The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
27 Points

The legal drinking age should be 18 years of age

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Started: 2/4/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,169 times Debate No: 20879
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (5)




I believe that the legal age of alcohol consumption should be lowered once again to 18 years old. I will argue this is the case for several reasons.

The first reason involves the inconsistency of responsibility that the law sees fit for an 18 year old. At 18, we receive many opportunities and responsibilities such as voting, serving on a jury, joining the military, getting a gun permit, signing a contract and getting married but buying a pack of cigarettes or ordering a beer is out of the question. If they are old enough to make medical decisions for themselves than they should be able to chose what they put in their bodies. I don't see how the government could suggest that voting is something to be taken lighter than drinking. If you're able to join the military and fight for our country then you should be able to go to the bar and order a beer.


C1: Raising the drinking age to 21 has saved lives

For ages 18-20 raising the drinking age to 21 has lowered accidents under the influence of alcohol by 13%. [1] It has also has saved 21,887 lives. [1] If we lowered he drinking age like in Europe, it would end lives, In the US we drive younger therefore allowing a lower drinking age would kill many people. [2] The evidence is clear, consistent and compelling: A drinking age of 21 has led to less drinking, fewer injuries and fewer deaths. [3]

C2: teens get drunk easily

"The age limit for alcohol is based on research which shows that young people react differently to alcohol. Teens get drunk twice as fast as adults" [4] [5] Drinking at young ages are severely risky. [6] A 21 drinking age has lowered the amount of kids using alcohol. [7] [8] And the earlier people begin drinking the more likely they are to stay addicted through their adult hod. [9]

So it lowers the amount of kids drinking, which is a good thing.

C3: The development of a young brain is affected differently with alcohol then with adult brains.

"Adolescence is such a critical phase in brain development that the actions of alcohol and other drugs on the brain can be assumed to have a particularly profound impact during this developmental period. Indeed, research has shown that compared with the adult brain, the adolescent brain is particularly sensitive to some effects of alcohol, yet more resistant to other effects. " [10]

Basically it is resilient towards some effects but overall is sensitive.

Adolescents are more likely to be affected memory wise by alcohol than adults. [11] Also these kids will have sleep, growth, violence, and suicidal thought due to drinking. [11] "Research suggests that alcohol may affect the adolescent brain more adversely than an adult's since a child's brain is in a state of transition and undergoing development." [12]


My arguments refute hers.


As the 21 drinking age saves lives, lowers the amount of youth alcohol users, and therefore lowers the amount of kids having long term alcohol problems the drinking age should not be increased. VOTE CON.

National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), "Traffic Safety Facts 2002," [1]
A. Wagenaar and T. Toomey, "Effects of Minimum Drinking Age Laws: Review and Analyses of the Literature from 1960 to 2000," Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 2002 [2] [3] [4]
National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Statistics on Underage Drinking [5] [6] [7]
O'Malley PM, Wagenaar AC. Effects of minimum drinking age laws on alcohol use, related behaviors, and traffic crash involvement among American youth: 1976–1987. J Stud Alcohol 1991;52:478–491. [8]
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), "Underage Drinking and the 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) Law," [9] [10] [11] [12]
Debate Round No. 1


And still when the United States increased the the drinking age to 21, its rate of traffic fatalities in the 1980s decreased less than that of European countries whose legal drinking ages are lower than 21 and therefore is proof that the drinking age doesn't play such a prominent role in preventing these fatalities. [1]

In addition, "While Legal Age 21 may have played in role in the decline of alcohol-related traffic fatalities documented over the past two decades, it is impossible to claim a cause and effect relationship. Instead, the decline represents the cumulative effect of a series of changes that have combined to make driving under the influence the target of social disapproval in the United States. Motor vehicles are safer, air bags are required by law, law enforcement has been made more vigorous with improvements in Breathalyzer and radar technology, the legal BAC limit is lower, designated drivers--a term unknown before the mid-1980s--are used frequently, and, perhaps most importantly, seatbelt use has increased from about 14% in 1983 to 80% in 2004. All of these changes have combined to create a set of societal norms and attitudes that promote sober and responsible driving and discourage drunken driving." [2]

