By Janis Hashe
Among the most blatant of the Trump Administration’s outrages: the attempt to destroy the U.S. Postal Service. We wish we could say that ended with the Vote-Suppressor-in-Chief’s regime, but Trump appointee Postmaster General Louis DeJoy remains and the effort continues.
On March 23, DeJoy announced a “10-year plan,” with overall strategies including conservative best-sellers like making vote by mail much more difficult and advancing privatization of the Post Office. The nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI) calls privatization “a long-standing goal of conservative think tanks and corporations that stand to gain from weakening or dismantling the Postal Service.”
Berkeley activist/artist Doug Minkler isn’t having it. “The attack on the post office is part of a continuing attack on our public commons,” he said in a recent interview. His poster, “Special Delivery,” shows three “superhero” eagle-headed mailboxes swooping down on rats who are destroying letterboxes with chainsaws. “The [superheroes] are going after the wreckers like DeJoy,” said Minkler.
You can be a superhero, too!
Talk to your Members of Congress about legislation: The “For the People Act” would prohibit states from restricting voting by mail and would keep vote by mail (VBM) expansions approved during the pandemic. The House has already passed it – now the Senate needs to hear from us. And on March 26, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) and six Democratic co-sponsors introduced the DEJOY Act (“Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act”), which would prohibit the Postal Service from lengthening mail delivery times and require it to keep current service expectations. Our action items below tell you what to say to your legislators about these important bills.
We also tell you how to get the rats out: The USPS Board of Governors has the power to remove DeJoy and end his attacks on mail service. In February, President Biden nominated new members to the Board – if the Senate confirms them quickly, they can stop further destruction of the Postal Service.
And there’s more: Minkler created his poster at the suggestion of a member of the Rank and Filers, a nationwide group of current and former postal employees and others who believe in the role of the post office. In addition to supporting the legislation described above, the Rank and Filers advocate for re-thinking post offices, including creating a “postal banking system.” An estimated 6% of U.S. adults are “unbanked” – they do not have a checking, savings, or money market account. Another 16% are “underbanked” – they have bank accounts but use check cashing services, payday lenders, or pawn shops that typically charge high fees. The “unbanked” and “underbanked” are disproportionately either inner city or rural residents. Traditional banking systems clearly don’t meet their needs – a postal banking system could help them.
These measures won’t have the “savings” of DeJoy’s proposed cuts – but they’ll increase use of the Postal Service. And more important, as the EPI’s report argues, the country’s founders never intended the Postal Service to be a government money-maker. Social and civic purpose – connecting Americans to each other and “fostering a well-informed citizenry” – were as important as, or even more important than, any economic benefits. Take action – and spread the word by whatever communication means you like!
What you can do:
1. Tell your members of Congress to support legislation that protects the Postal Service (see below for contact info for all members of Congress for the East Bay):
- Tell your members of Congress to support the DEJOY Act, to stop Louis DeJoy from gutting the Post Office:
My name is _____, my zip code is _______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to urge _______ to support the DEJOY Act. We need the Post Office. It’s central to American democracy, and we can’t let Louis DeJoy destroy it.
- Tell your MoCs to support the For the People Act (H.R. 1 & S. 1), which protects voting by mail:
My name is _________, my zip code is _______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling in support of the For the People Act, especially for its protection of voting by mail. The US Postal Service played a key role in supporting democracy in 2020. Vote by mail should be extended, not suppressed.
2. Ask Senators Feinstein and Padilla to move quickly to confirm President Biden’s nominees to the USPS Board of Governors:
My name is _______, my zip code is _______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I urge the Senator to make sure the Senate acts as quickly as possible to confirm President Biden’s USPS Board of Governors nominees so we can remove Louis DeJoy. We need the Post Office. It’s central to American democracy, and we can’t let DeJoy destroy it.
3. Call your MoCs to support postal banking:
My name is _______, my zip code is _______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging you to support a system of postal banking. This system would help unbanked and underbanked people in both rural and urban areas, and would help revitalize the Postal Service.
How to contact your Members of Congress:
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
- Sen. Alex Padilla: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
- Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065
4. Want to use Doug Minkler’s poster? He’s generously made it freely available – contact him email@example.com
“Special Delivery,” by Doug Minkler, 2021.
Ann G. Daniels and Heidi Rand contributed to this article
Janis Hashe is a freelance writer/editor/teacher/theatre person. She has been politically active in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga and now Richmond. Her deepest personal commitments include fighting climate change, ending factory farming and overturning Citizens United.
Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.
Heidi Rand fights for progressive change with skills gained as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using her words to inform and inspire others to take action.