The Truck Stops Here

The trucker protest is still roadblocking parts of Canada and the writing on the mudflaps suggests the convoy could be headed to a city near you. The Department of Homeland Security “has received reports of truck drivers planning to potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates for truck drivers.” In Ottawa, the movement (or lack thereof) is about populism, but it’s not about popular opinion. “News coverage of the convoy, especially from sympathetic anchors on Fox News, may lead Americans to believe that Canada is in the midst of a far-right popular uprising. In reality, the mainstream consensus in Canada about Covid-19, and the nation’s institutions in general, is holding. The so-called trucker movement is on the fringe, including among Canadian truckers — some 90 percent of whom are vaccinated.” And it’s not about the bottom line for truckers. Even the teamsters have denounced the blockade. But even a fringe movement can have a middle of the road impact when its members have 18 wheelers and are convinced the world is big rigged against them.

This is not to say that all this axle rose out of nothing, and the support the convoys are getting (some from the GOP) didn’t just fall off the back of a truck. But the truckers are hardly reinventing the wheel. “Lurking below the surface is the same undercurrent of populism that powered the January 6 Capitol insurrection and the yellow vests movement: a powerful current fed by disinformation, conspiratorial thinking and deepening social divides.” And to quote the greatest trucking song of all time, when it comes to closing those social divides, we got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

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