by Doug McClure
CRAFTSBURY – A group gathered across from the Craftsbury Post Office on Saturday, joining a nationwide effort to “Save the Post Office from Trump.”
People who participated in the demonstration stated they were concerned that President Trump’s newly-appointed Postmaster General Louis Dejoy “has reassigned or displaced dozens of postal executives” and “called for hiring freezes, slashed hours, and created long delays, even stopping delivery in some places.”
Recent media footage shows USPS workers removing equipment and there are reports that mail is being delayed, which some fear will impact the upcoming election. The disruption has also impacted New England farmers: some discovered their postal deliveries of live chicks had arrived dead.
“It just feels like something is being jeopardized that should never be touched,” said Peggy Sapphire of Craftsbury. “It’s personal because of our continuing relationships with people, and with our country and with institutions. We want to know that the mail we write, the letters we write are going to get there. It’s against the law to interfere with an envelope that’s been sitting in your box, and here we have somebody who’s looking over the entire country and he’s interfering in all our lives.”
Michelle Guenard, of Craftsbury, said people from larger towns and cities may not understand the impact changes to the USPS will have on small rural communities.
“We don’t have the option of just going to Wal-Mart or a local store, we depend on the Post Office,” Guenard said. “We can’t just hop in our car and go two minutes and pick something up. A lot of things have to be delivered to us, that includes medications, payments, checks, banking for a lot of people, because we do not have good internet service here. Everything here is old-fashioned, and the most important old-fashioned institution that we depend on is the United States Postal Service.”
Due to the pandemic, many residents may depend on the USPS to vote safely by mail for the upcoming November election. President Trump’s reported distrust of the mail-in or absentee ballots, and his attempts to politicize the USPS was of particular concern for some who gathered.
On Sunday, President Trump tweeted, “So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster. Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times. Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not COVID sanitized. A big fraud!” Twitter flagged the tweet, stating it violated “the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity.”
Some demonstrators drew a line between President Trump’s tweets pillorying the USPS and recent videos showing postal workers decommissioning machinery only months ahead of the election.
Jackie Molleur said “I’m really concerned about the election.”
“This administration has closed down polling places, so a lot of people depend on the post office to be able to vote in this upcoming election without putting their own health at risk,” Guenard said. “I think it’s very important that everybody have that option.”
The demonstration drew people from beyond the immediate area. Dave Jenkins of New Jersey said he used his phone to locate the closest action and he viewed this as the most recent assault by “the Right” against the USPS.
“This is just a ploy by the Right to take over the Post Office, to privatize it,” he said. “They’ve been chipping away it for a long time and give it away to the right’s cronies.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy issued a press release on August 21 entitled “Assault On Our Postal Service” hailing the virtues of the Constitutionally-mandated USPS and condemning those who seek to undermine or privatize it.
“Certain politicians who seek to undermine the USPS have long tried to convince us it was little more than a bad business bargain, and these efforts have escalated now that we need the USPS more than ever,” Leahy said. “But the United States Postal Service is exactly that: a service, just as the U.S. Weather Service and the U.S. Army provide essential services. A service so essential that it is directly written into our Constitution. It provides the same services to Americans in public housing and penthouses, apartments in Boston, and houses on dirt roads in Underhill, Vermont. They deliver by boat to addresses that can only be reached by water. They deliver over ice roads above the Arctic Circle. They deliver mail on the backs of mules to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. When politicians destroy the USPS for their financial or political self-interests, Americans in every corner of our country are affected. And rural communities are among the first to suffer.”
Postmaster General DeJoy does not agree that cuts to service would impact delivery of ballots. On the USPS website, the organization posted “The Postal Service is ready to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives. Postmaster General DeJoy’s number one priority is to deliver election mail on-time and within the Postal Service’s well-established standards. Effective October 1, he is committed to engage standby resources in all areas of Postal Service operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand.
To put it in context, the Postal Service delivers 433 million pieces of mail a day. Even if all Americans were to vote by mail this year, 330 million ballots over the course of the election would be only three-quarters of what the Postal Service delivers in one single day.
The Postal Service has more than enough capacity, including collection boxes and processing equipment, to handle all election mail this year, which is predicted to amount to less than 2% of total mail volume from mid-September to Election Day.”