Sam D.

  • Maine

What does America mean to you?

By Sam D.
Acton, Maine

Americas inner meaning to me lies beyond what most take it as at face value. To many, America seems like a hierarchical pyramid; however, I do not believe that is the case. To me, America is most like the human castells of Catalonia in which people stack themselves in rings in order to create a stable structure that can be climbed and built upon. In these Castells, the person with the most recognition is oftentimes the one at the top (the canalla), which can be equated with the president of America. Although it may seem as though we only recognize the person at the top, they are not the most important part of the tower. Without every person supporting the next layer the castell would crumble. In my opinion, there are a multitude of comparisons that can be drawn between these castells and America.

The fundamentals of our country’s values and inner workings are built upon structure just like the Catalonia castells. For over 200 years, we have followed the foundational system that outlines this value of collaboration, the Constitution. As an AP Government student, I can strongly attest that the outlining of separation of powers best displays the true meaning of America. Unlike any other country before us, we have a strong separation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, which ensures that a balance is maintained.

Beginning in Article 1 of the Constitution, Congress is given the power to act as a legislative branch, which essentially means they have the power to create bills to represent the will of the American people. Although Congress doesnt have the ability to include the input of every American, those delegated to Congress are elected by the people, which ensures that the majority of opinions can be heard, which is so valuable in a day and age where everyone has such different beliefs.

With a system like Congress I feel as though there is always someone who has the same opinion as me on a certain issue and will fight to try and ensure their voice is heard. The legislative branch is also the branch with the most ideological diversity and the only branch with ideologically independent members. Which further displays why it is the branch that best represents the people as it ensures a balance of opinion and allows for collaboration to represent all Americans.

Subsequently, in Article 2 of the Constitution, we have the outlined powers of the president as someone who executes laws. The president signs the bills Congress produces into laws, yet if they deem these bills to be bad or unconstitutional, they have the ability to use the checks and balances system to veto a bill from Congress. This may seem very simple, but to me, this is one of the most important aspects of the American legislative process as it promotes a balanced government.

For example, in 1996, former President Cliton vetoed the partial-birth abortion bill, which stopped the implementation of laws that could limit the types of abortion procedures that could be offered. As a young woman in America, this veto is very important to me since it helps protect abortions in cases where the mothers life could be endangered. Furthermore, the veto to me displays the importance of the president, which is to provide oversight. Which brings me to Article 3 of the Constitution which discusses the judicial branch. The judicial branch gives every American the right to a fair trial at multiple levels, such as federal, supreme, and state.

A case can be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and can even result in a change of federal laws or the Constitution. One important example to me is Tinker V. Des Mois. In this case, the children of the Tinker family wore black armbands in symbolism of their support for a Christmas truce in the Vietnam War, yet they were reprimanded for this and suspended. The Tinker family then sued, and eventually the case reached the Supreme Court where it was ruled that under the First Amendments protection of free speech, the school had no grounds to reprimand and punish the Tinker kids.

As an American high school student, this case holds a deep place in my heart. In my opinion, this case truly represents the intended value and purpose of the judicial branch. The Supreme Court is tasked with upholding the constitution and making fair decisions despite personal opinion. These judges must put an immense amount of effort into ensuring their personal values arent implemented into their decisions and that their decisions represent the American people.

All three branches are given delegated powers and work together towards achieving a better and more balanced America. Which, in my opinion, is the true value of America. Everyone in America has to work together in order to build and maintain the country. As a young American, I feel as though I am a part of this Castell that defines America, slowly climbing my way. I feel as though I am beginning to become a pillar in the community I am in. However, I am far from becoming a canalla. Yet, with the 3 branches of government, I feel as though one day there is a possibility that I can become the person at the top of the tower. That I could possibly be the person speaking up in Congress, the person vetoing bills, or even the person making interpretations of the Constitution. That is the power of America, its a government built in collaboration, its more than a hierarchical pyramid, its a castell that allows for all to be a part of it.