Whether inspired by Thoreau or the current state of affairs, there’s no denying that there’s a movement afoot in Maine and across the United States toward self-sufficiency. But, for some, self-sufficiency feels more urgent now than ever.
My husband and I began a few years ago moving toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. We’re making progress and have certainly learned to live more simply, but we’re worlds away from being truly self-sufficient. I mean, our internet went down last week for just about a day, and I was pretty sure it was the end of the world.
But I’ve often thought about what has given us and so many others an urge toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Is it just that we don’t trust the factory farming of our food, or is there something more? I mean, there’s a huge movement toward keeping backyard chickens in the United States, and only some of us are making chicken sweaters and ordering chicken diapers. It seems most of us are keeping chickens for the food.
As the 2016 presidential election draws near, I have seen more and more people mention some kind of “prepping” in relation to getting ready for the election. Whether it’s a call for more chickens or a message on social media about stocking up on beans and rice, I’ve seen messages of worry from all walks of life.
Apparently, this election has a lot of us really concerned, so concerned that we are considering “prepping” in one form or another.
If you’re not familiar with the term, “prepping” is a movement to “prepare for the worst,” or to have a “zombie plan” (if you have a teenager in the house, you may have heard of this). Essentially, “prepping” is about being ready and able to survive in the face of some kind of disaster that makes our normal services of society no longer available. Obviously, some people are much more serious about this than others.
All the social media posts I’ve seen led me to some research on this issue, and it turns out that there’s a big movement toward “prepping” in relation to this presidential election, and it exists on both sides of the political spectrum.
There are those who fear that Trump’s lack of experience and ignorance of world affairs is going to lead to the downfall of our government. There are others who fear that Clinton’s continuation of the status quo, something that doesn’t seem to be working very well now, is going to lead to a decline and then a fall.
My research led me to two questions on this issue: First, how is it that, as Americans, we are so afraid that it has come to “doomsday prepping” for our election? And, second, who is benefitting from all this “prepping”?
I began my research with the first question. I certainly have some ideas about what has us so worried about this election in particular. It seems like it’s been a crazy election from the beginning, and we’ve seen much more violent rhetoric than normal. With Trump making public statements that he may not accept the results of the election, some are worried that, should Clinton win, Trump supporters could cause a fair amount of chaos.
The New York Times reported just last week that some Trump supporters are calling for a revolution if Trump doesn’t win the election, and there have been calls to remove Clinton as President “by any means necessary.” This is not something you usually hear as a part of the election process in our American democracy.
So the rhetoric is heated and violent, and I think this, plus the media’s constant reporting on such issues, is taking a toll on us. Even if we aren’t “prepping,” we’re wondering if we’re going to make it until Tuesday.
But I think there is something even bigger and longer lasting at the heart of this worry many of us are feeling. Despite great numbers for our economy with lower unemployment, a strong housing market nationally, and cheaper gas, I think the pressures related to our gap between the rich and the poor have many of us worried. And, even though Clinton promises to raise the taxes on the wealthy, outside of this one move, the American people don’t see any kind of major change in the works with either of our two presidential candidates that will radically change an economic structure that has led to the demise of our middle class.
I think, even if we aren’t articulating it, the gap has many of us worried on a deeper level. According to economists, the last time we had this kind of gap between the rich and the poor, it was followed by the Great Depression. That’s enough to worry average folks, I think, and the anxiety related to the election may just be enough to push some people into all-out “prepping.”
Of course, I think my second question is an important one. Who is benefitting from all of this worry? It turns out that there are many businesses benefitting from our worry over this election. Businesses that specialize in long-lasting food and food storage are reporting spikes in sales in relation to the election.
People are so worried that they are buying food that can last decades, and sales for such items have tripled for some companies in the last few weeks. And “prepping” has become so popular that there are national forums for preppers to communicate and share ideas and even specific forums for preppers in Maine.
So this is really happening. Many of us are so worried about this election that we’re prepping for chaos, and businesses are benefitting from our worry—a worry that is usually reserved for natural disasters.
While I definitely understand the desire to become more self-sufficient, hopefully, we won’t need those long-term storage foods. Hopefully, after Tuesday, we’ll see that things will be alright. Hopefully, we’ll have another peaceful transfer of power in January. And, hopefully, whoever wins the election will work hard to bring us together as a nation and put our worries to rest.
In the meantime, if you’re like me, and you’re not quite “prepped” for chaos, what are your plans for surviving this stressful election?