Nate Jackson / February 1, 2023

Malcontent Lefties Hate Pickups

There are few things as quintessentially American as pickup trucks, which is exactly why they’re under attack.

“You can set my truck on fire, roll it down a hill, but I still wouldn’t trade it for a Coupe DeVille.” So begins the chorus of Joe Diffie’s 1994 country music hit “Pickup Man.” Indeed, few things are as emblematic of the modern American spirit as pickup trucks. No wonder leftists hate them.

Fifteen years ago, the primary vehicular target of leftist ire was the SUV. So much so that the late great Rush Limbaugh would “datta lute datta lute” his way to another SUV update every time a journalist would seemingly blame the vehicle for an accident as if there weren’t a driver at all. He saw such strangely slanted stories as proof that leftists hate American independence. They’d rather see everyone using public transport in cities than have the freedom to traverse the fruited plain. Rush was, as usual, right.

Just the other day, Axios published a big story about big trucks. Don’t get us wrong — the graphics are pretty nifty, and it’s fascinating to see the evolution of the pickup from the early F-150 and its single-cab, eight-foot-bed configuration to today’s four-door “super crew” people hauler.

But the purpose of the article was to call into question the whole idea of owning a pickup.

The authors begin with the obvious fact that pickups are immensely popular. “America has a love affair with pickup trucks,” they write. The top three selling vehicles are pickups, and the Ford F-series leads the pack. “The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for more than 40 years, and for that reason, it’s a useful proxy for pickups overall.”

Thus begins the story’s focus on the changes in the F-150 over the last 40 years. For example, the ratio of cab to bed is almost precisely flipped from early trucks. Height, length, and width have all grown substantially, along with capability.

Any red-blooded American can do just about anything with a pickup truck. Tow big trailers and RVs, haul wood for a DIY project, embark on an off-road adventure, or simply tote the kids to school.

The problem, huffs the Axios team, is that people don’t typically use these behemoths for towing and hauling. Thus, trucks have “transitioned from workhorses to luxury family vehicles,” and body style and size have changed accordingly. “If most people are using their trucks primarily for errands and transportation, why not buy a minivan or SUV instead?” Axios wonders. “The answer may lie in consumers’ self-image.” And again, “Two words set F-150 owners apart: ‘powerful’ and ‘rugged.’”

Tell us you’re complaining about “toxic masculinity” without using the words “toxic masculinity.”

The authors get to the real thesis fairly quickly: “Pedestrian and road safety advocates say today’s massive trucks are a hazard, given their size, weight and driver blind spots.” Later in the article, they expound on everything from the height of children relative to a truck to the weight of trucks compared to the average car. This has comparatively deadly results for other drivers and pedestrians struck by trucks.

Such incidents are indeed tragic, and every pickup driver ought to be as safety conscious as possible behind the wheel. Yet the article concludes with an irony: The electric vehicles, including trucks, that are taking the market by storm (thanks, ahem, to the government’s unmentioned thumb on the scales) are far heavier than other vehicles and, thus, more deadly in the terms explored by the article.

Not only does Axios skip the part about government involvement in EVs, but the authors declined to explore how government mandates and regulations are a big factor in the increased size of pickups in the first place. Talk about the elephant in the room.

Navy veteran and young journalist Luther Ray Abel takes on that task for them. A subscription is required for that link, so we’ll summarize briefly. He calls it “a framework of regulation (such as the brackish emissions of the emissions czars), protectionism, central-planner pettifoggery, and ego.” Federal fuel mileage standards, for example, distort the kinds of vehicles manufacturers build. “Government regulations,” he says, “are producing the opposite effect of what they claim to do: reduce vehicle emissions.” Just watch as it happens again with EVs.

Axios, he argues, is “deceitful through omission” by not exploring these things.

That’s because government intervention is the goal of the activists Axios is listening to. Those activists want, for example, “a weight-based tax to discourage people from driving cars that are too big and too dangerous for our streets.” Why does the Left always want to tell us what to do?

This author has owned four F-150s going back more than 20 years. Yes, towing and hauling are part of the duties performed, not that it’s anyone’s business. And sure, “powerful” and “rugged” are words we’d use. So are “capable,” “practical,” and “fun as all get-out.” Also, “back off” because, last we checked, this is America.

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