Now that Barack Obama has been elected president, reports are pouring in from the future to let us know what to expect from the next four to eight years. While some of these posts from the future depict Obama’s America as a big government, anti-Christian nightmare, others assure us that the new administration will usher in a post-racial, pro-technology utopia. Has the Obama election brought us a new brand of optimistic near-future science fiction?Historian and Nerve.com columnist Ken Mondschein wrote an excerpt from his imagined 2026 history book America: The First Quarter Millennium, which reflects on the historical context of Obama’s election and the achievements of his administration:
Electoral victory, however, does not always translate into successful governance. Historians have attributed Obama's success in his two terms as President to any number of factors — his reversing the ruinous economic policies of the New Right; his use of technology to transform a patrician, republican system of representative government into a responsive, flexible direct democracy; his ability to convince a country with a frontier mentality of the value of social welfare. But Obama's success was rather due to the way he embodied transformation. The ostracism and fear of blacks was the single greatest impediment to American progress. Obama, by the simple fact of his being, breached this seemingly impregnable mental stronghold, and demonstrated the truth of the motto e pluribus unum.
Adam Cutsinger at FutureBlogger, writing from 2014, focuses on the science policies of the Obama administration. President Obama reverses Bush’s ban on stem cell research, but it’s his speech on the use of nanotubes that advances scientific research in the US, earning him the nickname "Nanobama":
“It has never been in doubt, among scientists, and engineers, since the first “harvest,” if you will, of the tiny, hollow fibers, known as nanotubes, which are smaller than hairs, and stronger than steel, that their potential to revolutionize technology, in all aspects, in science, in engineering, in industry, in transportation, for medicine, and the treatment of the many health problems we face, for the infrastructure, for computers, satellites, for the exploration of our oceans, and for the exploration of space, is beyond any major advancement in the history of science. We cannot, and must not, stand in the way of progress, toward a safer, healthier world, at a time when we face so many serious challenges. America needs to show the world, we are not afraid of the future. We still have hope. It is important for us to focus, on the problems of the present, so that when we arrive in the future, we are prepared for it. We mustn’t let fear keep us in the dark ages. Humanity can’t afford it.”
I’m sure that, as the weeks go on, we’ll be seeing more near-future science fiction from people outlining their hopes for the next several years. And, it will be exciting to see not only what social and political changes writers will conjure up, but also what possible advances in science and technology they hope to see under Obama. Image is John Hart’s Nanobama sculpture made from carbon nanotubes.