Going by Mail – The American Perspective
In February 2021, the US Postal Service announced plans for an $11.3 billion contract with a military contractor called Oshkosh Defense for a new generation of gasoline-powered mail trucks. The 150,000 new vehicles would have gotten 8.3 miles per gallon, about the same as those they replaced three decades ago, and produced pollution equal to that of 4.3 million passenger cars.
This week, succumbing to pressure from Congress, the White House and lawsuits from 16 states and four major environmental groups, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a notorious holdover from Trump, backed down and revised the contract so that new Postal Service trucks are primarily electric.
By 2023, the civilian government’s largest fleet of 217,000 vehicles will be around 40% electric. The two leading House Democrats who lobbied for this reversal, Jared Huffman of California and Carolyn Maloney of New York, want the fleet to be close to 100% electric.
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This is the kind of incremental progress that progressives sometimes win. Meanwhile, President Biden’s broader climate and social investment agenda remains utterly stalled, and the future of democracy itself hangs by a thread.
Coincidentally, the Postal Service released a stamp today honoring Pete Seeger. Despite DeJoy’s reign, postage stamps continued to feature occasional lefties. Other progressives recently featured on stamps include James Baldwin, WEB Du Bois, Woody Guthrie, Yip Harburg, Harvey Milk, Paul Robeson and even Malcolm X.
Could this be the work of a leftist mole buried deep within the administrative state?
When Joe McCarthy was at the height of his power, he took on an obscure army dentist named Irving Peress, who served as a captain in the Korean War. Peress had leftist leanings. In October 1953, he was regularly promoted to major.
One of McCarthy’s wild raves became “Who Promoted Peress?” If we ever become a full-fledged Republican police state, one can imagine a future congressional inquiry demanding to know, “Who honored Pete Seeger?”
I remember one of Todd Gitlin’s most witty and prescient lines, backing off against the political energy that unfolded in murky cultural battles in academia. He wrote: “While the right has been busy taking the White House, the left has marched on the English department.”
The right is now on the verge of destroying American democracy. We get EVs in the Postal Service and Pete Seeger on a stamp.
May Pete’s memory inspire us for greater struggles, bolder visions and political coherence.