It wasn’t the American Dream that failed, it was the American Experiment. At the time, all the news reports, those that cared to comment, featured some stirring exclamation of fundamental failings on the part of Americans to live up to their end of the bargain. If you ask me, the ‘experiment’ was doomed to fail from the moment it began. It’s infinitely more intriguing that it lasted as long as it did.
I believe it was Thomas Jefferson, along with a few others, who penned those disingenuous words: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ The irony that these words were penned in 1819 while Jefferson himself owned slaves until his death in 1826 (which were posthumously sold to clear his tremendous debts) was, unfortunately, lost on the subsequent generations who put their faith in the documents on which the nation was built.
It started with Mexico. I’ve been told the President saw the persecution that Mexican-Americans were experiencing in the states and took a stand. El Regreso, he called, it, homecoming, an open-arms welcome to any citizen living in America of Mexican heritage to return to Mexico. The South American nations soon followed suit, eager to receive the skilled, hardworking masses.
Within the decade, the Latino and Hispanic populations of the United States would drop below eight percent, but it certainly didn’t stop there.
The American leadership of the time, the latest President in a dismally distasteful series following the extremist trend set by a certain reality television star, celebrated the mass Latino evacuation as an opportunity for ‘real America’ to find itself again. It was far too late when they realized the impact of the shocking void left by nearly the entirety of the nations skilled labor force.
In those ensuing years, Egypt and Nigeria opened their borders to African Americans with the promise of costless higher education in exchange for enrollment in a joint African Revitalization Venture which, soon, was supported by every other nation on the continent. The purpose of the Venture was to breathe life back into the land, to bring fresh minds into the equation, and to combat the rampant disease while determining how to better utilize the nations rich resources.
Not to say there weren’t growing pains. Over the centuries, the native population of South Africa came to consider African Americans like savages, calling them Akata, or people of the bush. After some time, however, the results were painstakingly apparent. Within five years, the GDP of the continent tripled, and a proposal was drafted to test unifying the fifty-four countries in an organized goal to help the nation fulfill the promise it had always been denied. It was soon afterwards that Africa closed its borders. We haven’t heard much officially from them since but the rumblings making their way across the sea tell of technological advancements beyond our imagination.
When America’s most frightening iteration of the Islamic Refugee Registry (IRR) was sent for a vote on the Senate Floor, a coalition of Former-Presidents made an appeal before the United Nations, warning of a much darker fate for Muslim-Americans looming in the near-future. Following in the footsteps of their forebears, several Senators drafted a series of bills which, though they appeared to be separately constructed, were designed to interconnect to disastrous consequences for middle easterners seeking refuge in America.
In the hopes of averting greater disaster, various other nations offered to open their borders to the refugees and yet the call somehow went unheeded. Following the lead of a coalition initiated by Indonesia and Pakistan, with the support of India and Bangladesh, the call went out for those of the Islamic faith to return to the lands of their ancestors, to bring their western ideals and take a stand against the extremism that had ravaged their homeland. Within the decade, the Middle East was unrecognizable, a true Islamic bastion of peace and harmony representing the fundamentals of their faith, eliminating poverty through nationwide charitable funds.
China, and later Japan, initially resisted a population influx, their resources simply insufficient to harbor additional lives. That is, until a collective of innovative minds, operating through the United Nations, developed what came to be known simply as Greenhouses: in-home agriculture boxes no larger than a shelf in which any food could be grown limitlessly, regardless of the climate and entirely free of energy use. It turned every home into its own farm, with certain nations electing to tax in agriculture instead of revenue.
With the United States more socially and economically weakened than ever before, the centralized government was wholly unprepared for the Native Rebellion. While America’s attention was affixed on its rapidly evaporating ‘minority’ populations, a few leaders managed to rally America’s population of around 2.9 million Native Americas to repossess land which had been stolen from them. In a matter of months, the American Southwest was annexed by the First People and renamed Abya Yala as it had been long ago. They easily overwhelmed the depleted National Guard and military forces with an intimate understanding of the land and handily took a number of states.
Negotiations immediately began with party representatives within California to obtain its independence as a republic, paying the Abya Yala a fair cost for the land and helping the First People establish a national bank with which they began trade negotiations with the remaining American States. California became the liberal bastion of the west, leading to a mass evacuation of conservative extremists to the east and magnetizing those likeminded liberal minds so desperate to escape their rapidly polarizing nation.
