The American Redoubt is a political migration movement first proposed in 2011 by survivalist novelist and blogger James Wesley Rawles which designates three states in the northwestern United States (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), and adjoining portions of two other states (eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington) as a safe haven for conservative, libertarian-leaning Christians and Jews. Rawles chose this area due to its low population density and lack of natural hazards. However, several major nuclear war targets are located in the area, like the large ICBM bases in Malstrom, Montana and Warren, Wyoming or the Idaho National Laboratory with its nuclear reactors developing and testing facilities; massive fallout should be expected.
Kim Murphy, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, summed up one motivation for the movement: "For a growing number of people, it's the designated point of retreat when the American economy hits the fan. When banks fail, the government declares martial law, the power grid goes down." The same article identified Rawles as "the guru of the movement". Summarizing one of his reasons for formulating the relocation strategy, Rawles stated: "I'm often asked why I make such a 'big deal' about choosing conservative Christians, Messianic Jews, or Orthodox Jews for neighbors. The plain truth is that in a societal collapse there will be a veritable vacuum of law enforcement. In such times, with a few exceptions, it will only be the God-fearing that will continue to be law-abiding. Choose your neighborhood wisely."
The American Redoubt concept is based primarily around the Rawlesian Survivalist Philosophy including the precept "Racism Ignores Reason". Rawles is outspokenly anti-racist and pro-Israel. Rawles published a blog entry in 2010 titled "Lest Any Man Should Boast: A Christian Survivalist Perspective on Race, Religion, and Reason", in which he stated that he was opposed to racism due to his Christian faith. He covered at length his views that people are individuals and that there is no inherent superiority among races. He observed that certain races have different genetics, but those do not matter before God. The only thing that matters when he meets his maker, he contended, was whether he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.
In an interview by G. Jeffrey MacDonald published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rawles was quoted as saying: "It's time to distance ourselves from the vile corruptness that we see inside the Washington, D.C., Beltway ... [The American Redoubt movement] is analogous to the Puritan exodus (from Europe). They couldn't fit in and said, 'We're going to move to completely virgin territory and start afresh.' ... In effect, we're becoming pistol-packing Amish." Rawles advocates a gradual demographic consolidation through political migration to the American Redoubt, but predicts that the federal government will "hammer" any states that attempt to secede under the current political order. Rawles also stated: "People who recognize that they are of the [Christian] remnant, that they are God's elect, will in increasing numbers choose to vote with their feet."
In 2011, the American Redoubt concept was endorsed by 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin, who had relocated his entire extended family to western Montana. It also soon inspired the launch of a weekly podcast by Christian Libertarian journalist John Jacob Schmidt, called Radio Free Redoubt, and a volunteer network of amateur radio operators called AmRRON (the American Redoubt Radio Operators Network) established in 2012. It also inspired the launch of the blog and weekly podcast by Alex Barron, called the Charles Carroll Society, Barron, a black Catholic Libertarian journalist, is the self-proclaimed "Bard of the American Redoubt" who speaks from a Traditional Catholic, Constitutional Conservative, American Patriot viewpoint. In 2013, he opined:
[Rawles] coined the term American Redoubt to explain this concept. The American Redoubt a simple concept, it is called political migration. ... There are many groups who have done this over the years including the Puritans; Native Americans moving West to escape the European colonization (I guess forced ethnic cleansing, but again I hope you get the point), Americans of African descent escaping the Southern forced racial apartheid system (racial migration?). Many, many groups move because of various reasons including political reasons. The American Redoubt is libertarian leaning Christian and Jewish traditionalist politically migrating from militant progressive secular states that are becoming increasingly hostile to their Christian based western culture.
In February 2012, The Seattle Times characterized the American Redoubt movement as appealing to "a growing number of people" but concluded that as of that time "not all that many so far" had actually moved to the area. In April 2012, the business/arts columnist for The Ferry County View, a weekly newspaper in Republic, Washington (located inside the Redoubt region) was critical of the Redoubt movement, characterizing it as driven by fear. By contrast, in October 2013, The 700 Club aired a news segment that favored the American Redoubt relocation concept. In an aside, the news story mentioned how the growth of the movement has even inspired the minting of silver coins.
On October 14, 2013, Christian Broadcasting Network completed a featured television news segment and accompanying article on the American Redoubt titled Redoubt: Northwest a Haven for Dismayed Americans. In the article they noted "... Some conservative American Christians are so dismayed with direction of the country that they're looking for a safe place for their families. They call it the 'American Redoubt.'" Westbrook continued, "I think that people recognize that tough times are coming. And it's time to think about their situation, it's time to think about how they live now, and the security of their family, the stability of society and how they are going to relate to that ... But I'm finding something else, too." he continued. "That is that more and more people are resonating with this idea of getting back to the land, of living a simple, more natural way."
It is unclear how many people have moved because of the American Redoubt concept. In an interview on the Charles Carroll Society podcast in 2014, James Rawles estimated the number
...well into the thousands, but it is difficult to quantify, because the vast majority of the people who are moving are preppers, who are by their nature very circumspect. However look at admittedly anecdotal evidence such as the growth of Pastor Chuck Baldwin's Liberty Fellowship church in Kalispell, Montana where the growth has been phenomenal, and many of the families are moving from far outside of the Redoubt states.
