The afternoon after Trump won the presidential election, Colin Waugh, a 31-year-old resident of Independence, Missouri, logged into Facebook. He then created a group called the Liberal Prepper and invited 38 of his friends.
The goal of the Facebook group, Waugh wrote, is to “combine minds and hearts, with an emphasis on preparedness, in a time where a progressive way of life has never been more at risk of becoming taboo or altogether ostracized.”
Three weeks later, The Liberal Prepper climbed to 1,000 members. As of now, it has amassed nearly 2,000.
The group is for liberals who, following Trump’s election, started prepping for a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or other unforeseen catastrophe.
“There was less of a threat of a nuclear holocaust brought out by Obama,” Waugh tells Business Insider. “There’s a leap into fear now that Trump is in power.”
In October 2016, Waugh and his wife started stockpiling protein bars, rice, peanut butter, first-aid supplies, batteries, toilet paper, cat food, trash bags, medical handbooks, and as many canned goods as they could fit in the pantry of their one-bedroom apartment.
The Liberal Prepper page is active, with members posting and commenting multiple times per day. There are photos of vegetables stored in mason jars; tutorials for homemade gardens, canoes, and bunkers; information about medical kits; a few liberal memes; numerous news articles; and links to off-grid gadgets like pedal-powered laundry machines.
A member named Seth posted that he has canned over a gallon of carrots and has bought ten 3.5-gallon water storage containers, while another woman posted that she will use $US500 worth of her tax return to buy gear.
One man, named Mannie, posted a photo of his new kerosene heater, and asked others what they thought of the brand. A few members liked a recent photo of a liberal prepper’s sink, full of mangoes she plans to store.
Stacy, an Idaho-based woman who serves as a co-administrator of The Liberal Prepper group, became interested in prepping in the months leading up to Election Day. As a single mum of a kindergartner, she says she now worries about her son’s education (especially with Betsy DeVos as education secretary) and the possibility of him learning hate rhetoric from some of Trump’s followers.
“I don’t know if there are going to be changes to the curriculum, school funding, like if they’re not going to be able to hire quality people to teach our kids or if they would teach them propaganda,” Stacy, who who declined to give her last name, tells BI.
She has bought just a handful of supplies so far: seeds, canned goods, rice, pre-made to-go bags, a tent, and extra water.
“After I was added to the [Liberal Prepper] group, I saw it started blowing up,” Stacey says, “It’s amazing to see how it has blossomed. It makes me feel like I’ve got people to turn to, if anything should happen.”
The group’s members are not the only ones who began prepping in response to Trump’s win. At least a few American prepping supply companies have seen spikes in sales since the election. The Idaho-based company My Patriot Supply tells BI that its sales during the week of the inauguration doubled from the same week in 2016. And Doomsday Prep, which has a storefront in Georgia, has experienced more than 15% year-over-year growth since Election Day, according to owner David Sanders.
Waugh says he does not consider himself (and the liberal prepping community at large) a part of the American Preppers Network (APN), the largest organisation of its kind in the US. This is because he says the majority of APN’s members lean conservative (though the APN site states that it accepts people from all political affiliations).
Unlike conservative preppers, liberals tend to focus more on skills and supplies that will provide comfort (e.g. in the form of stoves and blankets) rather than protection (e.g. firearms), Waugh says. However, a handful of Liberal Prepper members have bought guns and ammunition since the election.
Though Waugh and his wife never considered buying a gun before the 2016 campaign cycle, they purchased a 12-gauge shotgun and a 9mm handgun by the end of the year.
“With liberal preppers, we’re thinking about things that transcend man-made cataclysm, every sort of disaster: tornado, natural volcano, earthquake, the power grid failing, or having dry storage goods on hand to prevent our family from starving,” Waugh says.
He is preparing for all the above, but his worst fears are a terrorist attack on American soil or a civil war incited by the white nationalist movement. He believes that the Trump administration’s plans — from repealing the Affordable Care Act to increasing America’s nuclear capability — have increased the likelihood of either or both of those things happening.
“If you were to ask us what cataclysm is most likely now, we’d say some Trump-related accident that causes the dishevelment of society,” he says.
This spring, Waugh plans to launch a Liberal Prepper website, which will feature a forum, marketplace, and news feed. So far, he has crowdfunded $US1,530 (mostly from the Facebook group members) for it.
“My goal is to either prevent tyranny in America or be prepared for it if we can,” he says.