How the US Became a Third World Nation: A 2026 Retrospective

I realize how painfully redundant year-in-reviews can be. But this one's different, I promise you. After all, what's better than recapping the birth of our blessed and glorious republic? Happy birthday, my beloved Turkmerika!

2011: President Obama approves CENTCOM Commander David Petreus' request for the invasion of new Al Qaeda stronghold of Yemen. Due to a shortage of U.S. servicemen, most deployed soldiers are Supermax prison inmates, the criminally insane, and Arkansas state fair carnies.

2012: Ohio's Republican-dominated state legislature passes an emergency ballot measure banning "sin, gays, big government, and un-Americanism." Consequently, Tea Party candidate Rev. Rick Warren and running mate Sarah Palin capture the swing state en route to a presidential victory over embattled incumbent Barack Obama; Obama leaves office with no health care or environmental reform bills but three Nobel Peace Prizes.

2013: At Pastor-President Warren's behest, Congress passes the Truth to Nonbelievers Act. The bill bans gay unions of any kind; mandates that the Ten Commandments be posted in every government office, school, and hospital nursery; and replaces all high school History texts with copies of Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater.

2014: U.S. unemployment rate reaches twenty-three percent; Pastor-President Warren announces "The War on Joblessness," though no major initiatives are proposed; Congress passes the Drilling Into the Future initiative, in which all formerly protected nature preserves, monuments, and refuges are, in the words of U.S. Attorney General Newt Gingrich, "open for business!"

2015: U.S. invades Somalia and Kurdistan; responding to a surge in domestic gang violence, Vice-President Palin spearheads the "One thousand Unicorns Initiative," in which each of America's most blighted urban areas is adorned with one thousand life-size unicorn figurines; according to an NEA study, 1 in 3 American adults considers the act of reading to be "difficult, boring, or gay."

2016: Following months of intense lobbying efforts on the part of its American delegates, the I.O.C. institutes several new events; the U.S. captures Olympic gold in NASCAR, Texas Hold 'Em, and Beer Pong; action blockbuster I Crash You Their You're Retarded Head!!! becomes the first feature to win an Oscar without any of its actors uttering a complete sentence; Pastor-President Warren preempts his re-election bid, moves to a cabin in New Hampshire, and marries paramour Tom DeLay; former Vice-President Sarah Palin romps to presidential victory over Democratic challenger Sean Penn.

2017: The Emmy nominees for Best Television Series are all reality-based. They include: "Who's More Stupider?" "Get Your Grind On, Girl!" and "Degrade Me More!"

2018: The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that all polar ice caps will now completely melt by 2030. This, they claim, will coincide with a "perilous rise in sea levels and an interminable cycle of global cataclysmic weather patterns"; President Palin rejects the panel's findings, stating, "These climate scientists or botanists or whoever they are expect the world to stop in its tracks every time they fumble around a laboratory with a bunch of plastic beakers"; one week later, Palin announces death panels "for all sciencey climate people."

2019: The U.S. GDP per capita sinks to a fifty year low, just below that of Turkmenistan. Citing executive privilege, President Palin announces a "War on GDP" and the imminent invasion of Turkmenistan - and that E pluribus unum be replaced on the Presidential Seal with "Bring it, Bitches!"

2020: A UN study concludes that the earth's average daily temperature has increased by 14 degrees Fahrenheit since 2001; Sony's Breathe-I-Can oxygen mask and air purifier kit is the holiday season's hottest gift item.

2021: President Palin proposes to curb an exploding poverty rate by establishing the Hundred Million Bootstraps initiative, in which all indigent Americans receive a pair of bootstraps via mail. Due to a mounting national debt, only forty thousand pairs of bootstraps are issued before the initiative is suspended.

2022: U.S. invades the new Al Qaeda stronghold of Uzbekistan; French President Jean-Paul Plumier dubs U.S. foreign policy "a whore's nightmare - an aborted fetus of mindless diplomacy and repressed acumen." Palin and Defense Secretary LaPierre respond to Plumier's rebuke by ordering a massive air raid on Paris; attempts to replenish the parched Colorado River by dropping oversized water balloons into its desiccated basin fail, ushering in the Hundred Year Water Wars.

2023: In her State of the Union, President Palin, dubs the deepening financial crisis "The Worser Depression"; the U.S. dollar sinks to its lowest yield ever; Fed Chairman Richard Fuld beseeches all American citizens to immediately exchange their U.S. currency for gold "or literally whatever else you can get for it."

2024: After defaulting on $29 trillion in loans from China, President Palin travels abroad for the first time in her presidency, attempting to solicit funds from Central American upstarts Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the newly formed Caribbean island nation of LeBron; the nation's gold supply runs out as paperclips are adopted as the new national currency; America's depleted water supply prompts the price of one 16-ounce bottle of Aquafina to spike to 82 paperclips.

January, 2025: France, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq join Turkmenistan in a full-scale invasion of the continental U.S., easily thwarting its decimated military and seizing control of its fractured government. To distract the American populace, Turkmen Gen. Fanko Demetriaks orders his air force to air-drop Hometown Buffet 20 percent off coupons into the nation's most populous areas. Victorious, Gen. Demetriaks declares himself Supreme Commander of Turkmerika.