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A Brief (Haha) Primer on the DC Trucker Convoy - Part 1
As the “trucker” convoy rolled down 395 on Friday morning, the voice of one of the participants blared out of a megaphone of some kind, rising above the tunes of the never ending ice cream truck music one of the vehicles plays. “The DC police are blocking the road, left and right, making it hard for you. We just want to drive through, honk the horn and say hi. True story!”
This is not, in fact, a true story — the convoy isn’t about truckers or mandates, and they don’t want to do a friendly little honk on the highway as they drive through the DC region.
The American trucker convoy started arriving in the “DC area” on Thursday, March 3, and made their home in the parking lot of a racetrack in Hagerstown, Maryland. Despite their threat that they would wreak havoc on the 64 mile highway loop around DC known as the Beltway (or 495), their home base is roughly 70 miles away from the Beltway. Undeterred, they confidently declared they would drive down here, loop the Beltway, and drive back, adding a loop each day until their demands were met. On Sunday March 6th, they attempted adding a second loop to their 191 mile route; the result was an eight and a half hour journey on a Sunday without workday traffic. After this little adventure, the decision was made they would simply do one loop a day.
On Tuesday March 8, the upper echelon of the convoy managed to score meetings with some of America’s worst lawmakers. Led by Brian Brase (men will literally circle the capital beltway instead of going to therapy), the trucker’s first meeting was with Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson. It was so boring I couldn’t pay any attention (and YouTube took it down because it was so full of medical disinformation), but researcher Sara Aniano documented a bit of what she saw in a Twitter thread.
Afterwards, they had a second meeting with Marjorie Taylor Greene, Thomas Massie, and Matt Gaetz — and it was incredible. Gaetz started off the meeting letting everyone know he’s okay with flying, but Massie refuses to wear a mask and has to drive between his home in Kentucky and DC. For some reason, Gaetz decided this was a good time to try out his new comedy routine, cracking jokes about a movie he and Massie had been in together, and making “omniBUS” puns (I guess the joke was that a bus is a vehicle and also a truck is a vehicle). Massie let the crowd know that he drives a Tesla, but has a “Friends of Coal” license plate on it, and MTG made one of her handful of anti-trans “jokes” she recycles.
The meeting was a fairly informal Q&A session, and once the crowd was given access to the mic, the whole thing went completely off the rails. Immediately, someone went after Massie for owning a Tesla, asking him if he’s prepared to deal with the consequences of his battery dying while he’s stuck on the side of the road in a snowstorm (he did not explain why he thinks an electric vehicle would run out of battery juice but a gasoline vehicle would not run out of gasoline in this situation). He then told Massie they won’t be able to help him if his Tesla’s battery explodes. “I hope you’re fully aware — you’ll have incinerated people.”
At this point, I honestly started to get a bit jealous of the truckers — it seems like it would be extremely fun to get invited to a meeting with a few lawmakers and just spend it roasting them and their personal life choices.
The Q&A was mostly nonsense and unrelated to the topic at hand. "Social media is probably one of the most Luciferian gimmicks that has been ever imposed on the American people that I can think of," one of the truckers tells the lawmakers, saying that in his day, people simply used CB radios. He asked the trio if they could steal "Obama's magic golden EO pen" away from Joe Biden.
"You can't vaccinate a child when they are 5 or 6 years old," another trucker says. "We don’t have a polio vaccine mandate." Famously, we do have a polio vaccine mandate for children — but of course, no one corrected him (in fact, ten days later, MTG would echo this trucker’s lies).
An incredibly bizarre moment occurred when Massie said he has a constituent who was given a COVID test, but "they" shoved the swab "into her brain." He says she's not allowed to sue because of the PREP Act. None of this is true; it’s impossible to shove a COVID swab that far up your nose.
As the questions dragged on, it became more and more obvious to me that Gaetz and Massie were not the best choices to send out. While they have the same politics as the group, they are too “city” for what was happening — Massie with his Tesla, Gaetz with his entire demeanor (it was clear to me he thinks he’s better than the trucker convoy group). Marjorie Taylor Greene was a much better ambassador; several times, she ran interference, smoothing over things the other two said.
Finally, comedian Matt Gaetz joked "I only reserved this room until now, and in about seven minutes this legally becomes an insurrection.” One more person got to ask a question, letting the room know he was running for school board because he was worried about CRT. "What can you guys do to get rid of CRT? We've got schools near us that are putting litter boxes in gender neutral bathrooms,” he said, referring to the repeatedly debunked idea that schools are accommodating students who identify as cats.
You might think this extremely productive and informative meeting would have satisfied the truckers, but you would be wrong — instead, they continued on with their daily journey (though on March 9th they didn’t execute their route, as DC had a bit of rain and they decided it wasn’t safe to drive). Within a week they had grown restless, changing their route by exiting the Beltway and taking 395 into DC proper.
The convoy does have a handful of actual trucks in it, but it primarily consists of a fluctuating number of sedans, pick up trucks, SUVs, and minivans. As you’re likely aware, many of the people in the convoy are streaming what they are doing. Some of the livestreams are run by the actual truckers, while others are run by “career” right wing media people; these livestreamers are in sedans or SUVs, and oftentimes multiple streamers carpool with each other. The truck coalition seems to leave the sedan crew kind of in the dark, and this really came to light the first day they breached DC as a group.
Not wanting to end up like Ottawa, the MPD’s (the acronym for DC’s police force, Metropolitan Police Department) response to this was to close down the exits so the convoy would be forced to continue on, unable to exit into the city. The sedan portion of the convoy, including one of the most popular sedan streamers, was far ahead of the trucks. They had already made it to DC, and were stuck in the traffic the road closures had caused.
The trucks, however, were further back, still in Virginia, having just gotten onto 395. 395 is a public road without an HOV requirement or toll, but there are also 395 Express Lanes that run parallel to the main highway. These lanes are a tollroad with dynamic pricing, based on traffic on the main route (though they’re free if you have 3 people in the car). The flow of the lanes switches throughout the day, running with rush hour traffic. Trucks are absolutely, 100% not allowed on the Express Lanes — and truckers know it. Despite this, a trucker named Sasnak (one of the most popular truckers in the convoy) led 13 trucks onto the tollroad. Up ahead, the sedan crew had no idea what was going on.
Listening to the CB radio, you hear an endless stream of paranoia, as truckers randomly accuse typical aggressive DC drivers of being Antifa (and some jokes, like the guy who called their 395 cruise a “Freeway Insurrection”). Even as they broke the law and took over a second highway (in a way) that they aren’t allowed on, they shared plates of the angry drivers they said were feds or Antifa.
This lack of understanding our driving culture is just one of many examples of how disconnected they are from the city they’re trying to crash; the first day they took over 395, there was confusion over the radio about who had shut off the exits. People kept wondering if it was Antifa, asking if it was really the police — even though the police ended up giving them an escort down the highway, bypassing the closed off exits.
I guess in theory one could argue that the police escort helps move the convoy along quicker than they otherwise would go on their own, but here’s the thing: half of the convoy trucks have covered up their DOT numbers (legally required to be displayed on both sides of vehicle) and/or removed their license plates. I have no idea why the police are okay with the HOV violation, and I really don’t understand why they’re okay with the lack of identifying info on the vehicles (especially now that accidents are happening).
The “success” of causing random commuters to spend hours in traffic and miss work, doctors appointments, daycare pick up times, and god knows what else really seemed to energize the group. Previously, streamers would complain that the days were exhausting, with some even leaving; now, people were excited to go out again the next day.
So like the truckers, try to contain your excitement while I write up part 2, because I did not plan for this to be so long. So much is going on!