Another reuploaded map for you all. I've held this back because I'd like to create more of a backlog before uploading everything.
A few years back, I purchased a book by a right-wing crackpot wherein he argues for the annexation of Mexico. Saying this book has been... inspirational would be an understatement. Remember, that it inspired my magnum opus(first an unnamed future history then "Cyberworld" and now Stone Jazz. Recently, I decided to dredge it up and use it as the base for a scenario where mexican annexation happened recently. For the purposes of this, I've also looked at some old alt-history future posts by Will Baird, some old posts by Scott Palter on the subject to "inspire" me.
The POD involves quite a few ASB wing-flaps to get the necessary political coalitions and votes on both sides of the borders done. The most that can be said for plausibilty is that it doesn't involve magic or lizardmen invading the earth during WWII. It does involve lots of bribes, blackmails and enough dirty politics on both sides of the borders. Before it's over, there's more than one politician on either side of the border bribed with a few million dollars in raw diamonds and a numbered swiss account.
After about 6 months of covert, behind the scenes haggling, when Congress returned from it's holiday recess in january of 2006 they presented to the world a plan, which had already been revealed to other interested parties such as the Mexican government. Both Washington D.C. and Mexico City's respective legislatures met and cast a symbolic vote: through bribery, blackmail or simply handing them suitcases of raw diamonds there were unanimous votes. The presidents of both nations met in a staged press session and announced the dissolving of Mexico's government and it's annexation into the United States of America.
The details of the plan are below:
Part 1: Handling issues of apportionment and representation: This portion exists to assauge american concerns about losing influence in their own legislature, while handling mexican concerns about not havin a level of representation fitting their population.
1) Puerto Rico given immediate admission to the United States, and gets 8 new representatives in the house.
2) America's pacific unincorporated territories consolidated into the state of "Isola" and gets a representative.
3) Washington D.C. granted statehood and a representative of it's own.
4) Utah gets it's extra house seat it was promised a deal in OTL. Besides providing flexibility, this smoothes it over.
5) Alaska's 1 representative and Hawai'i's 2 representatives are added as 3 extra seats in the pool to make up for the 1963 removal of them. One seat goes to New York, another to Texas and lastly a third to michigan.
6) Following the first round of increasing the house to 449 representatives, it is now increased by 50% to 674 representatives. This is both to factor in the mexican states coming in to allow for it without reducing representation for people in the old states. The new seats will be added bit by bit as the mexican territories join the union.
7) Mexico's 31 states and federal district have been consolidated into 25 territories. Both baja californias, the 3 states on the yucatan peninsula, several states in central mexico have been consolidated. However, for purposes of apportioning the money, the old figure of 32 entities will be used.
Part 2: Actually funding it: This of course covers all the issues with actually raising the money for these grand schemes.
1) Various deductions and tax credits for the lower, middle and professional classes have been removed, to make up for shortfalls. This covers the expenses related to implementing the plan, along with the federal deficit.
2) Reversing the Bush tax cuts. Part of it is to compromise with enough of the left to get their support for the plan on board.(Hey, I did say it'd take some political arm-wrangling. Ron Paul required 150 million dollars worth of raw diamonds in a swiss bank account for him to vote for this)
3) The assets of former Mexico's state-owned corporations are sold off. However, as part of the treaty, only american and mexican investors can buy out the companies or buy any of their assets.
Part 3: Necessary domestic compromises: This of course addresses various issue Americans had with annexing Mexico and mitigating domestic effects. This covers issues like immigration policy.
1) $50 billion dollars boost for both primary and secondary educational spending to help out lower-income regions within the old United States, both on a state level as well as for localized low-income pockets. The money also covers job training, grants and scholarships for post-secondary education and of course financial aid.
2) A decade-long moratorium on further immigration is to be imposed(tourists, university students and business travellers can still come). This includes clear penalties for illegal immigration along with enforcement mechanisms and removing any input from the ACLU in immigration enforcement. The logic of this moratorium is to buffer the impact of increasing the pool of unskilled labor by 75%.
3) Setting up the apparatus for a post-moratorium immigration policy of allowing in 500,000 skilled and or wealthy immigrants a year(think Canada's policies towards landed immigrants as a template) with no more than 50,000 immigrants a year from any one nation. As a way to gain the votes of certain religious right and nativist types(Ron paul), this new system excludes hindus, muslims and people from africa entirely.
