Thursday, August 13, 2020


The press is revealing that it's not equal to the task of reporting on President Trump's efforts to hamper mail-in voting. Here's a Washington Post story:
President Trump said Thursday that he does not want to fund the U.S. Postal Service because Democrats are seeking to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, making explicit the reason he has declined to approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the cash-strapped agency.

“Now, they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. He added: “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”

Trump has railed against mail-in balloting for months, and at a White House briefing Wednesday, he argued without evidence that USPS’s enlarged role in the November election would perpetuate “one of the greatest frauds in history.”

During the Wednesday briefing, Trump told reporters he would not approve the $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, or $3.5 billion in supplemental funding for election resources, citing prohibitively high costs. But he went further in remarks Thursday morning, blaming Democrats’ efforts to make it easier for Americans to vote amid the pandemic.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting out and voting.... They voted during World War I and World War II,” Trump told Bartiromo.
In a deadly pandemic, when many voters -- but more Trump supporters than Trump opponents -- want to vote without going to a polling place, where is the effort in this story to make voters understand that Trump is engaged in the sort of election interference we think doesn't happen in a civilized country like ours?

Okay, maybe the Post's straight news story doesn't convey that -- so how about this analysis, headlined "Trump Blurts Out His True Motive on Mail-In Voting"?
Back in March, President Trump seemed to blurt out the real reason he opposes expanded voting by mail in the 2020 election. Referring to provisions in the Democrats’ coronavirus stimulus bill to vastly increase funding for voting by mail, he said on Fox News that the bill had “levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.

He’s doing it again.

Speaking with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network on Thursday morning, Trump appeared to confirm that he opposes Democrats’ proposed funding for mail-in balloting and the U.S. Postal Service in order to make it more difficult to expand voting by mail.

“Now they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said. “But 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.”
But this analysis still isn't making the important point: This is a democracy, and while elected officials are partisans, they should be strictly non-partisan when dealing with election issues. If they use their power to put a thumb on the scale in their own favor so they'll win more elections, that's corrupt. That's a sign of an illiberal state. That means we're living in a degraded, debased parody of democracy.

This needs to be explained to people. Americans don't understand it instinctively. That's why there's never been an outcry against the GOP's long-standing "voter fraud" witch hunt, or the other efforts by Republican state officials to limit voting in Democratic-leaning precincts, such as closing down polling places so presumed Democratic voters often have to spend all day waiting to vote.

Americans have never fully grasped the anti-democratic inclinations of the GOP, and most are likely to say "Well, that's just partisan politics" based on the reporting of Trump's remarks. And meanwhile, the Trump crony who's running the postal service is removing mail-sorting equipment from postal facilities without explanation, while instituting other changes that are resulting in slower mail delivery, at a time when polls say that 72% of Democrats are at least somewhat likely to vote by mail this fall, but only 22% of Republicans.

Democratic leaders aren't doing a good job of conveying the profoundly anti-democratic nature of this, either.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump's claims during an interview on MSNBC, saying the $25 billion for USPS was proposed by the agency's Board of Governors, not Democrats.

"In the legislation we have $25 billion, that is the number that is recommended by the Board of Governors of the US postal service," Pelosi said in the interview, also noting that "a bipartisan Board of Governors, 100% appointed by Donald Trump, they recommended $25 billion dollars."

Pelosi added that in previous congressional bills on the coronavirus, "the President has stood in the way of any money for the postal service."

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign called Trump's comments an "assault on our democracy," in a statement.

"The President of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years," Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.
Biden is at least cites the threat to the election -- though he interleaves it with other concerns. And maybe I shouldn't blame him. Not getting your meds in the mail is a problem many voters can easily grasp. The threat to democracy is ... abstract.

But do we have no pride in our system of government anymore? Is it impossible to convey the notion that if we can't conduct fair elections, then the GOP and the Trump administration have turned America into a banana republic? Shouldn't this make proud Americans upset?

As long as this can be dismissed as just the normal jockeying for advantage in an election season, Trump will get away with it. Democrats need to make the question of whether we can hold fair elections a matter of national pride -- and the media should report on it as a matter of national decay, which is what it is.

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