eli5: Since the U.S is described as ”a union between 50 free states” and gets more compared with the structure of the EU than, say, the counties of England; how come Texas or Oklahoma doesn’t compete independently in the olympics, or have independent representation in the UN? A union isn’t a nation

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eli5: Since the U.S is described as ”a union between 50 free states” and gets more compared with the structure of the EU than, say, the counties of England; how come Texas or Oklahoma doesn’t compete independently in the olympics, or have independent representation in the UN? A union isn’t a nation

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Because they are free states, not independent nations. We still live under a shared single constitution. With one standing army and one national border. The constitution isn’t just a set of guiding principles dictating mutual protection and shared rights. It’s a document that establishes one nation. The Preamble to the Constitution sets it out pretty clearly. We are a United States of America, not associated nations of America.

International law recognizes it as one nation. Even all those ‘independent nations’ we call reservations for Native Americans aren’t given independent representation in international dealings, either. There’s no Cherokee team at the Olympics.

Because they’re states that look way more alike than EU counties. EU countries are way more diverse.

You’re getting hung up on wording here. The United states is one country. Just one. The 50 states are no sovereign, independent states. They are part of the United States. It’s really not at all like the EU and no one says that so I’m not sure why you think that. The states are not free, they’re all part of one single country.

States don’t have their own Olympic teams or UN representation for the same reason that Ontario in Canada, or Bavaria in Germany, or Queensland in Australia don’t. Those are all states or provinces in a federal country. Federalism doesn’t make them independent.

The US actually has five Olympic teams: the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Some other countries also have separate teams for some of their overseas territories. Ultimately it’s all the result of decisions and negotiations by the IOC and the various national Olympic committees. They could do it differently if they wanted.

> and gets more compared with the structure of the EU than, say, the counties of England

It’s really not similar to the structure of the EU though. There are many areas of society in which the EU has very little say and the member states can do basically whatever they want (such as criminal justice, social policy, defence, and national elections). The member states’ governments also have a huge amount of control over the EU. Imagine if the US Senate was made up of state governors, and the US Cabinet was appointed by the state governors, and the state governors could amend the US Constitution whenever they wanted by unanimous agreement. That’s very roughly how the EU works. Member states can also leave the EU whenever they feel like it.

We tried a looser version of this between 1781 and 1789 (the Articles of Confederation) – and it went very badly! The union had none of the things you need a central government to do, from finances to international relations to military power. So they got back together and built a more robust federal government.