4) Setting English to be the official language of government, albeit with Spanish getting a secondary role. However, the english version of any document enjoys legal preeminance. However, besides learning english in school, spanish would be taught as a second language in both primary and secondary education. Secondly, to recieve a four-year degree from an accredited university, studentsd must either learn or demonstrate proficiency in a third language of their choice -- however, existing students are exempt from this new requirement.
Part 4: Modernization of former Mexico: This portion covers the efforts that are dedicated to bringing Mexico up to the standard of the old states.
1) Order Mexico's states by human development index to determine order of admission. Admission is to come when the state has reached certain benchmarks of development. The order is as follows: Baja California, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Chihuhaha, Colima, Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Aguascalientes, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Yucatan, Mexico, Nayarit, Queretaro, Durango, San Louis Potosi, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Tabasco, Veracruz, Michoacan, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas.
2) Set aside $96 billion dollars a year of money. Each territory gets $3 billion dollars a year independent of other federal money, with consolidated territories getting the additional monies that they would have gotten if they were seperate states(Baja gets $6 billion, Yucatan $9 billion and Mexico gets $15 billion. It is to continue until 15 years after statehood, at which point it drops to $500 million per state per year for an additional 25 years. This money goes for infrastructure, reforming the judicial system along with other aspects of modernizing Mexico.
3) An additional 10% of overall educational budget($4.5 billion per year) is to be invested in expanding Mexico's secondary and post-secondary educational systems, on the model of the European Union's helping spain and portugal set up small colleges in rural areas to increase access to education.
4) For a period of ten years, 2 billion dollars a year is invested to cover improving sanitation, sewer systems, vaccinations along with providing money for mexican healthcare providers to upgrade their technology. Along with this $10 per person is budgeted to vaccinate everyone in mexico against various third world diseases as a one-time expense.
5) $4 billion a year for 20 years is invested specifically to both raise the pay for local public officials in former Mexico, along with prosecuting the corrupt.
6) Besides the portion of the federal money handed to the new territories and later states for infrastructure development, former Mexico is to get $4 billion per year for the next 30 years, to help coordinate larger-scale projects(merging Mexicos' intercity highway system with the United States', boosting public transportation, fixing faulty infrastructure.)
THE FIRST FEW YEARS
Even a president who was a Lincoln or Washington would have had an "interesting" time digesting Mexico in the mid 2000s. Bush Jr. was neither a Washington or Lincoln so things got a little more than interesting during the transition period. His successor, Rick Santorum also has to deal with the adjustment issues, along with media snarking about his vice president Sarah Palin. Santorum's method of trying to distract people so far has been an energetic foreign policy. Visible demographic shifts happened during the first five years as 36 million Mexicans, mostly poorer and rural pulled up stakes and fled north to the land of higher-paying jobs. A smaller movement of 18 million americans which was composed of retirees, opportunists and those whose companies decided to pull up stakes and relocate to the new territories also happened. A housing bubble burst was narrowly dodged and turned into a bit of a regionalized deflation partially countered by a boom in house-buying in former mexico from relocated gringos and newly middle class latins.
America's working class isn't really happy at the moment. Yes, the economy is good, but per capita GDP peaked at annexation and unskilled wages have dropped like a rock. The fact that part of this is due to the fact that old mexico's bottom was so much worse off than the US is not much omfort. Nearly doubling the unskilled labor pool has seriously hurt them and there has been quite a radicalization in response. Part of this is expressed in the "Tea Party" movement kicking off in the last days of Bush's term, with the other part going to movements like "The People United" or "Occupy Wall street". There is of course, a new wave of street violence and unrest from this: The ghost of Timothy McVeigh is not yet gone and the event has reawakened those kind of tensions.
