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Counter Points is written by WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson. In it, he shares insights on political news on the local, state and national level that impacts the 2020 election. Counter Points is delivered once a week on Wednesdays and will cease publication soon after the November election is decided.

Commentary: Why Trump Wants To Treat The USPS Like A Piece Of Junk Mail

Lynne Sladky

I've never been one who frequently buys into conspiracy theories to explain away things about the world which bother me.

I certainly don't like to manufacture conspiracy theories of my own out of whole cloth.

But the president of the United States does both, on a weekly – if not daily – basis.

Case in point: His "sore winner" theory, advanced after the 2016 presidential election, that he was the victim of massive voter fraud – claiming literally millions of votes stolen for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

It was all meant to explain away why he lost the popular vote to Clinton by about three million votes, despite the fact that what really counts is the Electoral College vote, and he won that with room to spare.

But in his ego-driven, take-no-prisoners brain, he had to explain why he was not the popular vote winner, too. So, he came up with an entirely bogus conspiracy theory that had evil people out there manufacturing millions of fraudulent ballots for Hillary Clinton.

It was all nonsense, and even the "task force" he put together to investigate voter fraud had to abandon its mission because there was nothing of substance to investigate.

That was then. This is now.

Now is when I dip my toe into the conspiratorial waters for a bit. All because of how Donald Trump has been trashing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) as of late and seemingly threatening everything possible to bankrupt the system.

The USPS delivers all sorts of things, from your mother's birthday card to Amazon packages to U.S. Census forms and prescription drugs to people in remote rural parts of the country where they don't have easy access to pharmacies.

And, oh yes – did I mention the USPS delivers millions of absentee ballots forms all over the country?

We know that Trump believes absentee voting is a total fraud, designed to steal the November election away from him, an election he believes is rightfully his because he is such a stable genius.

That is when he is not mulling over the possibility of people ingesting disinfectants like Lysol or Clorox when they are suffering from the COVID-19 virus or suggesting that windmills cause cancer.

He's made it very plain: absentee ballots are the devil's tool – even though that is how he voted in the recent Florida primary.

His vivid imagination pictures, as he said recently, "thousands of people sitting in someone's living room, signing ballots … I think mail-in voting is a terrible thing."

Now if you were Donald Trump, which you most decidedly are not, and you wanted to kill off absentee voting by mail, which you believe hurts your chances for re-election, what do you do?

You try to kill the messenger.

In this case, the messenger is the USPS, which delivers the bulk of the mail-in ballots to boards of elections in Ohio – and in some key battleground states such as Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

It is not so hard to do in the economic turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic. The USPS is one of thousands of entities trying to stay afloat in tough times.

Trump doesn't want Congress to pass emergency funding for the USPS.

"The postal service is a joke because they're handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies," Trump said recently. "And every time they bring a package, they are losing money on it."

(An assertion that the U.S. Treasury Department looked at and says is not true.)

More Trump on the USPS:

"They should raise prices by four or five times – that's what it should be – or let Amazon build its own post office, which would be an impossible thing to do, because the post office is massive and serves every little piece of the country,'' Trump said.

And then, presumably, the USPS can go to a corner to curl up and die.

Trump's opponents are fighting back.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights – a coalition of about 150 progressive organizations interested in protecting voters rights – is busy lobbying Congress to provide the states with $4 billion so the states can have both early voting by mail and Election Day in-person voting.

So far, they’ve only managed to convince Congress to cut loose $400,000 for the states, but the coalition is pressing on.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party leaders are watching Trump warily, fearing that he wants to play games with the November election.

Very unpleasant games, from their point of view.

"Somebody clearly got to Trump and convinced him that absentee ballots put his re-election at risk,'' said David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "Trump either wants to stop absentee voting or de-legitimize it in the minds of the voters.

"He can't move the date of the election – only Congress can do that," Pepper said. "Short of that, there is nothing this guy would not do to cling to power."

The problem in Ohio for Trump, Pepper said, is that the three highest-ranking GOP officeholders – Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, are on record as supporters of absentee balloting. "And I don’t think he can move them," he said.

Ultimately, Trump will simply box himself into a corner over a bogus wave of absentee voter fraud and live with the results.

In the meantime, don't expect the USPS to issue a commemorative stamp depicting Donald J. Trump anytime soon.

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Credit Jim Nolan / WVXU

  Read more "Politically Speaking" here.


Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.