To have a proper debate on anything requires the most global of perspectives. Unfortunately, most of the EU referendum debate so far has been either “euro-centric” or “Britain of 2015-centric” and often fails to take into account how Brexit affects the rest of the world or how it would be seen through international eyes. Being an American, I thought I would imagine what America would do if it was in the United Kingdom’s position with the EU-style referendum choice.
The year is 2017. America is about to have a referendum on its membership in the Americas Union (colloquially called “AU”). President Romney has just returned from a couple month long renegotiation through the capitals of the western hemisphere and is now putting a vote to the American people in a referendum on AU membership. It is a very important vote for the American people. What’s that? You haven’t heard of the AU and the referendum!? I thought you Brits were better versed on your American politics than that. Well ok, let me fill you in on the history of the AU and the choice we face.
To keep a long story short, America, along with Canada and Mexico, formed the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Association) a few decades ago after the once proud United States was suffering from a lot of economic problems. Free trade proved to be a boon for the US and the Latin American countries and so our different free trade groups began to merge. NAFTA combined with CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Association) which combined with CARIFTA (Caribbean Free Trade Association) which combined with Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) and eventually we had the Americas Union. Overall, the Americas’ economy prospered, at first, but recently there have been a lot of problems with the AU.
Over time, the AU has evolved into much more than a free trade organization, hence why the Americans are having a referendum on AU membership. The Americans are a pesky people for the AU. They have this “constitution” and this tradition of “liberties” that gets in the way of the AU’s stated treaty aim (the treaty of Panama City to be specific) of a united Hemisphere. The Americans have been giving the AU fits for a while now. For instance, President Reagan was really difficult for the AU and he got an exemption for the US from the borderless Belmopan area and got the “US rebate” from AU funding. And most crucially of all, under President Bush, the US decided not to enter the Amero, the hemisphere wide currency which only the US and a handful of Caribbean nations never joined.
In the state of the AU now, the Amero-zone and Belmopan-area are undergoing a lot of problems. Recently, a migration crisis started by Brazil opening up its doors to migrants from the war-torn areas of the Middle East and Africa has caused strains so severe borders are starting to go up again. Many of these countries, especially Costa Rica with its population of 4.5 million are struggling to cope with the seemingly never-ending stream of people. Furthermore, unlike the US which has had strong growth ever since Romney defeated Obama in 2012, the Amero-zone has failed to recover from the financial crisis; there is even a term for the Amero-zone malaise: “the Amero-crisis.” In countries such as Bolivia and the Dominican Republic youth unemployment stands at over 50%. The Dominican Republic has had a couple bailouts and even had their government overthrown by the AU.
Despite the recent disparity in the US and Amero-zones economic performances, AU treaties have made it very clear that the US is subordinate to the AU and its law. AU courts have thrown out many of the US Supreme Court’s decisions, especially when it comes to the US’s traditionally radical views on free speech and their common law judicial system precedents. Furthermore, the AU has forced the US to not only let suspected terrorists reside in their country, but they have made the US taxpayer pay for housing them. Furthermore, the Americas Convention and Charter on Human Rights have allowed people the world over to sue US troops in American courts for their conduct in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, resulting in millions of dollars (or Ameros) in payouts and many frivolous claims. Freedom of movement of people is an absolute right in the AU, which has caused a backlash in the United States, especially for the reason that people from countries like El Salvador, a country of low wages, over 50% youth unemployment and high organized crime (such as the infamous MS-13 gang) have been moving to the US in very high volumes in recent years. Yes, Wall Street is exempt from AU financial regulations and the AU has had a hard time imposing metrification on the US, but AU regulations affect almost every aspect of American life. From the common agricultural policy to the common fisheries program to regulations on consumer products and employment law, AU bureaucrats have almost made the Washington Congress and bureaucrats redundant, to say nothing of the state legislators. Thus, to say it mildly, the US and AU relationship has become strained as of late. This brings us to Romney’s renegotiation.
In 2014, President Romney gave the Boris speech, outlining key areas where he wanted to restore and take back American sovereignty. He then promised he would offer the American people a referendum on the concessions he would be able to take back from the AU. Partially due to his speech and partially due to the want to have referendum, President Romney was able to beat back the insurgent Tea Party led by the mischievous Sarah Palin and shockingly win not only the Presidency over Hillary Clinton but both houses of Congress in 2016. From there, President Romney went on a whirl-wind tour of capitals in the western hemisphere to negotiate America’s new deal.