Economically, things have been mixed but are mostly on the positive side of things. Former Mexico's economy's got... confused for the first couple of years -- there was on ther one hand a recession caused by imposing American minimum wages but on the other hand new work created with the construction boom. Another factor confusing things was the abolition of various state monopolies and selling off of state companies: Thank Chevron and Exxonmobile for $1.25 a gallon gas in 2012. Since a transition period in late 2008 and early 2009, the region's economy has grown at rates of 5-6%, with spinoff effects in the old United States leading to economic growth rates at home being about only about 15% less than the norms of the late 1990s. Even with the decade-long moratorium on further immigration to ensure the new citizens had jobs, pumping infrastructure money into former mexico and setting aside $50 billion to help out the educational system in poorer areas of the older states, The United States took a major hit on development, education and social cohesion. The East/West German friction is nothing compared to the old 48/'latin territories' adjustment issues. However the the combination of a better economy, expanding welfare to former mexico, removing anti-clerical legislation in mexico has boosted the combined birthrates of the United states and Mexico up to 2.4(Mexico has 2.2 in OTL and the United States around 2 in OTL. I'm basin the pattern partially on how hispanic fertility in the US is higher than in mexico combined with no Great Recession to lower birthrates) . Its per capita GDP peaked with annexation and the working class got a massive dose of economic pain, but it is on the way up.
While so far, only two states from former Mexico(Baja California in 2010 and Nuevo Leon in 2011) have been admitted to the union and latin turnout for elections remains underwhelming but change is in the air. The usual social conservative versus business type primary fights within the GOP are even worse. The democratic party is having to deal with uncomfortable facts like a large bloc of third world reds from the former PRD, along with a large bloc of nonwhite voters who don't happen to be enamored with affirmative action(or people of african descent in general) or abortion. "Life issues" related to abortion, contraception and other such catholic-related issues are even bigger flashpoints in politics than now -- Mexico's own ongoing controversies about abortion get exported to the north too along with a boost for the anti-abortion forces in the old states. Unfortunately, adding a sizable bloc of socially conservative catholics has cause a certain lag for gay issues -- Fewer states have gay marriage but at least progress didn't go into reverse. Mexico's PRD folded into the Democrats, PAN into the Republicans and individual PRI members to whoever would give them the most raw diamonds.
Culturally, even a mere 6 years is enough to produce somewhat visible changes. The more outgoing and colorful vibe of 2003-6 has continued onwards and in fact even intensified a bit due to the upsurge in crime. After all, the jump in crime caused by the mass migration north isn't quite the same thing as the cycles of rising and falling crme, but it's enough to have an effect on the culture to make it more lively, colorful and outgoing. Even by 2012, many of the big cities of the lower 48 have hispanic minorities as large as Los Angeles did pre-annexation. incidently, LA's latin population is actually smaller as a percentage due to many now being citizens who can move to cheaper or more economically dynamic places without fear of la migra. Much more of the nation outside of the southwestern United States has grocery stores that cater to the mexican/"latino" market and even normal ones tend to have as large of mexican food-related sections as stores in California.
THE REST OF THE PLANET
Canadian opinion to the notion of becoming an even smaller chunk of North america is rather unenthustiastic. Quebec's premier states matter-of-factly on national TV both in French and English that Canada needs a nuclear deterrant. Members of the Liberal and NDP Parties vote to remove the gun registry after every single Member of Parliament recieves in their mail a phamplet titled "What to do when the yanks come for Canada" in november of 2009.
Israel's ambassador asked for a billion and a half dollars in 2007, which he got that year but it led to occasional snarky remarks. Various pro-israeli commentators in Washington or the media constantly express concern over the fact that the new citizens aren't as sympathetic to Israel.
The arab spring happened as per OTL, with the difference that an Iran where the near revolution of OTL's 2009 was butterflied away went over the edge and saw the formation of a new democratic government following revolts in 2011. Tunisia, Iran, Morocco and Syria all look optimistic for the future. On the less optimistic side, Iraq is talking about splitting itself into three pieces, with offers from both Turkey and Syria for a piece.
China's leadership hasn't been overly happy about being even further away from world superpowerdom than they are in OTL but can't do much besides occasional whining and propaganda campaigns. The fact that President Santorum recently muscled them into giving up claims to Taiwan and has just made news by sending the marines into Pyongyang isn't really helping.
Without having to worry about Chinese reconquest anymore, Taiwan is sitting pretty these days. The fact that part of the deal brokered for Beijing to recognize independence for Taiwan was that it would take the educated portion of china's pro-democratic dissident groups off of beijing's hands is helping the economy thanks to the fact that so far 100,000 young dissidents have ended up deported to Taipei.
Free Mexico has become a progressive cause. Every time some nest of bandits or guerillas is ferreted out, there are protests outside of America's embassies in the capitals of europe and snarking from annoying hipster bloggers at home.
