The survivalist movement is picking up paranoid progressive converts as Trump’s provocative posturing and unpredictability sparks a fresh wave of panic on the left.
Shane Dixon Kavanaugh reports: Colin Waugh bought a shotgun four weeks before November’s election.
An unapologetic liberal, he was no fan of firearms. He had never owned one before. But Waugh, a 31-year-old from Independence, Missouri, couldn’t shake his fears of a Donald Trump presidency — and all of the chaos it could bring. He imagined hate crimes and violence waged by extremists emboldened by the Republican nominee’s brash, divisive rhetoric. He pictured state-sanctioned roundups of Muslims, gays, and outspoken critics.
“We’re tired of being perceived as wusses who won’t survive when shit hits the fan. I, for one, don’t like to be thought of as some precious snowflake.”
— Stacy, a Texas Democrat who recently caught the prepper bug
“I kept asking myself, ‘Do I want to live under tyranny?’” said Waugh, who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and later backed Hillary Clinton. “The answer was absolutely not.”
“With the new administration I worry about Nazi-style camps that would include my wife, our twins and myself.”
— Melissa Letos, who lives with her family on a five-acre spread near Portland, Oregon
With Trump now days away from assuming the White House, Waugh’s preparing for the worst. He’s made “bug-out bags” stuffed with ammo, energy bars, and assorted survival gear for his wife and their three cats. He’s begun stowing water and browsing real estate listings in Gunnison County, Colorado, which he’s determined to be a “liberal safe-haven.” Last month, Waugh added a 9mm handgun to his arsenal.
His advice to others on the left fearful of the next four years? “Get ready. Pay attention. Keep your wits about you.”
Waugh’s not alone. He is among a new cadre embracing extreme self-reliance in the wake of Trump’s surprising victory. Long a calling among conservatives spooked by big government boogymen and calamitous natural disasters, the so-called prepper movement is gaining a decisively liberal following.
“Occasionally, posts on the Liberal Prepper seem to veer close to parody. One debate thread last week centered around the merits of stocking up on recycled toilet paper rolls versus buying Angel Soft, a brand produced by Koch industries, a notorious climate change foe.”
“We’re tired of being perceived as wusses who won’t survive when shit hits the fan,” said Stacy, a Texas Democrat who recently caught the prepper bug. She spoke with Vocativ on the condition we not publish her last name. “I, for one, don’t like to be thought of as some precious snowflake.”
“And in another discussion, vegetarian and vegan members talked about the best meat- and dairy-free food supplies to have during a sustained crisis.
After years cast as a fringe survival group, preppers entered a kind of golden age during the Obama presidency. A horrific housing crash and the spectacle of Hurricane Sandy helped give rise to reality television shows like Doomsday Preppers and Doomsday Bunker, and fueled a multi-billion dollar survival industry. Branded by some as a foreign-born, gun-grabbing socialist, Obama aroused deep suspicion among the patriot groups, right-wing conservatives, and apocalyptic Christians at the center of the growing movement.
“It’s the nature of the political beast. Obama had many on the right really wound up. Now it’s the left’s turn.”
— Kevin O’Brien, a conservative prepper and realtor who specializes in off-the-grid properties in eastern Tennessee
Trump’s provocative posturing and unpredictability is now inspiring a fresh wave of panic on the left. Those who spoke with Vocativ have envisioned scenarios that could lead to military coups led by loyalists of the president-elect and internment camps packed with political opponents, bloody social unrest and an all-out civil or nuclear war. Sound bonkers? Perhaps. But, for many, so was the prospect of a President Trump.
“It’s the nature of the political beast,” said Kevin O’Brien, a conservative prepper and realtor who specializes in off-the-grid properties in eastern Tennessee. “Obama had many on the right really wound up. Now it’s the left’s turn.”
The signs of change are surely in the air. Groups that cater to gun-toting bleeding hearts — such as the aptly named Liberal Gun Club — say they’ve seen a surge in paid membership since the election. Candid talk of disaster preparedness among progressives is showing up on social media. Even companies that outfit luxury “safe rooms” — which protect their wealthy owners from bombs, bullets, and chemical attacks — attribute recent boosts in business to the incoming administration. Read the rest of this entry »