The very American Postal Service now a partisan pawn, with democracy at stake

When I was a little girl, the youngest of five children in a family with parents who made ends meet while never letting us see them sweat, the U.S. Postal Service was as welcome as Santa during the holidays. While dad was tending bar and waiting tables at parties after he signed off from his 9-to-5, mom picked up shifts at the post office, handling the packages and cards that swamped the system in December.

God bless the Postal Service, an essential piece of America’s history before it was America and included in the U.S. Constitution, which gave Congress the power “to establish post offices and post roads.” Founding father Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general under the Continental Congress, and a young Abraham Lincoln was appointed postmaster of New Salem, Illinois, in 1833.

Though African American postal workers experienced discrimination, they sought work and served despite routine and harsh obstacles. Well into the civil rights era, that federal job could be sustenance for African Americans locked out of corporate America. Among the postal force could be found many civil rights activists, such as John L. LeFlore, a letter carrier in Mobile, Alabama, from 1922 to 1965, and an NAACP organizer who fought for the desegregation of Mobile’s public schools and businesses and for voting and housing rights.

The post office has been a pathway to the middle class for many hardworking families of every race, and has delivered in urban centers and rural outposts without fear or favor, in snow and rain and heat and gloom of night and … you know the rest, to bring mail, medicine and more. Connections forged with letter carriers could be more personal than businesslike.

What’s not to like?

A lot, to listen to some of our country’s leaders, who seem determined to sabotage something that has been integral to the country’s development. This is at a time when the Postal Service could be crucial to the right to vote, which might explain one reason for the controversy — the No. 1 reason, perhaps.

When does partisan gerrymandering cross the line?

OPINION — “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Republican member of the North Carolina general assembly’s redistricting committee. “So, I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”

He added: “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

If that is not quite a smoking gun, it’s definitely toasty to the touch.

Will quotes like that — transparently revealing the politics behind a policy that favors one party — be enough for the Supreme Court to meddle in the political maneuvering of partisan gerrymandering? This week’s hearings take on a North Carolina case and its mirror in Maryland, where Democrats are accused of skewing a district.

If Trump is looking for a national emergency, he should try these ones instead

OPINION — Dueling teleprompter speeches and a high-drama walkout: This is what it looks like when our country’s leaders debate the best way to meet the challenges at the border and whether shutting down the government is the best way to settle it.

If no one budges this week — and the way talks have been going so far, optimism is not particularly warranted — the next step could be a national emergency, declared by the president. But first Donald Trump seems intent on diluting the word “emergency” to mean whatever he wants it to mean on a particular day or hour.

If She Didn’t Give Up on Democracy, Neither Should We

OPINION — If you don’t know Rosanell Eaton’s name, it’s time to learn exactly who she was and why her life and life’s work matters. She is the antidote to the cynicism infecting politics in 2018, a hero of democracy when democracy is under siege. She cared about her country and its highest principles, demanded her basic human and civil rights and brought others along with her.

Rosanell Eaton would not take “no” for an answer.

Her 97 years of life were full of the kind of accomplishments and resistance that truly make America great. We can mourn Eaton, who died on Saturday, and then honor her by following her example.

Opinion: A Not Entirely Unexpected Campaign Roadblock for Women of Color

The women of color who are still standing in an electoral slog that ends in November know their road to continued success will be hard. This is the United States, and the fact that they are still pioneers for getting this far in 2018 is not just news-making but also a little depressing.

It is also true that they can’t always count on the support of some of the same feminists they may have joined — in marches, #MeToo protests and the ballot box.

Opinion: Putin’s Job Is Easy When Americans Do It for Him

Russian president Vladimir Putin easily cruised to a fourth term this past weekend, surprising absolutely no one. The only nail-biters were how many people would head to the polls — always unpredictable when the victor is certain — and how completely Putin would trounce the token opposition. Now, presumably, the newly re-elected leader can turn his attention to meddling in elections in other countries.

Speaking of the United States, while both Democrats and Republicans would prefer a little more predictability in the November midterms, if not Russian-style oversight, it is members of the GOP who seem most nervous about the eventual outcomes, especially in close House races. And while the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was officially disbanded in January, its spirit lingers on in hints from officials that certain votes should count more than others.

Court panel says N.C. voting maps use unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. What’s next?

CHARLOTTE, NC — North Carolina lawmakers are redrawing the state’s Congressional district maps, after judges called the old ones unconstitutional.

They have two weeks to get it done.

A panel of Federal Judges ruled Republicans’ created an unfair advantage when they used race and other partisan factors to create the current maps.

Our political contributor Mary C. Curtis stopped by Rising to offer some perspective.

Debate No. 3 and Donald Trump’s ‘Election Rigging’ Theories

CHARLOTTE, NC — President Obama now addressing Donald Trump’s repeated claims of election rigging and fraud, calling the comments “irresponsible.” That’s expected to be one of the big talkers at the final presidential debate in Las Vegas, with Emmy award-winning journalist Chris Wallace cast as tonight’s moderator. Our political contributor Mary C. Curtis joins us for more.

Will ‘Campaign Trail Obama’ Energize Black Women for Hillary?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In his two successful presidential campaigns, President Barack Obama enjoyed the unequivocal support of black women—even those not named Michelle.

African-American women had the highest voter turnout rate than any other group in 2008 and 2012, and thus an outsized say in the result—and not just by flexing their influence at the ballot box.

Many African-American women did the tough work of registering voters,canvassing neighbors and relatives and making sure not to miss the beauty salons and barbershops, and those supporters included celebrities such as Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, who made the rounds in Charlotte in 2012.

To win in 2016, the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton cannot just rely on the gaffes of her apparent opponent Donald Trump. She needs to energize the Obama electorate, and, while the young people on that list flirted with her primary competition Bernie Sanders and have not historically been the most reliable voters, African-American women have already shown their historical dependability.

For women of LatinaCon, growth in numbers and influence

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With many Republicans running away from even a whisper of immigration reform after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking primary loss in Virginia, it’s been pointed out that such a short-term strategy for winning in 2014 might translate into problems with attracting the Hispanic vote in 2016. But that’s not the GOP’s only obstacle as it struggles to win the support of a growing U.S. demographic.

All you had to do was listen to the gasps that greeted an anecdote shared by keynote speaker Deborah Aguiar-Vélez at LatinaCon, a gathering in Charlotte last weekend of more than 300 committed, engaged Hispanic women — professors, entrepreneurs and community activists. Aguiar-Vélez described how she sent out an exuberant Tweet during a recent meeting in Washington of Latino alumni of Project Interchange, the American Jewish Committee-sponsored program that brings leaders and policy makers to Israel.

Sharing experiences with a group that included fellow Interchange alumna Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor led to Aguiar-Vélez’s optimistic tweet, quoting speaker David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Council. It read: “Latinos & Jews become stronger with each other presence.”

Political provocateur Ann Coulter saw the tweet and retweeted with a message of her own: “Yes, but one’s always the maid.”