What’s going on with the U.S. Postal Service?


If you haven’t been paying attention, it’s a good time to start. This article from USA Today lays out the issues, but they’re easy enough to sketch. A top donor to President Trump, Louis DeJoy, was installed as postmaster general this month. At precisely the same time the president decided to attack voting by mail, DeJoy instituted a wide range of "reforms" that have led to unprecedented delays to mail delivery.


This has shocking implications for the fall elections. If ballots aren’t delivered on time — to or from voters — then Trump’s dire predictions about election chaos could indeed come to pass. And with a crony in charge of an American institution, it’s all too easy to imagine dire outcomes.


The postal service is an incredible accomplishment. It’s an institution that Americans should be proud of. And while anyone can mail nearly anyone else in the country a letter or package for a tiny sum, the post office still makes real money. Indeed, without a nonsensical benefit funding requirement pushed through Congress in 2006, it would be making a modest yearly profit.


But that accomplishment now faces twin forces of destruction: ideologues who see an opportunity to privatize a public good and sell off the pieces for scrap and a president consumed with hatred of Amazon.com and fear of losing re-election.


In other words, the post office faces a financial crisis caused by misguided legislation. A new leader undermines the service by institution draconian service cuts. Meanwhile, all of those who depend on the post office — customers, businesses, you name it — are left to pick up the pieces.


This is wrong, and it must stop.


When Congress passes its latest COVID-19 relief bill, it must include new funding for the post office, along with guarantees that service will not be limited or reduced for this fall’s elections. It must make plain to the president and DeJoy that voters will not stand for the degradation of a public good for partisan political ends.


If Donald Trump wants to win re-election, he should earn it honestly and not by undermining the civic infrastructure that made this country great. For everyone in Kansas, a state with large rural areas that depend on U.S. mail for basic necessities, this should be especially galling.