Doomsday “prepping” is seeping into the mainstream as Americans of all ages and political persuasions are becoming increasingly worried ahead of the 2024 presidential election about the prospect of a civil war.
Hoarding food, water and weapons was once associated with libertarian extremists, but as a rematch between President Biden and his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, seems all but inevitable in 2024, prepping has become a bipartisan activity, according to a Monday USA Today report.
“On the left, you have people afraid (Trump’s) going to declare himself dictator of the United States and people on the left are going to end up as targets in some sort of authoritarian system,” author Brad Garrett told the paper.
Brekke Wagoner, 39, of North Carolina runs a YouTube channel that offers advice to younger, more liberal urban dwellers about how to prepare for a cataclysmic disaster.
She is worried that if Trump is re-elected, he would fumble the response to a hurricane or other natural disaster that is supercharged by climate change — pointing to his administration’s handling of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The intensification of our natural storm seasons is the number one thing that’s going to happen to you,” she reportedly said.
“An electromagnetic pulse that takes out the electrical grid could happen. A nuclear war might happen. A civil war might happen. But a storm will happen.”
Wagoner has a 90-day supply of food stocked up for her six-person family in the event of a similar emergency.
“If you can be prepared, you won’t be a drain on the resources needed to help the people who didn’t prepare,” she told the paper.
Not every prepper is influenced by altruism. Retired US Air Force Col. Drew Miller has built seven “Fortitude Ranch” compounds across the country, stockpiled with food, propane, whiskey, solar panels, wells and lots of guns and ammunition.
His members, who pay at least $1,200 a year, are reportedly prepared to flee to the nearest compound in the event of war, nuclear blasts or protesting mobs, and shoot any “marauders” who approach its logged walls.
“We’ll have some decent chow here come a collapse,” Miller said, while giving USA Today a tour of the spartan accommodations of his southern Colorado compound.
“We guarantee a year of food, but not of toilet paper.”
The compound features an armored guard post, sniper positions and an underground bunker for its approximately 100 members.
Miller showed off the weaponry that members would have at hand, including a .50-caliber rifle to fire at approaching vehicles, hunting rifles and a cache of handguns.
“I want middle-class Americans to survive and we make it affordable to do that,” Miller said. “I think eventually things will recover — and I want to be alive for that.”
Many of Miller’s clients signed up during the widespread racial justice protests and ensuing civil unrest that followed the police murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Even though most of those protests were peaceful, Trump threatened to dispatch the military to clamp down on demonstrators as many large cities suffered property damage.
“There could easily be a civil war during a Biden-Trump election,” he said, adding that his group was apolitical and pointing out that many of his members are ex-military and trained in survival.
Over the past year, younger Americas have outpaced Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in prepping for doomsday scenarios, which has blossomed into a $11 billion annual business in the US, according to Finder.com.
Some 39% of Millennials and 40% of Gen Z had spent money on the practice in the past 12 months, compared to 29% of the overall US adult population, the analytic spending website said.
The recent statistics could be explained by growing societal unease. A USA Today/Suffolk University Poll recently found that more than two-thirds of Americans believe the world is facing either bigger problems than usual or is in the most troubled state they’ve ever seen.
Prof. Chad Huddleston, an anthropologist at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, said the surge in prepping is the result of an increased loss of trust in government among younger and more liberal people.
“On one side, people think Trump may bring a New World Order and ‘they’ will come and get us so we need to be ready,” Huddleston reportedly said.
“And then on the other hand you have the communities who think things will get just get worse, so we have to help ourselves.”
Garrett, who interviewed hundreds of preppers for his 2020 book “Bunker,” said many less hardline preppers were younger liberals who were shocked by the pandemic and the police brutality protests.
“We do have this authoritarian streak running through the right and prepping plays into that. They are prepared for violence, no question,” Garrett told the outlet.
Many of Garrett’s younger interview subjects were concerned that a second Trump administration would veer autocratic and bungle the impact of climate change.
“You’re seeing a lot of people who are not worried about the apocalypse but if the power goes out for three days,” he said. “You’re seeing more prepping but less extreme prepping.”
Wagoner, for her part, rejects a fear-based approach and encourages preppers to think about getting ready for “community survival.”
“My perspective is that we are better together,” she said, adding that “Jesus would slap the s— out of anyone who had food and refused to help their neighbors who were hungry.”
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