Barry M. Sweedler, "The Worldwide Decline in Drinking and Driving: Has It Continued?," Presentation for the 15th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety in Stockholm (Sweden),, May 2000 [1]

Choose Responsibiltiy, "FAQs," (accessed Oct. 19, 2010) [2]


Rebuttal one: Accidental plagiarism by pro

Please use its arguments or sources, but don't just C/P it giving them no credit. Just quote it link it to that site, or just use a foot note then say directly from source, or paraphrase it then link it to their sources etc. You quoted it to the wrong source.

Rebuttal 2: doesn't save lives

"Specifically, the study published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention found that laws making it illegal to possess or purchase alcohol by anyone under the age of 21 had led to an eleven percent drop in alcohol-related traffic deaths among youth; secondly, they found that states with strong laws against fake IDs reported seven percent fewer alcohol-related fatalities among drivers under the age of 21." [1]

Now, this shows a great connection of the higher drinking age and lower fatalities. Also I looked up your argument here, and little evidence came up with it.

"In addition, other shorter-term studies found that the rates of DUI accidents, other drinking behaviors, suicides, and homicides were higher in states with lower drinking ages." [2]

Now, this shows that higher drinking ages lower the amount of driving accidents. This is a great find, areas with higher drinking ages have less accidents, hence a higher drinking age is better. Also, as the source mentions, states with higher drinking ages have less mental disorders linked to alcohol. [2] This means it decreases youth users, which logically ----> less accidents.

In the same study, it shows that a lower drinking age deceases suicides. [3] This is logical as drinking causes suicidal actions sometimes. [4] As I said before, the higher drinking age lowers users, therefore decreasing suicide rates.

Also the higher drinking age has saves 20,000 lives. [5] [6] [7]


My opponent only tried to refute one argument, which I have defended. I must extend the other 2 dropped arguments. VOTE CON!!!

sources [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
DiClemente, Ralph J. et al “Parental Monitoring: Association With Adolescents' Risk Behaviors” Pediatrics 107: 6 June 2001, 1363-1368 [7]
Debate Round No. 2


Answer to:

2. "teens get drunk easily"

The Center for Disease Control fact sheet states that "Current drinking during the previous month among persons aged 18 to 20 years declined significantly from 59% in 1985 to 40% in 1991, coincident with states' adopting an age 21 minimum legal drinking age, but increased to 47% by 1999.3" You paraphrased this source but left out the increase in 1999 and therefore using this as support that the drinking age caused this decrease is contradictory when given all the information.

3. "The development of a young brain is affected differently with alcohol then with adult brains."

You have made arguments repetitively using the term "adult". Your arguments reflect the idea that adults are more equipped to handle the consumption of alcohol in various ways. The issue comes with the term "adult" because according the the United States, an 18 year old is exactly that.

For example your source, The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, use the term adolescence several times but only have a very broad age definition in which they can only pin down the term to mean 25 years and younger. In addition, the study based on rats that they are gathering the information from uses animals of wide range. "Adolescence in humans is broadly defined as the second decade of life, although some researchers consider ages up to 25 years as "late adolescence." The corresponding period in laboratory animals that are frequently used as study subjects is just as loosely defined." Therefore, this study could be more related to that of a 12 year old or a 24 year old but we are specially debating over the issue of the 18 year old.

This goes along with my first argument and the inconsistencies that we see in the term "adult". Researchers make many claims about the affects of alcohol on youth verses adults but we don't see consistency in the definition.

In conclusion, if scientists and healthcare professionals consider alcohol consumption to be okay for adults and the United States defines an 18 year old as an adults then anyone 18 years of age should legally be allowed to drink.


R1: Drinking age

Lol, things that are lowered on average can still go up. Obama's approval rating was lowered but it going up.

