Dystopian view of United States not that fanciful
Tea Party zombies continue to maraud around the Hill
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington: “The fanatics barricaded in the Capitol dug in, determined to tear down what their idols, the founding fathers, had built.” Photograph: Getty Images
An ape sits where Abe sat.
The year is 2084, in the capital of the land formerly called north America. The peeling columns of the Lincoln Memorial, and Abe’s majestic head, elegant hands and big feet are partially submerged in sludge. Animals that escaped from the National Zoo after zookeepers were furloughed seven decades ago migrated to the memorials, hunting for food left by tourists.
The white marble monuments are now covered in ash, Greek tragedy ruins overrun with weeds. Tea Party zombies, thrilled with the dark destruction they have wreaked on the planet, continue to maraud around the Hill, eager to chomp on humanity some more.
Dead cherry blossom trees litter the bleak landscape. Trash blows through L’Enfant’s once beautiful boulevards, now strewn with the detritus of democracy, scraps of the original constitution, corroded White House ID cards, stacks of worthless bills tumbling out of the treasury department.
The BlackBerrys that were pried from the hands of White House employees in 2013 are now piled up on the Potomac as a flood barrier against the ever-rising tide from melting ice caps. Their owners, unable to check their messages, went insane long ago.
Because there was no endgame, the capital’s hunger games ended in a gray void. Because there was no clean Bill, now there is only a filthy stench. Because there was no wisdom, now there is only rot. The instigators, it turned out, didn’t even know what they were arguing for. Macho thrusts and feints, competing to win while the country lost.
Thomas Jefferson’s utopia devolved into Ted Cruz’s dystopia.
Law and order broke down as police, who were not getting paid, eventually decided to stay home. The fanatics barricaded in the Capitol dug in, determined to tear down what their idols, the founding fathers, had built. Darkness soon devoured the rest of the country.
Unlike Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, where the capital thrived as the nation withered, here, the capital withered first, as the federal city shrivelled without federal funds. But, in other ways, it mirrors the fantasy dystopias depicted by Hollywood and Cormac McCarthy in his novel The Road, “bloodcults” consuming one another in “an ashen scabland”, a “cold illucid world”.
In 2084, there’s little sign of life in the godless and barren lost world. The insurance exchanges are open and the kinks are almost ironed out. But there is no one to sign up. Koch brother drones patrol the skies. A Mad Max motorcycle gang wielding hacksaws roars through the CIA, now a field of dead cornstalks, and the fetid hole that was once Michelle Obama’s organic vegetable garden.
‘How did this happen’
A gaunt man and sickly boy, wrapped in blue tarps, trudge toward the blighted spot that was once the second World War monument, scene of the first shutdown skirmishes. They know they may not survive the winter. “How did this happen, Papa?” the boy asks.
“Americans had been filled with existential dread since the 9/11 attacks, but they didn’t realise the real danger was coming from inside the government,” the man replies. “It started very small with a petty fight over a six-week spending Bill but quickly mushroomed out of control.”
“Whose fault was it, Papa?” the boy presses.
The man tries to explain. “The Grand Old Party, the proud haven of patriots who believed in a strong national security and fiscal responsibility, was infected with a mutant form of ideology. It was named the Sarahcuda Strain after the earliest carrier. Remember when you saw that old science fiction movie, I Am Legend? A scientist described the virus that burned through civilisation as being like ‘a very fast car driven by a very bad man’. That’s what happened. In the infected Tea Party politicians, brain function decreased and social de-evolution occurred. They began ignoring their basic survival instincts.