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In early May 2068, the USA and USSR go head off in nuclear war, and both countries, and the rest of the world, were completely devastated. In the US, the bombs ranged from smaller 100 kiloton bombs to 30 megaton bombs. Before the war, a food crisis caused heavy rationing of food in places like California and New York, and a proxy wars between the US and Soviets in East Africa and Southeast Asia heightened political tensions. 90% of the world’s population is dead, and life is forever changed for the survivors. Towns are the only safe places, as the vast expanses of wilderness are stalled by savage animals and raiders, that will kill you at best, eat you at worst. Women found outside will often be enslaved and subjected to unimaginable suffering. Most people are substinence farmers at best, Hunter gatherers at worst. It stays like that for 500 years, but there is 1 problem.

In the event of nuclear war, the government would most likely help the survivors or put in martial law and things like that. But, in my story, the government never helps anyone, and is never heard from again by the citizens of America. The military personnel that survived all deserted to form tribes, or become raiders. All the high ranking members of the United States government (excluding the president) survived the war and relocated to secret bases, so my question is, what would be a plausible reason for why the government disappeared?

In America, 21% of the population survived.

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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn: You didn’t have to downvote me. You could have just told me so o could edit it $\endgroup$ – Talos 2 Apr 27 '18 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ Why is it always 500 years? $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 27 '18 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ That's the good thing about down votes: they can be retracted. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Apr 27 '18 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH for the same reason it's always 90% of the people are dead, and (almost) always technology/culture is Medieval. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Apr 27 '18 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ More data, Talos. Where did the bombs fall? What kinds of bombs were they? What time of year? Are we assuming the bombs fell "today" or "near future?" What was the situation before the bombs fell? How much time between "crisis start" and "launch warning" and how much time between "launch warning" and "explosion?" We need details. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 27 '18 at 21:39
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The 21% who survive are not government people.

nuclear targets map

Survivors are not a random 21% of the population. In a big nuclear exchange, population centers and centers of military power will be wiped out. The fact that the top leaders survive shows that they are wily folks, but they will have no-one left to do their bidding and nothing to do it with.

Survivors will be concentrated in the rural west and far north. Governmental entities are not represented by these people except for small town governments and national park rangers.

An interesting premise for this scenario: the Navajo nation might be the largest organized governmental entity to survive this exchange. In the fairly large area they control, the tribal government does try to help people.

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    $\begingroup$ I think they targeted Boise just so Idaho didn't feel left out. $\endgroup$ – Andon Apr 28 '18 at 1:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Andon all 50 state capitals are targeted. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Apr 28 '18 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn - Honolulu looks ok! $\endgroup$ – Willk Apr 29 '18 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ Because ModernSurvivalBlog is an idiot. (He doesn't even show Oahu -- home of the US Pacific Fleet -- getting nuked.) $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Apr 29 '18 at 11:29
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  1. They defunded the door release on the inside of the shelter
  2. The people they were relying on to let them know when it's safe to come out are all dead; alternatively, they were watching the news to know when to leave, and the news networks are down.
  3. As RonJohn suggested, they're having too much fun to leave.
  4. Those top secret shelters never existed.The people escorting them there killed them, stole their valuables and left them to rot.
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