Back in my days at Marshall County High School (Lewisburg, Tennessee), I was given the assignment of writing a futurist piece for the school newspaper. I threw something together out of thin air, with no research into scientific prototypes or looming demographic trends and no true extrapolation from current events. Older and wiser (and facing a relentless deadline), I’ve now assigned myself the task of picturing Independence Day 2017 for you.
Five years from now, the currency used to buy hot dogs and watermelons will no longer say “In God We Trust.” No, the words won’t have been banned; the U.S. will just be printing money so fast that the motto smears. (“InGfrtyodmnbvWe&dTrqwzust. And you can take that to the bank!”)
Conversation around the picnic table will reveal just how complacent technology will have made us. (“Bypassing Congress by signing executive orders willy-nilly? Legislating from the bench? Hey, there are apps for that now!”)
The eagle will fly high as the downtrodden are given hope. (“If your parents dragged you to this country against your will, you’re forgiven. If your cousin enticed you here with snazzy postcards, that’s cool, too. America: Land of the Free and Home of the Attractive Nuisance.”)
Candidates making stump speeches will reassure us about the rarity of voter fraud, even as the offense shifts from merely DEAD voters to brazen attempts involving dead LITERARY FIGURES. (“Call me Ishmael — and sign me up in the Democratic primary!”)
Our breaking away from England will be a distant memory. Patriots will instead celebrate the PERMANENT REMOVAL OF THE TOP ONE PERCENT OF WAGER EARNERS. Yep, this seemingly impossible task will have been accomplished by our finest economics school graduates. (“Grade inflation? What grade inflation? C’mon — give me a celebratory high…what’s that number after four…?”)
Yes, it’ll be a land where a man is not measured by the color of his skin or the accent of his tongue or the ineptness of his schemes to hide his affair from his terminally ill wife— but by the OUNCES of his sugary soft drink! (“Lay’s potato chips: no one can eat just one? We’ll see what Mr. Taser has to say about that, dirtbag.”)
In an amusing hidden consequence of legislation before the Supreme Court in 2012, local beauty pageants must henceforth feature a Miss Congeniality, an essay portion, a talent competition and —oh, yes — a death panel.
Of course touchiness will remain a part of the holiday. (“I can’t BELIEVE that no one held a seance to ascertain Judy Garland’s preference for the fireworks display. That is SO homophobic!”)
Editorials in the Independence Day editions of newspapers will scoff at claims the U.S. Constitution is being overruled by international law. (“It is a coincidence that defendants must now yodel their affirmation. And stodgy old black robes really did need to be replaced with black lederhosen.”)
Other editorials will seek to calm the hysteria about the encroachment of Sharia law into American jurisprudence. (“The veil on the Statue of Liberty is there to protect her from ultraviolet radiation. And most offenses will be treated with a wrist slap — and by that we mean slapping the wrist while the hand is flopping on the ground.”)
Furthermore — oh, wait — the smuggle-guns-to-Mexico potato sack race is starting…