When I was in 9th grade, I first joined my school’s Speech and Debate team. At the time, I wanted to become a lawyer, so joining the team seemed like a logical choice. When I entered as a novice, one of the officers taught me the rules of a Lincoln-Douglas style debate. Through the guidance of a variety of officers, I became familiar with the intricacies of debate.
Well into the first semester of my freshman year, I signed up to attend a debate tournament at a local high school. The topic revolved around the practicality and efficiency of Universal Basic Income. The resolution was given a month or two prior to the actual tournament, so I had time to build my case. With the help of other LD debaters, I constructed contentions and refutations. When the day of the tournament arrived, I was on the verge of fainting from overwhelming levels of anxiety. When I arrived at the tournament, people of all ages were looking at me with an icy stare in an attempt to intimidate me. Then the rounds began. To be frank, my awkward graces showed how inexperienced a debater I was back then. I slurred my contentions, babbled my refutation, and mumbled my conclusion. I honestly do not remember my arguments or what I particularly said with the exception of one quote,
“It is incumbent upon the United States government to protect and serve the freedoms of the American citizen.”
I won my first debate round because of that quote. Later, in 2017, I used it in a speech when I talked about patriotism. In a Parliamentary debate about a sugar tax, I said the same line. Because, in reality, the quote is the foundation of the phrase, “We as a Nation.”
In 2008, former President Barak Obama’s slogan was “Yes We Can.” While most people endorsed the message, some strongly opposed it. For example, conservative pundit Ben Shapiro spoke out against the phrase. He once said in a college speech, “Instead of Yes We Can, how about Yes You Can.” He stated that the government’s focus should be bringing up the individual and not the collective. That each individual should help their neighbor through charity and benevolence. To this day, the debate of the collective and the individual continues. Some people doubt the intentions of an all-powerful government while others fear the absence of that very government.
Needless to say, both sides have merit. Through the collective, the nation can achieve incredible economic accomplishments and massive infrastructure projects while stressing the importance of the individual. This can be achieved if we let society and culture, not the government, be the main actor of change.
The government’s largest objective is to maintain the security of America. However, it is up to the governed to invoke a sense of morality and culture. The purpose behind the phrase “We as a Nation” is that the collective could be united under principles of freedom and justice. These principles are agreed upon because they are what drives society to prosperity. Among these principles are the intentions the Founding Fathers had for America. In a world riddled with tyranny and desolation, we are the beacon standing for those in need.
Obama once said, “It is not a liberal America and a conservative America-there is the United States of America.” While this may seem cliché, it is evidently true. The most imperative concept to remember, when faced with a crisis, is to stand united. Only upon this unification, can the United States stand a chance to solve the world’s most unprecedented problems. Not as individuals or a single collective, but as a nation.