Prepping is only for conservative, rural, gun-toting survivalists, right? Think John Goodman in the movie Cloverfield Lane, with an underground bunker stocked with freeze-dried food, a ventilation system, and a huge metal door to keep out both kinds of aliens.
Everyone knows that liberals are weak and hate violence, and only exist so that strong, right-leaning preppers can steal from them in a crisis…
…which is, of course, a stupid and outdated stereotype. Everyone is prepping nowadays. Young, old, city, country, left, right, and rainbow.
Liberals, like many others, are flocking to the self-sustaining, survival, emergency preparedness lifestyle — and for good reason.
Prepping is no longer (and shouldn’t be) a political thing the way it was in the past, when, for example, people got into prepping because they thought Obama was a secret Muslim agent. But issues progressives care deeply about, like climate change and economic despair, are some of the many common-sense reasons everyone should prepare.
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Liberal preppers have been the subject of an explosion of press coverage in the past several months. Buzzfeed writes that liberals “are taking inspiration from preppers on the other end of the political spectrum. Theirs is a quieter kind of prepping, with a degree of self-consciousness.” There’s plenty more, too, like in the New Yorker, BBC, Quartz, Daily Kos, Vanity Fair, and Vocativ.
Here are the five top reasons why liberals should be preppers:
1. Climate change
Almost all liberals accept the science that our climate is changing, humans are the cause, things will get really bad, and it might be irreversible no matter what we do now.
Liberal prepper Diana G. told us, “Liberals believe in climate change and can see that the current government is not doing anything to mitigate the possible outcomes, so we have to fend for ourselves.”
NASA now thinks we’re locked in to at least a 2.5-foot rise in sea level by 2100. 55% of Americans live near the coast — that’s around 170 million people. 670 major coastal communities are expected to be wiped out by rising sea levels within our children’s lifetimes, according to the “bad” end of the scientific model projections presented at the Paris climate talks.
Cities like Miami, Oakland, Charleston, and four of the five New York City boroughs will be gone.
In August 2017, scientists from 13 US federal agencies finalized a congressionally mandated report that concludes recent decades are the warmest in 1,500 years of measurements, and humans are to blame.
Another recent study determined that human-driven climate change is the reason wildfires have doubled since 1980 and the total number of acres burned has gone up 400% — even though our technology and fire response capability has improved over that time.
Natural disasters and climate change create ripple effects. It’s not just the floods and heatwaves themselves — think about what will happen when tons of people are displaced, food and water supplies are interrupted, infrastructure crumbles, home prices tank, local economies crash, and so on.
2. Failing institutions (like government)
Like most Americans in any political party, liberals are increasingly worried that the bedrock systems and institutions we all rely on are falling apart and can’t be fixed.
It’s no secret that most moderates and liberals aren’t a fan of Trump and that many have started prepping since he took office. Garry Carlson of survival food manufacturer Augason Farms told us, “Since the election we’ve seen a migration in our audience — a surge from the center and center-left as they understand that our world’s becoming less predictable and more perilous than ever before.”
But famed historian Alfred McCoy writes in his new book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,” that Trump is a symptom of our eroding institutions, not the cause.
Political discourse has devolved into a gridlock of post-truth alt-facts, trolling, shallow quick-fixes, and elected officials who aren’t qualified to manage a Dairy Queen — something for which both sides of the aisle are to blame.
Programs that millions rely on to live and thrive, like Medicare, Meals on Wheels, environmental protections, and public education, as well as infrastructure (e.g. power, water, and roads) are all declining. Social Security will probably fail. Our debt and dollar could explode.
Trusting that our government can maturely and intelligently address important issues like healthcare and what it means to have a modern first-world society seems naive, at best, to more and more citizens of all political stripes.
Case in point: the conclusive new report about climate change from 13 federal agencies that aggregated data from tens of thousands of scientists is at risk of being censored by the Trump administration because it doesn’t fit with their narrative. Scientists are editing the words “climate change” to phrases like “severe weather” just to get around the government censors.
Liberals believe that government is good and it should play a meaningful role in a quality life for all. But they also realize they need to become more self-reliant and take care of themselves and their community. Not because government shouldn’t take care of us, but because, increasingly, it can’t.
Disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Cascadia Rising drill have made it very clear that hoping “the government will save us!” is not a smart strategy. Emergency responders used to say you should have three days of supplies on hand. Now they recommend at least two weeks because they know it’s unlikely they’ll get to you within a few days.
