For the past 11 days, hundreds of protestors, many of whom are driving big-rig trucks have occupied Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, blocking streets and disrupting the city with raucous demonstrations. These trucker protests, led by the so-called “Freedom Convoy” now besieging Ottawa, began after the Canadian and U.S. government enacted a rule requiring cross-border truckers to be fully vaccinated in order to get into either of the two countries.
The protests, like massive, heavily polarized movements are wont to do, spiraled into a wider, incoherent demonstration against public health measures as a whole. And now, they may be coming to the U.S.
Analysts watching right-wing chatter on apps like Telegram have recently seen an outpouring of organizing around direct actions similar to Canada’s trucker protests, which spread from the Ottawa occupation to large disruptive actions across the country, including at a border crossing to the U.S. in Alberta. In particular, some right wingers seem to be plotting to shut down the Super Bowl this weekend. Trump megafan and Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers took up that mantle yesterday, giving us this particularly bizarre take:
If truckers shut down the Super Bowl it would partially be payback for Colin Kaepernick and the kneeling.
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) February 7, 2022
Rogers is a fringe figure, deep in the far right, but there are signs that the “trucker protest” model is rapidly catching on with more mainstream conservatives. Here’s Rand Paul, often one of the main gateways of the idiocy exchange between the far right and GOP mainstream:
"Somebody's gotta stand up. Whether it's putting your semi in the middle of a town and honking the horn, or whatever." — Rand Paul encourages Canadian trucker-style protests against public health regulations pic.twitter.com/hJIQleI5He
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 7, 2022
The sentiment seems to be spreading fast, but it seems doubtful that the right would be able to mobilize anything significant in time for the Super Bowl next weekend, according to Jared Holt, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab who studies right-wing movements.
“The desire to provide an American answer to the Canadian protests and cause havoc and headaches is completely there,” Holt told Rolling Stone. “What isn’t, at this point, is a clear plan and call to action.”
Holt noted on Twitter that some of the familiar spokes of right-wing organizing are already there — media networks are covering the trucker protests favorably, groups are starting to discuss or solicit financing for some form of action, and many of the groups have large numbers of members. But there’s no one narrative or specific action that has taken hold in the way that the right rallied at in Washington, D.C., last Jan. 6, or during Charlottesville’s Unite the Right event.
“If organizers are able to speak over that frenzy with a clear plan to action, there may be a potential to generate a similar event, though I’m skeptical of its ability to capture the same scale it did in Canada,” Holt said. “Maybe most importantly, it’s not totally clear that American truckers are actually ready or willing to do this.”
In other words, we’ll have to hope that America’s truckers are more responsible behind the wheel than the ones currently honking their horns in Canada’s capital.