Adoption of ebooks, smartphones, tablet computers and wifi in general have all been slightly sped up thanks to the lack of a great recession or wave of financial crises. A somewhat more lively and outgoing culture has translated into malls doing a bit better with Borders remaining open.
A GENERATION ON
Since the early days after the annexation, under Bush and Santorum's time the world has largely chugged along. There haven't been any major disasters, but on the other hand there have'nt been any real positive surprises like a tech boom. Good trends like Mexico's economic convergence with Spain have been counterbalanced by slowing of growth rates for both India and China along with the mixed like the Hubble III's discovery of hundreds of lifebearing worlds within 200 lightyears and the sobering realization that getting there soon wasn't going to happen barring either Einstein being proven to be a hack or serious efforts in building starships.
Economically, the cycle of boom and bust has continued. For a good chunk of the planet the new tens were a time of recession. The European Union experienced a serious economic crisis which ended in restructuring of the EU into "inner and outer" members. China and India's growth dropping from around 10% to 3-6% didn't help matters. The 2020s and 2030s have generally been better so far, with the exception of a brief recession in 2026 to 2029. On a positive note, starting with Brazil's getting it's act together, Latin America started a new round of economic dynamism. Cities like Montevideo, Havana, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Rio or Santiago are all experiencing construction booms -- Montevideo is the city with the most construction cranes.
An America with a larger population, cheaper energy, an economy that was growing faster than before and a rather larger pool of potential recruits for the army got a brief period where it was back to it's early or mid 1990s real hyperpower status. With more militant leaders, that wanted to continue Bush II's legacy the result was rather more... energetic than even Bush's own ambitions. The result, was in the early years an American foreign policy focused around the notion that what the third world needed was a good ass-kicking followed by handing out bibles. Pakistan, Haiti, Cuba, Nigeria and North Korea to name a few all recieved American "visits" to name a few. As of now, the United States has partially declined is roughly where it was in relative power(how much countries will listen to it) and absolute power right in the post-9/11 honeymoon stage, just waiting for a second equivelant to Iraq to alienate the rest of the world and show how hollow this status is is.
On the upside, the world got roughly a decade and a half-long breather thanks to Mexico's proving to have middle-east level reserves combined with Brazil's reserves off of their coast proving to be... substantial. Gas prices in the United States even went down as low as 80 cents during the years of 2013 to 2018 and have crept back up to $3.15(Which, with 2-4% inflation on average is more like $2.15 in 2012 terms). Funding for alternate energy sources slipped a bit, but unlike after the 1970s didn't dry up completely.
THE NEW AMERICA
Like the sweeping changes from 1950 to 1980, America 30 years after annexation would be quite hard to recognize to a visitor either from 2006 before the annexation or even from 2012 of OTL. It's a younger nation too, with a mix of slow boomer dieoff combined with a by now entrenched total fertility of 2.7 moving the average median age from 36 back down to 31 and still sloowly dropping. it is a chaotic and energic era which oozes opportunity.
Poltically there's been less change than some would want but more than many predictions would have. For example, the big two parties have just finished yet another one of their ideological flip-flops: Democrats are fiery, knee-jerk populists and super-patriots while Republicans are viewed as latte sipping, Financial Times reading white collar types that are probably a bit gay. However, it's not just flipping the party labels on the left and right: Democrats tend to take a populistic stance on economics and a nationalistic form of social conservatism, while Republicans tend towards fiscal conservatism and libertinism as opposed to social liberalism(We're talking about a party that would vote yes for legalizing marijuana, but either not propose or vote against anti-discrimination bills). One interesting note, is that compared to now both parties are much more federalist on social issues. One visible change from 2012, has been the persistance of a third party in the form of the Institution Party(populist economics(well more leftist than the dems. In some ways it's similar to tea party types), middle of the road/status quo on social issues, anti-war) as a semi-viable party on the model of the old Liberals in the United Kingdom. Other third parties are merely fringe as opposed to "hopelessly unelectable" or "outright mocked by everyone".
