Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Washington, D.C. -- 2025

President Heath Shuler? No, another candidate has not joined this year's race. The former NFL quarterback and Democratic House freshman from North Carolina (pictured right) only makes the move to the White House in last Sunday's Washington Post Magazine as part of an extensively imagined look at what the nation's capital might be like in 2025. Metro columnist Marc Fisher outlined the scenarios with help from illustrator Peter Bollinger and "two panels of experts on everything from shopping to energy policy."

Among Fisher's forecasts:
  • Scheduled blackouts and "alternate-day driving restrictions" after a 2015 civil war in Saudi Arabia;

  • $65 "Lexus lanes" for those willing to accelerate long commutes from remote suburbs;

  • The detonation of a "small nuclear device" in a 2016 terrorist attack on Manhattan;

  • A 2016 name-change for the Redskins, which become the Hogs;

  • A "Total War for Energy Independence" launched by then-68-year-old President Jeb Bush in 2021;

  • Publicly financed housing for employees of local governments who can't live close to their jobs;

  • Sunday services for nondenominational congregations at Wal-Mart;

  • Automated automobiles.
Fisher also has fun describing the new Nationals Park, which by 2025 will have been abandoned to coyotes "since Major League Baseball dissolved Washington's team for the second wave of contractions to hit the sport."

The online version of the Post's article includes audio excerpts from the expert panel discussions that helped Fisher concoct all of these scenarios. There's also a link to a Live Online discussion about how the story was assembled.

But my favorite part of the package was the "Editor's Note" by Tom Shroder, who, instead of looking ahead 17 years, listed 16 "realities in 2008 that I never could have imagined in 1991," such as:
  • "I would have a car that ran partially on battery power and got 45 miles per gallon -- but I would have to spend $35 to fill the tank."

  • "We would be in the middle of a war that had already lasted longer than World War II, with no end in sight."

  • "A woman and a black man would be duking it out for the Democratic presidential nomination."

  • "I could carry my entire music collection in my shirt pocket."

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