In the previous 76 sessions of American Legion Boys Nation, no one from either Kentucky or Pennsylvania had ever been elected to the program’s highest office.
So when Tuesday’s 2023 Boys Nation presidential election came down to Federalist David Daniel of Kentucky and Nationalist Alex Chen of Pennsylvania, history was ensured.
“I have so much love for my state, and the only thing that makes me happier than being Boys Nation president is the fact that I was able to … do something special in the name of my state,” Daniel said.
Daniel edged Chen 52-47 to become the president of the 77th session of Boys Nation. His victory leaves 19 states to have never been represented as the program’s president.
As with most years at Boys Nation, the final four candidates for president and vice president had to survive packed primaries to win their respective parties’ nominations.
The presidential and vice-presidential candidates then engaged in debate Tuesday afternoon in front of their fellow senators, answering questions on a variety of topics including artificial intelligence, gerrymandering, illegal immigration and their own leadership qualities.
After the parties discussed their platforms, the presidential candidates were formally introduced by their parties and the candidates had time for one final speech before the vote.
Daniel referenced Teddy Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” in his campaign speech.
“I feel like everybody here is here for a reason, and the reason is that faced with adversity, they stand up and fight, no matter how hard it is,” Daniel said. “I don’t want to just know that you stood up … I want to know why you stood up.”
Daniel said he wanted to run for president because he felt he could push a message that could resonate. “If we were able to achieve unity, as a bunch of teenage boys, that could send a message to the people at Capitol Hill that they should too.”
The vice president election. In the vice presidential election, Nationalist Josh Blake helped his home state of Louisiana also achieve a rare, but not unprecedented, double.
Blake defeated Federalist Eddie Mukalazi of Minnesota to become vice president. His fellow Louisiana senator, Braylin Broussard, won Saturday’s election for president pro tempore. That ensures that Louisiana will direct the Boys Nation senate the rest of the week.
“When we went to Louisiana Boys State, I actually did not know Braylin. But I saw when he was picked how excited that everybody was, and I was like, I’m going to be very fortunate to meet this man,” Blake said. “And now I’ve spent four days as his roommate and I have fallen in love with the kind of man he is. He represents everything that me and him are striving to represent from back home.”
The last time two senators from one state were both elected to one of Boys Nation’s four elected offices came in 2010, when Arkansas’ Alex Geiger and Joseph Kieklak were also elected vice president and president pro tempore, respectively.
Blake said this is his first time in Washington, D.C. “The sightseeing, the history, the reverence, it’s a beautiful place.
“But as well, getting to meet so many other fine young men with such aspirations, and who are all so truly humble—I don’t think that I have met a single person here that I would not talk to for years after Boys Nation is completed,” he added. “I’d say the best thing about Boys Nation is the brotherhood that’s already been forged.”
Julian Purdy, the Department of Labor’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy of Veterans' Employment and Training Service, swore Daniel and Black into their new offices on Wednesday morning.
Follow the happenings at American Legion Boys Nation at legion.org/boysnation, on YouTube at americanlegionHQ, and on social media on Twitter (@ALBoysNation) and Instagram (@theamericanlegion) with the hashtag #BoysNation2023.