Culture wars issues are still up for debate, but are lower priority than present. People's predictions of civil war over social issues in the 00s and 10s look quaint. Roe V. Wade got reversed early on in Santorum's first term but, to the surprise of conservatives enough women in red states were too used to being able to get them to want to do serious restrictions. It also had the side effect of taking the enthusiasm out of the anti-abortion movement, to the point where the pro-choice movement has managed to be able to remove even preexisting restrictions through gradual reform(The RTL movement is trying to reorganize, but faces an uphill battle in a more secular Mexico and dixie). Marijuana is legal in about half of the states, decriminalized in most of the rest and not touched as a federal issue. Gay people can get married in all but 12 states(mostly concentrated in Mexico's indio south or deep dixie, with Utah being the one outlier), and the only thing stopping it from being officially legalized nationally is both party's shift to a more federalist position. The television and radio are less censored than present. However, the right has enjoyed a few gains such as 1) mandatory paternity testing 2) re-writing child support laws to factor the paternity tests 3) reform of alimony laws 4) rollback of most legislation supported by feminists(Forget about "hostile work environment" or "sexual harassment laws").
Religiously, America a bit more secular overall(26% openly non-religious as opposed to 15% in OTL 2012) and a bit more catholic and less protestant(America went from 28% catholic to 53% catholic at the height. Now dropped to around 45%). Adding Mexico and removing existing restrictions on religious freedom created a temporary rise of belief in former Mexico which has somewhat petered out. Evangelical efforts to try gaining new converts haven't gotten as much success as they hoped. Remember, that even though the US has ruled Puerto Rico for over a century, it's only 15% protestant and that despite missionary efforts both in latin america and at home, only 20% of latins in the US overall as of 2012 are protestant. Unfortunately, open irreligion is only somewhat more acceptable than now but at least now you'd get a small majority who'd vote for an open athiest and people expect less displays of public piety from politicians.
Issues focused around the "national question", race and crime play bigger parts of politics due to the sudden shock of America annexing Mexico combined with the fact that the norm in latin american nations like Mexico isn't as tolerant as the United States. The fact that the economy is doing well has mitigated the backlash a tad, but affirmative action and the whole apparatus of social engineering/regulatory enforcement related to civil rights is gone and books like the bell curve are popular. At least economic growth, a tighter labor market and (slowly) rising intermarriage are starting to smooth it over but white/black tensions are still worse than OTL 2012. White/brown relations are a bit better: mexican hispanics are back to roughly OTL 2012 in the process of turning 'white', while the rest of the hispanic population has largely de facto gotten into the 'white' category.
The idea of changing the immigration policy back to the one that existed 1965-2006, or even opening it a bit more is a politically radioactive issue. What immigrants the United States does get tend to be mainly first worlders who want to live in a place with lower taxes, ex-soviet bloc people, chinese or wealthy Latin Americans. Besides being rather fewer than the old set of immigrants of the 1965-2006 wave, these are more scattered as they end up anywhere that's economically dynamic(the coasts, sunbelt, New York City and old Mexico).
Economically, the United States has changed but it's still a recognizable first world country. If the period from 1980 to 2012 in OTL was a period of moving away from the old new deal model to a new neoliberal model, this new period has seen a limited shift towards a different but still more populist model. This has been accomplished with an odd mix of policies(a certain degree of protectionism, reduction of deductions, reduction of licensing/other credentialism, establishing single-payer healthcare, etc). Former mexico has managed to converge roughly to spanish or Italian levels. The productivity boost caused by the partial convergence of Mexico made the 2010s a serious wake-up call for social security(the boomers weren't happy to have the $120,000 tax cap removed and means testing imposed) as opposed to inevitably dooming it. The 10 year immigration moratorium combined with the new shift of emphasis towards skills and not family reunion along with Mexico's partial convergence has meant a partial recovery. In fact, the GINI coefficient is down to .47 from a high of .61 and still slowly dropping -- the mass poverty of pre-annexation Mexico is gone.
Foreign-policy, wise America at this point has slowly relaxed after the adventurous phase of the early and mid 2010s to being more of a benevolent hegemon. The state department still issues force ominous prouncements that nations should follow and there's still a network of bases overseas(At least it's back down to only the same amoun as in OTL 2012) but, it's less active than now. For example, the last war the United States started was in 2027 and it was to remove General "Ribbed for Her Pleasure" from power in Liberia. The last troops left in 2035.
Culturally, America is as different from 2006 America as 1950 America was from 1980 America. The great American assimilation machine is in the process of working on the new citizens. However, assimilation in this case has been a two-way street as was even arguably the case to a much lesser extent with latin american immigration even before the annexation. For every person in former mexico who considers Taco bell to be traditional or speaks badly mangled "spanglish", there's the anglo family named "Garcia" or "Perez" where both parents grew up with taco night as the norm. While every level of American society has picked up at least something new as a result of the merger of the two nations, the biggest changes have happened with the working and lower classes of the United States, which is in the process of becoming an anglo-mexican fusion group. Much like Cubans in southern florida, the middle and upper classes of former Mexico have been more resistant to americanization.
