Isaiah Bullard, a 25 year old trucker, has spent the last seven months on the road. He passes the time with the windows down, sometimes blasting music, sometimes in the relative silence of the highway. Most recently, he’s been binging the audiobooks of “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy. He said that the increased workload of the pandemic along with a nationwide shortage of truckers made him especially interested in last month’s vaccination mandate for American and Canadian truckers crossing the border.
“When the pandemic hit, our company and many other trucking companies was hit with a lot of work. It’s been that way the whole time. The supply chain is already slow. They don’t need to keep stepping on our necks,” said Bullard.
Last month, Canadian truckers converged on the capital city of Ottawa and blocked international transit routes to protest a January vaccination mandate for truckers crossing the border. American truckers sought to do the same, eager for an opportunity to expedite the end of covid-era regulations and express their displeasure with the state of the country.
Several convoys of truckers sprang up across the US over the last several weeks intending to drive to D.C. in time for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address this past Tuesday, March 1. The groups, however, have failed to gain significant traction, while some have already turned around and headed home.
Some truckers, like Bullard, support the protests but are apprehensive to participate while operating a truck that belongs to the company they work for out of fear for their jobs. Bullard thinks the nature of his work makes a mandate illogical.
“I spend 95% of my time alone in my truck, and the other 5%, I interact with the shipper and receiver and logistics people. So it doesn’t make sense for me to be mandated to get the vaccine. And that pretty much goes for any other truck driver,” said Bullard.
But some Americans are confused by a protest about mandates that no longer exist.
I don’t pretend to understand the freedom trucker convoy…mask mandates are gone and there isn’t a vaccine mandate. Gas is high, and driving across the country using fuel while not delivering anything seems wasteful, but not my circus.
— Piper for Missouri (@piper4missouri) March 1, 2022
Just saw that the anti mask trucker convoy is coming to Ohio. My question is Why?
Ohio doesn’t have mask mandates. I literally just went to the store and I was the only 1 wearing a mask. (I don’t care if people stare)
Canada doesn’t want you. Neither do I
— Positive Vibes Only 💙 (@FootCleve) March 2, 2022
The most notable convoy en route to the American capital, The People’s Convoy, left California on February 23rd and is aiming to gather supporters in the nation’s capital this week. The People Convoy’s Facebook group, which boasts 263,000 members, has been posting regularly with progress updates and videos from participating truckers and supporters rallying by the roadside. Organizers of the convoy could not be reached for comment. Several media outlets, including The New York Times and The Boston Globe, have reported that participants and supporters of the trucker convoys have far-right ties.
As of yesterday The People’s Convoy was in Indiana.
View this post on Instagram
And the rally in Washington on the day of the State of the Union speech frizzled out. About 12 people reportedly showed up.
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) March 1, 2022
According to the American Trucking Association, between 50-60% of American truckers are fully vaccinated, a figure just below the national vaccination rate of 65% as of February 26. The vaccination mandate for truckers crossing the border that originally spurred the Canadian protests has now become part of a larger list of grievances shared by protestors and their supporters: Government overreach, woke culture, President Biden’s liberal agenda, and the false notion that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, to name a few.
“Plain and simple, the midterms are on the way, and Republican or Democrat, people are starting to wake up and realize these restrictions are too much,” said Bullard.
The American convoy’s of truckers received encouragement from certain Republican lawmakers in recent weeks, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. In an interview with The Daily Caller, Senator Paul said he was ‘all for the protests,’ adding that, “civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights, to you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates.”
Senator Paul’s office could not be reached for comment.
The protests are set to begin amid a countrywide rollback of vaccination requirements to enter businesses and mask mandates in schools, including in D.C. Still, truckers like Bullard are hoping that the convoys can put pressure on American lawmakers to expedite the end of pandemic-era restrictions.
Bullard has communicated with other truckers on Twitter and elsewhere to express solidarity with the American protests. He’s set to return to his home in Florida later this week and remains undecided if he will travel by car to the capital to join.
“I don’t know how long they plan on staying in DC, if I do make that drive. But there’s a convoy leaving from Miami I think, so maybe I’ll be able to join them. Either way they have my support,” said Bullard.