There is nothing more American than a road trip. Hitting the highway is a chance to leave your humdrum daily life behind and find new people and possibilities as you traverse the continent.
The Take Our Border Back Convoy (TOBB) generated real excitement in the right-wing universe for this reason. It was an opportunity to recapture some of the magic of the the People’s Convoy (TPC), which for a few brief days in 2022, looked like it might become a political movement before falling apart due to greed and infighting.
This time would be different and social media was soon flooded with the news that 700,000 trucks were headed for the border. Images of the trucker convoy from 2022 were recycled as the joyous misinformation spread that Americans were going to shut down the border, ending the flow of drugs and immigrants.
The band was getting back together, as TPC live-streaming grifters reemerged, with the prospect of a new rolling con exciting their empty bank accounts.
I watched the excitement bubble up on Freedom Corner, the pro-J6 vigil outside the DC Jail that had reached a dead end, literally and figuratively. It had become a home for TPC members who had lingered in the area, following the collapse of the convoy and its successor, the 1776 Restoration Movement.
The livestreamers of Freedom Corner abandoned the vigil for a convoy that was little more than a typo-ridden web site that was light on details.
Day One: Left Behind at Buc-ee’s
The convoy ran into trouble before it began. When the over-eager livestreamers of Freedom Corner arrived at the rally point, an outlet mall in Norfolk, they were kicked out by security. TOBB hadn’t gotten permission to use the parking lot.
TOBB was more than just a reunion of chuds; it also brought the troll community back together, those of us who had monitored, mocked and disrupted TPC, 1776RM and Freedom Corner. We were as excited as they were for this new season.
On the morning of January 29th, I tuned in to the livestreams to see…. nothing. The chuds were in a different parking lot. No trucks. Twenty cars. No organizers.
Eventually, the TOBB organizers arrived in a luxury RV (just like how the TPC organizers had traveled). After speechifying and praying, the convoy left, more than an hour late.
This would be a pattern.
Problems developed almost immediately, as the Zello channel used by TOBB was infiltrated by people shouting, “Howard Stern’s penis!”
The convoy rumbled slowly on. Their plan of reaching Jacksonville in nine hours was hopelessly optimistic; it would take them fifteen.
“Leave no man behind” is one of the credos of the patriot movement. Yet, at a Buc-ee’s in South Carolina, they did just that, stranding Daniel, a man that trolls had nicknamed “MAGA Super Mario” for his resemblance to the video game character. He was kicked out and left behind without his wallet or ID.
“Sorry things didn’t work out!” one of the livestreamers shouted as she drove off.
Day Two: Vehicular Mayhem
The convoy was again late. Again, they had lost their rally point, leading to a late-night relocation to a truck stop rather than their original destination (getting permission before parking overnight having never occurred to organizers).
On the TOBB web site, they had pledged to follow all traffic laws.
The convoy began the day, as they would all days, by rolling through red lights and blocking intersections in a display of selfish and dangerous driving. Being in a convoy means that the laws don’t apply to you.
This included cutting off working truckers, the people that they claim to support:
— Conald Rump (@realConaldRump) January 30, 2024
After another fifteen hour day of driving, more Zello infiltration and another Buc-ee’s stop (no one marooned this time), the convoy arrived in a Baton Rouge truck stop. Without any trucks.
Day Three: The Trolls Bite
Did I mention that the border convoy wasn’t going to the border? That was brought up by the organizers at the some point. 700,000 trucks were not going to the border (not that they had any trucks), instead they would have a rally outside Austin and then a religious revival at a ranch.
Did this matter to the livestreamers? No. It’s the journey, not the destination. The convoy was the point, at least as long as the donations flowed in, which they did through YouTube, Cash app and other methods.
And the trolls were getting to the convoy. They had discovered the “secret” Zello channel and were insulting the livestreamers. They made nasty comments in the chat. The memes were getting to them, leading to one grifter saying what they all thought: they were entitled to break the law because they were patriots!
