So there is always a discussion of “are debaters now better or worse?” at almost every tournament ever. Here is my take on it: debaters now are better prepared with evidence than ever before. Debaters are worse at making analytical arguments than any time in recent memory.
My evidence for this: The Iran sanctions politics disad. This argument made a small modicum of sense at wake: negotiations were under way, congress was still in session, Obama had to try and make sure a new round of sanctions were not enacted prior to congress going on vacation on the 20th. Not a great disad, but a story that could be spun. Now lets look at the glenbrooks, specifically Sunday/Monday.
-congress left without proposing new sanctions
-the deal happened
-the deal happened
-the deal happened
Now , negatives did not want to say, cut a new argument, so they tried to add some sort of silly twist to their now useless disad to make it relevant. Ok, I understand the motive-fine. I don’t like it, but I understand. I don’t blame you for winning on this disad, I blame the affirmative for letting this happen. That this disad won any rounds can only represent an epic decline in critical reasoning skills. This isn’t entirely debaters fault- a decade of judges demanding cards for things has certainly contributed to the atrophy of analytic skills- but several if not most students today have grown up not even thinking analytic arguments are a legitimate category of responses. I would say in all out of all the debates I judged this weekend the decision could have been changed by either side reading a few less cards and instead focusing on some devastating analytic arguments. So using Iran as an example lets walk through how we would go about doing this.
So first, you could just say “Iran disad-
1. identify the key weakness- politics disads have many. A good analytic argument requires you to focus- you don’t want to scatter shot 5-10 , you want to make 1 and just bury them in it. So for the Iran disad there are a bunch of potential flaws but in my eyes the key one is the internal link- i.e. assume the plan spends capital- how does this effect the Iran deal or sanctions?
To find the best way to do this you need to think through the neg disad. Their disad looks something like this
A. Uniqueness- a deal is coming now
B. The plan spends political capital
C. Political capital…. sanctions…..
D. Failure of the deal causes War
So we want to attack C. Start by pointing out that the neg can’t coherently explain what the dot dot dot is. So start with something like
“No internal link- political capital isn’t key to prevent future sanctions. Their evidence on this assumes a prior time period when congress was in session and new sanctions were a short term possibility. Congress is now out of session and the deal has actually been struck- these two changes in the political dynamic make their old internal link evidence no longer relevant. This means you should count their internal link as an analytic argument- don’t prefer it”.
Now, you could top there. And if you are under time pressure and need to move on go for it- you can beef it up later. But lets assume you are going to really go for it and only make 2-3 arguments on politics- you want to say more.
2. Establish a meta framing- meta framings tell the judge how you want arguments to be resolved. There is a big discussion on the college debate facebook post where Nate Cohn copy/pasted a bunch of old 3nr articles and presented it as a newsflash about how people should go for defense vs disads. In the 5k comments that followed a lot of people posted “oh we do this but it doesn’t work cry cry”. Part of the reason people epic fail this is that they don’t discuss the meta frame. These debates go like this
1NC: Terrible disad, CP
2AC: Smart defense
2NC: Try or die
1AR: Smart defense
2NR: Try or die
2AR: Smart defense
The problem here is smart defense doesn’t respond to the meta level claim of try or die- that the judge should use an exaggerated form of the offense defense paradigm when a CP is present. So meta framing is important because it RESOLVES line by line arguments without really having to engage them. So I would add something like
“Defense should be absolute- don’t assign them a risk of the disad, this model encourages the negative to run obscure and illogical disads hoping to catch the affirmative unprepared. This degrades the quality of debate as an activity and warps research incentives. It should be the negs burden to convincingly prove a large risk, not our burden to prove absolutely zero”.
Now you are in pretty good shape in terms of initial presentation. When extending this argument you need to make sure you respond to every single relevant negative argument so that the judge isn’t given the option to “cop out” and reject your argument based on a technical mistake. So lets say the neg said all the following in the block
-republicans aren’t happy with the deal- new sanctions being proposed (card from post deal)
-PC k2 prevent sanctions (older card)
-losers lose- the plan is a loss which causes Obama to lose control of the agenda (older generic card)
-prefer evidence over analytics
-they conceded the impact so 1% risk of the link is sufficient
What you need to do is make sure that in addition to extending your 2AC point you have at least 1 or 2 short responses to all these arguments. Post a sample 1AR in the comments and I will give you feedback on how you did.