Demographically speaking, there are great shifts in both the old 50 states and former Mexico. Remember, the post-annexation wave of Americans moving south represents the largest movement of europeans into Mexico on both a relative and absolute level since the initial spanish conquest. By now, former Mexico is about half anglo in population, with some northern or coastal areas such as Baja California being majority anglo. Anglo settlement in former Mexico has been mostly concentrated in the coasts(Like Florida, weather-wise), the north, the Yucatan and some cities. Various economically depressed areas in the United States have seen exoduses of people leaving for the new frontier. However, they are seeing people coming in from the Latin States that find rural appalachia or the rustbelt to be lands of opportunity so it almost evens out. The parts of the US which have seen the most immigration from former mexico are the rustbelt, appalachia and urban America in general(most big cities have a hispanic minority as big as Los Angeles now). Mixed marriages are of course common as expected. However, this is more important for the population of former Mexico than the old 50 states since there were about 300 million americans to 110 million Mexicans. Even a generation in, quite a few of the younger people in Mexico are rather paler than their parents or grandparents.
Despite fears of national disunity caused by 1) adding a large chunk of spanish speakers 2) teaching spanish in primary and secondary education, the linguistic verdict is clear: English wins out. Yes, some new spanish slang has been picked up and and a hispanic accent is the norm in the inner cities but it appears that not even adding Mexico is enough to turn America into bilingual nation. Remember, in OTL the mexican government is worried enough about english swamping spanish in Mexico to have Quebec-style language laws and this POD removes those protections. Many Americans, even those who were born the latin states who are tourists in say Colombia or Argentina are discomfited at the fact that latin americans make fun of them for speaking a dialect that's more like "Spanglish", than real spanish.(The fact that Mexican spanish was already a bit different from castillian or south american spanish didn't help.)
THE REST OF THE WORLD
Europe muddled through it's near-depression of the new tens. The European Union came quite close to dissolution, but managed to survive thanks to intensive reforms of it's economic and political structure. In the process, a few states like Belgium and Italy have fissioned. However, the old structure has been replaced with a three-tier system of core states, outer states and "semi-independent regions". At this point it's not much of an exaggeration to state that each country or autonomous region has a unique relationship with Brussels. Europe is having a fair degree of trouble of integration and acculaturating it's muslim immigrants, but it's nowhere near as bad as "Eurabia" types would have it. In fact, in recent years some of the more assimilated ones, have started voting for socially conservative parties because like devout catholics or protestants, Muslims don't like alot of postmodern europe's norms.
Compared to our world's 2012, Latin America is more independent from US domination. Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela have formed an organization that's a talking shop, mutual aid association and anti-american venting society. The fact that america's electorate now includes quite a few native-born latins who had to deal with direct negative externalities of US policies means that the US has taken a bit less of an interventionist line.
Russia is larger than OTL, thanks to the partial restoration of it's old borders under the aegis of the Union State. It's bottomed out and began the long process of recovery of it's influence and power with help from Europe. It's still an oligarchy under the United Russia party, but at least even that is a vast improvement over either the old czars or the soviet union.
Japan, Taiwan and the Korean Confederacy have formed an economic and political cooperation grouping under the aegis of the "Three state union", informally nicknamed "Three Dragons" to handle issues with one another, as well as make it harder for China to muscle the member states the way had been done with Taiwan in the past. Japan and Taiwan are both having to deal with the issues of aging populations, while Korea is benefitting from the newly-reannexed north koreans boosting the birthrate. Korea's per capita GDP peaked at reunification and the strains of trying to digest the north were on par with the American-Mexican anschluss but the north's economy is growing. All three are centers of world culture to an even bigger extent than in OTL 2012. Yes, Korean and Taiwanese cultural products have gained more attention but Japan is still the gold standard for asian popular culture.
