I’ve always been a little bit of a survivalist at heart. I thrive in the rugged landscapes of New Mexico, with its spiky plants, sometimes violent weather, crazy pests, and rustic panoramas. Yet it was only after I moved to lush, green, developed Maryland that I became an amateur prepper.
The 2016 election cycle was unlike any other. Then-candidate Trump’s initial comments about Mexico at his announcement speech set off the first of a long chain of firestorms. Seasoned conservatives like myself, used to a certain level of crazy from liberals, initially wrote it off as another liberal outburst. However, as Trump began to elaborate his views on various topics, tossing Molotov cocktails at the Left’s sacred cows, the usual liberal bloviation began to escalate. It wasn’t long before the Left had reach complete hysteria. Everything Trump said was suddenly the most offensive thing that had ever been uttered. The thing is, a lot of what he said made perfect sense to Flyover Americans whose imaginations had not been stunted by political correctness. Liberals were not self-aware enough to stop and question how and why they were so offended over his comments (and generally still aren’t). And so the cycle of mania continued.
Things seemed to have hit a crescendo with Trump’s call for a Muslim ban. I maintain that he partially did this to secure a victory in the South Carolina primary that was going on at the time. And win it he did. Over time, his Muslim ban de-escalated down to a travel ban on certain terror-prone countries which happened to be majority Muslim. But the liberals still haven’t forgiven him for the original proposal.
This combined with his border wall and his many other offenses continued to drive rage among the Left. We began seeing more and more riots, political violence, destruction of property on college campuses, and street fights between Trumpists and the Hard Left. Similar scenes were unfolding in some European countries as well, like Germany.
Around this time I began to wonder how much worse things would get. My mind flashed back to the Baltimore riots, which occurred at the beginning of May 2015, only a 30-40 minute drive from where I lived. I had never seen a riot like that in an American city before (I was too young to remember the LA riots in the 90’s). The Baltimore riots, sparked by the death of Freddie Gray in the custody of the police, created a two day period of complete breakdown in certain parts of inner city Baltimore. I remember watching the news footage and seeing firemenn trying to put out a fire. A masked man in all black ran up, cut a hole in the hose, and ran off. This was on the first day of the riots, before the night the city actually burned.
The next day, I was at my brother’s wedding, and the best man, who is more well-read in politics than either of us, explained that career anarchists try to exploit situations like the one in Baltimore in order to collapse society usher in anarchy. The idea of a “career anarcist” blew my mind. As I did more and more of my own research, and Antifa simultaneously began to rear its ugly head, I grew concerned about where far left hysteria was leading, especially if Trump were to win.
So it was the threat of civil disorder and breakdown, not natural disasters or other typical factors, that got me thinking about prepping. I knew little about prepping except what I had heard and seen clips of on shows like Doomsday Preppers. I knew there were people who had huge storehouses of canned food in their basement, and I knew that people in rural Montana wanted to live “off the grid.” My journey into (what I would consider amateur) prepping began with basic internet searches on what emergency supplies I should have, and with a copy of American Survival Guide I happened to glimpse in Bass Pro Shops one day back then. It actually had a feature on rioting, which I devoured. My prepper mindset had begun. I started to live with the constant awareness in the back of my mind, and often in the front of my mind, that if society collapsed or the electrical grid failed, things would get real ugly real fast.
I was a little surprised to find the plethora of prepper and survivalist websites that existed online. But I quickly snapped out of it: “Wait, this is the internet. Every topic gets blown up into its own universe of websites.” So I dove in. I began to make a list of survival supplies I wanted, and quietly gathered them over the next several months. This started probably June of 2016 and I was “on the clock” to be done by November 7, the day before the election. I was still getting my Master’s at GW at the time, and I sometimes carted the latest American Survival Guide magazine (I had subscribed) to campus with me to read on the metro. I even bought John Wesley, Rawles’ book Patriots, but it proved way too dense and technical for me to make it past the first couple of chapters. (That first chapter though…scary!) I kept my prepping a total secret until right before the election. As I gathered my supplies over the months, I told no one, although I dropped small hints here and there and I think one or two people had an idea.
An amazing thing happened after I had assembled my first real collection of basic prepper supplies. I slept better at night. If the economy crashed and there was no food left in the stores, I had probably a month’s worth of food and water, from canned food to MREs to cereal to jugs of water to a Lifestraw for the pond behind my place. This meant I could go a full month without leaving my house if the world became too dangerous. I read online news like a hawk in those days (too much, really) and watched for any sign of impending trouble. I watched footage of the latest riots at university campuses, studying the tactics of the left wing attackers, and read the latest demands of deluded left wing groups. They were getting more and more hateful and vitriolic. It seemed like the various figureheards of the far left could not top themselves fast enough, as if they were competing with each other for share of voice on social media by saying more and more hateful things to get attention (which I’m sure was and is a factor). For example, it’s not enough for white people, or Christians, or men, to do X to expiate their oppressor nature; now they must do Y to appease the anger of deranged lefties. But next month, they have to do Z, and on it goes.
For my 30th birthday, my brother got me the SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman. I think he knew I was doing some prepping because he bought me this. I had mentioned having gone to a military surplus store in Rockville MD and liking it, which I think gave it away. SAS Survival Handbook is a great book, full of practical knowledge and color illustrations, and I highly recommend it. As I began to think more about a “grid-down situation,” where refrigeration and conventional cooking would be unavailable, I read about how to find edible vegetation, fruits, and nuts. There was a big ravine behind my place that I sometimes walked in and I started imagining how I could forage there. What would the world be like if I had to navigate a concrete jungle alone, eating fruits and nuts and vegetables for survival? These were common thoughts for me at the time, even as I was sitting in a crowded DC subway in a suit trying to make my way home from school at night.
The day before the election, I let my mom and dad know simply that I had enough non-perishable food in the house to not have to go outside for a few days should something bad happen. I didn’t want them to worry about me, especially if cell phone service and the internet went down. My car had some supplies in it in case I got caught out somewhere due to a riot. In fact, I took the day after the election off work—planned well ahead of time—so that I would not have to leave the house that day. I stayed up until about 3 AM when they officially called it for Trump, and went to bed happy…after checking the news for signs of rioting.
The next day, there were no riots serious enough to worry about. However, as we all know, Trump’s campaign and his victory was just the beginning for left wing hysteria.
To be continued…