Growing up, I was fascinated by the “Dead Letter Office,” the room in the Post Office where undeliverable mail went; letters and packages without decipherable addresses and with no return address.
I remember hearing about it and its stranded, homeless contents — and feeling sadness for all the disappointment and frustration it represented: a grandmother’s birthday card, a passionate love letter from a long-distance relationship, last-minute cash to avoid impending eviction, a good little child’s Christmas present from Santa — all lost in transit. I grieved for the interrupted connections because I knew that they represented so many unexpressed emotions, so much unresolved waiting, so many changed plans, and so many disappointed people.
Imagine participating in the most important, monumental, and profoundly patriotic act of American citizenship, and essentially having your voice and your will purposefully tossed into the Dead Letter Office by the very person charged with stewarding them? This is where we are now: all of us losing another of our fundamental freedoms right in front of our eyes and with no help from those whose deepest burden should be our defense.
Tens of millions of millions of Americans traditionally vote by mail, and with the nation still deeply in the throes of this pandemic, the numbers are certain to be ones we haven’t witnessed in our lifetime — which makes Donald Trump’s relentless attempts to derail the mail-in voting process on which so much of this country relies by intentionally crippling the U.S. Postal Service — such a traitorous disgrace. And it’s one that Republicans should be fully sickened by as well, if they love this country and respect its traditions and defend its Constitution and seek its greatness as much as their social media profiles and campaign speeches and bumper stickers claim.
Donald Trump’s open assault on the U.S. Postal Service is not just an attack on Democratic voters, it is a brazen act of violence against this nation as an entity; a transparent and selfish destruction of one of our most long-standing and revered national treasures, with no sense of responsibility or accountability. It is the latest in a seemingly endless parade of short-sighted, ill-informed, desperate attempts to retain a position he has never been qualified for or deserving of. Never in our history has a sitting President shown such open contempt for the will of the people, and none of us should abide it.
There is little evidence that mail-in voting highly favors a political party, but that shouldn’t matter to those of us who call this nation home, no matter how we vote or what our affiliations are. There should be non-partisan outrage when the very liberties our forebears have worked for, sacrificed for, bled for, and died for are assailed in the manner in which they are right now. There should not be the deafening Republican silence in Congress and the averted eyes of Conservative voters that we are experiencing, because this is an inherently and fully American tragedy. It makes us less sovereign, less secure, and more vulnerable than we have ever been — and that should sicken us, whether Blue or Red or Purple in our policy preferences.
We parents tell our children their voices matter and to use them wisely and boldly; to never allow someone to speak for them and never to be silent in the face of injustice. How can we explain allowing any voices to be silenced? As a nation, we hold the one voice-one vote reality up as one of the clearest testaments to our imagined greatness, and it is deeply embedded in the songs and the anthems and the story we tell ourselves about this place. How can we sing those songs and tell those stories if we do nothing?
The very cornerstone of America is the participatory power of being present and heard, no matter who you are or where you live or what your preferences are. If we lose that – and we are in great danger of it – we allow ourselves to be irreparably harmed, robbed of the intrinsic value of the disparate people who reside here. We cannot let America become Trump’s Dead Letter Office, because that is the slippery slope into the sun setting on Democracy as we recognize it. America is worth more than one fragile, amoral, man’s ego. We have to defend the US Postal Service, because doing so is defending this nation.
Every American should be counted. Every American should be heard. Every American should defend America.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com