When new Zealand lowered the drinking age, traffic accidents increased. [1]

"In the 1970s, 29 states lowered their drinking age. This led to an increase in alcohol-related traffic accidents -- so much so that by 1983, 16 states had raised their drinking age back to 21. This brought about an immediate decrease in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in those states. By 1988, all states had set 21 as the minimum drinking age." [2]

This is logical, as an 18 year old driving would you drink and drive more likely with a fine for drunk driving, or rather drink when you get underage drinking + under the influence. Having a 21 age lowers drinking levels among their groups, decreasing driving accidents, as 21 year olds are more sensible than an 18 one.

"In states that have passed laws making it illegal to possess or purchase alcohol by anyone under 21, the researchers found an 11% drop in alcohol-related traffic deaths among those under that age." [3]

(tell me in the comments, is a good source?)

Also, you note a drop in accidents with lower drinking ages, most of the states in 1980 had the 21 drinking age. [4], and most had a 20 drinking age in the 70s. [4] So the drinking age was fairly high when you mentioned the stats. When in 2000 it was all 21. [4]

did the 2000 raise in drinking age help? Yes.

"And since the 21 law was widely enacted, the number of young people killed annually in crashes involving drunk drivers under 21 has been cut in half, from more than 5,000 individuals in the early 1980s to around 2,000 in 2005. By the end of 2005, the 21 drinking age had saved nearly 25,000 American lives—approximately 1,000 lives a year." [5]

Now, 1980s-2005 21 saved lives, in 2000 is when all 50 states had 21 set. In this time, many lives where saved. From the 20 states in the 1980s, through all 50 today, the drinking age saves lives.

R2: Kids are worse than adults in alcohol

This is a great reason. If kids brains are worse with alcohol, then they will be more likely to do dangerous things than the adults are, they are more likely to hurt themselves, kill their brains. So, if the kids do worse then a 21 drinking age is safer, and better for brain development.

Back to my argument:

Studies have shown that alcohol use by youth and young adults increases the risk of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. [6] [7] [8] [9] Also studies show kids who drink earlier are more likely to be dependent on alcohol then those who start at 21.(saving lives, and dependency, good go 21 :) [6] [10] Also when youth use alcohol they are more likely to do suicide, do poorly in school, and engage in unsafe sexual acts. [6] [11] [12] [13] *most sourced argument ever :)*

As lower ages cause all of these extra more likely events, then it has more adverse effects on the brain logically.

"The age limit for alcohol is based on research which shows that young people react differently to alcohol. Teens get drunk twice as fast as adults, but have more trouble knowing when to stop. Teens naturally overdo it and binge more often than adults." [14]

Now, as kids get drunk faster, get dependent easier, and over do more then there is a problem.

"12th graders in states with lower drinking ages drank significantly more, were less likely to abstain from alcohol, and were drunk more often than students in states with a drinking age of 21.' [15] [16]

The lower drinking age raises users, the higher drinking age lowers users, therefore less kids doing the bad things mentioned above. Therefore a higher drinking age is good for the kids health. Also your conclusion is a statement that says scientists say 18 is adult, well you cannot say this without a source.

Also your only legally an adult at 18, but you cannot do most things until your 21. [17] Your an adult, but not really. [17]

Adult: fully developed and mature [18]

As I have proven earlier in the debate you are not fully developed at 18. Also you made 2&3 one rebuttal so...


Driving age needs to be 21 for the above reasons. Vote con.

sources: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]
Maisto, DA and JV Rachal, Indications of the Relationships Among Adolescent Drinking Practices, Related Behaviors, and Drinking-Ages Laws,” In Minimum-Drinking-Age Laws, Wechsler, H (Ed.), Lexington, MA: DC Heath Co., p155-176, 1980. [16] [17] [18]
Debate Round No. 3


Drinking and Driving:

A significant amount of your argument has been based upon the assumption that alcohol related driving incidents decrease with a higher drinking age.

