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The Attitude Era was a period of socio-cultural and economic upheaval in the United States. Everyone agrees that it began roughly in February 2015 when Hillary Clinton announced that she would be running for president, and it is widely believed to have ended with the end of the Second American Civil War and the rise of Maurice Bradshaw. It is split into three periods: The Attitude Era Proper, which lasted from 2015 until the Second American Revolution; the Post-Second Cold War period, which of course occurred following the Second Cold War, and lasted from 2024 until the assassination of Sarah Stone in 2028; and the Civil War period which lasted from the Assassination of Sarah Stone until the American Legion surrendered in 2033. It was marked by political and social tensions between the conservative elite on one side, and liberal and libertarian groups and individuals on the other. It was also marked by an American youth becoming disenfranchised with the "American Dream" in the face of growing unemployment and government excesses.
The primary factor that led to the Attitude Era was wealth inequality in much of the world. The world has been split in half between the developed Northern hemisphere, and the developing Southern hemisphere. The south becomes emboldened by fading Western influence and begins demanding a fairer share of the world's resources, which lead to the Second Cold War in the later years of the Attitude Era as the North led by the United States struggled against the South led by China and Russia.
How the Term Was Coined In
The term "Attitude Era" was coined in when in her inauguration speech, President Hillary Clinton called for the entire country to have a new attitude; that American society was changing and everyone had to accept the winds of change. This statement made Clinton the subject of satire, especially within right-wing media. Conservative talk show radio host Rush Limbaugh quoted: "The Hope and Change era has ended, the Attitude Era has begun." Per the famous speech delivered by Winston Churchill prior to the Battle of Britain during World War II. The term became widely used by the media and the word became a phrase that defined the period.
Ever since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, in which terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York, the gap between the rich and the poor grew increasingly larger in America. A devastating recession, made worse by the failed economic policies of the Bush and Obama administrations, only widened this gap. Libertarianism and Anarchism became highly popular political ideologies. In addition, tensions between the rich and the poor became more and more evident.During this period, unemployment reached levels of 15% by 2018. Many things that American's believed were important such as going to college, buying cars and houses, voting, and capitalism in general came into question.
The institution of higher education completely collapsed in 2015, as many college graduates were thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Unable to pay these loans, many lost their houses and other properties. This led many people to simply avoid college altogether, and many colleges and universities closed down. Harvard University, one of America's most prestigious schools, experienced massive riots when tuition was raised. Buildings were burned down, faculty members were beaten, and millions of dollars in property damages were racked up.
Election of Hillary Clinton
When Hillary Clinton was elected president in 2016, these tensions came to a head. Hillary Clinton called for America to have a "new attitude". Young Americans had become extremely cynical, and many rebellious youth responded Clinton's call with a new attitude of their own. In 2017, writer and philosopher George Gordy published The American Scheme: A book that criticized America as a whole; its culture of imperialism, consumerism, and materialism. It also calls the "American Dream" a lie, and that the "dream" is really a "scheme" designed to lure people into debt and life-long wage slavery. The book was a New York Times bestseller, was translated into several languages, and received critical acclaim for bringing to the forefront what many Americans believed. It was also very controversial and was even banned in several countries; although the book applied specifically to America, the conditions in America were similar to the rest of the world. This new philosophy of rage and cynicism, this "attitude", permeated all throughout society and thus began the Attitude Era.
Aftermath of Clinton Presidency and Republican Crisis
Hillary Clinton's presidency was considered to be a massive failure: the failure to re-establish control of Texas after World War III, economic stagnation, and young liberals losing faith in the Democratic party, and instead embracing the Social Justice Movement led by Sarah Stone and others, were her legacies. Which enabled Chris Christie to win the 2020 election. The Social Justice Movement made impressive gains and helped cause social reform. These reforms, however, alarmed the Right, and led to the formation of ultra-conservative terrorist groups such as the Golden Eagles.
