In the near future, the U.S. economy never quite recovers due to a number of contributing factors: increasing inter-party clashes in the White House which result in longer stalls, lost momentum, and the eventual loss of faith in the Federal government by all but the older, upper class.
China surpasses Japan as the #2 economy and just a half dozen years later, China surpasses the U.S. as the #1 economy; an unexpected, damaging blow to the U.S. as it is no longer able to import products at low, overseas rates. This causes an economic spiral which completely stalls U.S. manufacturing and associated jobs.
The US reaches out to its closest allies with request for economic support, but the falling dollar has no foundation, and is therefore considered too great a financial risk for international loans; the World Bank wavers and eventually declines further support.
All European countries and Canada join the EU, as both political and economic players.
In the Americas, all but Brazil and Argentina (who cave to internal corruption, military uprisings, and mass exodus to neighboring countries) join the AU (American Union), leaving the U.S. as an economic island without backing; the U.S. is no longer able to leverage Mexico or Central America as low-cost vendors of produce and labor.
As U.S. citizens increasingly lose confidence in the centralized government, religious leaders find opportunity for swaying local control to the church, resulting in clashes with State and Federal troops.
Any remaining separation of church and state is all but lost; political offices are filled with individuals who openly seek votes based primarily upon their religious affiliation.
Any effort by the Federal government to levy taxes is nearly completely thwarted as citizens realize the Federal government no longer has the capacity to enforce, resulting in a rapid, downward spiral of economic stagnation and inevitable collapse.
Issues of ethnic diversity, migrant workers, and immigration are left to each State. The wall across the Texas, Arizona, and California boundary with Mexico is heavily armored, monitored, and manned, not to keep migrants out, but to keep the dwindling labor force in. New Mexico caves to pressure from neighboring Texas and Arizona, constructing the same.
Texas, Utah, and Arizona discuss secession from the union while California works to unite the western States into a new union with proposed, central authority in San Fransisco to replace Washington D.C. What remains of the fragmented Federal government is incapable of responding with military action due to limited resources.
Arizona is first to secede, declaring itself an independent nation-state. While there is some pressure to join the AU in order to move onto a more stable monetary standard, the overwhelming, upper-class desire is for Arizona to be completely independent of all other nations, risking isolation in order to pursue religious independence.
While the nation-state Arizona is able to produce a surplus of food given the fertile soils of its southwestern counties, it is forced to negotiate with Colorado and Utah for water. Convoys move under military supervision to keep bandit raids to a minimum. Use of force is unrestrained.
Arizona employs a publicized random lottery to force families into agriculture and facilities labor, but increasingly the lottery targets low-income, ethnic minorities.
Public protests and uprisings increase, resulting in military intervention and deaths. The slave labor force conducts walk-outs, sabotage, and protests. Some escape to tell the world of the atrocities employed in the new nation-state of Arizona.
The AU and EU invoke economic sanctions and talk of military intervention grows.
In response, Arizona further cuts international ties, relying almost entirely upon trade with Utah, New Mexico, and Texas. The lottery is replaced by a completely closed door policy of raid and removal, forcing tens of thousands into State mandated slave labor each year. This system is heralded as job creation for the otherwise starving masses.
However, no amount of military supervision and applied force is able to efficiently sustain the required labor. It becomes clear that another means of controlling the labor force is required. Experimentation with course-grain, mood-altering drugs are conducted. But they are too quickly flushed from the body, higher doses resulting in side-effects or rejection.