China is richer than our current People's Republic, but is still for the most part recognizable to a visitor from 2012 china. It's managed to jump from it's current level to around say 2012 Romania. Unfortunately, world economic growth as a whole has made that translate into not such a big leap and China has merely gone from lower middle income to being roughly at the middle of the pack. The current regime is secretly relieved at there being lessened expectations from it's people, after all growth downshifting to being between 5-8% instead of 10% means a slower growing middle class and fewer protestors. However, episodes of unrest have forced further economic reform, reducing censorship(merely focusing on purely political stuff and not doing anything like banning time travel in movies), as well as beginning the process to becoming a purely dominant party state in a two steps forward, one step back type process.
Less lucky than China, India has only managed to somewhat keep pace with relative per capita income. It's gone from $1527 per capita GDP to $6182. This translates into an India which has a standard of living roughly on par with 2012 China in OTL, but around a third of 2036 China, and significantly less than 1/10th of the United States's standard of living. A richer India has more cultural soft power than present with mixed results: Increased number of places selling cheap curry is good, but Bollywood being an internationally recognized film industry is bad. The fact that fertility in India has collapsed is allowing for wages to rise despite the slower growth rates.
Turkey is still a democracy as of 2036. In fact like the rest of the muslim world, Turkey is even starting to slowly re-secularize.
Turkey's allies include Iran, Syria, Iraq and a Palestine that still runs about 40% jewish(clearly orthodox majority). Adding a large group of voters who didn't share typical American norms for being pro-israel sped up an already existing trend away from being pro-israel. Like south Africa before it, Israel was forced to grant the arabs full political rights and the result was a secular(if dominated by conservative muslims and the orthodox segment of the jewish community), multiconfessional republic. The transition was messy but it's worked.
Iran is a democracy these days, but still doesn't much like the west and anti-semitic conspiracy theories are still popular.
The rise in oil prices has been good for the member states of the Gulf Community. The oil shiekdoms of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, The United Arab emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman are sitting pretty on a sea of increasingly expensive crude and selling it. The brief collapse in oil prices during the new tens led the rulers of these emirates to start showing a bit more fiscal discipline and pick better stocks to invest in. The unrest, has led to deporting non-arab guest workers and shifting gears to recruit from arab nations -- some states, like the United Arab Emirates have even started allowing a priviliged very few of these guest workers to attain citizenship as a means of bribing the rest into compliance with the hope that they to can become an emirati.
The Islamist tide has reached it's maximum height and appears to have peaked. Yes, there are strict sharia states like North Nigeria, Libya, Suristan and Sudan but Islamism's appeal is wearing off since it's not proving able to achieve all of it's promises. On the bright side, it's had the salutory effect of creating something resembling Somali nationhood. Even the strict regimes are seeing a gradual loss in religious enthusiasm, and there have been a few notable cases of protestant missionaries sneaking in and managing to set up house churches before.
Africa has... muddled through with some areas managing to get even more seedy than present while others improved. There is an ongoing HIV dieoff, which isn't being helped by the new airborne strains of AIDS that are popping up in the ghettoes of Nigeria. AIDS vaccines and cures aren't really helpful when first world companies still have the patents and charge unaffordable prices. Quite a few african countries have become de facto chinese or Indian protectorates and there has been a movement of chinese and Indians as settlers.
East Africa formed a loose confederation in 2015 and in 2026, become a centralized state and has managed to defy expectations, in that it's managed to break into the ranks of the middle income nations. Lower middle income, yes but it's managed to become almost a third richer than India in per capita terms. East Africa is a corrupt democracy with occasional strongmen presidents, but at least these days they know not to steal EVERYTHING and to avoid stealing from international investors.
Inspired by the success of East Africa, West Africa has formed a loose economic community of sorts. It's looser than the arrangements existing in Europe post coal and steel agreements, but it's there. Whether or not it sticks is up to them to decide...
The success story of Africa, has been the states of the South African Community, which has managed to go from being middle of the road to upper middle income. The first step towards this, was the 2010-11 acrimonius split of South Africa's ANC party into two parties, and the reduced influence of the radicals on policy. This was most evident in Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia but both Botswana and South Africa have seen visible improvement over 2012 norms. In fact, the SAC's states are now counries of immigration not just from other africans but from India, China, Indonesia and even a few western expats.
Many african nations by this time have at least small, but still visible chinese and Indian minority populations. The chinese and indian diasporas have started influencing the wider culture which is a mix of negative and positive side effects -- a big market for powdered rhino horn is bad, but you can get decent chinese food in Nairobi.