Rawles does not provide figures for what he terms "phenomenal" growth of the church, which meets at a local Hilton Garden Inn, according to the Church's website, but at his website, Baldwin mentions that some recent meetings were attended by more than 1,000 people.
Evolution of the movement
By 2016, Chris Carlson, a retired Democratic Party organizer, was comparing advocates of the American Redoubt to survivalists, with the difference being that the Redoubters have "become the shock troops for the Tea Party and openly support certain candidates." Carlson also claimed that the political migration to western states like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming has been driven by Redoubters seeking to be free from the federal government and that while they disavow racism, they have chosen a location where there are no minorities.
An August 2016 article about the movement in The Economist magazine mentioned that "thousands of families" have now migrated to the American Redoubt and that the movement is "quietly gaining steam." Indeed, the election of Donald Trump has spurred on the movement. In 2017 the Inlander said "But increasingly, they [Preppers] see more political violence in big cities, and more of a divide between rural and urban environments. The left's reaction to Donald Trump's presidency, they feel, has deepened the divide, making the day they've been preparing for seem ever more imminent."
In a Chicago Tribune article by Kevin Sullivan on August 27, 2016, noted
It is impossible to know exactly how many people have come over the past few years, but newcomers, real estate agents, local officials and others said it was in the hundreds, or perhaps even a few thousand, across all five states. Here, they live in a pristine place of abundant water and fertile soil, far from urban crime, free from most natural disasters and populated predominantly by conservative, mostly Christian people with a live-and-let-live ethos and local governments with a light regulatory touch and friendly gun laws.
As of 2016[update], it has been asserted that Republican Party politics in Idaho's northernmost legislative district have been pulled farther to the right in recent years with the arrival of conservative Christian "preppers" fleeing more populated states.
Betsy Russel wrote for the Spokesman-Review on May 16, 2016: "Two years ago, two ultraconservative state legislators were elected from the district: Reps. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay. In 2016, longtime Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint – an 8-time incumbent and a moderate Republican from one of the most conservative areas of Idaho – faced a primary challenge from the right but went on to easily win reelection.
Voices of the movement
There are three primary outlets for the American Redoubt movement. James Rawles' blog SurvivalBlog.com regularly covers Redoubt news and focuses on preparedness "how to" guides. John Jacob Schmidt's blog Radio Free Redoubt and his radio show The John Jacob Schmidt Show carried on the American Christian Network (ACN) and KTW 630 AM out of Spokane, Washington carries news and commentary often focused on the American Redoubt. The Charles Carroll Society and podcast by Alex Barron which focuses on politics and commentary related to the American Redoubt and the many traditional Catholics located there.
- Free State Project
- Northwest Territorial Imperative
- List of U.S. state partition proposals
- Christian Patriot movement
- Cascadia (independence movement)
- Rawles, James (2011). "The American Redoubt — Move to the Mountain States". Survivalblog. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
- Murphy, Kim (8 February 2008). "The American Redoubt, where survivalists plan to survive". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- Lenz, Ryan (15 November 2011). "A Gathering of Eagles: Extremists Look to Montana". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- Young, Matt (3 April 2017). "American Redoubt: James Wesley Rawles on the end of the world". news.com.au. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
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- Rawles, James Wesley (2009). How to Survive The End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times. New York, New York: Plume (Division of Penguin Books). p. 13. ISBN 0141049332.
- Rawles, James Wesley (30 November 2011). "The SPLC's Demonization of SurvivalBlog and "Montana Extremists"". Survivalblog. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
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- "The Voice of the American Redoubt: Emerging Safe Haven and Refuge for God-Fearing, Liberty-Loving Patriots". Radiofreeredoubt. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "AmRRON: The American Redoubt Radio Operators Network and The America Preparedness Radio Network (TAPRN)". amrron. 21 April 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- Barron, Alex (28 January 2013). "The Bard". The Charles Carroll Society. Alex Barron. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- Murphy, Kim (9 February 2012). "Local News | Economy, blogs give survivalists new reason to look to Northwest | Seattle Times Newspaper". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "Op-Ed: American redoubt or doubt?". Ferry County View. 28 April 2012. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- Holton, Chuck (14 October 2013). "Redoubt: Northwest a Haven for Dismayed Americans". CBN News. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Barron, Alex (8 October 2014). "Podcast Episode 16-2014: James Rawles American Redoubt Interview". The Charles Carroll Society. Alex Barron. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- "Liberty Fellowship MT > About Us > Location". Liberty Fellowship. 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- Carlson, Chris (26 January 2016). "Raising serious doubts about American Redoubt". Coeur d'Alene Press. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
- "The last big frontier". The Economist. 6 August 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
- Criscione, Wilson. "Here in the American Redoubt". Inlander. Retrieved 2017-06-02.
- Sullivan, Kevin. "In the Pacific Northwest, members of survivalist movements are growing in number". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
- Russell, Betsy Z. (15 May 2016). "Redoubt movement helps push North Idaho politics to extreme right". Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- Sullivan, Kevin (27 August 2016). "A Fortress Against Fear: In the rural Pacific Northwest, prepping for the day it hits the fan". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 August 2016.