How would American media cover the midterm elections if they were happening in just about any other country? How would the world respond differently? Here, inspired by Slate's Joshua Keating, is a satirical take on the story you might be reading if US elections were subjected the same mix of nosiness and wide-eyed credulity we apply to events in the rest of the world.
As citizens go to the polls in the land known as "United States," a large North American nation about half the size of Russia, analysts are warning that the stability of the government — and perhaps the country itself — appears to be in question.
The United States, often referred to as "the US" or just "America," is currently under the regime of President Barack Obama, a charismatic leader who took power with the help of a youth-led "social media revolution" in 2008. But he has been unable to win the support of America's important oligarchy class, or the tribes who dominate the remote but populous American hinterlands.
Tensions were already at the breaking point when polls opened on November 4, as Americans absorbed the news that Beyonce Knowles, a local musician whom Americans worship as a goddess, would not be releasing a rumored new album, fueling already-deep fears of unrest. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was harshly critical of the decision to go ahead with so-called "midterm" elections despite the Beyonce news, calling it "unfortunate and counterproductive."
Part of the problem is America's quaint custom of deciding matters of significant policy importance via direct vote — a relic of their political system's origins in the television show "American Idol." As a result, today Americans will be faced with referendums on such significant issues as abortion and drug legalization, the latter pertaining to a plant known as marijuana that is used in traditional medicine and certain cultural ceremonies. The results are almost certain to differ between regions, further weakening the federal government's ability to enforce laws within its territory.
However, the roots of the unrest in America go much deeper. Signs of trouble began when the powerful "Supreme Court," an unelected council drawn from America's wealthy elite, changed voting laws. The new system gives an advantage to America's dominant political tribe, who are known as "WASPs," a term that is both an acronym referring to their race and religious affiliation and the name of a type of stinging insect endemic to much of the United States.
As a result, although America has managed to cobble together free and fair elections since 2000, when the Supreme Court appointed a member of the powerful Bush dynasty as president, the results of this week's elections appeared to be in dispute before the polls even closed.
In the formerly breakaway regions of Georgia and Louisiana, incumbents were already preparing to reject the election results and hold new contests in December and January, in the American tribal custom known as "run-offs." The origins of that term are disputed. Some historians claim it derives from the American tradition of deciding electoral disputes via athletic competitions, while others insist that it was merely a colloquial term for dueling.
Observers of America's complex political system warn that both states have a history of separatism, referring to an ancient internal conflict between agriculture-focused tribes in the American South and the so-called "industrialists" of the north, whose economies were based primarily on trade and manufactured handicrafts.
Although the war has officially been over for over a century, dissatisfaction with Obama's presidency appears to have caused a resurgence of southern separatism. The battle flag of the Confederacy, Georgia's faction during the war, can increasingly be seen emblazoned on homes, vehicles, and on the traditional American garb known as "t-shirts." There are concerns that, if the election results are contested, Georgians may take to the streets rather than allowing a re-vote.
With concerns growing that the elections might lead to unrest or even open rebellion, the French government is planning a peacekeeping mission to protect the citizens of its former colony, Louisiana, as it has done following similar, recent outbreaks of violence in Cote d'Ivoire and the Central African Republic. Despite American regime efforts to impose the dominant US language, English, on Louisiana, its locals continue to speak "Cajun" and "Creole" dialects, a reminder that it may be part of the United States in name only.
Even if there is a peaceful resolution in Georgia and Louisiana, experts on the region believe the US government is poised to fall into total paralysis as the "Republican" tribe occupies the legislature while the "Democratic" tribe holds onto the powers of the presidency. The country's rudimentary constitution has no provisions for managing these kinds of crises, and so the American government might well collapse into chaos.
Russia and China, citing concerns that American factionalism could allow its nuclear arsenal to fall into the hands of the violent drug cartels who operate just outside of its southern border, called for the establishment of a "government of national unity," proposing that the Clinton and Bush dynasties be permitted to appoint a president and a vice-president, respectively, to rule jointly in an effort to quell tensions.