Published time: October 11, 2013 09:36
By Patrick Henningsen
There seems to be no end to the political theater in Washington DC. But what began as a simple game of chicken between the White House and the Republican opposition has quickly morphed into a game of political Russian roulette.
A nation polarized, stuck in the ultimate political gridlock imaginable over federal spending. As America waits for a resolution to the federal government shutdown, an unlikely community has decided to put their money where their mouth is. By all accounts, they are the most under-appreciated industry in today’s America. Truck drivers are the backbone of the American economy. Everything Americans own, buy and need is delivered to them by trucks daily, yet few take any notice of the people behind the wheels. That could all change after this weekend, as America gets a taste of its first-ever diesel-driven flash mob.
According the organizers at RideForTheConstitution.org, over 3,000 truckers, thousands more demonstrators on foot, have already RSVP’d to converge on the nation’s capital starting this Friday, Oct 11th, as they plan to slow traffic into Washington DC, and present a list of demands to law makers there.
“Somebody had to do it,” explained Zeeda Andrews, a former country singer and Mac Truck spokesmodel. Organizers have been surprised by the amount of support they’ve gathered since their campaign gained visibility last month.
“I didn’t think it would be this big. Maybe that’s because the American people are just fed up. It’s more than just a trucking issue now, we are in a constitutional crisis and something has to be done, and it’s common people like myself – with nothing to lose, who are going to get something done.”
Considering the fact that most people have never sat in the cab of an 18 wheeler in their life, the DC truckers have somehow managed to attract a pretty wide appeal. Already, parallel protests have sprung up, set to take place in most major US cities on Friday and Saturday.
Larry Klayman, a former US Justice Department prosecutor, and founder of Freedom Watch, has also volunteered his support for the DC truckers’ campaign. This past summer Klayman represented the families of Navy SEAL Team 6 who were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in August 2011, following the White House’s rather incredible raid on the alleged bin Laden lair in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
“I’m throwing my support behind this campaign because we’ve have had enough. Our government has broken away from the people, and our grievances are not being heard, so we need to get out there and make it clear to the powers that be that be – whether it’s President Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner, or whether it’s majority leader Harry Reid in the Senate – that we are simply not going to take it anymore. The time has come to save our country, and we’ll do it in the style of Ghandi, Lech Walesa, and Martin Luther King”, said Klayman.
Organisers will join Klayman today at the steps of the US Capitol building to present their list of demands. At the top of that list is an appeal for economic survival, with a call for immediate action on the spiralling cost of diesel and harassment from federal regulatory agencies which is not only driving up costs of goods and services, but also killing transportation profits, pushing independent truckers into fuel poverty, and ultimately out of business.
Beyond this emerges a broader spectrum movement of political dissent, which echoes concerns heard from many different quarters in the US.
As far as civil disobedience goes, their protest is no walk in the park. Logistically speaking, it’s a nightmare. Then there’s the political demands, which, in terms of the average Americans’ attention deficit disorder, are comprehensive, and not exactly ‘media friendly’ – especially for the likes of MSNBC and FOX. But unlike the much celebrated, but highly ineffective Occupy Movement, which ended up being a controlled street party whose indelible mark on society was that it produced a boiled down abstract of class warfare – ‘The 1% vs. the 99%’ – the DC Truckers have a fairly sharp libertarian agenda, coupled with a detailed list of constitutional demands.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a bunker lately, you would know that something is serious brewing in America. In the last year alone, – the White House has been dodging and fighting to stave off a seemingly endless daisy chain of scandals. In addition to the Navy SEAL Team 6 cover-up, there is a not-so-small issue of the White House using the IRS to target the President’s political opponents, the horrific Benghazi cover-up involving a dead US Ambassador and servicemen, and gun-running from Libya to Syria, and the US support of al Qaeda fighters in Syria.
In addition to these and other federal interventions hurting truckers’ livelihoods, the campaign feels that all unconstitutional federal laws and agencies should be wiped from the books. They include the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Transport Security Agency (TSA), and The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
US talk radio host Pete Santilli has volunteered to help the truckers get their message out over the airwaves.
“If you look at the list of demands, regardless of where you are in the political spectrum, you would not disagree with: stop supporting al Qaeda (in Syria), don’t raise the debt ceiling – and threaten us – that if we don’t print another trillion dollars that they’ll collapse out system – that’s a forceful means to steal money from us. President Obama needs to be held accountable for crimes committed against the United States and Congress needs to hear those crimes.”
“The beauty of this event is that it is open and nonpartisan – it absolutely cuts right through party lines. Every American can participate in this”. Santilli adds here, “John McCain and Lindsey Graham – they must go. Any of these unconstitutional legislators, anyone who has committed unconstitutional acts in office, must vacate voluntarily. If they refuse to go, we want to cut off their money supply so they won’t be able to make millions off us anymore.”
Attacks and Censorship
The Truckers are not without their enemies, who are keen to discredit them, silence them, or both.
As their campaign goes viral, so goes the media shooting match. The campaign has been directly targeted by George Soros-funded leftwing outlet, Media Matters, who have been busy digging up old Facebook posts and ‘likes’ from personal pages of Ride For The Constitution’s organisers, in effect, waging a character assassination against them.
When running a 21st century activist campaign, one must also beware of deadly communitarian policing, also known as “community guidelines” policy.
Ride For The Constitution’s Facebook page was live only six days when it received 86,000 likes, only to be promptly pulled down by the social network. The same happened with its Twitter account, which was pulled down after only 6 days.
In both cases, accounts were frozen because of an anonymous complaint.
Santilli says he’s mounting a legal challenge against one of the social networks.
“It seems like the First Amendment doesn’t apply on social networks. You work hard to build-up a huge audience, only to see it disappear in an instant – because a few political enemies anonymously complain that they were somehow offended”.
As with all political movements through history, the pain normally starts in the wallet. Rising toll road charges and inflated diesel prices are forcing many out of America’s trucking industry. In 2013, the reality is that drivers are losing their trucks – and losing their business. After labour, diesel fuel is the second highest expense for motor carriers, and can reach as much as much as 20% of transport’s total operating costs.
Organisers Zeeda Andrews and Michael ‘JB’ Schaffner concluded in their joint statement on what they feel is a national crisis:
“By no means are these the only issues that need action, to be resolved. There are many, many more issues that continue to plague this industry, as new regulations create even more contradictions in law. As per the fourteenth amendment of our Constitution, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges, or immunities of Citizens of the United States, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.
“So let these issues be the beginning of where we take a stand, not just as The American Drivers, but as Free and Independent Americans, protecting what our Constitution preserves for us.”
At the very least Washington DC might be in for a shock this weekend. Call it shock therapy for the political class. At its best, it could jump-start real American discourse nationwide.
Let the ride begin.