WASHINGTON —Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando has added his voice to those of other union leaders warning about the right-wing threat to democracy.
In his column in the latest edition of the Postal Record, published on the eve of the union’s convention in Chicago in mid-August, Rolando adds the threat means everyone must be increasingly vigilant, speak and act against the wide range of democracy-destroying actions they see—up to and including voting and ensuring their votes count, are honored and obeyed.
“Among all the other important issues to be considered in the 2022 midterms, democracy itself is also on the ballot,” Rolando declared.
Rolando’s comments came just after the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 Trumpite invasion and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol—an invasion “practically on our doorstep” of NALC headquarters–wound up its latest set of hearings on former Oval Office occupant Donald Trump’s attempted coup d’etat.
The hearings showed a seven-layered plan by Trump and his minions, with the invasion as the last layer, designed to overthrow the Constitution. But Rolando said the threat goes beyond Trump, and that this fall’s elections are particularly important in deterring it.
“Something much bigger than postal policy and budget politics is at stake,” he began. “I feel like the health and future stability of our democracy is on the line as well.”
The hearings show “just how close we came to losing our democracy last year. The lack of a peaceful transfer of power, the hallmark of American democracy since the Civil War, is bad enough. But to learn from testimony from bipartisan witnesses that there were multiple and overlapping attempts to reverse the results of a free and fair election is disturbing.
“It is alarming there are those who still believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen –contrary to all the evidence from bipartisan officials directly involved with the elections.”
“Some unprincipled politicians in our country seem content to undermine democracy—by making election administration a partisan issue. We can’t allow that to happen,” he said later in the column.
Rolando didn’t name names. He didn’t have to. All but a few congressional Republicans—and Republicans who are winning party primaries this year—swear fealty to Trump’s “stolen election” mantra and lies and use those to justify various forms of voter repression.
“Letter Carriers, and everyone else can differ based on personal and partisan interests, but all “must embrace the shared values and core concepts of our republic—the equality of all citizens, liberty for all, the rule of law, and a government of the people.”
Rolando cited yet another threat the hearings did not cover, but which has been building for decades, thanks to—among other history—government lies about the Indochina War, Watergate, fractured or worse race relations and general realization that partisan warfare paralyzes the federal government in general and Congress in particular. The result is lack of trust.
Though Rolando didn’t say so, all that paves the way for such demagoguery to take hold: A “record low” in public trust in institutions, including the presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court. “This is not a good sign for our democracy.”
And “since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, state legislatures… have been enacting laws to make it more difficult for their people to vote. In 2021 alone, 34 laws to restrict voting rights were passed in 19 states,” he explained.
“Viewed in this broader context, these anti-democratic trends should be a wake-up call. Democracy is not guaranteed. Even in the United States, where we are proud to be the world’s longest-lasting democracy, it can fail if not tended to.
“No matter whom we vote for or why, it is essential we recommit ourselves to democracy by participating in it,” Rolando urged against apathy and cynicism. Voter registra-tion, self-education onissues and voting itself “are essential, but the process is just as impor-tant as the results.” Corruption and interruption of process endangers democracy, he said.
“By voting, we can begin the hard work of restoring confidence in our public institutions —and send a message that we won’t let democracy fail on our watch,” Rolando concluded.
Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.