I’m using @SapphirePatrio1‘s video to show her misquoting @Bossmoney8444‘s tweet. Nobody said shit about white privilege but you, Sherri. Imagined persecution is your favorite hobby. Deeply uncool pizza trader #convoy #FreedomCorner pic.twitter.com/8JkQvg77Yv
— Conald Rump (@realConaldRump) January 31, 2024
Day Four: Lone Star Lunacy
I’ve watched a lot of chud nonsense. I’ve heard sovereign citizen silliness from J6 prisoners calling in to Freedom Corner. Listened to 1776RM talk of a constitutional republic as code for ending democracy. Seen truckers threaten to citizens arrest the Mayor of DC because they peed their pants.
I speak chud. But the political rally held by TOBB on February 1 at a fascist-friendly Dripping Springs distillery was nearly incomprehensible to me. It began with one of the organizers reading a statement that all federal agents in the audience were required to identify themselves. “You been put on a notice,” he declared.
It went downhill from there.
The chuds were excited that Ted Nugent was scheduled to appear. Arriving in a helicopter, he played one song and left.
Sarah Palin got up and accused Joe Biden of treason. She’s a Texas resident now.
Then appeared Ivan Raiklin, a Michael Flynn goblin who is a regular presence at right-wing rallies in DC. Hobbling up on stage in crutches (he was injured in a toboggan accident), he vowed that he would be Trump’s “Secretary of Retribution” and that he had a list of Democrats, liberals and others who were targeted for assassination.
Several J6ers also took the stage, claiming that they had been targeted by the Deep State (despite taking plea deals where they admitted their guilt), and Lara Logan with her pneumatic boobs gave a surprisingly foul-mouthed speech threatening the media.
But that wasn’t even the craziest part. I was half-watching when I suddenly heard shouts of “Allah Akbar” erupt from my computer.
It was Michael Yon, a journalist. He yelled that the Jews were responsible for the immigration crisis at the border and that Muslims from the border were coming to kill them. It was so nuts that I had to rewind to make sure I heard it correctly.
Listen for yourself (turn down your speakers):
Here at the Take Our Borders Back rally, Michael Yon was just SCREAMING into the microphone about migrant terrorists being funded by Jewish money. He was sure to say “Jewish” several times. This was immediately after other speakers said they met with #txlege. Just listen. pic.twitter.com/ozdwhTN6HC
— Amanda 🐢 (@noturtlesoup17) February 2, 2024
Day Five: Groundhog Day
The border convoy was coming close to the end. On February 2, they drove from Dripping Springs to the Cornerstone Children’s Ranch in Quemodo, TX.
As they left, they were protested by Lori Arnold, who would also appear in a heartfelt video condemning the convoy.
This was a four-hour drive that would take them close to twelve due to weather and confusion.
With more than 100 vehicles now (and even a truck), they convoy had grown unwieldy and impossible to manage. Not everyone knew to blow through red lights.
They got split up and lost in San Antonio before eventually trying to reorganize at a Walmart.
The convoy was experiencing its own Groundhog Day, repeating the same cycle of highway chaos again and again.
— Conald Rump (@realConaldRump) February 2, 2024
The convoy had become a magnet for more than just grifters. Calling itself “God’s Army” it had attracted violent right-wing extremists.
Hours after dark, and after an assault by hail, the convoy trickled into the Cornerstone Children’s Ranch.
Day Sixth: February 3th
Was the Take Our Border Back Convoy nothing but a con? It lured hundreds of people to an isolated South Texas ranch for a religious revival and fundraiser.
Rather than taking back the border, the attendees listened to speech after speech under the hot sun and were baptized in a horse trough.
The “tell” that it was a con was there all along. It was in the banner that they used: February 3th.
They didn’t even bother to proof their own banner because they knew it didn’t matter. The call of the convoy was enough to get the MAGA crowd out and rolling. No more details were needed.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. But it’s been farcical since the first convoy got stuck in an endless loop on the Washington Beltway. After they dissolved in bitter recriminations, the 1776 Restoration Movement took up the grift, only to spectacularly implode after a month of being trolled in the nation’s capital. From them begat Freedom Corner, a non-moving convoy of lawn chairs and live-streamers that grows smaller and smaller in a vigil on a dead-end street in DC.
And if there’s one constant in the freedom movement, it’s the lawn chairs. They are essential to any right-wing gathering. Chuds don’t walk. They sit.
After a day of sitting near the border, but not reaching it, the Take Our Border Back Convoy has come to an end.
On February 3th.