Perhaps go further back to increase possibility. Maybe a successful Indian Stream or Rough and Ready?
So I wanted to stay away from that for now because my focus is on the economic-political currents of the near past and future. If I were to bring in 1800s or 1700s PODs, that would mean the work becomes entirely different. It would also mean I have to sacrifice depth in favor of breadth.
I’ve always been interested in the alt history potential of a world where Fukuyama was right about the end of history
I have a "1990s Punk" WIP where I explore this concept. Basically what happens is the "Empire of Liberty" (liberal-democratic American sphere) spans throughout North America and East Asia. This includes a mainland-China successor state that arose after the PRC collapsed to factional conflict and external influence.
There are challengers to the American-dominated order, but they take the form of localized potentates and conspiracies. Eg, one of the "villains" in my 1990s Punk map is the Harbin Pact, a well-armed, Manchuria-led cabal of Russian/Chinese successor states whose goal is to use missiles to interdict Arctic Ocean shipping (global warming has created an actual Northwest Passage!) and hold the industrial world hostage.
But none of America's challengers take the form of civilizational contenders like the USSR or PRC, and none of them have any larger, legitimizing ideology ("greed and violence" is not an ideology.)