What do you mean by “American sphere of influence”? Panamerican? Is UNASUR self-owned enough, or it is just the USA's backyard?
The situation in the Americas is a little complicated…but best described as fully dominated by the close relationship between the USA and UNASUR. I haven't discussed it as much as I probably should have, but the South American Drug War was a major turning point in the relationship between the US and Latin America, and for the Americas as a whole. Before the 2040s, the relationship isn't remarkably different from today. But, the war does much to solidify UNASUR as a continental government and expands its powers greatly, while the US entry into the war establishes a close military/political relationship between Washington and South America.
One way to look at it is similar to the relationship between US and NATO today: critics will call it dominated by an American agenda, but the truth is a bit more complicated and boils down to both Europe and America having VERY similar agendas. That's kinda what's going on here.
What is the USA's relation with the EU? What is their response to the idea of their neighbour possibly becoming part of it? And if its favourable, then what is the USA's stance on joining and combining their blocs? Or is the US looking towards other regional organisations (eg deepening NAFTA, accepting more states etc)?
The USA is still a close ally of the EU, and NATO remains an active organization even though it hasn't really done much throughout the century.
Despite that, America isn't entirely comfortable with Canada joining the European Union…mainly for the same reasons a North American Union hasn't formed: Americans don't like the idea of the US government answering to an organization higher than itself. The bigger fear, however, is that since support for joining the EU has slowly grown in Canada that there's also support for America to join as well. It's an issue that REALLY upsets people.
The USA is still interested in forming a Free Trade Area of the Americas (they've attempted it several times without success), but as time goes on it's more and more looking like the only ones at all interested are the US and UNASUR. Even though the Caribbean is still very much America's backyard, they've slowly gravitated more toward Mexico and UNASUR. America and UNASUR are almost equally as powerful and wealthy, Mexico sees itself as the bridge (they want the world to see them as apart of a trinity of American powers), and while Canada is wealthy there's also a sense that they're trapped in the US' shadow - it's a big reason for the back-and-forth over the EU.
How successfully has South America integrated?
You could argue they're further along than Europe is. If we were to compare Europe and South America to US history, while Europe had a war to spur unification (World War II, fulfilling the same role as America's Revolutionary War), it's never had an analogue for the US Civil War (which solidified the American union). South America, on the other hand, had the continent-wide Drug War which raged for almost 20 years in the '30s and '40s. That war was the defining moment for South America in the 21st Century: expanding the power and authority of UNASUR, forging a common South American identity, and redefining the relationship between South America and the United States.
While outsiders think of the European Union as a “United States of Europe”, UNASUR is the “United States of South America”.
Really, the big difference is between US federalism and UNASUR federalism is that there's no single unified military in South America - that's why President Medina met with the Brazilian and Argentine presidents to coordinate naval operations rather than UNASUR's president: UNASUR doesn't have an Army or Navy, just the UAI (Federal Police).
How much has South America and Europe stepped out of the shadow of US dominance over this time?
Europe has stepped out of America's shadow entirely, it's Europe rather than America that's heavily involved with Africa and the Middle East. Their policies aren't dissimilar, but America pretty much follows Europe's lead there…except for in United Congo's case, where America is pretty forceful and upfront in opposing Nsungu.
South America, meanwhile, has had a harder time. As I mentioned in a previous post, the two have very similar goals and are closely allied, so their foreign policies are very similar. America is the one with the history of diplomatic ties to much of the world, though, and South America is in most cases piggy-backing off of that. A lot of times, you could say “America and South America” instead of just UNASUR.
What are the Democrats and Republicans of the 2080s like? Are the Democrats still regarded as 'center-left' and the GOP 'center-right'?
Sort of. Not really.
What's ended up happening is that the two parties have traded demographics and positions in a number of areas. Thanks to President Whitman and President Burkowski in the '20s, the GOP shifts more to the center and you see politicians like Meghan McCain become prominent. By the '50s, the party faces a split between the Whitman/Burkowski/McCain GOP (Violet Republicans) and what remains of the old Social Conservative branch (Purity Movement). However, in exchange for swinging back to the Right, the GOP also became the Anti-War party and the Democrats the Pro-War, Pro-Military side.
Purity, however, was the last gasp for the GOP as we, today, know it. When Purity falls from grace in the late '60s/early '70s, the Violets return and effectively take over. Both parties effectively split the religious vote in the '70s.
By the '80s, we're in the middle of a political shift that won't become apparent until the 2090s. The Dems have shifted from Center-left to Center-right (it started in the '40s and has about finished), while the GOP is most of the way from Right to center-left (would have happened faster if not for the Purity Movement).
Speaking of earthquakes, did Los Angeles ever get “The Big One”? Been looking for it in the timeline but I haven't seen it.
No, actually. In fact, three major expected earthquakes - Los Angeles, Tokyo, and New Madrid - have not struck as of 2090. There's been other earthquakes, of course, but neither LA nor Tokyo have been hit by “the Big One”. As you can imagine, this has created a lot of concern in California, Japan, and the American Midwest.
Tokyo's “Big One” finally strikes in 2093, a 9.0 earthquake that kills 19,000 people. Among the victims were Emperor Hisahito, Prince Shohito, and leading Sentiencologist Dr. Michio Hagiwara.
I was just curious as to how the Democratic and Republican Parties managed to stay relevant for so long? By 2090, the Democratic Party will have been around for roughly 170 years, and the Republicans 130. Haven't voters gotten tired of seeing the same branding of political parties for the better part of two centuries, even though they may have shifted ideologically over time?
They stayed relevant by maintaining their duopoly over the American political system - they oppose each other normally, but whenever a 3rd Party starts to gain any traction there's an implicit agreement to work together to squash outsiders.
I'm rather pessimistic about the chances of any 3rd Party to break into the current system, so that's translated into the TL.
I'd say that the general public IS sick and tired of seeing the Dems and GOP for so long, but like today there isn't really much movement to do anything about it on the national level. On individual state levels and local levels things are a bit more open (as they are today), but nationally the Democrats and Republicans are basically it.
The biggest chance for a split in the TL was probably between the Violet Republicans and Purity in the '50s - it would be neat to imagine an AH where that does occur. I wonder if the '60s would've been as violent in that case, Aiesha Noble as powerful, or whether Vicente Yates would've been President in the 2080s… ^_~