To justify his threat, Trump claimed the Postal Service has been “mismanaged for years, especially since the advent of the Internet and modern-day technology,” which renders it less worthy of support than an ordinary business. This is a profound misunderstanding of the Postal Service’s DNA.
The Founders intended the Postal Service to be a pillar of the republic, binding together millions of Americans, urban and rural, for the common good. It therefore always had congressional oversight limiting what management can do to make a profit. Rather than being mismanaged, the Postal Service is — and has long been — one of America’s great successes. Instead of privatizing it, we should take inspiration from the Founders and re-envision its mission for the 21st century.
Before 1792, the Postal Service was basically a carbon copy of the imperial post office British colonial administrators had set up decades before the War of Independence. Little more than a chain of offices along the Atlantic seaboard — today known as the “Old Post Road” — it provided no special facilities for the press and served at best a tiny percentage of the public — mostly merchants, professionals and government officials.