All hail the great nation of Tennessee ...
Greetings, citizens of 2012.
I’m writing to you today from 10 years in the future. The year is 2022, and I don’t really want to go into the details of how I’m transmitting this to you. Suffice it to say that the power is only on for a few hours each day, because as crucial as it’s become to our way of life, the Little River can only generate so much hydroelectric power.
What’s that? What am I talking about? Let me bring you up to speed: I’m writing to you from the Tennessee Republic, as our great leaders chose to call this new nation after the secession petition craze of late 2012 succeeded in splintering what was once the United States. That once great country is no more; the North American land mass is pretty much a squalor of settlements that remind me of those old National Geographic articles about Africa in the 1980s.
Oh, they thought it was a grand idea at the time. The federal government was too large, they said. States’ rights and all that, they said. Let me tell you something: Jason B. of Harrogate, Tenn.? The guy who created the petition to the White House that sought permission for Tennessee to peacefully withdraw from the Union? He’s probably the most hated man in the Republic these days.
Sure, he was hailed as a hero early on. He ran for president of the Republic and won, and he had some pretty good ideas, too: Defense, first and foremost. And we sure had no problem filling up the ranks of the newly created Volunteer Militia.
We quickly ran into problems, however: How do you equip a standing army when you don’t have a federal government to provide for defense spending? Every year, the feds dispensed $535 billion for defense spending to states. Without a sugar daddy in the form of Uncle Sam, we had to supplement the militia with good ol’ boys — the hunters and weekend warrior types who spent most of their time in the woods and were plenty handy with a deer rifle.
Of course, we learned fast that shooting squirrels ain’t quite the same as going to battle. We hadn’t been our own nation for a full year before we faced our first armed conflict: With Mississippi, of all countries. Apparently, they wanted to take over Memphis and make it part of the Magnolia State; something about Elvis belonging to them, being born in Tupelo and all. They got all fired up about moving the capital of Mississippi from Jackson to Graceland, so they tried to take it.
Sounds crazy, I know, but it’s the little things ya’ll didn’t think about back then. We didn’t have any allies — we were too young a country to have developed mutually beneficial relationships with Old World countries, and our neighbors had their hands full with their own national problems. So we were on our own, and I hate to break it to you — those Mississippi boys were tough. I think Mississippi State’s win over the Volunteers that year had them a little fired up.
Speaking of Vol football: Enjoy those last two games, my friends, because they’ll be the last meaningful contests you’ll see. Ever. Once the Republic was its own country, the powers that be decided it was too big of a hassle and cost too much money to get the players Visas just so they could cross what used to be the state line to play another team. To be honest, I think they were just glad for an excuse not to get trounced by the Crimson Tide, but a lot of people were upset. We tried to keep the sport alive, but because so many colleges had to close down — no federal money for education or student grants, of course — the Vols had to settle for playing high school teams. They lost a few to Alcoa and Maryville, but for the most part it was a bloodbath and stopped being fun.
Speaking of fun: Get up to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while you still can. The National Park Service was one of the first things to go, and because it took a while to work through the red tape and get a trade agreement with other countries on paper, our state leaders took emergency measures and started cutting down the timber in those hills and digging the coal out of the mountainsides. We needed those natural resources, you see.
At least a lot of the wood was used locally. Because Medicare and Medicaid went away, the poor and impoverished started dying off by the thousands. It thinned the herd, sure, but it also caused a national crisis. Locally, the governor of Knoxville (God bless Johnny Knoxville for returning to East Tennessee to lead us in our hour of darkness!) decided to use what used to be McGhee Tyson Airport — which pretty much shut down as soon as the Federal Aviation Authority pulled out; hope you have a private plane if you’re wanting to fly anywhere — and build a “retirement” village for the indigent peoples of East Tennessee. It’s basically a series of clapboard houses packed together side-by-side and stacked atop one another; it’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but it gets the job done.
Speaking of jobs: If you work for the federal government in Oak Ridge, you probably ought to start looking for employment elsewhere.
You know, I could keep going on and on about life here in 2022 in the great nation of Tennessee, but perhaps I can offer a suggestion that might help you avoid the dreariness with which we all live:
That new movie “Lincoln” opens at Carmike Foothills 12 this weekend. Go see it. Soak it up. Remember what happened the last time states seceded from the Union. Then go home and tell everyone who’s clamoring to get out a second time to knock off the silliness and get back to being a logical and patriotic American.
Longing for the land of the free and the home of the brave,
Steve Wildsmith is the Weekend editor for The Daily Times. Contact him at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at 981-1144.