Public Shows Strong Support for Postal Service

May 20, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

In an annual survey from Pew Research Center, the Postal Service was again the highest rated federal agency, with over 91 percent of those surveyed viewing the Postal Service favorably.

The rating is an increase from previous years and vastly outstrips any other federal agency. The poll showed that party affiliation was not a factor in satisfaction with the people’s Post Office – 91 percent of Democrats and Republicans alike viewed the Postal Service favorably.

“As a citizen it makes me angry to allow a great piece of federal infrastructure to crumble out of neglect,” Kelly Corcoran, a record store owner in Lawrence, KS who relies on the USPS to ship vinyl records, told the Kansas City Star. “I can’t think of a more popular federal thing.”

#SavethePostOffice Goes Viral After Financial Crisis Announced

In response to the dire financial crisis facing the USPS, members of the public around the country have shown their strong support for the public Postal Service and postal workers, writing opinion-editorials, letters to the editor, and sharing their stories. Support has come from a wide range of people across the country, from the editorial board of the Boston Globe to those living in small communities in Missouri, showing the importance of the Postal Service’s universal service to everyone, no matter where they live.

After Postmaster General Megan Brennan reported the Postal Service would run out of money by the end of this summer, the public started grassroots efforts to save it. So many people went to the to purchase stamps that the website went down for a bit. The hashtags #SavethePostOffice and #SavetheUSPS were on Twitter's “Trending” list. Communities spoke out in mass.

“The Difference Between Life and Death”

For rural communities, the Postal Service is a lifeline, delivering medicine, Social Security checks, and providing a low-cost service for small businesses to ship goods. In an article for the Kansas City Star, journalist Bryan Lowry interviewed members of rural communities in Missouri and Kansas, who explained how their lives would be affected were the Postal Service to stop functioning.

“Let’s say they cut down on days of service, what happens when you run out of medication and the medication doesn’t show up? That could be the difference between life and death,” said Jack Bainbridge, 70, of Odessa, MO.

The New York Times editorial board also expressed support for the lifesaving role the USPS plays during the coronavirus pandemic: “The Postal Service cannot be allowed to crumble in the midst of a national emergency,” the board wrote. “As this pandemic rages, its 600,000- plus employees are working to ensure that Americans receive their prescriptions and protective equipment and other essential items, no matter where they live.”

Defending the Universal Service Mandate

Much of the public support for the Postal Service has centered on the universal service mandate that has allowed businesses to function and people across the country to stay connected.

“Rural America (Trump’s base) would really be in a bad way if the USPS shut down, as other private delivery services refuse to go where the USPS does… Prescriptions, Social Security checks and many other necessities would be gone,” wrote Joe Lucas in a letter to the editor to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Here’s to all USPS workers still out there every day helping this country keep running.”

The editorial board of Racine, WI’s Journal-Times argued that the universal service mandate is a vital line of communication during the pandemic. “For less than the cost of a candy bar, you – or your grandmother who doesn’t use email – can mail a letter from Key West to Utqiagvik, Alaska. Those two American cities are 4,283 miles apart,” the board wrote. “You don’t need a particular cruise line or airline to remain in business. But you do need the Postal Service.”

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