My area of expertise is bringing reason based analysis and clarity to complex issues, something sorely lacking in today's politics.
Trump's whole fraudulent mail-in voting conspiracy is an embarrassment. It fails basic logical thought from every perspective. It genuinely saddens me that anyone would take it seriously or even as a valid point/counterpoint.
Questions you should be asking;
1. Why isn't he FIXING the USPS if it is so deficient? Sure, as a candidate, complain and point out everything you think is wrong. As the President, you're in charge. If things aren't working properly, you failed.
2. The Republican reasons for dismantling the USPS are easily refuted. Just because someone came up with a talking point or a seemingly plausible rationale, that doesn't mean it actually holds water.
3. Republicans have been crying about voter fraud for years now. There has been no evidence of voter fraud being an issue. The experts don't see any evidence that mail-in voting will be the fraud Trump fearmongers. The only people who further this belief are conspiracy theory nuts who don't bother asking if there's any factual support.
4. Once Trump's reasons for all of this drama is refuted, the next question is why is he actually doing this? I see a person who'd sow civil unrest and dismantle an institution all to win an election. Aren't politicians meant to serve the public, not their fragile egos? For Republicans in general, why has their party become, "if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying?"
Here's the question that's staring you in the face, that Trump hopes you won't ask
So, IF there is a danger of mail-in voting fraud (and more about that below), there's a really fundamental question staring you in the face.
Isn't the right course of action to FIX the issue? Isn't that the job and why he gets to appoint a Postmaster General?
Just spend a minute digesting this. You'll quickly see how this one question shows all of his purported motives are completely empty.
No more big election night answers?
Facts are Trump's blind spot. So here's how the Electoral College works. On November 3rd, we vote for the electors for our state. Once elected, they cast their ballots for the winning candidate.
So when does the actual, official, voting occur?
December 14, 2020
The Monday after the second Wednesday in December (as set forth by Federal law (3 U.S.C. §7).
I mean, c'mon, do you think George Washington knew the election results that same night?
Isn't the important thing getting it right?
Two very important things about the USPS. First, it's profitable. Second, the financial distress was manufactured by Congress
In 2013, it earned $1.91 billion more than it spent, 2014 $2.53 billion, 2015 $1.71 billion, 2016 $1.36 billion, 2017 $2.27 billion, 2018 $1.47 billion, and 2019 $1.10 billion (data from the CBO).
The financial issue is Congress changed the law, requiring the USPS to create a $72 billion fund that will cover post-retirement health costs for 75 years into the future (The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act). There is NO other federal agency or private corporation that is required to have a pre-funded health care account for when employees retire.
If this were the norm, then virtually every government entity (local, state, and federal) and private company providing health care retirement benefits would be so deep in the red it might as well be black. This change was literally done ONLY to the USPS.
Bottom line, the USPS is operating at a profit. The financial distress is artificial.
So what is the Republican "official rationale" for supporting messing with the US Postal Service?
I'm sure the exact response will vary from Senator to Senator, Representative to Representative, but there are two consistent reasons why it's okay Trump is messing with the Postal Service.
First, the USPS has financial problems. Therefore, significant reforms are needed.
Second, state Boards of Election are surely taking the necessary steps to ensure safe in-person voting.
Well, as noted above, the USPS is actually being run profitably and the only distress is a manufactured one. But fine, let's look at the steps Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has taken, officially, under the banner of shoring up expenses.
An early move by DeJoy was to transfer managers to new departments. Maybe reassigning managers from departments they have expertise to departments they do not will somehow and magically increase efficiency and reduce operational costs. This is the exact opposite of what the private sector does. They increase expertise in areas that need improvement, not decrease it. I don't see how a reasonable person could believe this could be a step in the right direction, but fine, since it's just speculation on what will happen as a result of the changes, let's just agree to disagree on whether this will be effective.
What about cutting hours of operation and implementing rules on delivering mail before it's fully sorted or ending a shift regardless of whether the route has been completed? Well, strictly speaking from an expense point of view, sure, some money will be saved. But the effectiveness of the USPS has been and will be seriously kneecapped.
Let's say you're trying to save money on your monthly expenses. Would you only allow electricity in your house for half a day because it would lower your power bill? No, you do what you can to be more efficient, cut out excesses, and save where you can...but you certainly wouldn't mess up the basic ability to live in your house to do so. With all things, there's a trade off between costs and benefits. How much savings will there be from reduced labor costs? And how much of a decrease in operations will be incurred? I have a hard time envisioning that tradeoff making sense, but again, since we can only speculate, let's just agree to disagree.
Now, there is one thing that isn't speculative or merely what someone wants to believe will happen. What about removing mail sorting machines? This I believe is an issue that can't be rationalized, even by the most determined.
Mail sorting machines accomplish three primary things. First, they promote speed. A machine can sort mail faster than a human. Second, they replace human labor from having to do this task, thereby cutting labor costs. Third, they promote accuracy, thereby making the sorting process more reliable and requiring fewer corrections, which is a use of manual labor. There is no way removing sorting machines has any chance of saving money. None. Well...I guess if you had to dream up something, sure, one less machine plugged in will save a few cents here and there. And yes, I'm mocking.
So why is this important? Well, rationale people will assess whether someone's reasons for doing something are valid or not. Even if we start with the assumption that Trump is doing this for the right reasons (thereby not beginning with a liberal belief it is being done with ill intentions), logic shows his actions can't actually be about cost. Therefore, his motives are something else. If it isn't USPS, then all we have to do is look at all of his Tweets. They're all about the election. This isn't about you or me. It's about him getting reelected.
