Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us. That’s not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio; where opinions of America are higher than they’ve been in years.
U.S. President Obama’s State of the Union address, January 24, 2012
You know, I almost blew it a few years ago. I become so engaged in the political passion play that was unfolding in America that I very nearly applied for a Social Security Number, just so I could register to donate to Obama’s campaign and to vote in the general election – something I had never done in my life, or even considered doing. How I thank my lucky stars I never went through with it, as I would have destroyed any hope of presenting an airtight relinquishment case a few years later. I really don’t know what got into me – I have considered myself 100% Canadian for so many years and never really paid that much attention to U.S. politics – but that campaign was just so different, so important; with so much at stake. Like some dormant recessive gene now expressing itself, I suddenly felt this weird urge to participate in the big show.
Well, times have changed in more ways than one, haven’t they? Those rose-tinted glasses have now faded to a rather dull gray.
Don’t get me wrong – I still respect Obama greatly, and if I were voting in the upcoming election (which most assuredly I am not) it would still be for the same man who represented so much Hope in 2008. Once again, there really is no credible alternative from the not so G.O.P., and so Obama will not likely have to pack up the family for another four years.
Of course, I now look upon this year’s campaign with a completely different perspective than the last one. This time I feel so betrayed on so many levels. The brief thrill of participation in the American political process that held me in its sway for a few months back then has long since turned into a deepening suspicion and fear that the good I thought was perhaps returning to the United States might just have been a mirage. Now, everything about America to me is inevitably about the IRS and the virtual Berlin Wall of draconian, Orwellian tax laws and penalties it has erected to punish those citizens who would dare to leave the motherland. I simply can no longer accept any political statements or gestures emanating from anyone representing the US government without first refracting them through the prism of our growing collective experience as de facto outcasts from our country of birth. There really are over six million of us out here, and we shouldn’t be forgotten.
Obama, naturally, is playing to the domestic audience. I fear, however, that he really does believe the world is once again ready to sing Kumbaya with America and therefore concludes that there can’t really be anything wrong with America’s foreign policy, tax policy or the way America treats its diaspora. Of course we know that nothing could be further from the truth.
FATCA is coming; a corrosive tidal wave that will sweep away what little goodwill the world actually still retains for the U.S. It will ultimately force all nations on earth to decide once and for all what roles they are truly destined to play on the world stage, and whether or not they will continue to acquiesce to America’s imperial overreach without any meaningful protest. If it so chooses, the world holds a stick worth over 10 trillion U.S. dollars in direct foreign investment in the heartland of America and more than another 10 trillion dollars in U.S. securities. The U.S., on the other hand, holds a punitive threat of a 30% withholding tax on a currency that may soon be worthless as foreign investors begin to flee it in droves. We, in the rest of the world, have far more power than we give ourselves credit for – it’s time to figure out how to harness it – and push back with everything we’ve got. That’s how we can participate in this year’s election.