When Donald Trump and the Republican Senate recently signaled their hesitation to include the Post Office in its overall bailout legislation, some folks out there came up with a conspiracy theory that Trump and the GOP were trying to kill off the Post Office so there would be no mail-in voting in November.
If you put any thought into this conspiracy theory at all, it immediately falls apart. Unlike most government entities, the Post Office generates substantial revenue, so it’s not something the government can get rid of simply by “defunding” it. Nor would the Post Office magically be gone from the face of the earth before the election. Even if that did happen, no one would stand for it. Democrats and Republicans both use the Post Office for various things, and would not tolerate its disappearance. For that matter, Republican and Democratic voters both like to mail in their votes.
The trouble is, we’ve seen this “Trump is killing the Post Office so he can magically rig the election” nonsense repeated so many times, it ends up warping our view of everything that we see happening. What we’re really seeing play out right now is twofold.
First, UPS and FedEx have been paying the GOP to sabotage the Post Office for a decade, because they don’t like having to compete with Post Office Priority Mail on pricing. By squeezing the Post Office, with the pension scam and other tactics, the GOP has been forcing the Post Office to raise its Priority Mail prices in order to make up the revenue. This has been going on forever; it’s just that the media has barely covered it, so most people don’t know it’s going on.
Second, Donald Trump has a personal vendetta against Amazon because its CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which has exposed a number of Trump’s scandals. Sabotaging the Post Office doesn’t directly harm Bezos, as the Post Office only handles a fraction of Amazon’s shipping. But it’s fairly clear that the GOP and its donors have goaded Trump into going after the Post Office as a way of supposedly harming Bezos, because they want the Post Office to be squeezed for Priority Mail pricing reasons.
But if you weren’t aware of any of the lengthy backstory for why Trump and the GOP keep squeezing the Post Office, and your first taste of the story was when they tried to squeeze the Post Office at the start of the pandemic, then you might be inclined to mistakenly believe the this had something to do with mail-in voting.
The trouble is, this kind of conspiracy theory doesn’t help us. Yes, we need to fight for the Post Office. But we’ve needed to be fighting for the Post Office for the past decade, as the GOP has been trying to sabotage it on behalf of UPS and FedEx. If we’re only focusing on fighting an imaginary battle to stop Trump from killing the Post Office and magically rigging the election, we’ll never rectify the actual scandal – which has always centered entirely around Priority Mail pricing.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report