Published at 20:25 on 12 February 2022
Before I continue, a word of explanation is in order. I almost did not choose this title, because: a) 90% of Canadian truckers are fully vaccinated, and only a tiny fraction of them are illegally occupying downtowns and border crossings, and b) most currently participating in the occupations do not appear to be truckers.
Yet the protests did start as a truckers’ convoy, before they morphed into something else. That begs the question asked by the title above.
You see, if I were to pick a group of working class people adversely affected by the pandemic, it would have to be workers employed in the hospitality, travel, and live entertainment industries. Those industries suffered almost total shutdowns.
One working class group that it would definitely not be would be truckers. Trucking is a vital service; as truckers are fond of pointing out, whatever you buy in a store, at some point it travelled by truck. While restaurants, hotels, airlines, and live music venues were shut down, the trucks kept rolling.
In fact, if you type the phrase “shortage of truck drivers” into your favourite search engine, you will quickly discover any number of articles in reputable sources reporting just that. Basically, if you want to drive a truck, and you have the necessary training, and you are not banned for some reason related to safety, you have work. And your wages are going up, because that is how the law of supply and demand plays out during a labour shortage.
Truck drivers are, in short, about the last people one would rationally expect to be upset about hardship-inducing pandemic restrictions. Yet it was a truckers’ convoy, and not protests of upset restaurant, hotel, or airline workers, that inspired the occupations.
And, of course, the vaccinated and responsible majority of truck drivers are having no problem finding work and earning a living. It is the small and vocal minority, insisting (paraphrasing Isaac Asimov) that their ignorance be regarded as good as others’ knowledge, who are making all the noise.
But, again, why?
I have a theory and it relates to loners. Driving a truck is a great job for a loner because you will be alone behind the wheel most of the time. Now, not all loners are antisocial, but the vast majority of antisocial people are loners (they basically have to be, it gets them away from those other people they have such a disregard for).
So by simple virtue of the profession being a magnet for loners, being a truck driver is also a magnet for the antisocial, and the proportion of antisocial people amongst truck drivers can reasonably be expected to be higher than in society as a whole. This being the case, it is not a big surprise that within this industry a critical mass of selfish people formed. And they had tools at their disposal (their trucks) with which to use to express their contempt for the concept of being asked to consider the well-being of others.
Now we get into the mythology of the Trumpist right. (Despite being Canadians, it is completely fair to call them Trumpists. There has been no shortage of MAGA hats and Trump campaign flags at the occupations. But I digress.) They vocally proclaim themselves to be the majority, to be “true” Americans (or, in this case, Canadians), as if those with values different from theirs do not even deserve to be considered full citizens in their own country. No amount of data to the contrary will shake them of this belief.
Related to this, they believe themselves to be salt-of-the-earth, humble, regular, working-class type people, or at least that their movement is comprised of mainly such people. (This is also incorrect. The much-reported factoid of Trump voters tending to be less affluent is mostly an artifact of Trump voters being more rural, and rural incomes and property values trailing urban ones. Within rural communities, the affluent support Trump at higher rates than the non-affluent. Again I digress.)
But if facts were relevant to the beliefs of Trumpers, they wouldn’t believe most of what they do. Their myth requires them to be humble, genuine, “real” types, so that is what they are to themselves. A movement that got its start from a subset of truckers is therefore proclaimed to be a truckers’ movement, because believing it to be so is politically convenient.
It’s not because those poor truckers are having their livelihoods ruined by all those uncaring elites and city-dwellers. That is a right-wing myth, nothing more.