The Future of American Unity: 3000 Years
These days one cannot read an article about American politics without finding something pertaining to the increasing disparity between the opinions of groups of American voters. In the recent presidential elections, the concept of the landslide victory has been lost, replaced by chillingly close percentages that demonstrate the potential discrepancies between the Electoral College and the popular vote. Victories and losses are determined only when the final states are tallied. And let’s not forget the bitter Florida recount five years ago.
The fact of the matter is that the American mainstream is beginning to polarize into left and right. On a countrywide scale, this can be seen by looking at the Electoral College map based on county lines. Even on the individual scale, personal opinions are catalogued into distinct political categories. The Republican and Democratic parties are now characterized by their most politically extreme members. The middle ground is lost in a sea of the far more vocal extremes. I myself hold moderate political beliefs, but if I tell liberals that I don’t believe in socialized healthcare it is assumed that I am against gays, abortion, and minorities. If I tell conservatives that I am pro-choice, it is clear to them I am a tree hugger.
While these qualities thankfully don’t apply to every conservative or liberal on an individual basis, larger groups of the extremists pose a severe threat to American unity. It is entirely possible that the division will resolve itself on its own if the quality of our presidential candidates improves. However, if the division worsens, our unity might be at stake. Some of my colleagues joke about the South seceding from the Union, or the benefits of making California its own country. But these jokes could become very real if our country continues on its divisive path. These troubling ideas form the crux of Richard Mgrdechian’s novel 3000 Years, a fictional exploration into the future of American societal division.
3000 Years focuses on the journey of John Bennett, a professor at the fictional university PacTech (modeled somewhat after Caltech) in southern California. The story begins with John’s perfection of time suppression, in which he obtains the ability to use magnetic fields to slow down the speed of light, thereby allowing a person to travel into the future. His excitement over the realization of his dream of becoming the most famous physicist ever quickly turns to shock when he discovers that his girlfriend, Dawn Whitmore, has an aggressive form of ovarian cancer and does not have long to live. John realizes that her only hope for survival is to use John’s technology to travel to the future to find a cure. Together with their John’s friend Sam Tobin, they travel to the year 2055, only to find that the Unites States they left is not the same as the one they discover. Several states are on the verge of secession. Several states have divided into multiple states, including California. The tenth amendment is being abused by the states to ignore federal decrees and develop their own legal protocol. In some states, the criminal justice system determines individual responsibility in part by gender and race. Freedom of speech is severely limited. Worst of all, the division in America has slowed federal lawmakers ability to make all decisions, hampering production. Already, countries like China have taken advantage of our floundering nation to catch up with our economic productivity. In effect, the divisiveness in America has grown out of control.
Mgrdechian’s fictional exploration of the bitter division in America hits home, revealing a frightening potential future in a thrilling page-turner that keeps the reader on his or her toes until the very last word. The only criticism I have is that his writing is somewhat stilted and basic. Even so, Mgrdechian’s writing style makes the plot all the more clear and convincing to the reader. Mgrdechian develops his characters bit by bit, thereby keeping the story fresh as each scene reveals something new about John or one of his colleagues. With each alarming discovery they make about an aspect of the future society, parallels are made to the current political atmosphere. Mgrdechian does well with keeping within the boundaries of reason. As a result, many of the changes are subtle on the surface, but their consequences spell disaster for the future of America.
In essence, 3000 Years is a message independent of political bias to all Americans. It is critical that Americans realize that compromise is the basis of stability. Whether it be kindergartners fighting over who gets the best Tonka truck or politicians arguing over social security reform, satisfying every individual’s desire is unreasonable. As Americans, it is our duty to elect policymakers who will work to find the most effective solutions for the good of the nation. Policy should not be decided as a result of weighing one interest group against another. If the trend of electing leaders based on agreeable sound bytes continues, the consequences will be dire. Richard Mgrdechian illustrates these possibilities beautifully in 3000 Years . The novel reminds us of an age old saying: “United we stand, divided we fall.”