We’re back with another edifying video from explainer-extraordinaire, CGP Grey. This time, he’s tackling the parts of the American Empire not represented on typical maps. If you think calling the land claims of the U.S. an “empire” is hyperbole, watch on. There are all kinds of utterly confusing landholdings and nonsensical governing rules over U.S. territories the world-over.
First, there’s the odd case of Washington D.C., which receives no national vote even though its population surpasses that of some states.
Then there’s Native American reservations, which are sort of autonomous and sort of not and definitely complicated.
On to Puerto Rico, whose population is greater than that of 21 states. The largely Spanish-speaking island nation is treated kind of like a state, but not totally.
And from here it’s simply island madness. Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands will start us off.
While the rules governing these territories are varied, there is a common factor: while all inhabitants are considered either American citizens or nationals, they don’t really have political representation. (But they do have taxation!) This creates a deeply ironic state of affairs we just might want to ponder given our recent commemoration of the Declaration of Independence. Ahem.
There’s also a whole smattering of other uninhabited islands sprinkled throughout the globe. I mean why not?
Oh, and then there’s a category I hadn’t the foggiest notion of before. Turns out there are entirely separate countries that have a “compact of free association” with the U.S. Their citizens can live and work in the U.S. as if they were nationals, and vice verse. Why? Military bases. When it comes to stationing our military industrial complex abroad, we’re happy to get in the deal-making business.
One’s thing’s clear. Congress has some serious updating, reorganizing and 'splaining to do.