Amid outcry over Republican efforts to wreck the U.S. Postal System, scientist/science-fiction author David Brin -- author of the popular novel “The Postman” -- offers a few tools and perspectives. Some of these may be of use to those fighting to save America. See also this Monday's interview in Entertainment Weekly about that prescient novel’s pertinence to these troubled times... and the rise of neo-feudalism that it predicted, along with deliberate efforts by enemies of our Great Experiment to burn down our one American institution that predates even the Revolution.
The Postman speaks:
Save the Post Office!
Accelerating their decades-long assault against nearly all of our national institutions, the Republican Party has proved especially bent on undermining the United States Postal Service, saddling it with burdens faced by no private or public entity. In the name of ‘efficiency,’ they cripple a service that poor and rural and elderly Americans utterly rely upon, and one that was breaking even, before they interfered! Now we see Donald Trump waging open war against America’s oldest agency, the one pre-dating even the Revolution.
Lately, folks have messaged: “Well, Mr. ‘Postman’? What shall we do about it?”
As just another fretful citizen, I can’t lecture or prescribe. But when I wrote The Postman back in the 1980s, I saw deep-running strains in our national psyche might someday tear us apart, especially if hard pressed by war, disease and civil strife. Kevin Costner’s 1997 movie simplified a lot - and had some flaws - but was visually gorgeous and hugely big-hearted, keeping faith with the book’s core idea, that citizens -- and only citizens -- can build a civilization. And one way we do this is through institutions that we and our ancestors built, to knit us all together. (A hilarious Colbert meme: "Apologize to Costner for The Postman!")
So let’s talk about what we can do about this crisis, to prevent the very chilling nightmare that The Postman predicted with (alas!) such eerie prescience.
FIRST OFF do this now!
Move On has announced a national day of protest, Saturday, August 22nd, at your local post office at 11 am (local time). Sign up at savethepostoffice.net and follow #SaveThePostOffice for future updates.
SECOND here’s a list of other projects and events getting up to speed online and in your communities. Do this much!
THIRD HERE IS THE MOST HANDY GENERAL GUIDE to each state's voting rules and how to use the method that's easiest and safest for you. This can in most states include EARLY VOTING which can bypass every problem with the mail-ballots and deny power for every Trumpist cheat or excuse. (Another voting resource site.)
And yes, I’ll come back with more items, further down, both near and long term. Stay with me.
The NEW cover for The Postman, by artist Patrick Farley, already live on Kindle and for POD next week!
IN THE NEWS!
- House Oversight Committee calls Postmaster General DeJoy to testify on August 24th (almost a month earlier than originally scheduled).
- Admiral William McRaven (ret.) former Chancellor of the University of Texas, published an op-ed in the Washington Post praising the Postman story and film, citing its uncanny prescience toward today’s trends and its message of shared citizenship, linked together by institutions we all support.
- The House aims to pass a $25 billion supplement to safeguard to election, especially vote-counting and the safe-effective delivery of ballots.
MORE TO DO!
FOURTH: Spread the notion we should all delay sending or receiving mail for the 2 weeks before the election, in order to let USPS clear their decks for delivering ballots! Do not mail anything unnecessarily. Encourage companies to slow mail use and make clear that sending in that time frame will be deemed a political act. One of you even said: “Tell companies if you get mail from them those 2 weeks you will boycott!”
FIFTH: As it happens, Donald Trump has limited presidential authority over the USPS! Much of the power is vested in a Board of Governors who can be appealed to, directly. You can join thousands of fellow citizens who are writing to these individuals, as we speak.
- Robert Duncan, chairman, also the CEO of Inez Deposit Bank: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ron Bloom, Chairman Brookfield Asset Management: email@example.com
- Roman Martinez IV, board member NY Presbyterian Church, GreenPoint Financial Corp, and Cigna Corp: firstname.lastname@example.org
- John Barger, formerly of Deutsche Bank, works at Paragon Capital Partners: email@example.com
- Donald Moak, founder and CEO of The Moak Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
- William D. Zollars,Investor Proligis and Cigna Corp: DirectorAccessMailbox@cigna.com
Movie poster (middle), an older book cover (right), and a draft Patrick Farley cover that's especially topical for our time.
