It’s no secret that our return to Clemson is accompanied by several national outcries. After living through months of faulty government leadership and nationwide confusion, students are now adding hours of college courses to the mix. While the country that many Clemson students call home continues to unravel, young adults are being called into advocacy as an attempt to save their friends and family from a deadly virus, racism and now the downfall of the United States Postal Service. Although it seems like a lot, it's fairly simple: save the USPS and wear your mask. 

The United States Postal Service is an important part of the lives of many Americans. Veterans and elderly people rely on the USPS for their medications and those without access to the internet need to mail paperwork or money, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how the post office caters to all types of people. In a few words, the post office is essential and lifesaving. However, despite its necessity and historical significance, the USPS, and therefore the presidential election, is in danger. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy attempted to make several changes to operations that could have severe negative consequences. As of right now, the government refuses to give the USPS the financial help they need, and some mailboxes and sorting machines in primarily Democratic-leaning states have been removed. While they can, and hopefully will be, replaced in time for the election, it's evident that some government officials would do anything to disparage mail-in voting. Although DeJoy mentioned that the changes in post office hours and overtime slashing will now be held off until after the election, one thing is clear: the government is directly refusing to help American citizens. The post office is structured around overtime, so employees leaving due to COVID-19 and lack of overtime available directly impacts the election. Removing mailboxes and sorters, defunding the USPS and refusing access to mail-in ballots results from a lack of regard for basic human rights. People need to receive their medications and stay in contact with their family members. By refusing to fund the USPS and actively altering the amount of machines needed to quickly deliver mail, the option to vote in the 2020 election by mail is diminishing. Therefore, immunocompromised people will be forced to expose themselves to COVID-19 to simply exercise their right as Americans. Forcing citizens to take off work and stand in an overcrowded polling place during a pandemic is not something a government that cares for its people would do. Our current president is intentionally sabotaging a life saving process, removing our freedom and putting others in incredible danger, just to rig an election. In order to save our fellow citizens, we need to save the post office. In order to save democracy and build a better world to step into after college, we need to become advocates for the USPS. If anything, think about the graduation announcements you’ll need to send out so your aunt gives you $20. You need the post office for that.

While saving USPS and democracy itself can sometimes be tiring, you could temporarily forget that the United States is still knee-deep in COVID-19 cases. Although America had the opportunity to learn from the European countries that were hit with numerous cases and therefore potentially prevent widespread infection, our leaders decided to ignore it. We now have to rely on masks and the common sense of our neighbors to control a terrifying virus while other nations enjoy (masked, of course) summer vacations. According to the latest update on the official Department of Health and Environmental Control website, there were 2,001 reported COVID-19 cases in Pickens County on Aug. 17. Wearing a mask when surrounded by people other than your roommates, social distancing and only eating or drinking outside could decrease the impact of coronavirus in the area. As a result, elderly Clemson residents, immunocompromised students and professors could feel safer in their own community, even if the feeling is slight. If you listen to scientists and those who have dedicated their lives to public health policy, these words do not come as a surprise. If each Clemson resident just wears a mask, the future of football and in-person classes will look brighter. 

As young adults, we need to take responsibility for our future. We have to deal with the results of decisions made by the older men who won’t even live to see the outcome. Democracy thrives from youthful energy, so complete your Canvas quiz or Zoom lecture, then sign some petitions and buy some stamps. There are multiple resources that explain how to be an advocate, so it shouldn't be hard: listen to actual health professionals, wear a dang mask and save the post office. 

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