BY LIZ PEEK, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 02/03/22 12:00 PM EST,
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
As hard as it is to imagine, President Biden’s political fortunes are about to get worse. The massive trucker convoy that crossed Canada to protest against that country’s new vaccine mandates will almost certainly be replicated in the U.S. and will bring with it huge headaches for the Biden White House.
Biden pretends to be the champion of the “little guy”; he claims to support blue-collar workers. Truckers are exactly the kind of folks Biden is meant to embrace, but he will not do that.
The drivers protesting the vaccine mandates have already been portrayed by the liberal media as right-wing zealots and science deniers, which is only one notch above climate deniers. A Facebook group organizing the U.S. convoy that had amassed 130,000 members has been tossed off the social media platform amid allegations that the movement was being promoted by right-wing extremists, which the organizers deny.
Biden will not dare stand up for the truckers. And yet, if he dismisses them as a “small fringe minority,” as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently did with the “Freedom Convoy” drivers up north, they could get mad.
They could, if pushed, call for a sick-out of America’s vital truckers. Whatever supply chain problems we have had would pale before the catastrophe that could unfold if tens of thousands of drivers simply walked off the job for a day or two. Imagine what would happen to transportation costs, and inflation.
The convoy protests would come at an awkward time. The public has had it with the government’s draconian (and largely ineffective) measures to combat COVID-19. Polling shows people are ready to move on.
They are emboldened by a growing body of evidence indicating that the restrictions and rules promulgated by our government – under both Presidents Trump and Biden – were a mistake.
A new study from Johns Hopkins University shows that shutting down the country reduced COVID mortality by only 0.2 percent, while causing “devastating effects” on the economy and drastic social ills. Further, the research suggests that lockdowns “are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”
People are also tired of being told not to question the “authorities.” They are fed up with officials who say immodestly that they represent science even as many of their pronouncements turn out to be worthless.
The recent flap over Joe Rogan’s interview with cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough, who is critical of the vaccines and the approach the government has taken, is ridiculous. Why should we not question the science around COVID treatments and approaches? And especially when the costs to society and the economy have been so desperately high? It is a sign of weakness that the authorities are so afraid of debate.
Truckers were driven to protest by new mandates from North America’s governments that anyone driving a rig across the U.S.-Canada border must be vaccinated or quarantine as a condition of being allowed to enter either country
Just like that, truck drivers went from being essential workers, highly lauded for risking their personal health to deliver goods to locked-down communities, to being officially classified as “non-essential” functionaries. They feel jilted by an ungrateful populace.
But the trucker protests have become a rallying point for millions irate about what many view as COVID-inspired overreach by autocratic governments. Thousands turned out to cheer the miles-long convoy across Canada, even though the government of Nova Scotia, literally making the protesters’ case, outlawed people from lining the highways and imposed stiff fines on those who disobeyed.
Trudeau went into hiding when the convoy reached Ottawa, the nation’s capital. Trudeau did himself no favors, condemning the large assembly but refusing to meet with them.
Despite his apparent concerns, there was in the large crowd not a single arrest over the past weekend. There were no acts of violence. The liberal media made a big fuss over a supposed desecration of a monument (someone peed on it, apparently) and because someone spotted a Confederate flag.
To the chagrin of the left, it was, to use a once-popular description, a “largely peaceful” protest.
This sort of scene will likely be replicated in coming weeks in Washington, D.C. Biden, who constantly reminds voters of his middle-class roots, will face the same issue as Trudeau. Will he demonize the truckers? Will he listen to their grievances? Or will he scurry back to Delaware and hope they all go away?
The trucker rally will draw support from people who are angry that governments have shown indifference to the plight of restauranteurs, hairdressers and countless other small business owners whose livelihoods were callously destroyed by officious bureaucrats. People who are angry that their children have lost immeasurable learning because schools were closed and have suffered emotional impairment as they wear pointless masks day in and day out. They are angry at the stupidity of it all.
Biden misled the public when he promised he had a plan to shut down the virus. Now he has a choice: rebuff the truckers or hear their pleas. Stick to his failing policies or change course and admit mistakes have been made. Declare the vaccines important and helpful, but not the only answer.
Admit that we need to accept the virus as part of our lives, that we can move forward and that one size does not fit all.
Can Biden reboot? We shall see.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.