What Will They Do to Destroy the Mail?
Oh, these proto-Holnist traitors can be feral and clever. Here are some ways they have already -- or plan to -- sabotage our nation’s oldest institution.
- Don’t allow overtime (done)
- Remove extra mailboxes (started; incomplete)
- Remove critical equipment (done)
- Remove ballot bulk mail postage discount (done)
- Reduce funding
- Refuse to deliver if no/insufficient postage
- Change filters on automated sorting to reject more mail
- Demand postal workers take unused leave at critical times
- Misprint ballots so auto-processing fails
- Shut down critical sorting warehouses in key areas
- Companies currying GOP favor will send a lot of mail during the 2 weeks that mail-in ballots are flooding the system, causing jams
- Use mercenaries and ‘holnist’ barbarians to terrorize voters, sabotage mailboxes and vehicles and workers, sow chaos and provide excuses for ‘martial law.’
- Don’t put anything past them. They are in effect Holnists.
- Encourage folks voting by mail to take dated selfies of themselves dropping their own ballots in the PO box in front of their Post Office. If word spread about this trend, it might deter some kinds of cheating.
- Watch out for new or dummy Postal boxes set up in Democratic leaning areas! If you see a new one that wasn’t there before October, report it! Perhaps it’s official… or else maybe a trap-lure.
- Make and distribute stickers to slap on the backside of mailboxes saying “Protected by neighborhood watch cameras! We will see if you harm this box or the mail!”
- Are you rich? Consider funding a whistleblower or Henchman’s Prize. No conspiracy or dark plot can get anywhere without underlings to carry it out, and nothing devastates such schemes more than a truth-spiller, perhaps encouraged by the rewards and protection that money can buy.
LONGER RANGE GOALS:
Elsewhere I’ve published lists of desirable aims that we might achieve, if power comes back to the majority who believe in citizenship, equality, democracy, science and an end to cheating. Many of them are detailed in my book of unconventional political tactics -- Polemical Judo -- (chapters available for free download!)
A simpler list can be found here. A few items are highly relevant to the USPS crisis. For example:
- Restore the longstanding tradition of Post Office Bank accounts: In Europe, Japan and many other countries, these offer the poor a set of basic services like checking accounts, ATMs, and the ability to slowly build credit. Eliminated by both parties in the 1960s, restoring these simple, baseline accounts would offer the unbanked an escape from the trap of check-cashing services and other parasites. The PO Bank could also now offer basics like email addresses and assistance getting connected to broadband.
- Study the successful e-citizenship methods pioneered by Estonia (also called e-Stonia) that have expanded yet simplified so many processes like filling out your taxes or voting… and doing it so securely that their giant, despotic and conniving neighbor has been unable to do much damage, despite relentless efforts. Especially pertinent in these science fictional times of pandemic.
- Memes you could spread:
- Grandma can’t send your birthday money
- Seniors & Vets who served their country can’t get their medicine
- In the time of COVID19, when everything goes by mail, mail is slowed down
- Seniors can’t get social security checks
- Christmas is under attack!
- The USPS employs more veterans than any five other employers
PLUS A FEW SELF-SERVING RECOMMENDATIONS!
- Ask for The Postman movie to be promoted on your favorite streaming service… perhaps along with a ‘Go vote!” speech by Costner? Or write asking for The Postman book to be promoted on Amazon!
- Better yet… buy copies of a certain novel and hand them out, like candy!
- And while on the topic of sci fi and pandemics… Some of my past sci fi has been more pertinent than I’d want! My Hugo-nominated story “The Giving Plague” deals with our complex relationships with viruses and such, including the several paths a parasite can go down, in “negotiating” with us hosts. Get it free.
FUTURE COMMEMORATIVE STAMPS we hope not to see:
And this sadly ironic piece of whimsy…