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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

2020 ElectionNevada LegislatureNews and information

We Can’t Afford to Dither While Trump Fumes

We told you he’d go there. Yet now that Donald Trump is threatening to “delay” the November election, it’s unclear who’s willing to do anything about it. Here’s why our democracy depends on us caring about the real danger behind Trump’s seemingly farcical Twitter tirade.

Yes, it’s happening here.

Just on Tuesday, we went through the very serious “small d democratic” existential crisis behind the Trump administration’s crackdown on the Portland Black Lives Matter protests. Since then, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) has proclaimed an alleged agreement for the federal “secret police” to leave. Brown has said that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will begin withdrawing troops from Portland tonight, but White House officials are now claiming that withdrawal is still “a matter of if, not when”.

Today, President Donald Trump took it to the next level. In his tweet-storm this morning, he called for delaying the general election. Of course, this came just minutes after the U.S. Labor Department revealed another uptick in weekly jobless claims, and after the U.S. Commerce Department revealed that the nation’s GDP fell 9.5% last quarter.

Certainly, it’s possible that Trump is using this threat to delay the election as another of his “weapons of mass distraction” to change the subject. Yet with that said, we shouldn’t take this threat lightly. 

Yes, they’re already f–king with our mail.

I’ve lost count of how many times I already said this, but apparently more of us need to say it again today: Democracy dies when we neglect it, starve it, and abuse it. For decades, American democracy has been corroding from the inside out. That corrosion led to greater corruption. And despite Trump’s original promise to “drain the swamp”, Trump’s swamp of corruption is fuller now than ever before.

Trump’s swamp of corruption now extends deep into the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), as his hand-picked postmaster general is tearing the Post Office apart from within. Trump’s apparatchiks have already begun the groundwork to change USPS’ shipping rates to weaken its position against more expensive private sector shippers like FedEx and UPS. This might seem “fair” and “free market” at face value, but in reality this threatens small businesses and working-class people who can’t always afford FedEx’s and UPS’ higher prices, and who certainly can’t afford to create their own proprietary shipping systems like Amazon has.

Getting back to the Post Office, USPS has already begun cutting its mail delivery budget, and that has already led to delays in mail deliveries. Considering how more and more voters, especially those voters who will likely choose former Vice President Joe Biden over Donald Trump, plan to vote by mail this fall, Trump may have picked the perfect time to begin “reforming” USPS. If you’re still wondering how Trump can possibly interfere with the election, stop wondering. The answer is right at your mailbox.

Yes, we can and must do something about this. Our very democracy is at stake.
Nevada Legislature
Photo by Andrew Davey

Back in May, the Democratic-run U.S. House passed the HEROES Act, a roughly $3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that just so happens to include a $25 billion lifeline to keep USPS fully functional, which can certainly help ensure safe and reliable voting by mail. But as we’ve been covering on these pages for the last two months, Senate Republican leaders have blocked the HEROES Act and seem to prefer driving the country off this economic cliff rather than taking up the HEROES Act or presenting an actually viable alternative bill.

Since it’s unlikely we’ll see any relief package pass until August at the earliest (if at all before November), states and municipalities may now have to accept the likelihood that they’ll mostly have to work on their own to protect their voters. Moving closer to home, it just so happens that Governor Steve Sisolak (D) and the Nevada Legislature’s leaders are still hammering out the official agenda for the Legislature’s 32nd Special Session that will almost certainly include vote-by-mail expansion for the general election.

Photo provided by the Office of Governor Steve Sisolak

Sisolak stated on Monday that they were planning to begin the special session today, but they’re now pushing that deadline back. Democratic leaders appear to be pushing this deadline back because corporate lobbyists are insisting on a broad liability shield, as these companies and their lobbyists are more worked up over lawsuits like the Culinary Union’s suit against MGM and Caesars than the worker illnesses and deaths that led to Culinary’s lawsuit. The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston has signaled that Democratic leaders are nearing a deal that will include some kind of corporate legal immunity, but workers’ rights advocates are pushing back and calling out Sisolak for taking a hard line on corporate liability that even federal-level Republicans can’t agree on.

As the Nevada Current’s Hugh Jackson deftly notes, corporate legal immunity won’t bring back conventions, and it certainly won’t bring back the many other tourists who are not coming to Nevada simply because COVID-19 is still too virulent here and across the U.S. Yet as long as Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) refuses to give voters the mail-in ballots this fall that she gave (most of) us for the June primary, Nevadans look to Sisolak and the Legislature to take the action needed to prevent an even worse calamity than what some voters experienced in June. While Sisolak and legislative leaders should take the time now to hammer out details on critical issues like election logistics (think: ensuring enough time for ballots to arrive in voters’ hands and funding enough secure ballot drop-off sites in case USPS mail delays worsen) and criminal justice reform, it’s jarring to say the least that American democracy is facing its greatest existential crisis ever… And quite a few of Nevada’s elected officials are too busy arguing over corporate legal immunity to realize how fragile this next election truly is.

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