With conservatives becoming more radical, even within the Republican party, the libertarians within the Republican party, led by then-Senator Rand Paul, left the party in the leadup to the 2021 midterm elections, and joined the Libertarian Party. Rand Paul argued that the Republican party had "lost it's way", and that America needed a new direction. This made America, for the first time in two centuries, a three-party country. Both the Democrats and the Libertarians swept the 2021 elections, leaving Chris Christie with a Democrat/Libertarian dominated congress. All of these events made for a tense political situation within America, and even popular culture began to reflect this.
As the Attitude Era brought America's social tensions to the forefront, music, film, TV, and literature began to depict the inequality prevalent in American society. Music, Hip-Hop and R&B in particular, began to move away from the materialistic themes of the 2000s and 2010s, to more socially charged themes by the late 2010s and early 2020s.
In Hollywood, realism becomes popular once again. Movies that told stories of poverty, crime, inequality, and government corruption become blockbusters.
The Great Republican Schism: Libertarian politicians such as Rand Paul and others become the faces of the Republican party, however other Republicans who held on to conservative ideals distanced themselves from Paul. This led to Paul and other Libertarian politicians leaving the Republican party en masse and joining the Libertarian Party. Which made the US officially a three-party country as the Libertarian Party won several congressional and gubernatorial elections. However, Republican conflict led to Democrats dominating politics, for the most part, for the next four years.
Legalization of Marijuana: The Legalization Act of 2017 was signed into law and marijuana became legal in all fifty states. Although it was illegal for people under the age of 18 and heavily taxed. However this led to an increase in cartel activity for a few years: Terrorism becomes rampant as cartels become angry at a loss of business, the market for high-grade marijuana that many legal vendors weren't able to supply was instead filled by cartels. However, this did not last long and the cartels eventually went out of business by the next decade as the quality of legal marijuana became better.
The Higher Education Crisis of 2015: The American higher education system completely collapses as a result of the Sallie Mae bubble bursting. College dropout rates reach an all-time high. The student loan bubble bursts and college students fall into debt trying to pay their loans back. Many college graduates become homeless and unemployed, as the the American economy simply could not handle the influx of young workers. Many college students affected by the collapse become criminals. In the southern United States, former college students get into kidnapping, armed robbery, and drug dealing. Many begin to compare this period to the Wild West, as shootouts between rival gangs and bank robberies in broad daylight become the order of the day.
Affordable Care Act: The Affordable Health Care Act is signed into law in 2015, despite Republican protests. Healthcare becomes widely available for all Americans as a result.
Texan Seccession: Texas, which had become the heart of the libertarian movement, declares independence in mid-2015 as a result of government excesses. The Texan government seizes control of oil fields and even the National Guard. The United States government refuses to recognize Texan independence. It is led primarily by a young businessman named Bill Westerfield, who becomes the first president of the country. He aligns himself with the Russian side of WWIII in order to curtail an American invasion. However, Westerfield was extremely corrupt and allied himself with the drug cartels. He used cartel thugs to eliminate political opponents and squandered the nations wealth. Opposition to Westerfield's rule culminated during and after the Laredo Massacre, in which in uprising in the city was brutally crushed by the Westerfield regime; and after sham elections in which Westerfield refused to step down after losing and had his opponent tortured and killed, an armed rebellion spread out all across the country. Russia intervened on behalf of Westerfield, and as a result the US and Mexico intervened. Russia was driven out, and Westerfield was killed. After the war, the United States kept troops in Texas in an attempt to regain sovereignty over Texas. After protests all throughout Texas, the Americans pulled out but stopped short of recognizing Texan sovereignty. Tensions between the United States and Texas culminated into the Second Texan War of Independence, a two-year long war in which the Texans and their allies came out the victors.
The Social Justice Movement: Unemployment, corruption, income inequality, a lack of upward mobility, poverty, and crime in the United States leads to the formation of the Social Justice Movement. The Social Justice movement demanded a more equal share of the nation's wealth, more accountability in the government, and that all student loan debts be forgiven. It is primarily led by Sarah Stone. The movement becomes popular among young people and is the largest and longest period of social unrest since the Sixties.
