The year is 1992.
Thirty years ago, the Cuban Missile Crisis went hot. The atomic flower blossomed across the face of the world. The Soviet Union as the world knew it, along with the peoples of Europe, ceased to exist. The United States of America fared better...by a vague definition of the term. Chaos and famine reigned. Its leadership decapitated, unable to contain the madness that swept the continent, the remnants of the Federal government made a fateful decision: they would abandon the United States. Withdrawing to the surviving industrial heartland around Chicago and Detroit, the government of the former United States, consisting of a few senior military officials and industrial magnates, dedicated themselves to the vision of rebuilding the America that was, in the hope of some day reclaiming that which was lost.
Left to their own devices, the remaining states formed new identities, and undertook draconian measures to ensure their own survival. California and Texas returned to their roots as independent republics. The South rose again as a resurrected Confederacy took hold, thriving on a toxic sociopolitical cocktail of race, fear, and violence fed by nuclear war. New England, Virginia, and countless other marginalized, isolated areas declare their own independence, and then dealt with the consequences. The Mid and Southwest, absent any unifying authority, have devolved into lawlessness.
This is the America that never was, an America that could have been.