Winifred Gallagher: Trump Is hobbling the mail the old-fashioned way
However, never before has the USPS been under such blatant attack. President Trump, who called the Postal Service a “joke,” has even admitted his ulterior motives: He wants to slow the mail not only by withholding additional funding but also by encouraging Americans to not trust mail carriers with their ballots. In an interview with Fox Business, he admitted that he was not giving in to Democrats’ demands for further USPS funding in the latest COVID-19 relief bill, because withholding it would help him suppress mail-in voting. “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” he said. “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.” He has long made the unproven claim that mail-in voting leads to widespread voter fraud, which many of his supporters echo.
A study by the American Academy of Political and Social Science found that more than 63 percent of voters in small towns and nonmetropolitan areas supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and that his largest vote shares came from the most rural areas. Yet the large majority of his economic and tax policies have benefited wealthy people and their communities instead of those living with higher poverty levels in less populated areas.
Trump’s budget for 2021 alone is a testament to the way he feels about small towns and rural areas, where people of all demographics live (the notion that only poor, straight white people live in these areas is wrong). He has targeted housing programs and community-improvement plans pivotal to revitalizing the area. The budget includes cuts to crop, livestock, and conservation programs—all of which would greatly affect the rural economy—as well as slashes to support for rural transportation and infrastructure and to funding that would expand broadband access. Trump’s war on the environment directly ravages rural areas, where the largest swaths of natural land and wild waterways still exist. He has also reduced funding for flood-prevention programs despite the widespread increase of flooding in rural areas, which contain most of America’s farmland. Much to my dismay, this seems to have changed few minds in the region.
This past Sunday, I drove my old mail route. All these years later, I still remembered every curve, every rise and fall. It’s changed very little in the past couple of decades, except for a few more houses and a couple of places where the road has been widened. The drive was beautiful, with glimpses of the dark-green waters of the Laurel River, kudzu that crept down the cliffs and overtook the shoulders of the road, and wide meadows bobbing with black-eyed Susans. Brick houses sat side by side with trailers, most of the homes surrounded by meticulously mowed yards with swing sets, inflatable swimming pools, and gardens bursting with tomatoes and beans. In many of the yards, I also saw flags or signs proclaiming devotion to Trump, and not one in support of his opponent.