Two weeks of truck nuts
The convoy is a small nuisance that wants to be a big deal
When I last mentioned the “Freedom Convoy” that remains camped out in Hagerstown, Maryland, they had just begun their routine of driving in circles on the Beltway every day and acting like they were in a position to make demands of the federal government (though they have never been clear about what those demands are, the vaccine mandates they complain about being largely imaginary). Here’s one of the leaders addressing the convoy 12 days ago:
I went into DC, and I didn’t get out, didn’t show my face, did a couple of laps around the Beltway, and then went down into DC proper to take a look at what it looked like. I’ll tell you, it’s creepy [cheers]… they’re waiting for us to show up. And it’s trap. I’m not telling you we’re not gonna do things, because we’re gonna do it through diplomacy first. And then we’ll take the next step if things don’t work. But if people give up the fight… we lose our upper hand. Right now we have the upper hand! [cheers]
The guy’s dominance displays — claiming the “upper hand” over a city of 692,000 people, and offering “diplomacy” as if he were the envoy of a sovereign state — are clearly meant to exaggerate the camp’s abilities, because if they could have successfully invaded Washington, they would have done it; people like him never forsake an advantage they really have. The talk of not falling into a “trap” is familiar to any male American who ever heard his buddy explain that he wasn’t going to strike —against a rival, or a recalcitrant girlfriend, or, as here, the forces of the law — until the time is just right.
All along it has been difficult to say how many people and vehicles are in Hagerstown. They constantly talk about how mighty they are, but footage of their Beltway laps shows there just aren’t many iconic “big rigs” — some are just truck cabs, and most of the convoy appears to be pick-ups, SUVs, campers, and just plain cars. And though they’ve been able to slow traffic down on the Beltway via coordinated action, they haven’t managed to exercise the death grip — or, as they put it, the “throat punch” — that would really show off their power.
They might tell you it’s because they’re holding back for strategic reasons, but to a large extent it’s because the DC cops, having learned a few things since January 6, 2021 about how far these guys would go if they got the chance, have been keeping them from accessing the off-ramps, forcing them to chug up and down the highway while a few of their smaller pick-ups and SUVs drop into downtown, where they blow their horns while locals tell them to fuck off. Late on Wednesday a half-dozen truck cabs managed to roll down K Street without incident.
(I’ve heard some of these guys claim the stalled highway traffic is actually the cops’ fault for not letting the trucks rampage through residential streets, which is like saying “the cops are responsible for the shoot-out, they should have just let us rob the bank.”)
Deprived of the chance to make a show of force that would — who knows what, inspire a grateful nation to rise up and kill liberals, maybe? — the convoy has gone for consolation and positive reviews to Republican Senators, who have kissed their asses and posed with them for what they probably think is flattering video footage, though Ted Cruz riding shotgun in a big rig and strenuously giving the thumbs up is probably no one’s idea of a money shot.
When one of these GOP panderers, Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas, showed the convoy leaders around the Capitol — which understandably reminded a Senate aide enough of the tour Rep. Lauren Boebert gave her insurrectionist buddies three weeks before they busted into the joint looking to murder the Vice President, that the aide notified DOJ — Marshall yapped about how the boys were just “a friendly group of hard-working American truckers” and “essential workers.” Especially rich was this pretense of outrage from Rep. Dan Bishop from North Carolina:
While it’s becoming the new normal for Democrats to treat working-class Americans with disdain, this story is particularly absurd. Truckers are absolutely essential to the American way of life. Maybe if Biden’s DOJ spent less time targeting parents and truckers, they’d be able to address the violent crime spike in our cities.
Of course none of these fellows has done any hard or essential work besides driving in circles for weeks. But Marshall and Bishop know that the fraud doesn’t just mean making the convoy look strong on the road — which isn’t really working out — but also means making them look like they represent something bigger than themselves —that is, All Truckers Everywhere, notwithstanding that other truckers are busy earning a living rather than burning through food and fuel provided by rightwing donors.
As I wrote about conservatives’ historic use of butch icons from the hard hats to Joe the Plumber to make themselves look like Tribunes of the Common People, this ploy has worked in the past. But given the pettiness of their complaints and behavior — especially compared the real struggles reported from the Ukraine — this routine is now a much harder sell.
The convoy is still in Hagerstown and still planning on rolling into DC every day. What’s the plan beyond that, besides annoying the locals? Not that annoying us isn’t valuable to them — they despise Washington and everyone in it and are happy to tell you so. (“Wish all truckers would stop trucking & let this a**hole & all DemoRats💯❤️🇨🇳💩 sees what ‘REAL TYRANNY’ would be,” responds one such to a critical tweet. “Snowflakes wouldn’t know how to survive. Starve them out.”)
My guess is the leaders are doing reconnaissance for another January 6; if their backers plan to attack the government again, having scoped out the arterial roads would help them isolate the capital. But that’s for the future; they’re sure not going to take over the government in this incarnation.
So in the short term I’d say we can mainly count on them to deliver two now-traditional conservative products: grift and resentment. The leaders are already preparing the rubes for the possibility that one day they’ll wake up and find them gone — though they assure them they’ll be back:
I’m sure he’ll get a nice payday out of it. As for the rest, well, maybe one or two of them will go nuts, do some violence and get carted away. But most of them will get the message and leave. And they’ll never admit they got played by the guys who cheered them on every night and told them about the big things they were going to accomplish and then split, leaving them with left-over Pringles and anti-vaxxer books instead of victory. Instead they’ll blame Biden and liberals and transsexuals and George Soros and above all Washington, full of politicians who won’t do what they tell them no matter how loud they honk and residents who laugh and curse at them and give them the finger. And they’ll wait — for how long, who knows — for the call that tells them the time has come to take revenge.