Bob Bolus and his four trucks arrive.
With the international gaze fixed on Ukraine, Bolus has decided to launch its own war – in our backyard.
“We’re going to take over DC,” said Bolus, 79, a bluffing Trump supporter from Scranton, Pa., known for the large, boldly decorated pro-Trump platform he leads in the crosshairs of any camera he can find.
“They don’t have enough cops, enough people to arrest us,” Bolus told me from his rest stop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, en route to DC. “We’re going to close the Beltway.”
Which is quite funny. Because we do a great job of closing the Beltway with traffic jams on our own, twice a day, almost every day.
Inspired by the truckers who “convoy” in Canada (at least one of whom told a judge he “believes it was a peaceful protest and on the basis of my First Amendment”, forgetting that he was not American), groups of American truckers are planning convoys across the nation to DC to demand their rights.
(And who would have thought that the Macho Men of America would look to Canada for inspiration on how to fight?)
The ‘People’s Convoy’ has online maps that bleed red as they plot all the routes and stops of the convoys supposed to be coming from across the country, just in time for the State of the Union address of the President Biden on March 1. They raise funds and organize meetups on several social media platforms.
On Wednesday, Bolus said he was heading to DC with “50 or 60” trucks behind him.
“It’s wrong,” wrote Reuters reporter Julio-César Chávez, who followed Bolus from Scranton as he roared towards DC and posted updates on the size of Bolus’ convoy. “The convoy never broke more than 15 vehicles.”
Bolus was the only semi-finalist once it arrived at the Beltway on Wednesday. And he finally turned around and went back to Scranton. But he said he plans to return next week when he expects the rest of the convoy to arrive from across the country.
“We will come back strong, that’s a promise,” he said, pledging to continue his fight. “We will have 90,000 trucks coming.”
But what are they fighting for?
Canadians started angry over the mask and vaccine mandates. Then they started talking about a wealth gap, the overreach of government. Confederate, Nazi and Trump 2024 flags have appeared at protests.
Bolus wants attention, that’s for sure. Some of his grievances are printed on the side of his 18-wheeler:
“There is ‘NO COLOR’ in America
There’s also a great shot of him, looking like a moonlit merchant captain as Santa Claus. You’d think he’s running for office. In fact, he tried – at least four times. But he was kicked out of the Scranton mayoral ballot each time for felony convictions, according to one of the lawsuits he filed in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to reverse the ballot.
He told me he was mad at “Nancy Pelosi’s Gestapo” and “that wacky DC mayor” and “the feds.” His people are “unified”, “invincible”, “standing and fighting”. But details about what they are fighting for are scarce.
The list of things we are all paying attention to right now is long. But here we are, spending energy and money on these convoys and their floating grievances and unspecific demands, as sensible as a toddler’s temper tantrum.
But we cannot send them back because of January 6th.
In 1861, as Abraham Lincoln was about to be inaugurated, law enforcement officers whose job it was to ensure the president was sworn in heard similar plans from critics in across the country.
“It was whispered that there was a plan…to blow up the Capitol and seize the arsenal and the shipyard; that Washington would soon be cut off, with railroads uprooted, bridges burnt, telegraph wires destroyed; that armed secret societies were springing up all over Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, ready and ready for action,” wrote Norma B. Cuthbert, introducing the Huntington Library’s collection of Pinkerton papers in “Lincoln and the Baltimore Plot”.
They took it seriously, surrounded the Capitol with troops, and Lincoln was inaugurated. Today, the police are taking no risks.
“We take them seriously,” said the US Capitol Police, as they plan the State of the Union and the potential for copycat convoys.
“They called me,” Bolus said, of the phone call he received from DC police investigators who cornered him into his plans.
“We’re not going to DC,” he told them. “Not today, at least.”