When pressed on which election concern keeps him up at night, former President Barack Obama quickly identified the Trump administration’s attack on the postal service.
“What we’ve never seen before is a President say ‘I’m gonna actively kneecap the postal service to discourage voting, and I’m gonna be explicit about the reason I’m doing it,'” Obama told his former campaign manager David Plouffe on the latter’s podcast “Campaign HQ.”
Trump said Thursday on the Fox Business Network that his animus towards mail-in voting is directly connected to his refusal to make a deal on a COVID-19 relief package with Democrats, which would include critical funding for the USPS.
“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.”
On the podcast, Obama gave ample praise to an attempt by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to funnel billions into the USPS via the HEROES Act that the House passed in May. Senate Republicans have refused to vote on it, and failed to coalesce behind any counter-legislation.
“The question is not what the Democrats should be doing, it’s what are the Republicans doing that you are so scared of people voting that you are now willing to undermine the basic infrastructure of American life,” Obama said. “It’s the equivalent of saying we’re not gonna repair highways because people might drive to the polling places — so we’ll just let massive sinkholes in the middle of the interstate linger because people may use those roads to vote.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday that the USPS warned election officials in Pennsylvania that ballots, even those cast within state deadlines, may not be turned around fast enough to be counted.
As of Friday, the USPS’ internal investigator is getting involved to probe controversial new policy changes and the behavior of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, formerly a Republican mega-donor.
“Democracy is messy and conflict is inevitable,” Obama said. “But there have to be some boundaries that we don’t cross, some basic shared assumptions that bind us together. One of those is that we don’t actively hurt people or undermine key parts of our lives just for partisan advantage.”