The United States Postal Service is in trouble.
You may have noticed that it’s taking longer to receive letters and packages through the USPS. You may have also seen that your social media timeline is in an uproar over the Trump administration’s efforts to gut the Constitutionally-enshrined institution.
President Trump has repeatedly claimed that mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud, without any evidence. He’s also refused to financially aid the USPS during the pandemic, Business Insider reports. And this is all happening during the lead-up to the November election, where many people are relying on mail-in ballots due to the pandemic.
On Thursday, during an interview with Fox Business, Trump said: “They [the USPS] need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.”
He continued: “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.” Confusingly, that same day Trump said he would sign legislation that included funding for the post office during the coronavirus press conference.
Even before Trump, the USPS was in a financial shortfall. It lost $69 billion during the past 11 years, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. A lot of that has to do with a 2006 law that put the USPS at a competitive disadvantage.
Clearly, we all need to pitch in to help the flailing USPS and protect against government attempts to destabilize it. We’ve outlined a few ways you can do that below. Some take a couple minutes and others are a little more time intensive.
1. Reach out to your congressional representatives
You’ve probably heard it before, but contacting your senators and representatives really does help push forward an issue. Remember, they depend on your votes to stay in office so they’re paid to care about what you care about.
You can also sign the Center for American Progress’ petition.
Remember: It’s not just voters and people who like to send letters who rely on the USPS. It’s also senior citizens who need their medication and low-income people who depend on low-cost mailing and banking options. The USPS can even be a lifeline for homeless people who count on social services.
Reminder also that #USPS allows poor and working class people access to inexpensive mailing, banking in neighborhoods like mine with no banks, po box addresses for homeless folks so they can access welfare and other services. #USPS must be saved. https://t.co/MRU2OjVzMZ
— Victoria Brownworth #SaveTheUSPS (@VABVOX) August 15, 2020
2. Shout it from the rooftops
Now is not the time to shut your mouth. Post on social media to tell people what the issue is and why the USPS is important. Talk about it with friends, family, and hey, even strangers so they’re also aware of the issue and can spread the word.
This kind of social media backlash might have even helped to stop the recent disappearance of mailboxes in some parts of the country. On Friday, the USPS said it would “stop removing the boxes nationally until after the election,” the Washington Post reported.
The agency said the boxes were being moved to “higher-volume areas.” But this claim prompted skepticism.
This doesn’t look to me that they are simply “relocating” underutilized mail boxes as they claimed. These look headed to some metal crusher for recycling, or worse, left in the rain to rust away. Maybe USPS authorities in Wisconsin can clear this up for us. The optics are bad. https://t.co/OgmM7Pfa7x
— Kentucky Spirits (@KentuckySpirits) August 15, 2020
Whether or not mailboxes are actually going to higher-traffic areas, keep the pressure on.
If the last few months of anti-racist demonstrations have taught us anything, it’s that protesting can catapult an issue into the national consciousness. Of course, whether real action follows is an entirely different subject.
Residents at the Washington, D.C. condo that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy calls home woke up Saturday morning to the cacophony of protesters outside his home in D.C. The protest was organized by the direct action group Shut Down DC to rally against his leadership.
DeJoy has been behind cost-cutting changes of the USPS, which have included a ban on overtime pay, the early shutdown of sorting machines, and the requirement that employees “leave mail behind when necessary to avoid extra trips or late delivery on routes,” the Washington Post reported. DeJoy has also donated $2.7 million to Trump and Republican since 2017, reported Reuters.
Thx to the people protesting Trump’s plan to shut down USPS, in front of the house of Louis DeJoy aka Louis DeFraud. 🙌🙌🙌
— Susan Bevhills🌹💪🌴🌊🌏 (@susan_bevhills) August 15, 2020
So far it doesn’t look like USPS protests have caught on outside of D.C. But it doesn’t hurt to do a search on Facebook (use its event tab), Twitter, or groups geared toward activism to find if a protest is happening near you. Alternatively, organize your own.
4. Write to the USPS Board of Governors
Don’t put away your smart phone quite yet. Contact the USPS Board of Governors, a group of up to nine people (in this case, they’re all white men) who are appointed by the president. The Senate also weighs in on the decision. The governors act like a board of directors for the USPS.
These men chose DeJoy as postmaster general (as is the protocol) and also choose the deputy postmaster general (currently vacant). Per the rules, no more than five of the nine are allowed to belong to the same political party. All but two of the governors are Republicans.
Here’s the combined contact information for the USPS Board of Governors. These wealthy men have the power & duty to #StopDeJoy & prevent Election Day chaos. Their cushy day-jobs will have to wait while they fix the mess they caused as Governors. Let’s help them hear our voices. pic.twitter.com/HxEj5NYf2j
— Wetlip Hamilton (@WetLipHamilton) August 14, 2020
5. Buy stamps and USPS merch
Even though the USPS is a government agency, it doesn’t receive taxpayer money. Instead, it relies on money from postage and its other services. So, if you can afford it, consider buying stamps and USPS merch.
I can’t believe Gen Z has to buy postal service-themed crop tops from the USPS merch store so that the United States of America can have free & fair elections.
— A. Navin (@thatssonavin) August 14, 2020
If all else fails, you can take a page out of the Great Depression-era government’s book and paint murals depicting scenes of what the U.S. would look like without its oldest institution.
Looking for more ideas? Check out this great thread running through ideas, current events, and important talking points for anyone wanting to take a more active role in sounding the alarm about Trump’s dismantling of the USPS.
Ok, here’s a list of #USPS actions for anyone who needs it, divided with federal/state/local actions.
1. Please share as needed.
2. I want to stress: because we are still in a pandemic, states/local gov. are willing to consider emergency options they normally wouldn’t.
— Celeste P. says wear a mask, stay home. 😷 (@Celeste_pewter) August 15, 2020