World War III: The Middle East powder keg finally exploded in August 2015, when a Saudi prince is assassinated via car bomb by Iranian Revolutionary Guard agents. This leads to Saudi Arabia and the Arab League declaring war on Iran. In response, Iran invades and annexes Bahrain and bombs US naval bases in the area. This leads to the US and NATO intervening in the conflict. Iran attempts to bring Israel into the conflict by urging the Lebanese militant group known as Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israel. Lebanon grows tired of Hezbollah's aggressive actions in Southern Lebanon, and launches a military offensive in Southern Lebanon; beginning the Second Lebanese Civil War. In 2017, North Korea attacks US bases in South Korea and launches a full-scale invasion. Which leads to American intervention, Russia soon declares war on NATO in response and a world war begins. After a failed intervention in Texas, Russia and their allies go on the defensive and are eventually defeated. With 100 million people killed it is the bloodiest conflict in human history. In addition, it left serious ramifications for the world order: Although the United States and its allies won the war, the massive amount of military spending put the US further into debt and their economy stagnated. China, who remained neutral throughout the war, rose economically and militarily to the point that they could now challenge the US on the world stage; leading to the Second Cold War.
Collapse of the United Kingdom: Ethnic nationalism, economic stagnation, and military defeats lead to Great Britain suddenly collapsing shortly after World War III. The collapse of the United Kingdom leads many people to question the effectiveness of capitalism. In addition, political and territorial disputes between the former British countries lead to The British Wars.
The Second Renaissance: Western society is gripped by social and cultural change. Young philosophers affected by the Higher Education crisis such as George Gordy and others, become inspired by the libertarian ideals of Rand Paul and spread their revolutionary ideals all throughout the country. Gordy puts all of his ideas and thoughts into a manifesto called the The American Scheme, a play on "The American Dream, it is a iconoclastic and bombastic criticism of the American culture of consumerism and materialism; it also calls "the American Dream" a myth and a lie designed to fool young Americans into falling into debt. The American Scheme becomes a New York Times bestseller and inspires the political direction of Generation Y. Nihilism becomes a popular philosophy among young Westerners, given the gloominess of the times. Video games begin to replace movies as the preferred form of entertainment by 2018, as video games become increasingly cinematic in nature; and writing becomes more and more movie like. The themes in popular music, hip-hop and R&B in particular, shift away from materialistic themes and towards social and emotional themes; as a reflection of the times.
The Second Cold War: China maintained neutrality throughout WWIII, and as a result experienced a period of economic growth; even rivalring the US in global power. China begins exercising this newfound global influence by openly recognizing and embracing Texas. This leads to political tensions between the US and China by the late 2010s and early 2020s. These tensions culminated into the Second Texan War of Independence in 2021.
Second American Revolution: The defeat in Texas, four wars in two decades, poverty, unemployment, and growing authoritarianism in the government led to a military coup against the US Government in 2025. President Marco Rubio is overthrown by Sgt. Gordy Greene and a group of disgruntled revolutionary army soldiers known as the Sons of Liberty. Rubio was replaced by Rand Paul as acting president. Paul won a snap presidential election later that year.
Aftermath and Legacy
The Attitude Era is often compared to the Sixties. Both the Attitude Era and the Sixties changed the culture of much of the world their socio-political conflicts. The Attitude Era is considered to be a decade in and of itself, and it is if one counts Rand Paul's inauguration in 2025 as the end and Hillary Clinton announcing her presidency in 2015 as the beginning. The themes of rage and revolution would influence Generation Y in the years to come. The political turmoil of the period, for better or worse, changed the fabric of America to the point that the country would never be the same.
The United States which had fought four wars in two decades by 2023 and was deep in debt was severely weakened; and the United Kingdom which was bankrupt eventually ceased to exist as a nation. China, along with Texas and a rebounding Russia, took advantage of this and the world's balance of power shifted to the Pacific. As such, the Attitude Era is considered to be the last decade of American/Western dominance.