Canadian truckers captivated headlines and drove Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mad. American truckers could do the same to President Joe Biden with a convoy departing Wednesday. Organizers report more than 1,000 trucks signed up to travel cross-country from California to Washington, DC, and anticipate the convoy will grow as it heads east.
Inspired by our neighbors to the north, organizers say, the convoy is going to the capital to seek an end to the federal emergency declaration.
The potent Tea Party made its mark in America’s 2010 midterm elections fighting bloated taxation. Could truckers fighting COVID mandates and restrictions spark a movement as powerful in November’s midterms? Polling is on their side, with heavy-handed rules steadily losing support.
Think of it this way: Tea Party = no taxation without representation. Truckers = no vaccination without self-authorization. The People’s Convoy organizer Mike Landis noted in a launch video that the group isn’t anti-vaccine, but it opposes mandates’ encroachment on civil liberties. (Even Trudeau conceded that 90% of Canadian truckers are vaccinated, though the American Trucking Association estimates 50% to 60% of US truckers are.)
“It’s up to you,” Landis said. “You want a vaccine? Take it. That’s the whole point of this. It’s about freedom, your freedom to choose what you feel is best for your life within the morals and the guidelines of our Constitution.”
Canada’s Freedom Convoy captured the country’s imagination with the same message. Polling found many Canadians had “sympathy for truckers and others adversely affected by vaccine mandates,” Elliot Kaufman noted in The Wall Street Journal. The feds “never offered a clear justification for requiring drivers, who sit alone in the cabs of their trucks, to be vaccinated.”
Indeed, truckers are in many ways modern-day cowboys who’d rather be on the open road than in a crowded cubicle. Growing up, I spent lots of time in trucking culture as my family often lived in a motorhome with 10 people (eight kids, two parents, sometimes a cat or dog). We had CB radio names for each other caravaning with the family car tailing behind. (Mine was “Big Hornet,” after my seventh-grade basketball team, the Hornets.)
We hung out with these truckers at pit stops like Flying J (where there’s plenty of room to socially distance) and tried to sneak onto their CB channels and sound tough. I’m not a scientist, but I’d bet good money COVID can’t transmit via CB radio wavelengths.
Landis rejected the idea that truckers are xenophobic or racist — a favorite slanderous trope Trudeau and his liberal media allies in both countries float.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like, what your skin color is, what your native language is,” Landis said. “If you’re here, and you hold American citizenship, you’re an American. We just want to get that clear right now. This is for the people.”
And the people are open to the message. Monmouth University polling showed US support for vaccine mandates dropped to just 43% in late January from 53% in September, with support for masking and social-distancing guidelines dropping to 52% from 63%. A Morning Consult survey the week ending Feb. 6 similarly found just half the public supports business COVID mandates, down from a high of 61% in September. Support for Biden’s federal mandates fell to 54%, down from September’s high of 66%.
More than 3.5 million people work as truck drivers, according to the US Census Bureau, making it one of America’s largest occupations. Truckers are twice as likely as workers overall to be US veterans, but just 7% have a bachelor’s degree, versus 35% for all workers. They are more likely to have a disability and earn less than the median US worker.
Truckers work harder than the rest of us, too, with nearly half working longer hours than the average worker. Only about a quarter of workers generally work more than 40 hours a week.
Truckers are good, kind, patriotic, diligent, working-class people. They’re America’s backbone. This time, the backbone snapped.
Liberals pushing COVID vaccine and mask mandates clearly abandoned the working class, though they’re oblivious to the possible consequences: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this month on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” insisted Democrats will win in November because of “the empathy we have for America’s working families.”
The Democratic leader, caught breaking the rules maskless in a San Francisco salon, belongs to a liberal ruling class that believes it deserves separate, more lenient rules than those it imposes on the working class. Pelosi’s on course for a wake-up call — the sound of a trucker’s air-horn blast.
Carrie Sheffield is a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Voice.