Plan’s are reaaaaaly not cool right now. I want to say two things about this
1. For your neg case, you need to think about strategies you can go for when the other team reads a plan. Having framework be your only credible argument in the 1NC makes it much harder to go for framework because it allows the aff to just unload a million arguments on it. What do I mean by “credible” argument? Well, if you read a K and the other team thinks you will never go for it thats not credible. If you read a counterplan when they don’t defend the government that uses the government its gonna be hard to win that’s “competitive” etc. So even if you are a die hard framework fanatic and you have no plans to ever go for anything else, you still need credible arguments in the 1NC to make it feasible that you can go for topicality.
Now if you are not used to going for non-fw this could be really hard. Luckily you have a 4 day weekend to do it… so do it. I don’t even care what it is, just prep something that you can credibly extend in the block and potentially go for if the other team is killing it on framework. You don’t need a lot, you need
-1NC (5-6 cards)
-2NC blocks- Link, Alt, OV, Impact, at: perm
-2NR blocks for same
This is enough to make something look credible when you extend it and gives you the ground work to be able to win on it. Sometimes its not gonna work out. The other team will be ready to debate it, or will defend so little you can’t win a link and then you are going for FW which means you are no worse off than when you started.
2. If you aren’t reading a plan you still want to be fast, technical, and write blocks/prepare in advance. There is definitely a difference that is easily discernible between say Whitney Young/Brophy in the way they engage/debate FW and all other issues, and teams who are struggling while not reading a plan. The reason they don’t lose all their aff debates on FW is that they have a more thorough prepared defense of their position. They have thought through how they are going to respond strategically to different negative positions. I feel like some of the struggling no plan teams I have seen lately view not reading a plan as a panacea for the prep burdens of policy debate- and it certainly may be true that you can pick up some easier wins vs teams who are uncomfortable debating your style. But teams who are successful in HS and college at the top level by not reading a plan still need to put in effort to get there. What is an example of this?
Let’s look at FW. I saw both these teams debate it this weekend, one aff was about anti colonialism the other was about gender violence. If you looked at the 2AC to FW from each debate you would not see very much overlap. This is a good thing. Your fw arguments should be related to the content of your affirmative. Not only does this make it harder for the neg to deal with, but it also makes you look like you are not a lazy sack. If you read the same 6 SSD/rules bad cards for 4 different affs throughout your HS career you have sort of missed the point. Even for similar arguments like rules/norms bad they each had evidence relevant to the focal point of criticism in their cases.
” We are the government”
This argument, and a specific card for it, seems to have exploded in popularity. I don’t want to point fingers, but this is clearly BoSu’s fault. They do well, they read this, people imitate them. The card in question is this
USFG = the people
Howard, 2005 (Adam, “Jeffersonian Democracy: Of the People, By the People, For the People,” http://www.byzantinecommunications.com/adamhoward/homework/highschool/jeffersonian.html, 5/27)
Ideally, then, under Jeffersonian Democracy, the government is the people, and people is the government. Therefore, if a particular government ceases to work for the good of the people, the people may and ought to change that government or replace it. Governments are established to protect the people’s rights using the power they get from the people.
The problem is that this is from a high school juniors US history paper. You can see the intro to his website
Adam’s HoemWurk Homework Page!
So for whatever reason I did it….I did it. I took all my old essays and research papers, converted them to HTML and threw them on my web page. What did I hope to achieve by doing this? Do I want people to copy the papers, put their own name on it, and turn it in? Nah, I’m not a big fan of cheating (if you are, go to the Evil House of Cheat, they’ve got all kinds of papers for you to steal).
I do enjoy getting an email every once in a while letting me know how my old homework has helped someone out. Sometimes my paper turns out to be good for a list of references (so go ahead and dig away at my Bibliographies), and sometimes, someone even appreciates what I’ve written, and cites *me* in their paper. Now that’s pretty cool.
My papers cover a pretty wide range of topics, so go ahead and look around. I broke it down by the year I wrote the stuff, not by the subject. Just to make it a little harder on you. Make you do some researching or something. Man, I wish I’d had the Internet when I started writing papers…all I had was the local college’s electronic catalog of scholarly journals that would give you topics on “Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: of Mice and Men” when you’re trying to find journal articles on a John Steinbeck book…lousy catalog….
Clever. Having no life I sorted through all his assignments to figure out exactly what grade he wrote this in, and it was his junior year. Maybe if he had been a senior we could of accepted this as legitimate- he’s 18, old enough to vote, join the army etc. But he’s not. So , in conclusion, don’t read this card. That should be obvious.