Side Bar on the cost of government services
Here's a more philosophical question on finances being the reason the USPS should be dismantled.
Can you think of any other civil services that are expected to earn their own operating costs?
I mean, sure, you pay fees for things like registering a property deed, getting a drivers license, or parking at a national park. I certainly don't think your ten cent library late fee covers their operating costs. NONE of these services are done at no cost to the tax payer. That's just the tip of the iceberg when you look at everything else that is, well, 100% paid for by taxpayers. I mean, would the US Senate of House of Representatives please show how much of a cash suck they are on us taxpayers?
Can in person voting be made safe? Is that why mail-in voting isn't needed?
What about whether state Boards of Elections are capable of making in person voting safe?
The ONLY way this can be true, and not some candy mountain fairly tale, is if (1) COVID-19 is fake and doesn't actually exist, (2) it's not airborne and doesn't spread, or (3) you can actually organize around the dangers of the virus.
Can you organize around it? Let's look at colleges and universities since they've tried opening nationwide. How successful have they been using logistics to counter COVID-19? Best case scenario, you're relying on hitting ALL green lights. Sane people hardly rely on such pipe dreams when common sense says otherwise.
As far as whether COVID exists or whether it is contagious, I genuinely hope that only the tiniest sliver or Americans actually believe this to be so. There was an interesting Op-Ed in the NY Times on August 28, 2020 (I know, I know but read it anyway) about the power of denial and believing lies.
"The news came from a colleague — not a doctor but someone who works in the emergency room and has seen firsthand the devastation caused by the pandemic. “There is a cure for Covid-19,” he said. “It must be true because a doctor friend shared a Facebook post about this cure.”
When confronted with the latest, credible scientific evidence — that there is no cure for Covid-19, that the disease has killed more than 180,000 Americans precisely because we have no effective way of averting death for the millions who are infected — he doubled down. “But I saw it on Facebook,” he said."
So, the next time you're wondering whether the dangers of the virus is just a matter of differing opinions or hasn't been decided, ask yourself, do I want to be one of those people who would disbelieve my doctor because I read something on Facebook?
A curious implication for Maslow
I'd like to assume everyone know this, but for those who don't, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs says that certain needs are more important than others and must take priority. I mean, it's basic sense. The need for food and water or even safety has to be met long before addressing the need for friendships or self esteem.
Consider this. There are lots of people out there who will prioritize needing to believe in Trump or refusing to accept they could be wrong, even if it means they will put themselves in danger by not wearing a mask.
Ask yourself, are these the people I want to be grouped with? Do I want to support a President that these people not only like, but LOVE?
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
As noted above, I'm hoping you're not a "I believe a Facebook article more than my doctor" person.
So, what do the experts have to say about the risk of mail-in voting fraud?
On August 26, 2020, Forbes reported that, a senior federal election official told reporters there is "no information or intelligence" that a foreign nation is attempting to undermine mail-in votes or ballots. (Steve Forbes is a Republican by the way)
The US Deputy Attorney General Jeffery Rosen said in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies that, "We have yet to see any activity intended to prevent voting or to change votes, and we continue to think that it would be extraordinarily difficult for foreign adversaries to change vote tallies."
On September 25, 2020, Forbes reported on this issue again. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congress that the agency has not historically seen “any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election,” including through mail-in voting.
Wray said that while the FBI has seen voter fraud at the local level “from time to time,” undertaking any kind of fraudulent effort that could change the outcome of a federal election “would be a major challenge for an adversary,” and the FBI remains “vigilant” about investigating any potential election threats.
What else do experts say?
A Brennan Center for Justice analysis found incidence rates of voter fraud in past elections of between 0.00004% and 0.0009%, and the organization said in an April analysis “it is still more likely for an American to be struck by lightning than to commit mail voting fraud.”
A voter fraud database collated by Arizona State University found there have been 491 discovered instances of absentee voter fraud that took place between 2000 and 2012. Let's say it again, just to be clear. Four hundred and ninety one cases out of hundreds of millions of votes.
The Washington Post reviewed the 2016 election and found ONE proven case of postal voting fraud.
Oregon has held postal elections since 2000 and has reported a total of 14 attempts to fraudulently vote by mail.
In September of 2020, the US Department of Justice released a statement about an incident in Pennsylvania in which "nine military ballots were discarded" of which seven were for Trump. The DOJ has opened an investigation, but has yet to find any sign it was done intentionally. Really? An investigation? Over nine ballots?
Just for laughs, there was a recent and local case of postal ballot fraud in 2018. A Republican campaign consultant tampered with voting papers in North Carolina. Did I mention the expression, "if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying?"
So the question now falls to you, the voter. What is Trump's intention? Is he insulating himself against the possibility of losing, so his ego can blame fraud (the most benign of explanations I can think of)? Is he pre-heating public strife so he can refuse to accept the outcome of the election? He has after all, refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election. Just pause a moment on that. He'd create strife and conflict, so he could possibly hang onto the job.
So, going from an insecure boy, to a deliberate schemer, there is yet another, even more deranged possibility. Maybe he just likes leaving a trail of scorched earth in his wake. Put another way, think about the the obscenities between manslaughter, murder, and a serial killer. Death and destruction for no reason whatsoever.
Ask yourself, what does it say about our President that the apolitical Postal Service is suddenly a burning hot problem?
People always ask themselves at election time, am I better or worse off than four years ago?
Do you ever remember a time when so many things were on fire at the same time?
Do you ever remember a time when the only thing being done to put out these fires was to push talking points, say there is no problem, and try to convince you to ignore facts? Do you see a White House that revels in not fixing anything?
Are we better off?
Simply put...no, our country is not better off
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Alvie Dewade