I picked up 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America1 a short while back on the recommendation of my pal, Rafi. I’ve always loved Albert Brooks and was curious what a novel by the comedian and auteur would be like. Plus it had the added bonus of being cheekily billed as a near-future tale of what would happen if America elected a Jewish President. Hilarious!
While it is a work of comedy, Brooks also makes a lot of astute observations about our nation and the geo-political climate we live in. In the run-up to the Presidential election, I highly recommend you give it a look.
When I wrote yesterday about Mitt Romney’s PBS comment, I refrained from commenting on his context: “I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.” 2030 deals largely with an America that becomes dependent on Chinese funds. While initially I thought of the book as a sort of conservative cautionary tale, Rafi turned me on to the idea that Brooks is offering instead a positive outlook on a globalist future. China’s ascent, in other words, doesn’t have to be America’s undoing.
There is a patina of old-world racism to Romney’s riffs against taking Chinese money. He could have set forth a plan to avoid taking foreign money altogether, but refusing British or German funds doesn’t light a fire under Americans’ asses. When he talks about China he’s invoking images of some kind of unsavory back room handling, loan sharking being peddled alongside opium pipes and gremlins. Now, there may well be reasons not to grow our debt, but racial myopia isn’t one of them.
2030 paints a starkly realistic, if exaggerated, picture of America’s trajectory, laying bare the classist, ageist and racist rhetoric that has come to define our politics. It does so with plenty of laughs and without taking a partisan stance. One of the main lessons I learned is that cooperation between China and the US should be far from our worst fear. I don’t want to wait 18 years as a nation to come to that simple realization.
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