I disagree for two reasons:

1. Kids are going to consume alcohol regardless of the drinking age. The facts are listed on SADD's website. Their research even says that 72% of students have consumed more than a few sips of alcohol by the end of high school. That is almost three quarters of high school students! So in reality what is the drinking age doing? It is just ensuring they can't order the drinks in public. Instead they are forcing the drinking behind unsupervised doors. This is were binge drinking occurs and I do concur this is dangerous at any age.According to the Choose Responsibility Organization 90% of the drinking done by 18-20 years is in the form binge drinking and because it is something kids are trying to hide it becomes very dangerous. Choose Responsibility has the belief that kids don't have the education about alcohol this is why letting them figure it out on their own, can be fatal. Lowering the drinking age will allow them to go to a bar and have a couple drinks socially instead of drinking till they black out. There are many examples of kids at parties dying of alcohol related deaths because their friends just didn't know or want to call for help. Glen Berlin Parrish ( and Ali Quartaro ( are just two stories of many.

Because of these facts, I can not see how the drinking age is stopping underage drinking.

2. You provided support that suggests that under-age drinkers are more likely to drink and drive and therefore a higher drinking age is a preventative action. This is suggesting that every driver under 21 is completely irresponsible. But as stated above we definitely have our share of high school drinkers in the United States and we have even more drinking and driving occurring amongst our assuming "more responsible" individuals at higher ages. According to the governments statistics at, in 2009 majority of drinking and driving is occurring amongst our legal drinkers aged 25-34 and older.

The fact that we have undoubtedly have underage drinking epidemic in our country and still see the more mature adults being the irresponsible ones is unfair, for example, to any 18 year old U.S. soldier who can drink responsibly and is not allowed.

I agree drunk driving is unacceptable.
I disagree that the drinking age impacts the statistics as greatly as it may be portrayed by organizations. Your argument claims that the higher the age, the less drinking and driving we will witness. Well then we should just as well raise the legal drinking age to 50 or outlaw alcohol because that would eliminate drinking and driving altogether. Clearly, we tried that once and it failed.


R1: Kids are gonna consume alcohol anyway

Yeah I have had a few sips of alcohol here and there, but I am supervised so I do not go drunk. (Alcohol tastes like... ) You provide no statistics on how lowering the drinking age would lower or not affect the amount of drinking deaths, you just say kids do it anyway. Sure they will, but you need stats to prove that lowering the drinking age has no effect, whereas I have stats showing a higher age lowers the amount of users.

Seniors who lived in states with a drinking age of 21 drank less then ones with lower drinking ages. [1] [2] When 18 year olds can legally drink they give a role model to younger kids to drink at younger ages, having a higher drinking age lowers the... effect of this role model aspect as the 18 yer old is still "teenage". [3] As I have proven, a higher drinking age lowers users. So my next argument relies on that one: Kids who start drinking at a younger age are more likely to drink heavily in college. They re more likely to have problems with work, school, or problems with the police. [4]

My point is the 21 age lowers users, heavy drinkers, and prevents them from getting addicted at an early age.

R2: Drink and drive

Once again you needed to prove that lowering the age to 18 would decree or have no effect on these areas. Also you have not fulfilled the BOP, as you are advocating a change in the status quo. s you have only said they will do it anyway, which is only partially correct, I will prove a higher drinking age would lower the amount of DWI and drunk crashes:

Lowering the drinking age for beer to 18 in 48 states in the 1970s saw a 11% increase in fatalities. [5] When Arizona lowered its drinking age to 19 they say an increase of 25% in alcohol related deaths and a 35% increase in traffic fatalities. [6] A study in Michigan found when the drinking age lowered to 18 crashes increased by 35% and crashes for young men rose by 17%.[7] Another Michigan Study showed when the drinking age went from 21--->18 DWI arrests rose 141% for 18-20 year olds. [8]

My point: A higher drinking age prevents people from dying, and that lowering the drinking age increases deaths related to alcohol.

R3: Nothing

Dropped my teenage and brain development argument.


