Quote: Mr. Postman, wait and see, is there a letter for me? (The Marvelettes, 1961, remixed by Beatles, 1963 & Carpenters, 1975).)
In the news: Judge orders Trump administration to stop winding down 2020 Census field work (Gregory Wallace, CNN, 9.06.20)
In context: Renegade American President Trump has trampled the rule of law and Constitutional norms but if his tenure lasts beyond four years he will succeed in destroying two staples of American culture. It will be like taking salt and pepper off the American table.
One of those is the U.S. Postal Service, which began before the country itself. The mail and its carriers connected far-flung new arrivals as waves of immigrants spread westward into wilderness. Native Americans still bear the scars of those days but that’s how it happened back then and the Postal Service has been a stabilizing element in America’s fast-paced gallop to the present when past wrongs are being redressed.
The other American staple now endangered is the Census mandated by the Constitution to be held every ten years. Modern Americans pay little attention to the Census but it is a nerve center of American growth. From the early days when new arrivals were wooed to the present when they are spurned, America has developed immigration policies based on a Census of people living within the country’s borders.
Naturally, both the Postal Serice and the Census functions of government have changed and adapted over time. The stage coach is long gone but the mail is still delivered to the most remote addresses on mountains or in woods.. Residents are no longer counted by marshals via postings in public places such as churches or municipal buildings. Both, however, are still an integral part of the American psyche.
As an easy example, an e-mail about a college acceptance provides some relief but the security of a done deal comes with the arrival of a concrete letter. Credit card offers mean nothing until the plastic comes in the mail like complex contracts and the heartfelt regards of greeting cards.
Likewise, residents in towns or cities may notice new arrivals. In most cases the newcomers are absorbed seamlessly until their numbers mount and they make an impact.
By and large, people relocate from native to foreign countries in order to prosper. Though not always easy for either locals or immigrants, the newcomers most likely to succeed are those who fit in. Contrary to common fears, immigrant gangs and outlaws don’t integrate and are unlikely to take root. Thus, the immigrants who make an impact on local communities are those who work with neighbors for the common good.
Both the Postal Service and the Decennial Census are mainstays of the broadest possible common good. Both are under attack by the current U.S. President who likely has little experience with either one.
Born into a gold cage, it is possible that Donald Trump has never opened a letter in his life. Assistants did the work of receiving and sorting mail before presenting him with the distilled product. As for immigrants, the Trump attitude has been well documented regardless of pointed claims to the contrary at opportune functions.
Contradicting himself is no hindrance to this President and those in the government who support him have become adept at keeping up with his demands. Outsiders have a harder time keeping track of situations, which is the case with both the Postal Service and the Census.
A new Postmaster General was installed in July of the 2020 Census and presidential election year. Hearings and investigations are ongoing as to his legitimacy and conduct of Postal affairs during the traffic-heavy Covid period likely to depend on vote by mail.
As for the Census that relies heavily on the US Postal Service to move its questionnaires, work was put on hold in March due to Covid and the deadline for presenting data to the President was extended from year’s end to the following March. A move by President Trump to include a citizenship question on the Census form had already been struck down by the Supreme Court, but a Presidential Memo subsequently instructed the Census Bureau to omit a count of undocumented residents. With that, work ws to be finished by the end of September, a clipping of the Census scope that is now on hold under a Federal Court order.
Chaos is the hallmark of the Trump modus operandi and he is known to be transactional, meaning that nothing has value unless it directly benefits him. By those measures, he has certainly up-ended two of America’s most stable institutions, thereby creating havoc with the upcoming presidential vote, the rock-bottom basis of democracy itself.
The vote is obviously important to Trump for the simple reason that he likes to win. Gutting the Postal Service is merely a tool for achieving that end. Slashing the Census mandate is a red-meat biscuit he can throw to the loyal base that admires him for getting things done, a virtue apparently isolated from the feat aaccomplished.
Both the Postal Serivice and the Census Bureau are part of the “deep state” that Trump vilifies to wild cat-calls from his base. Actually, they along with other governmental structures developed for over 200 years according to Constitutional guidelines, are the fromework of a democracy that is the envy of the world.
True enough, they are run by cumbersome bureaucracies that need to be streamlined and modernized to a digital world. That, however, is a renovation job, not one of demolition, particularly not by illegal or unprincipled measures
America is a land of immigrants who refresh the population and keep in check the in-bred opportunists out to sap America’s energy for small, personal profit. Currently, America has about 13 million immigrants who are undocumented. Nevertheless, they are residents to be counted according to the Constitution.
Residents of America even without documents are those who live here, work here, have families, pay taxes and are law-abiding persons or else they wouldn’t still be here. They are a vital part of America’s population, affecting federal funding of regional programs and representation of communities in the US House of Representatives.
Improving the path of citizenship is a complicated job for a government that is up to the task as long as it is nudged along by a leader instead of being threatened with dissolution. America will surmount its romp with renegade showman Trump as long as its basic institutions remain intact.
Of all those awesomely constructed institutions, among the most concretely tangible to Americans at large are the vote, the Postal Service and teh Decennial Censuss conducted every 10 years. Support for all three can be voiced by an array of mediums that still rely on the basics to be all inclusive.