“Your Honor, every one of these letters is addressed to Santa Claus. The Post Office has delivered them. Therefore the Post Office Department, a branch of the Federal Government, recognizes this man Kris Kringle to be the one and only Santa Claus.”
Of course, anyone except the most diehard Christmas curmudgeon will recognize those lines as the apotheosis of the immortal holiday movie, Miracle on 34th Street, in which, in the original 1947 version, brilliant young lawyer Fred Gailey, played by John Payne, saves his client, Kris Kringle, from the insane asylum, while preserving Macys as the bastion of American consumerism and, incidentally, wins the hearts of both ultra-practical Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) and her precocious skeptic daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood). All because he gets the dead letter office of the U.S. Post Office to deliver all the correspondence addressed to Santa Claus (and his various noms de guerre) to the judge overseeing his client’s sanity hearing.
Well, both Macys and the postal service have seen better days, the former part of the dying breed of bricks and mortar retail stores succumbing to the tsunami of online merchants and the immediate impact of the pandemic, and the latter battered by a combination of the vanquishing of traditional mail by the rise of social media and the determination of President Trump to suppress Americans’ voting rights in a desperate attempt to salvage his dwindling reelection prospects.
Not satisfied with endangering the lives of millions of Americans with his non-response to the Covid-19 crisis, Trump relies on creating doubts as to the fairness of an election that must resort to voting by mail to protect voters’ safety while ensuring the widest possible participation among the electorate. But, of course, Trump being Trump, he has enlisted the aid of a partisan mega-donor and owner of a large stake in a post office competitor, Louis DeJoy, as Postmaster General, to emasculate the service, using the pandemic as a useful excuse to dismiss numerous postal workers and taking steps to remove any equipment that increases the efficiency of mail delivery, thereby suppressing mail-in ballots and casting doubt on the fairness of the election.
While shouting FRAUD! the last thing Trump wants is a fair election. While the polls consistently predict his demise, he will use any tricks to aid in his reelection, and still has the power of the Department of Justice, led by the ultimate lackey, William Barr, to: (a) announce an investigation of Democratic opponent Joe Biden, (b) declare his running mate Kamala Harris ineligible despite her California birth, or (c) use the pandemic as an excuse to delay the election. Or all three.
A post office under DeJoy may do all it can to help in Trump’s reelection campaign, but imagine if he had been in charge when Fred Gailey enlisted it to free his client and save Christmas. The letters to Santa sitting in dark, airless rooms, Kris Kringle in Bellevue, millions of children toyless and disillusioned for life. Of course, all of those children and their children and grandchildren would grow up to be voters. If they actually get to exercise their franchise, I hope they won’t be conned again.