Bob Bolus and his four trucks are coming.
With the international gaze fixed on Ukraine, Bolus decided to launch his own war — in our backyard.
“We’re going to put a stranglehold on D.C.,” said Bolus, 79, a bloviating Trump supporter from Scranton, Pa., known for the boldly decorated, pro-Trump big rig that he steers into the sightline of any camera he can find.
“They don’t have enough cops, enough people to stop us,” Bolus told me from his rest stop in Harrisburg, Pa., on his way to D.C. “We’re going to shut the Beltway down.”
Which is pretty funny. Because we do a fine job of shutting down the Beltway with gridlock on our own, twice a day, nearly every day.
Inspired by the truckers “convoying” in Canada (at least one of whom told a judge he “thought it was a peaceful protest and based on my first amendment,” forgetting he is not American), groups of American truckers are planning convoys across the nation to D.C. to demand their rights.
(And who would’ve thought the Macho Men of America would look to Canada for inspiration on how to fight?)
The “People’s Convoy” has maps online that bleed red as they trace all the routes and stops of convoys purportedly coming from across the nation, just in time for President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1. They’re raising money and organizing meetups on several social media platforms.
On Wednesday, Bolus said he was headed toward D.C. with “50 or 60” trucks behind him.
“This is false,” wrote Reuters journalist Julio-César Chávez, who followed Bolus from Scranton as he roared toward D.C. and posted updates on the size of Bolus’s convoy. “The convoy has never broken above 15 vehicles.”
Bolus was the sole semi once he got to the Beltway on Wednesday. And he eventually turned around and headed back to Scranton. But he said he plans to return next week, when he believes the rest of the convoy will arrive from across the nation.
“We’ll be back in force, that’s a promise,” he said, pledging to keep up his fight. “We’ll have 90,000 trucks coming.”
But what are they fighting for?
The Canadians started out angry about mask and vaccine mandates. Then they began talking about a wealth gap, government overreach. Confederate, Nazi and Trump 2024 flags popped up in the protests.
Bolus wants attention, that’s for certain. Some of his grievances are printed on the side of his 18-wheeler:
“There is ‘NO COLOR’ in America
There’s only 1 RACE
The HUMAN RACE”
There’s also a big picture of him, looking like a sea captain who moonlights as Santa. You’d think he was running for office. Actually, he tried — at least four times. But he was kicked off the Scranton mayoral ballot each time over felony convictions, according to one of the lawsuits he filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to get back on the ballot.
He told me he’s mad at “Nancy Pelosi’s Gestapo” and “that wacko mayor of D.C.” and “the federales.” His people are “unified,” “invincible,” “standing up and fighting.” But details on what they’re fighting for are scant.
The list of things we’re all paying attention to right now is long. But here we are, spending energy and money on these convoys and their free-floating grievances and nonspecific demands, as sensible as a toddler’s temper tantrum.
But we can’t dismiss them because of Jan. 6.
In 1861, when Abraham Lincoln was about to be inaugurated, law enforcement officers whose job was to make sure the president was sworn in heard similar plans from detractors across the nation.
“It was whispered that there was a plan … to blow up the Capitol and seize the arsenal and navy yard; that Washington soon would be isolated, with railroad tracks torn up, bridges burned, telegraph wires destroyed; that armed secret societies were springing up throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, ready and geared for action,” wrote Norma B. Cuthbert, introducing the collection of Pinkerton papers from the Huntington Library in “Lincoln and the Baltimore Plot.”
They took it seriously, encircled the Capitol with troops, and Lincoln was inaugurated. Today, law enforcement officers aren’t taking any chances.
“We are taking them seriously,” U.S. Capitol police said, as they plan for the State of the Union and the potential for copycat convoys.
“They called me,” Bolus said, about the phone call he got from D.C. police investigators who cornered him on his plans.
“We’re not going into D.C.,” he said he told them. “Not today, at least.”