3. The election is the greatest boon to the USPS since Miracle on 34th St. What was once derided as snail mail is now heralded as the savior of democracy or decried as its nemesis depending on political persuasion.

    The Democrats have changed from technocrats to Luddites, possibly heralding an anti-tech backlash. The obvious way to run elections is via mobile phone, but the GOP fears that more than mail in due to increased participation among younger more socialist demographics, while Democrats fear digital election hijacking, so we use voting techniques using dead white Ben Franklin technology.

    Eventually wiser heads will prevail and the world will be run via the smallest screen.

    Meanwhile, back at the Post Office, the Service is an archaic artifact of the pre-digital era, notoriously inefficient and ineffective. It’s services are underpriced and it is burdened with crushing pension obligations due to its quasi-governmental status. It should either be spun off *impossible in the current political zeitgeist) or return to its status as a government agency. A logical situs would be the Department of Commerce, where the USPS and Census Masterfiles could be integrated. and the Service could take over enumeration responsibility. The Service knows how many people occupy each housing unit, information which the Census painstakingly compiles on a decennial basis in a grossly inefficient and ineffective manner, redundant to postal operations. Apparently, as is the case with many government bureaus, the two don’t work and play well together, probably due to rice bowl, turf, and privacy issues, all at the expense of taxpayers and tax-takers nationwide.

  4. I love red herring events like these as I get to laugh loudly at radicals on both ends of the spectrums.

    For the Left: Has there been voter suppression in our history? Yes, but it currently is not a significant issue.
    For the Right: Has there been voter fraud in our history? Yes, but it currently is not a significant issue.
    For the rest: Do we (and should we) take voter fraud and suppression seriously in proportion to the problem? Yes, duh.

    Is the USPS in trouble? Maybe. It has been mismanaged for decades and has allowed itself to become less relevant. But many currently accept that as OK.
    Can the USPS be fixed? Maybe. It takes resources like talent and money. It is unclear if we have either or the stomach.
    Should it be fixed or saved? Maybe. It does provide a valuable service to many. But it currently costs a lot more to do much less than is done by other means.
    Is the USPS responsible (or could the USPS be responsible) for any significant voter suppression or fraud in the 2020 election? Nope.

    We have enough real problems to spend our valuable resources on to not spend them on voting and the USPS red herring.

    1. “Has there been voter suppression. Yes, but it is not significant” ..

      What world do you live in? Purging voter roles, after strategy sessions how it would most impact dem voters (hispanic names, common black names). Requiring picture ID pointlessly, if a neighbor is a pollworker, then relocating ID providers distant from transit, closed early and on weekends (enough prevented to swing wisconsin). Moving voting locations, harassing voters, ending early voting programs, false memes about fraud …. all designed, DESIGNED, to suppress disproportionate poor, working poor, elderly voters. BY DESIGN. In state after state.

      Sir, you are delusional, or politically motivated, to pass off this proven decades long record of expensive, extensive, systematic GOP voter suppression of generally democratic voters.

  5. The problem is that Trump is used to saying one thing and the contrary, and people are unfazed and do not question him about it (except some journalists, and everybody knows they are “fake news”, right?), so no point in analyzing that.
    The rest is, as usual, excellent :-).
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Drumpf doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. Hanlon’s Razor doesn’t apply to him. Occam’s Razor is the better metaphor. The timing isn’t coincidental: He wasn’t pulling this shit when he was polling much better.

  7. You didn’t mention problems with mail getting left on the floor overnight, veterans waiting for weeks to receive their meds, and so forth. Even if DeJoy is completely on the up-and-up, it would seem that his efforts to improve efficiency are failing. That, coupled with Trump’s rhetoric, makes the conspiracy theory hard to resist.

  8. Long before this was a political issue, heck, even before the pandemic, the USPS was a trainwreck. I got Christmas Cards in late January this year. Valentines sent by my parents to my sons arrived two weeks late (and my mom is always early!). A small envelope package my girlfriend ordered from a city just over an hour drive away took three weeks and a side trip from Michigan to North Carolina and back first. A buddy of mine ordered something and it passed our city three times before it was delivered. I sent a birthday card to a shut-in IN MY CITY and it took two weeks to get there. My sons both got college scholarships from our church. They were put in the same mailbox at the same time on the same day to go to the same address. One arrived last Saturday. The other has not yet arrived. Trump may say and do a lot of stupid things, but the USPS was/is a mess already. Maybe he’s just pointing out the obvious?

    1. It’s been a political issue for over a decade. The Republican party has been trying to slowly strangle the USPS for over a decade…since George W. Bush’s presidential administration. The current service issues you were experiencing from the USPS were the result of 14 years of Republican efforts to cripple the USPS badly enough that it would fall out of public support…so they could sell it off its equipment and valuable property to GOP donors.

      1. Say what you will about the GOP and this issue, we do have to recognize that for 8 of those 14 years the WH was lead by a Dem administration who ought to have some accountability as well.

        The way I see it, USPS has been mismanaged by all parties, reaching back beyond these last 14 years.

        In the meantime, UPS, FedEx and now Amazon filled some gaps and are profiting from all of that.

        Makes one wonder if a privatized service isn’t the answer?

  9. To Richard Bell: While I agree with your position about Republican strategy, I regret to point out that your response is mostly an ad hominem evaluation of the motivation for Josh’s post, rather than a reasoned counter-argument. Based on following this blog, I think you have to up your game if you want to persuade either Josh or people inclined to agree with his position.

  10. Josh, political bullshit doesn’t fit your model.
    You’re far better off sticking to what people like you for
    Your audience is way above this political dribble.