3. Drastically changing economy and the post-work future
Our economy is changing, right now, in fundamental ways. We won’t even be able to comprehend just how different things are going to be until the dust settles (and after a lot of pain).
Most experts agree that issues like the declining middle class, stagnant wages, increased work hours and decreased quality of life, artificial intelligence and automation, and globalization are leading to a “post-work” future. Billionaires like Mark Cuban and Mark Zuckerberg are advocating for universal basic income because they know this is going to be a big problem, and soon.
Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006 and one of the most influential economists in the world, wrote in 2006 that, “The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself.”
Because of how poorly our institutions and governments are addressing these issues, things will probably get a lot worse before they get better.
For example, even though Goldman Sachs estimates that 25,000 drivers a month will start losing their job in the next few years due to driverless vehicles — leading to 3% of the total US workforce out of a job and unable to find a new one — Trump’s top economic advisor said, “I think it’s 50-100 years away. It’s not even on my radar screen.”
The “new normal” will be high unemployment and underemployment, low mobility, and a generally declining quality of life. If you’d like a preview, just visit any of the rural towns dying across the country.
Traditionally liberal causes like a higher minimum wage are just putting a Bandaid on top of cancer, and it’s not working. (It’s not working in ‘apocalyptic’ Venezuela, either.)
Put simply, the idea that you can be an average American, get a good job, have a high quality of life, raise a family, and feel safe and sound up through your retirement is now a quickly disappearing dream.
Prepping ensures that people are ready for sudden things, like layoffs, and longer-term issues, like general economic hardship.
Kevan Allbee from Emergency Essentials says that although people assume prepping is for natural or social disasters, many of their customers report that their preps helped them survive temporary personal financial problems. One customer shared with Allbee, “My husband and I were both laid off, and we lived off our emergency food supply for 18 weeks. We’re both reemployed now, but we wouldn’t have made it without prepping.”
4. Activism and helping others
Allbee says, “Liberals are the party of compassion.” Many liberal preppers say they incorporate the idea of taking care of others into their prepping.
Prepping can be a form of activism, where people work communally so everyone stays safe and fed. Allbee observed the ways in which liberals and conservatives typically react differently under threat: “The left stands up and protests, where the right would be hunkering down and stocking up.”
But neither approach is complete. Liberals are not just attending protests and calling politicians; they’re taking direct action to promote social good by looking out for neighbors and their communities.
Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to be able to help a neighbor in the event of a house fire or knowing what to do if they see a bad car accident.
Debbie W. from Liberal Preppers says, “I want to develop — and share — skills that are useful to the community at large, that increase the likelihood of the community as a whole prospering in adversity.”
Kevin R. told us that he believes “the movement is expanding from the traditional stereotypical prepper to non-white, non-cisgendered people taking more responsibility for their self sufficiency, taking control of their lives, learning skills and obtaining tools to take care of neighbors as well as their immediate family.”
5. More sustainable and healthy lifestyles
Many liberals have been participating in trends for years that dovetail neatly with prepping: the “farm-to-table” and “slow food” movements, rekindled interest in homesteading skills, getting their homes off the grid, and DIY everything, such as brewing kombucha, making salumi, canning food, and taking classes on butchering and making cheese.
In fact, much of what people now call prepping is what our grandparents simply called everyday life: growing fruits and vegetables, raising chickens, storing food to last until the next harvest; having candles and water to last during a sustained outage; even practicing skills like bushcraft and field medicine.
This self-sufficiency isn’t just doing what grandpa used to do. It’s prepping.
Bonus: Liberals have been prepping for a long time. They were just hidden.
Although recent press would have you believe that “normal people” and liberals weren’t prepping until very recently, the truth is that people of every shape, color, and creed have been prepping for a long time — including the most liberal Bernie Bros living in big cities and suburban moms who ignore politics.
Yes, the community has been growing a lot in recent years. But many preppers have stayed hidden, afraid of the stigma and political attacks.
Nedra Fraley, admin of a Liberal Preppers group on Facebook, told us, “Most of us came here not to be liberal preppers as much as to escape the blatant conservative postings on other sites and being trolled if we disagreed.”
In a recent article in Vocativ, a prepper named Stacy explained, “We’re tired of being perceived as wusses who won’t survive when the SHTF.”
Many traditional prepper websites joke that when things get bad, they’ll “just steal from the weak libtards.”
So liberals are evening the odds.
Notably, there are very active groups on Facebook for liberal gun lovers. BBC observed, “Gun ownership has traditionally been associated with the right wing in America but the election of Donald Trump has prompted some left-wingers to join gun clubs — and even start preparing for the collapse of society.”
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