The drinking age SHOULD NOT BE LOWERED. The current age saves lives and helps make sure the youths brain doesn't get fried. Vote CON!!!


O’Malley, PM and AC Wagenaar, “Effects of Minimum Age Laws on Alcohol Use, Related Behaviors and Traffic Crash Involvement Among American Youth: 1976 - 1987,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 52(5):478-491, 1991. [1]
Laixuthai, A and F Chaloupka, “Youth Alcohol Use and Public Policy,” Contemporary Policy Issues, 11:70-81, 1993. [2]
Bonnie, RJ, “Discouraging Unhealthy Personal Choices Through Government Regulation: Some Thoughts About the Minimum Drinking Age,” In Minimum-Drinking-Age Laws, Wechsler, H (Ed.), Lexington, MA: DC Heath Co., p39-58, 1980. [3]
Barnes, GM, et al., “Alcohol Misuse Among College Students and Other Young Adults: Findings from a General Population Study of New York State,” The International Journal of the Addictions, 27(8):917-934, 1992. [4]
Cook, PJ and G Tauchen, “The Effects of Minimum Drinking Age Legislation on Youthful Auto Fatalities, 1970 - 1977,” Journal of Legal Studies, 15(4):159-162, 1984. [5]
Arizona Department of Public Safety, “An Impact Assessment of Arizona’s Lowered Legal Drinking Age and a Review of Previous Research,” Statistical Center, 1981. [6]
Douglas, RL and JA Freedman, “Alcohol-Related Casualties and Alcohol Beverage Market Response to Beverage Alcohol Availability Policies in Michigan,” The University of Michigan, Highway Safety Research Institute, 1977. [7]
Hammond, RL, “Legal Drinking Age at 18 or 21 -- Does It Make Any Difference?” Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 18:9-13, 1973. [8]
Debate Round No. 4


The drinking age is inconsistent with what the law considers an adult. We can as stated earlier make life changing and vital decisions about life, death and anything in between but we simply can't consume alcohol. Some may consider it as far as unconstitutional to single out a group that are considered already legal adults. Scientific arguments relating to the importance of an individual being matured and fully developed to drink alcohol is irreverent. The studies my opponent provided couldn't clearly decipher an age in which this age occurs and therefore these studies are not applicable. We must refer back to what the law classifies an adult.

Drinking and driving is a problem seen in any age group. We blame the younger kids even though they aren't even the worst age group statistically.So I therefore agree that raising the drinking age would be preventive measures but if we are going by statistics, we have to change the drinking age to 65. This is where we see the least amount of drinking and driving in recent years according to

Drinking and driving stats from the 1970's are conclusive but only applicable to that time period. Yes it is clear, there was 11% decrease in fatalities but that was a very long time ago. It is 2012 and about 40 years later. We have seen a drastic change in society. We have new standards for inspections and safety regulations. We have large activists groups fighting for harsher punishment and many schools are educating kids on drinking and driving. The same applies for other countries. To assume that there statistics apply to our country would be a fallacy. We have different cultural values and live in a much different society.

Kids in our generation are drinking regardless of the legal age. This is proven by facts provided by every alcohol related activist group. I believe that lowering the age will allow the drinking to be more supervised and less hidden. Hiding drinking leads to excessive binge drinking and avoidable injuries and deaths. It doesn't matter if they drink the beer in someones basement or at a bar, they are still going to consume the same beer.

In conclusion the drinking age should be lowered to 18 because it is fair and consistent with the law. 18 year old's are considered adults in every other aspect of their life and drinking should be no different.


Your main argument this round drops my main ones... Anyway you say as 18 is legally an adult then it should be consistent. This law is there for a reason: Lives, and growth.

You are correct, when 18 you are legally an adult, but you forget when you turn 21 is when you get all rights. [1] When 18 you cannot do many things. Also when you turn 21 is wen you are fully alone, no family benefits. [1] So even in the law an 18 year old isn't technically out on his own. Also let me also show another reason the state keeps the drinking age high: Development.

