The US Postal Service and the Desperate Quid Pro Quo


My parents took voting so seriously that their actions are etched in memory.

When I was little, and before we moved overseas, my mother took me with her to the voting booth in our home town.

I realized why, once I had my own daughters.

Kids remember actions better than words.

So I looked forward to the day when I could show my children what happens in a voting booth.

My mother told us that, as citizens of the US, voting was a privilege, and that we needed to honor the liberty.

Not everyone can vote, she said.

We discovered that fact living in the Middle East, in country without elections.

My parents voted absentee overseas—by mail—for nearly three decades, and they made sure we knew they felt it was imperative.

I wondered if my mother’s values sprang from her Native American roots.

American Indians were shunned from voting, even when some tribal people gained the right to vote, not all Indians were accorded voting rights equally.

Many states found ways to block tribal people from voting.

While suppression of voting isn’t new, blocking any citizen from the opportunity to vote rocks the core of our republic.

I am ashamed to discover today’s government leaders—some of them—are actively preventing American citizens from voting.

The head of the US Postal Service (USPS), Louis DeJoy, was appointed to lead the agency in June this year.

The appointment was made by the Board of Governors of USPS.

Who are the “governors” and who appoints them?

All of the six “governors” were appointed by the current president, according to the USPS website. Their appointments are confirmed by the Senate.

DeJoy is an ardent supporter of the president, and “donated $1.2 million to [the president’s] campaign coffers and nearly $1.3 million to the Republican Party,” according to the New York Times.

Such an appointment offers a stellar example of the Latin phrase quid pro quo, which means “this for that.”

The Times reports that after DeJoy took the reins, postal workers’ overtime pay was eliminated which “slowed the delivery of mail and endangered vote-by-mail operations.”

The Times also reports that mail-sorting machines—which speed the system—were removed in some locations as part of the USPS reorganization.

“Since his appointment,” The Times notes, “DeJoy has put in place cost-cutting measures that he says are intended to overhaul an agency.”

But the measures appear to be a favor—quid pro quo—to those interested in creating roadblocks for absentee and mail-in voting, which would be heavily impacted by reducing manpower and efficiency at post offices across the country.

Does vote-by-mail favor one political party over another?

Social scientists aren’t sure, because we lack a true test case to study the question.

But one study presented at the National Academy of Sciences and published in June, reports that vote-by-mail yield similar results to in-person voting.

As a parent, a US citizen, a descendent of Native Americans and a voter, I am alarmed to learn some members of our own government are busy sabotaging our opportunities to vote.

Voting should be sacrosanct: free from any shred of intervention.



Sunday, 17 August 2020

Photo credit unavailable of mail carrier

With acknowledgement and gratitude to the Native peoples on whose land I live, write and teach: the Multnomah, the Clackamas, and the denizens of all Indigenous nations

















About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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1 Response to The US Postal Service and the Desperate Quid Pro Quo

  1. Judy Dorn says:

    How can Native Americans be not in favor of President Trump. He recently signed 3 bills to benefit Native Americans. One gives compensation to the Spokane tribe for loss of their lands in mid 1900s, one funds Native Language programs, and the third gives federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians the n Montana. I would think this should make every Native American happy. You don’t hear about this


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