Once Romney went face to face with AU Council President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the final negotiations the results were less than overwhelming for Americans. The results of the negotiation draft to be presented to the AU Council are:
- President Romney did not insist upon the return of any powers from Quito (the capital of the AU), but rather achieved a “red-card” system whereby if a majority of national parliaments agreed in a very short time-span that a regulation was bad they could force the AU commissioners to “look again” at the law they proposed.
- He did not achieve any limits on immigration but rather he won the right to beg the AU to maybe allow the AU commissioners to apply an “emergency brake” to allow the Americans to limit benefits such as food stamps and social security to foreign nationals. He was given permission to pay benefits by how they are calculated in the other AU countries.
- He might have gotten an acknowledgement that the currency of the US is the dollar but Canada was strongly resisting the idea of the AU acknowledging that that Amero was not the official currency of the AU.
- The AU said that the Americans can now stop a criminal suspect at the border even if the threat is “not imminent” but rather can turn suspects away for “reasonable suspicion”, a term used in American justice that the AU has traditionally frowned upon for violating the Americas Charter on Human Rights.
- However, to the dismay of the “amero-skeptics” any proposal for congress to veto AU laws, retake employment, agricultural, fisheries or consumer powers, allow unilateral free trade agreements and assert the supremacy of the US constitution were shelved. Even, amero -skeptic Attorney General Chris Christie acknowledged that while the revamped US Bill of Rights would emphasize free speech, the AU law was supreme.
- Lastly, none of these promises “won” in the negotiation would be codified in AU treaty.
Despite the timidity of the deal, most of Romney’s cabinet and virtually all of the Democrats (who have become a very pro-AU party over the years) are backing Romney’s renegotiation. Disappointingly, formerly amero-skeptic cabinet members are backing this deal that even the normally apolitical Americans tend to think is a sham by a 2-1 margin. First, formerly arch-amero-skeptic Secretary of State Nikki Haley insisted that she saw no future of the US outside the AU. Next, famously tough on immigration Secretary of Homeland Security Ted Cruz hinted that he will likely back President Romney’s proposal. Obviously, Vice-President Ryan backed the proposal so the list of Republican cabinet secretaries likely to be opposed to the deal (they are still currently gagged until it is approved by the AU Council) dwindled to the likes of libertarian and Secretary of the Interior Rand Paul, a person who still holds the old constitution very dear. Former New York City mayor and recently elected Senator of New York, Rudy Giuliani, was thought to be maybe opposed to the deal but he is likely to be appeased by a “law” stating that Congress is supreme.
The “establishment stitch-up”, although the polls of the referendum are showing dead-heat, is giving President Romney hope for victory as is the division between warring “Leave” factions; the cross-party “Leave” group headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the “Make America Leave” group headed by billionaire Donald Trump. The divide between the Washington establishment, with their corporate and large bank allies who enjoy knowing the “rules of the game” of the heavily regulated AU (despite being bailed out by the US and not AU taxpayer in 2008) and the people and small businesses appears to be so great that Fox News cable host Bill O’Reilly issued a plea printed on the front page of the New York Post today: “Who will speak for America?” What America will decide on the rushed June 23rd referendum date (President Romney think a lot of migrants will come to work this summer so he wanted the referendum date to be earlier) is unknown.
To Americans, outside of maybe Bernie Sanders and his supporters, the above story of Romney and the AU is at best science fiction, at worst a horror story. Romney looks pathetic and slimy, his cabinet treasonous, and America constrained for no apparent reason to an economically depressed oppressive bloc. I would imagine most British people would think this version of America is “wimpy”, to put in charitably, too. But in case you had not figured it out– I did not make up this story; I rather substituted the EU with the AU, the US for the UK, and certain names of important figures. Like a frog whose been in a pot that has been slowly boiling, most of the UK have failed to realize the EU overreach, which has been slowly boiling away the ancient liberties and traditions of their great nation. However, the chance to leap out of the pot is coming, and coming this year!
The UK is a strong, powerful nation. It is the world’s 5th largest economy, 3rd largest military spender, and is the world’s number 1 soft power. She should trade with whoever she pleases, make whatever laws she wants to make, control her own borders, and should never, ever be told what to do by unelected foreign bureaucrats. Although I respect Prime Minister Cameron, in this instance I think he did the UK a huge favor by presenting the country with such a pathetic option for staying in the EU. The choice has never been clearer. The future is yours United Kingdom- Vote Leave, Take Control.