Frenzied more than ever, the fanatical pockets within the ‘Conservative Right’ of America blamed their President for weak leadership, allowing the very events they desired, namely minority mass evacuation and American isolation, to unfold and place them in such dire straits.
Pandering to their base, several overzealous senators ran on platforms smacking of secessionist rhetoric and, to their surprise won their elections. Incapable of backing down from foolhardy campaign promises, they stirred further furor, expecting some decisive action tying their hands from a morally bankrupt President. Instead, they were disappointed and left no choice but to follow through on their promise, for fear of the threats of violence from their very constituents.
The Secession of the South began violently, remaining brutally impassioned through its duration, and only ended after the President, Vice President, and his entire staff abdicated office, leaving the country largely without administration. Local senators and congressmen across what remained of the former-nation’s North worked with governors and mayors to provide the people with a sense of stability and direction, but, if you have been paying attention up until this point you’d know what they knew then. America was dead.
The Confederation of Southern States, the perfectly uncomplicated name taken by the new nation in the South, came under the leadership of a General who was instrumental to defeating their ‘enemies in the North’ by laying claim to half of America’s nuclear arsenal. Shockingly enough, though few in the North bothered to pay attention, within their nation there was still dissent.
Those who had never truly gotten over the loss of slavery as an economic system of revenue insisted that it be reestablished. A clandestine mission was greenlit and led by generals commanding a special-ops team across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa to ‘reclaim their property’ as they so eloquently put it. The mission went dark and the team was never heard from again. Neither Africa nor the Confederation ever acknowledged the event, or the subsequent failed attempts to acquire slaves from South America and the Middle East.
It wasn’t long before propaganda began to circulate harkening back to a time when Anglo-Saxons differentiated themselves from the ‘violent’ Irish, ‘bestial’ Germans, and ‘slovenly’ Italians. Over the ensuing years, it became a popular fashion to trace one’s family back centuries as a mark of prideful purity.
The North, in some desperate plea, reached out to the United Kingdom, a longtime ally, hopeful to receive aid and, as rumor had it at the time, to suggest reacquiring what few states remained. As it is reported, the offer was generously declined by the Queen of England on behalf of the United Kingdom and Canada.
If I were a betting woman, and I’m known to be in the right circumstances, I would have bet against Jefferson the instant he uttered those infamous words. Several centuries later the American Experiment proved to be an abject failure, slaughtering several million along its way, though, now that I’ve given it some thought, I think I’ve worked out why.
American Exceptionalism. One of the foundational principles hard baked into the ideology of the United States during its formative years. The young nation itself thrived largely on the concept that it, and its inhabitants, were somehow better than others in a measurable manner. This became more of a doctrine than idle cliché as the years marched on. With each war won, the cult of American Exceptionalism won more hearts and, after enough time, we had convinced ourselves of the truth of it.
This was our great failing. In the most fundamental pieces of that concept is a calamitous flaw, the very defect I believe which brought about the fall of our great gleaming golden civilization as we knew it.
You see, belief in American Exceptionalism balanced entirely on the concept that we were somehow better than them. Over the years, however, the ‘we’ and the ‘them’ blurred further and further until, eventually, that definition varied from person to person. If Todd truly believes he’s better than his boss, whether it be for any one of a limitless number of prejudicial causes, then it would infuriate Todd to see his boss receive accolade or promotion.
The great American failing is in not ensuring that each citizen intimately understood the intrinsic and necessary value of each other to the functioning of their nation. A patchwork-nation that became stronger with each stitch, more tightly woven with each added hand, a multiplying set of skills that transformed the nature of the world. America was great because we believed it was, and belief as a form of power is unrivaled in all of history. America, better than any superpower to precede it, managed the illusion of strength, deluding the very world into no more than believing.
In a few generations, the radical extremists in America get their way and there is a period of mass evacuation of every 'minority race' to the homelands of their ancestors, whether they are American or foreign born. The nations of the world gladly welcome in these foreigners, and the world becomes unrecognizable. This is a work in progress, the initial concept for a project I've been considering for some time. This short story considers a future in which the dark forces wishing to defeat the better nature of our humanity succeed, and the fallout of that terrible failing on our part to take a stand. This project seemed more apropos today than ever before and my ardent hope is that it's message connects.