Adults process alcohol differently from youth, when in youth alcohols effects are intensified. [2] A small amount of alcohol can stunt physical and mental growth in a teen. [2] Adults, and older people, are more responsible so they are less likely o get into accidents involving alcohol. [2]

Now, as older people have more experience then they are less likely to do dangerous things. So a higher drinking age gives 3 years more experience, and maturity + mental growth, so the higher drinking age means less accidents. Also as the 18 year olds have adverse effects with alcohol, then the higher drinking age protects them. As I have proven the higher age lowers users of the youth, hence less kids melting their brains at early ages.

Last reason the state doesn't be consistent: Saves lives

20,000 lives have been saved by the higher drinking age. [3] [4] Also, sorry for the late response, you show Europe has lower ages and lower alcohol fatalities, that's a myth they have a larger problem with that.[3] [5] Also they have a worse binge drinking problem. [4]

Prime examples that the lower drinking age kills people, and a higher one saves people. Also the national highway Traffic Safety Administration says the drinking age of 21 saves 900 lives per year. [6] [7]

"Fewer college students reported drinking in the past month in 2006 (65.4%) than in 1980 (82%)" [6]. [8]

Note 1980 = lower drinking age.

Also you claim they will do it anyway. I have proven that the lower drinking age lowers users with statistics and facts, you just have a un-sourced statement. Also it is simple psychological theory:

Deterrent effect: "Deterrence is a theory from behavioral psychology about preventing or controlling actions or behavior through fear of punishment or retribution. This theory of criminology is shaping the criminal justice system of the United States and various other countries." [9]

This means if we have more retribution you are less likely to do it, and a higher drinking age does this, a scare factor. So a higher drinking age acts as a deterrent, and as mentioned earlier the 16 year old woudl think the 8 year old is "hip" (is that what they use?) so they will copy him. A 21 year old may be viewed as "less in touch with the times". So a lower age would increase users.


Notice then th edrinkign age hit 21 users decreased, in 1977 when the age was 18 the users of youth where higher, so a higher drinking age reduces users, hence savign lives etc.

My point is, i lowers users ----> saves lives ----> better word. As you advocate the change in the status quo, therefore you have the BOP which yo have not fufilled.

I rarely do this:

Sources: Me as I had more and mine seem more accurate, as I had many .govs and .edu and .orgs. Shw had good sources as well, but as she had many fewer my many sources that are accurate > less sources similar accuracy.

Arguments: You had the BOP, which you didn't fill, also I won the saving lives factor, and most of the major contentions in the debate.

COnduct : tie

S/G: you decide.

Also: Extend saves lives argument
Extend: alcohols effects on teens

She dropped 1 this round, and has not refuted the youth and teens at all. I Urge a CON vote

sources: [1] [2] [3]
DiClemente, Ralph J. et al “Parental Monitoring: Association With Adolescents' Risk Behaviors” Pediatrics 107: 6 June 2001, 1363-1368 [4]
Fell, James. From “Chapter 2: Federalism: Resolved, the Federal Government should restore each State’s freedom to set its drinking age.” in Ellis, Richard and Nelson, Michael (eds.) Debating Reform. CQPress Publishers, Fall 2009. [5] [6]
Accident Analysis and Prevention, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 2008 [7]
Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2006. Volume I: Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 07-6205). Bethesda, MD. [8] [9]
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
I wanna redo this debate...
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
Holy sources
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
Hey I beat you, with attempted refutations!
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
Lol imabench
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
I love graphs
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
For which side?
Posted by chingchang 2 years ago
This is an absurd debate.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
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Reasons for voting decision: Typical argument 16kadams is involved in. Huge number of sources, unrefuted arguments, and for once grammar isnt dreadful.
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Reasons for voting decision: Con had more sources. Pro dropped many of Cons arguments. Cons arguments were well....better.
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Vote Placed by Mak-zie 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con easily had the better arguments, and Pro did plagarize, as Con said, and sources weren't as good as Con's were. Con won this debate, and the graph really helped prove the points.
Research this debate: United States