Google is a wonderful tool for so many reasons. One of my favorite uses of Google is to see what is trending.
After a post-election lull, searches for the term “prepping” in the U.S. spiked during the week of January 8, tying its second highest score set back in October 2012.
When these results are broken down by city, we learn that Austin area Google Trends users were the second most likely to search the term “prepper,” behind Portland and just ahead of users in Nashville, Denver and Seattle.
A number of preparedness bloggers and advocates have recently lamented the lack of enthusiasm for preparedness since Donald Trump won the presidential election in November. Many of these advocates hypothesize that nascent and casual preppers believe that the need to prepare has waned due to Trump’s win.
I don’t know that there any empirical data to back that up. If Google Trends is any indication, we’re starting to see a significant uptick in an interest in preparedness. I suspect the advocates are on to something, however. Anecdotal reports from preparedness supply vendors suggest demand has dropped significantly since November 8.
For the more serious (or curious) prepper, I think it’s worth our time to analyze what a Trump presidency might mean for the preparedness movement.
Few would argue that President Obama’s choice to head FEMA, Craig Fugate, represents one of the best choices Obama made to head any government agency. A career first responder and emergency management professional, Fugate has won over supporters in both political parties. He helped rejuvenate a governmental agency which suffered tremendous PR damage (much of which was unfair, in my opinion) after Hurricane Katrina.
To date, Trump has not named Fugate’s successor. Whoever assumes the helm at FEMA will have big shoes to fill. Many have opined that Trump should follow Obama’s lead and choose another professional emergency manager rather than make an appointment based upon political affiliation. (For the record, I have not been asked by the Trump transition team to head up FEMA.)
FEMA remains a lightning rod for controversy among many in the preparedness and liberty movements, who can still remember the problems of Hurricane Katrina and believe the specter of “FEMA internment camps” to be real. The reality is that FEMA openly advocates for citizens to have adequate food, water and other emergency supplies available to take care of themselves in a crisis, warning citizens that the government response during a disaster may be slow in coming.
Preppers should analyze Trump’s choice to run FEMA closely, as it will give us insights as to what we should expect from the agency moving forward.
A Trump Victory Creates A New Group of Preppers
The BBC reports that since the election, a new group of preppers have emerged – liberals and progressives. What was once generally thought of as an activity of those in the political right has now become in vogue for those in the political left. These new preppers are concerned that Trump’s policies may lead to "fascism" and "local chaos." Such claims sound familiar, as many long time preppers have been preparing based on similar fears of previous administrations and government agencies.
Changes to the Healthcare System Will Likely Impact Emergency Medical Responders
Congress is already hard at work repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. The ACA has created a number of challenges for medical first responders and the emergency rooms that accept their patients. According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, the ACA will have significant impacts on how EMS systems provide care:
What’s most likely to change for EMS is how we deal with chronically ill patients who call 9-1-1 because they have waited too long to address their medical problem or because they lack health insurance and use the ED as an entry into the healthcare system to address their problem. For Medicare patients, these needs will most likely be met through accountable care organizations (ACOs), which are just starting to form.
With a repeal of the ACA, EMS systems will have to recalibrate their expectations on both reimbursement expectations as well as how patients – particularly the chronically ill – utilize their services.
What does this mean for preppers? At the moment, I don’t know that we can say with any certainty what it means, other than we should expect a fair amount of uncertainty as Congress and the new president determine how they plan to replace the current system. One thing is for sure – the ongoing shortages of emergency medical responders will mean local governments will likely struggle to fully staff operations. This shortage, in turn, means preppers should make basic first aid, CPR, and trauma care a priority both in terms of obtaining training and equipment to deal with the problem until help arrives.
Relaxation of Gun Laws?
Let’s be clear – President Elect Trump has, in the past, been an ardent supporter of the Assault Weapons Ban. He has since reversed his position and now supports a national right to carry and eliminating restrictions on the types of guns and magazines citizens are allowed to own.
He is expected to sign into law, assuming it passes, the National Hearing Protection Act which would eliminate many of the restrictions on firearm suppressors, often called “silencers.” Interestingly, the laws regarding the use of suppressors in Europe are much more friendly than they are in the United States.
It’s difficult to predict what impact a Trump administration will have on gun sales. Some of the biggest spikes in gun sales have come after President Obama threatened regulation or legislation to make ownership or transfer more difficult. Will a Trump presidency increase gun sales? Only time will tell.
Law And Order…What Will It Beget?
President Elect Trump has promised to be a “law and order” president. Presumably this means intensified law enforcement activity at all levels of government. Many preppers may very well welcome such an approach, although increased interactions between law enforcement and citizens may lead to more friction and the civil unrest that we’ve seen over the last few years stemming from those interactions. And as protesters plan to attempt to disrupt the inauguration through the “Disrupt J20” movement, many citizens may increase their support for such intensified law enforcement efforts.
I would anticipate further use of 1033 programs which will allow state and local law enforcement agencies to acquire military surplus hardware for law enforcement applications.
The Things He Cannot Control
As a preparedness advocate, I do get frustrated when I hear stories of people thinking preparedness is no longer worthy of our time and efforts just because their candidate of choice was elected president. Similarly, I am perplexed when I read that supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are just now beginning to prepare for the possibility of civil unrest, especially after the last few years of riots in various cities across the nation. We will still have severe weather, power outages and local emergencies in the years to come. Many believe we face a significant risk of another financial crisis as well.
No presidential candidate can protect us from all harm. Neither a Trump Administration nor a Clinton Administration would be good substitutes for citizen preparedness. As President Obama stated in his 2016 proclamation for National Preparedness Month:
Preparing ourselves to meet the unknown challenges of tomorrow is a duty we all share, and when confronted with crisis or calamity, we need to have done everything possible to prepare…it is each citizen's responsibility to be as prepared as possible for emergencies.
Regardless of one’s political persuasion, I doubt seriously any prepper would disagree with that statement.
Any changes in the makeup of Congress or a new occupant in the White House brings uncertainty to a host of political and policy issues. The perils that are not president-specific, such as natural disasters, will continue to affect the country at all levels and in all states. Preppers need to keep prepping, regardless of who is in the White House or Congress, while analyzing how policy changes may improve or exacerbate the perils we face.
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.