Critics agree — the American installment of Canada’s trucker “Freedom Convoy” protests have been, as is often the case on Netflix, a sad adaptation of the original foreign series.
Initially the U.S. anti-vax truckers planned to hit Americans where it hurts by disrupting our favorite pass time, sportz/the Super Bowl, with mass protests similar to what transpired in Canada last month, as Ottawa was shutdown by truckers upset about the country’s new vaccine mandate and crucial boarder crossings between the U.S. and Canada were blocked for days on end.
That didn’t happen.
Then they planned this big cross-country quest, where the group of drivers — who, like Canadian protesters, are opposed to vaccine mandates in the U.S., but more broadly are just sort of mad about the government playing a role in civilians’ lives — planned to travel from California to Washington, D.C. to descend on the Capitol on the day of President Biden’s first State of the Union address. Cautiously taking a cue from the events that transpired in our cousin to the north, Capitol Police and D.C. officials asked the Pentagon to send in National Guard troops to keep traffic and security under control ahead of the speech.
That movement was also relatively lackluster when just a handful of protesters showed up to a planned rally on the day of Biden’s remarks.
Since then, there have been a few minor “People’s Convoy” events in D.C. as a small number of truckers spent several days this month circling the Capital Beltway to protest COVID-19 mitigation measures. The “protests” didn’t cause much of a disruption beyond slowing down traffic near the Capitol. And so few truckers actually showed up to participate that each day’s convoy mostly became disjointed as trucks interspersed with normal traffic.
But a few key Republicans have been doing everything in their power to legitimize the sad U.S. version of the movement. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) met with leaders of the trucker group on its third day of “protests” in D.C. “People’s Convoy” figureheads also met with a few Republicans on the House Transportation Committee earlier this month to air their grievances with the U.S.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, urging lawmakers to lift the Trump administration era’s national COVID-19 state of emergency declaration.
Cruz even inserted himself into the vapid narrative last week when he performative-ly hitched a ride with a trucker involved in the protest in order to … basically handed out a bunch of thumbs-ups to other drivers.
And today we learned that Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) gave some of the truckers involved in the protest a tour of the Capitol last week, even as the building is still largely closed off to the public, as it has been since March 2020.
“Hard-working Kansans — especially those who have driven over 1,000 miles to get to D.C. — deserve access to their U.S. Capitol,” Marshall’s office told Politico in a statement.
While it all comes off as a dull legitimizing campaign on the part of Republicans, there’s also a bit of a sinister layer of concern to Marshall’s tours — even if the movement feels relatively tame compared to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
A senior congressional aide alerted the Department of Justice about the truckers’ presence out of concern that the guided tour could help the protesters plan an entry into the building.
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