Technology has of course advanced but the singularity hasn't happened and there haven't been any lucky tech booms. The lack of funding, risk-averse mindset continues to slow innovation. Moore's law peaked in 2024 and since then has started to go in reverse in terms of the new capabilities gained each year. This is a world of evolution as opposed to revolution; The cheap cellphones make our iphones look like crap in comparision, televisions have glasses-free 3D and thumbdrives are sold with multiple terabytes. Biotech continues to slowly advance with innovations like "drain cleaner drugs", a cure for baldness, People kibble for the poor in America's cities/the third world made out of vat-grown food and the vanilla flavored cherry.
The fact that the autodoc, that SF staple hasn't come about yet has meant that there's a very large demand for biomedical workers. Starting in 2018, with the Gates Foundation endowing the first Biomedtech school in the Seattle Area the transition picks up steam in the middle of the 2020s and is most advanced in new england, the upper midwest and pacific northwest. The expectation that you need 3 years of pre-med to get a good job or to even get into college isn't there _yet_ but it's shifting in that direction as more of the good schools start requiring a biomedtech degree to even get into college. There are side effects like increasing real income(Boosting the education of the population obviously helps), there's an emerging new drug subculture(People from age 18 to 21 in an environment where they can access prescription drugs without _that_ much supervision means well...) and having it so everybody can step up from being burger-flippers to being nursing staff which are starting to appear.
World demographics are in the process of shifting. The demographic transition in the third world which was only beginning in 2012 has acellerated. Unfortunately for the long run, most third world societies are following a more German or Italian or Japanese model of steep drops in fertility and not a more sustainable and slower decline. Africa is the poster child of collapsing fertility, with India and the muslim world being other cases case in point. The fact that reduced birthrates are combined with mortality rates staying about the same isn't helping matters -- Africa won't be at the point of population dropping for 30-50 years, but it'll be a bigger shock for them than even China's demographic decline.
The space program is back! Corporations are setting up orbital solar power, manufacturing and of course hotels(Hilton Orbital is doing well). The joint American-European-Russian-Chinese mars mission in 2024 went well but so far talk of establishing a long term colony or even doing a second mission has come to nothing. Hilton is currently trying to raise capital for a lunar hotel, but even the most optimistic estimates are that it'll only be feasible by 2050.
The internet is doing well and this is an increasingly wired world. The fact, that the west has shifted out of it's cocooned state to a more outgoing state has produced alterations to net culture Firstly, social networking tends to resemble myspace or early facebook in appearence(customizable and not as bland), facebook imploded(Mark Zuckerberg had his vital organs reposessed to pay for his debts once his business failed) and usenet is back from the grave. Yes, the internet isn't a subsitute for genuine social interaction but it's changed to reflect the more outgoing culture. In fact, it's less watched by governments thanks to piracy being a bit less of a focus. English is still the majority language online, but mandarin and spanish are also pretty commonly used. This has spurred improvements in translation programs, but it's still hit and miss even if they do produce better results than the state of the art in 2012.
Those who'd like information to be free would be happy for the most part with the results of the sweeping changes that happened in the United States, and to a lesser extent in the rest of the wired world in the 2020s. Copyright terms have been at least partially rolled back: all works under copyright in the United States published after 2019 have copyright terms of 12 years(First 3 years have full rights, with every 3 years seeing more limited rights). Trademark protection is weaker than present and what you can trademark is rather more limited. File-sharing is entirely legal, there is a legal situation like Japan's where derivative works are partially legal(think doujinshis) and attempts at copy-protection have been ruled violations of customer's rights. Europe has seen extensive reforms but not to America's extent. Most of the third world simply dropped any attempts to enforce western copyright.
Eugenics is back in style once again. With the passing of those who remember WWII combined with the rise of a power that openly uses eugenics(People's Republic of China), that idea has reasserted itself both in illiberal forms as well as liberal forms. Sterilizing violent criminals is commonplace along with the modification of childcare tax deductions to not include unskilled jobs anymore. Trying to do direct modification of the human gene code beyond trying to modify skin, hair and eye color has run into technical limitations, which has only bolstered support for eugenics as an alternative. Many countries now regulate sperm or egg donors and encourage those who have high intelligence to donate with tax incentives. Incidently, nowadays most US States don't allow welfare recipiants to keep getting money if they get pregnant unless it's from a subsidized sperm donor.