Crack open your buckets of dehydrated cheese products, fire up the portable stove, and bask in the light of some emergency glow sticks. It’s a constitutional crisis, and you’ll want a well-appointed bunker.
As President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election become more fantastical, some of his most diehard fans are urging each other to explore disaster preparation for unspecified political turmoil. Early on Monday, shortly before various states’ Electoral College votes began to formalize President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory, pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood took to Twitter to imply looming disaster. He urged followers to “make sure you have PLENTY of water, food, flashlights & batteries, candles, radio, [and] 2nd Amendment supplies.”
That call was echoed by a host of Newsmax, a far-right television network that has insisted Trump can still retain the presidency—at least until another anchor said the words “president-elect Joe Biden” on Monday afternoon.
Disaster preparation is, theoretically, apolitical. There’s nothing inherently partisan about keeping some canned beans and AA batteries on hand. But a certain crowd of apocalypse-minded conservatives has long had a love affair with doomsday prepping. And now that Trump supporters have taken up their dying cause with the fervor of an Armageddon fight, some are encouraging each other to stockpile for untold unrest ahead.
Wood, a pro-Trump lawyer bringing lawsuits to overturn Trump’s election loss, implied that his disaster-prep advice was related to political unrest. “Remember we only have 1 President at a time,” he tweeted in his call for followers to stock up. “Our leader is @realDonaldTrump, not Biden.”
Although Wood did not return a request for comment on specifics, he has spent the past month hinting at armed pro-Trump uprising. On social media and in rally speeches, Wood has told followers that they were living through a new “1776,” that they should expect “civil war” and that Trump “should declare martial law.”
His call to stock up on guns, candles, and radios only underscored those promises, and other prominent voices from the fringes took up the cause. “Folks, when @LLinWood tells people to prep, I listen,” a Newsmax White House correspondent tweeted.
For once, Wood was not at the bleeding edge of pro-Trump panic. Conservative-branded survivalist gear has been on the market for years, with brand names like “My Patriot Supply” and “4Patriots” selling everything from dehydrated fruits to anti-radiation tablets. Far-right conspiratorial sites like InfoWars and Natural News sell their own lines of doomsday gear, including a “pocket chainsaw.”
On Monday, as the Electoral College voted for Biden, Natural News ran multiple articles about “bugging out,” i.e., getting off the grid when the “SHTF” (“shit hits the fan”). “Making your escape: 5 Factors to consider when developing an emergency bug-out plan,” read one headline.
“Prepping for a power outage: What to stock up on and when to bug out,” read another. (Elsewhere on the same homepage, Natural News prevailed upon Trump to “invoke military tribunals” over his election loss.)
If the prepper industry feels apocalyptic at times, that’s because many of its biggest names are literal doomsday preachers. Some conservative ministries have outstripped even patriot-themed survivalist companies in their bids to cash in on future meltdowns.
Jim Bakker, a televangelist currently accused of marketing a fake COVID-19 cure, is infamous for hawking bathtub-sized buckets of survival food for hundreds of dollars in “donations” to his church. Though Bakker’s ministry swings hard for Trump (its website hosts a big banner of “President Donald Trump’s Accomplishments” on its homepage), its longer-term fixation is the end-times. Under a tab labeled “Revelation,” the church has dutifully logged every headline of a terrible year, from COVID-19 deaths to California fires. (The center of Bakker’s ministry, a Missouri church complex, had its own mini-apocalypse earlier this year. Despite Bakker billing it as a place “to go when the world’s on fire,” the complex suffered layoffs and supply shortages during the early COVID-19 pandemic.)
While soberer in their social media posts, some survivalist brands have also leaned into election uncertainty. Shortly after the election, the brand 4Patriots announced the winner of an emergency food giveaway.
“My 4 week Survival Food Kit from 4 Patriots arrived and I’m excited to have won this prize!!!” the man said in a testimonial shared on the brand’s Facebook. “This comes at a time when there is so much uncertainty in this country especially after last night's election results. The 4 week Survival Food Kit will be invaluable should I need it.”