If Donald Trump’s private polls showed that he was ahead of Joe Biden today and would likely win the election in November, would he be warning of delays in delivery of absentee ballots? Would he talk of voting fraud as casually as ordering his breakfast? Would he warn governors that voting chaos was coming? He would not. To believe his above-the -fray pose is to believe in the tooth fairy.
With his bizarre need to cast doubt on the legitimacy of our election, he has made “voter fraud” his national bumper sticker. I suspect he shouts, “voter fraud” more often to the First Lady than he whispers, “I love you.” In his lifetime (which seems like an eternity), there have been no more than a handful of proven cases of ballot fraud, and absolutely none that affected who won or who lost. That is clear and obvious, and beyond denial, except to Donald Trump and his enablers and handmaidens.
Nothing is more vital to our democracy than guarding the integrity of our elections, a distinction of free and democratic nations. That has never been a partisan matter and should not be. In all our yesterdays, no losing presidential candidate questioned the result. John McCain never alleged that fraud kept him from winning. George Bush did not. Al Gore did not, despite others believing it might have. Jimmy Carter went silently into the night when he lost to Ronald Reagan. Mitt Romney did not need a teleprompter to acknowledge defeat.
Losers are certainly crushed by their public repudiation, but they have not been personally vindictive, or deniers of electoral reality. Their dreams of glory gone, they may weep in private, but they behave with dignity and grace in public.
That is the American way. We seek victory honorably and we accept defeat graciously. That is what distinguishes us from a banana republic and their presidents-for-life. That is the real patriotism that makes America great, not again, but still.
We shrug when Donald Trump calls Joe Biden “Sleepy Joe” or Sen. Harris “nasty.” That is his pattern. But the 600,000 Americans who don’t just work for the Postal Service, but serve our country are not part of a “joke.” Together, they handled 142 billion (not million. BILLION) pieces of mail last year. A joke? President Donald Trump’s leadership style is stamping his feet. He special delivers venom and announces proudly that he does not waste time reading. Nothing comes to the White House “Book Rate.”
And here in Iowa, there are 7,000 postal employees. They are our neighbors. They go to church with the rest of us. Their kids play with ours and speak courteously to their elders.
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Now, with presidential inspiration, they can go home and ask, “Grandpa, are you really a joke? The president says so.” What is true in a national election is true in state and local ones, as well. It is impossible to name a single mayor who lost an election and is in office today. Big city or small town, Iowa or California, votes count whether done at the polls or are mailed in.
If there is an emergency coming, what should the president and his toady Postmaster General do? Instead of selectively removing mailboxes and grabbing machinery, they should ask the career civil servants at the Postal Service, “What do you need to make the election as perfect as possible in these difficult times?” Is it temporary employees you need? Hire them. Do you need present employees to work overtime? Authorize it. Do you need gas for the trucks? Buy it.”
And then he could restore some decency to the presidency by saying, “I will stop blocking the money you need and that’s no joke.”
This is not a partisan matter. It is simpler than that. No one who has ever mailed a letter or received one should vote for Donald Trump.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary, and authored a memoir “From Nowhere to Somewhere.”