Politics & Elections: The ‘Magic’ that Is the Post Office

An immigrant marvels at an American institution most of us take for granted. And agricultural issues get “trumped” – so far – in the presidential campaign.

voting_button_final-01There’s one big national institution that is vital for rural America’s success — but will never become part of this year’s presidential debate.

We’re talking about the U.S. Postal Service, that oft-maligned and neglected institution that brings us all together. We read Save The Post Office often to see the latest ways the federal government is neglecting this American institution. But just the other day we read an article in the New York Times that reminded us how vital the Postal Service is to the country and especially to rural communities.

“I was transported recently to a place that is as enchanting to me as any winter wonderland: my local post office.” So begins an essay by Zeynep Tufekci, an immigrant from Turkey who is enthralled by the “magic of reliable mail service.”

When Tufekci came to the U.S., she never dreamed there would be a place like the post office. My goodness, she discovered, a person comes to every house in the country every working day to pick up and deliver stuff. She even learned to trust the mail with her passport.

“I told my friends in Turkey about all this,” Tufekci wrote. “They shook their heads in disbelief, wondering how easily I had been recruited as a CIA agent, saying implausibly flattering things about my new country.”

(She felt the same way about libraries, those big buildings that lend you a book, again for nothing.)

Tufekci soon came to see the connection between prosperity and “infrastructure” like the post office. These are the “least-appreciated part of what makes a country strong…”

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Count on High Country News to give a reasonable accounting of the Oregon dustup. Read it here.

An occupier walks along a road at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, Jan. 5, 2016. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters.
An occupier walks along a road at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, Jan. 5, 2016. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters.

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Marshall Matz at Agri-Pulse has provided an easy-as-pie rundown of the positions taken by presidential candidates on issues affecting agriculture.

Matz notes wryly that agriculture as campaign issue has been “trumped (literally) by high-profile controversies” such as immigration and national security. He quotes Iowa State political scientist Mack Shelley as saying,  “Right now, even in Iowa, agriculture issues are not at the top of the list.”

Matz contends that the campaign will get more issue oriented after the national conventions in the summer. The two remaining candidates will need to win some states where ag is important, and that will force them to address farm questions.

Meanwhile, Matz runs through the various stands taken by the candidates. Jeb Bush supports crop insurance. Governor Chris Christie signed a law in 2015 allowing 16 year-olds in New Jersey to get special agriculture drivers license, allowing them to operate farm equipment. Texas Senator Ted Cruz was named the “anti-farmer candidate” by the American Sugar Alliance for voting against the 2014 Farm Bill and for calling for the elimination of the Renewable Fuel Standard for ethanol.

Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rand Paul all voted against the 2014 Farm Bill.

Donald Trump has been attacking Cruz for his stand on ethanol. He said: “With the ethanol, really, he’s got to come a long way, ’cause right now he’s for the oil,” Trump said “But I understand it, oil pays him a lot of money. He’s got to be for oil, right?”  Trump then continued, “But I’m with you. I’m self-funding. I have no oil company. I have no special interest.”

Hillary Clinton voted for the Renewable Fuel Standard and has produced a rural plan.

Matz says Clinton has “produced the most detailed and comprehensive agriculture program” among the candidates.

Matz writes there are several swing states that have large urban populations, but where “farm counties…can make a major difference.” He thinks Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, and Colorado will be states where candidates will have to focus on rural communities.

Bill Bishop is a Daily Yonder contributing editor.

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