Routh and Hendrix draw a strong correlation between America’s desire to explore out west in the Lewis and Clark era to the Trump administration’s rhetoric surrounding the exploration and possible militarization of space. The race for colonies on Mars could possibly be compared to the space and then moon races between the USSR and the USA also, but there is one major difference now - the privatization of space exploration.
The leadership the companies like SpaceX and Boeing have shown in creating technology and timelines is something that hasn’t been seen before in space exploration, and it bodes very well for the Mars race in general. This is so revolutionary because of the ability for private companies to privately or sustainable fund their operations, rather than relying on government funding. Governments are following the example of the private companies, with China and the United States governments trailing in research and programs behind SpaceX and Beoing, but the ability of a private organization is (almost) always going to exceed the ability of a government company in terms of efficiency and profitability.
The first thing that governments are surely thinking is how to work around the space treaty of 1976, which prohibits the testing of weapons on celestial bodies and also prevents general militarization of celestial bodies. This poses the question of what the US and Chinese governments stand to gain from pursuing colonies on Mars and the Moon. Perhaps they look towards these celestial bodies as Americans in the manifest destiny era looked towards the west - for mining and riches purposes. Perhaps the first country to establish colonies on Mars will violate the treaty and militarize the planet.
What a crazy time to be living in that we're looking at other planets rather than simply just out west...I'm just glad that rocket ships are safer than covered wagons.