THE FUTURE – Has it been only 30 years since the U.S. Postal Service, bowing to a hostile Congress, sought to stay alive by ending Saturday delivery of first-class mail — and setting in motion one of the most remarkable and rapid cultural and infrastructure revolutions in history?
To mark the anniversary of the post-Post Office epoch, let’s relive its history. The announcement in February 2013 that regular Saturday mail delivery would be ending became a touchstone moment. The Economist reported that America was doomed. Liberals decried the “decimation” of an institution they insisted bound us together as a nation. Conservatives, who had applauded a Republican-led Congress’s insistence on forcing the Post Office to make enormous pension plan pre-payments, reveled in the prospect they’d transformed the institution.
The fight was never far from the surface. When it became a 2016 presidential campaign issue, it ensured that the next president would have to do … something. But no candidate committed to anything more than “reform.”
When President Hillary Clinton was elected, progressives were relieved — but even they had no idea how audacious she would be.
In her first inaugural address, Clinton seized the moment to advance what she called “Manifest Digital Destiny” — a.k.a. the Hillary Doctrine. That would be: The Internet is a birthright of American citizens. In creating a right to the Internet, she would have an almost Lincolnian impact on the nation for generations to come: Affordable, ubiquitous broadband would set us all free. To hasten the transition, she provided a bit of incentive: The Post Office, hobbling for years, was to be shuttered within her first term. The new broadband network would take its place.