I’ve been pretty hard on my home state of Indiana, for many good reasons. (We elected Pious Pence, and subsequently loosed him on the nation; our Attorney General is a pandering snowflake with delusions of grandeur; and our Statehouse is home to multiple gun nuts and culture warriors untethered to anything resembling intelligence.)
But you have to give props to our neighboring state of Kentucky. Not only is Mitch McConnell the runaway winner of the “most evil man in American government” designation, Kentucky’s junior Senator–Rand Paul–keeps reminding us that we shouldn’t count him out when the awards for “most slimy” are announced.
Anyone who follows the news even slightly knows that Paul has spent a lot of time attacking epidemiology in general and Anthony Fauci in particular. Those attacks have been particularly distasteful since Paul purports to be an ophthalmologist– board-certified by an organization he invented, but still…theoretically, he’s sort of a doctor.
Now, according to Talking Points Memo, he’s playing to the MAGA crowd and amplifying his racism by encouraging Americans to emulate the Canadian Trucker Convoy that has roiled deliveries and other transportation between the U.S. and Canada.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an enthusiastic supporter of Canadian truckers’ anti-government protests which have been causing major blockages at the Canada-U.S. border, telling the Daily Signal on Thursday that he hopes the so-called “Freedom Convoy” travels down south to congest American cities, too.
Why? Because, Paul said, “civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition” in the U.S., “from slavery to civil rights.”
Black Lives Matter, on the other hand, shouldn’t be “commandeering the microphone” and “bullying people” and behaving like a “crazed mob.”
Well, there’s a difference, you know. Those Canadian protesters appear to be White…
As Paul Krugman wrote a couple of days ago, the U.S. right is loving the convoys’ lawbreaking. “People who portrayed peaceful protests against police killings as an existential threat are delighted by the spectacle of right-wing activists breaking the law and destroying wealth.”
According to Vox and a number of other reports, the protest is widely unpopular among truckers and Canadians.
The so-called “freedom convoy” is nominally protesting a vaccine mandate for truckers, implemented in mid-January on both sides of the US-Canada border. But the demonstrations have swiftly ballooned into a broader far-right movement, with some demonstrators waving Confederate and Nazi flags. Protester demands include an end to all Covid-19 restrictions in Canada and the resignation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
As the Vox article notes, it’s important to understand the broader Canadian context .
News coverage of the convoy, especially from sympathetic anchors on Fox News, may lead Americans to believe that Canada is in the midst of a far-right popular uprising. In reality, the mainstream consensus in Canada about Covid-19, and the nation’s institutions in general, is holding. The so-called trucker movement is on the fringe, including among Canadian truckers — some 90 percent of whom are vaccinated….
The January edition of the Covid-19 Monitor, a regular survey of Canadian attitudes about the pandemic, finds that about three-quarters of Canadians support vaccine passports for indoor dining and gatherings. Strikingly, 70 percent would “strongly” or “somewhat” support a vaccine mandate for all eligible adults — a vastly more restrictive policy than any province has actually attempted. What’s more, the researchers behind Covid-19 Monitor find that, on most issues, “support has remained relatively stable” throughout the pandemic — strong evidence that this isn’t just a short-term blip caused by omicron.
It makes sense, then, that the trucker protest is widely unpopular.
The protest is unpopular in Canada. In the U.S., however, at least among the MAGA contingent, it’s a different story. According to reports, sixty-three percent of the donations to the truckers’ now-removed GoFundMe came from the United States, and the American right played an important role in getting the protest off the ground.
The border crossing blockage added to pre-existing supply chain woes. Economists have estimated that it created some $300 million a day in economic damage. I’m sure Rand Paul considers that a small price to pay for the mayhem he applauds–after all, he has been all-in on attacks on vaccines and pandemic rules that demonstrably save lives. Since his ability to generate favorable coverage in rightwing media evidently outweighs any concern about unnecessary deaths, we shouldn’t be surprised that he considers $300 million in daily economic damage a reasonable price to pay for his 15 minutes of rightwing fame.
So–fair is fair. Indiana’s Senators may be feckless and undistinguished (Braun is actually pretty embarrassing), but on the scale of truly despicable, they can’t hold a candle to Kentucky’s entrants in the American Hall of Shame.