Donald Trump is putting more effort into undermining democracy in the United States than he has trying to mitigate the domestic COVID-19 pandemic. But Trump’s recent and vociferous opposition to Democratic lawmakers’ request for a $25bn aid package for the United States Postal Service is more just evil — it’s self-sabotage.
The gist of Trump’s mastermind plan here is to overwhelm an underfunded USPS to functionally disenfranchise voters. Those most affected by this would likely be people who heavily rely on the USPS due to their limited mobility, those who are itinerate, and those who are in substantially rural parts of the country. Have you noticed the self-sabotage part yet? Trump does well with older voters (who tend to have limited mobility) and rural voters. Assuming these voters are the ones whose votes stand at greatest risk of being left uncounted, Trump doesn’t appear to be doing himself any favors.
By contrast, younger voters tend to oppose Trump and tend to, at least anecdotally, seem more apt to go outside and brave the risks of the pandemic. Younger voters at least seem to be particularly energized to boot Trump from office. Assuming the inertia doesn’t wane by November, Trump should be concerned about his job security.
I concede that my assessment here is limited in scope and goes by reckoning rather than any strong data, but it’s worth more than a brief thought — especially for Trump. Nothing I’ve said should diminish the concerns we have for Trump’s blatant attempts to stifle democracy, nor should the considerations I’ve raised be used as justification to abandon the fight for expanded voting accessibility, however it begs asking: can Trump realistically continue his opposition to the Democrats’ USPS spending bill? I think the answer is no. I think he’s going to back down.
Demographic considerations aside, if we just look at the scope of potential functional disenfranchisement of voters due to the USPS’s logistical limitations, it seems more than likely that states — governors, representatives, and senators in particular — would demand compromise. This goes for leadership from both political parties. Think about it: elected officials rely on voter data to tailor their campaigns as well as possible to win. If they can’t rely on these data, they’re going into the election flying at least somewhat blind. These officials won’t stand for that, even Republicans. They won’t take the risk of self-sacrifice with a grain of salt.
Let’s see how far Trump is willing to take this game of chicken. My guess is not very far, but if he let’s this go all the way to November, he’s mistaken to think it would be clear a windfall for him.