Issue 230, Fall 2019
The Origins of This Great Nation
There wasn’t anything special about us. We were just an average town. Porch swings, wading pools, split rail fences, pump jacks bobbing for oil on the horizon. Meetings at town hall were well attended, sure, but we weren’t some hotbed of insurgents. We didn’t subscribe to any one brand of politics. We couldn’t even be plotted onto your basic left/right binary. Our town had everything: pro-lifers who supported gay marriage, pro-choicers who opposed gay marriage, climate change deniers who owned solar panels, universal health care campaigners who preferred private insurance, creationists with degrees in biology and geology, loyal conservatives, staunch liberals, moderates, radicals, and ornery retirees whose only real issue was guns. And yet that winter we found ourselves united by a common sentiment. We were fed up with our country. The executives were busy making donations that funded the campaigns of the politicians, the politicians were busy passing laws that protected the interests of the executives, and pretty much nothing else seemed to be getting done. We were antigovernment, we were anticorporate, but mostly we were normal people who couldn’t afford to buy an election and had come to understand that our votes didn’t mean shit. There were libertarians among us who had been pushing to secede for years now, but not until that winter, watching legal forms of graft being flaunted across the country like never before, did our town seriously begin to consider the proposition. The matter soon came to dominate our meetings. We knew that from a certain perspective seceding could be viewed as an act of treason, that it might mean arrest, might mean imprisonment, might even mean execution. And the debate at that final town hall meeting was appropriately heated. Most of us wavered, unsure which way we would vote until the very second those slips of paper got passed around. Several of us were so nervous that we felt faint. Ultimately, however, the decision was unanimous. We would rather face handcuffs, jail, even hanging, than spend another goddamned second living in that broke-down country. We voted to secede.
And so, on that day of January Thirteenth in the year of MMXVIII, we did. After the vote was tallied, we sent notice of our secession to both local and global media outlets, along with the sheriff of Real County, the governor of Texas, and the president of the United States. As dusk fell across our streets, we filed out of town hall, gathered around the poles in our yards, and took down Old Glory. We tucked the flags into our garbage cans, and then we sat in our houses, radios off, televisions off, computers off, sobered by what we had done. The initial thrill had faded. Now, exhausted, we felt only fear. Holding hands with our spouses and our children and our parents and our neighbors, we waited for the repercussions, for the arrival of the humvees and the helicopters and the tanks and the bombers. But nothing happened. Nobody came. Nobody cared. At dawn, those of us who hadn’t been able to sleep looked around and realized our community was still standing. We were free.
Our town had been called Plainfield. Although we liked the name well enough, we were concerned it wouldn’t seem stately enough for a nation. And while we didn’t regret seceding, we weren’t ashamed of our origins either. In fact, we felt a great deal of nostalgia for our homeland. So, in memory of our former country, that was what we decided to name our new nation: America.