In this part we are going to go step by step through the affirmative strategy required to absolutely demolish negative teams who employ politics and the case as a strategy. There are a few ins and outs, so this post is going to be a little long, but here are the cliff notes
1. Politics is awful, if you can’t win a larger risk of your advantage than the negative wins of the politics disad than your aff sucks and you should change it.
2. Less is more- the negative tries to exploit the block by blowing up both defense and politics. The only way to effectively counter this is to have an affirmative strategy that allows you to collapse down the debate by kicking advantages and going for a small number of arguments on politics so that not going for the rest of the args doesn’t hurt you.
3. Understand how the presence of a counterplan effects your strategy. If the negative is defending the status quo then the bet arguments against politics are defense like link uniqueness. The presence of a counterplan changes this calculation- if the counterplan solves the case or is plan inclusive than you will not win many debates on defense- but the same principle of collapse applies. You just need to have a strategy to collapse to offense like impact turns.
4. Impact calculus- the negative is going to make a lot of really stupid and incoherent impact arguments in the block. It’s crucial that you don’t drop these because many judges are looking for easy ways to make their decisions that don’t require a lot of thought. The easiest way out of these debates for those kind of judges are to say something like “You dropped disad turns the case”.
Let’s start with part 1- Your case should be better than the politics disad. You get infinite prep to select your plan and the advantages you want to read in the round. You can pick literally anything you want. Whatever it is you pick, you should then seek out the best evidence possible to support that advantage. Let us say for an example that you pick terrorism as an advantage. Before we even get to talking about the debate let’s go over how to construct your 1AC advantage.
What most people do is find 2-3 cards that are mediocre. Then they highlight these cards down to basically nothing. Then in the 2AC they read no additional cards, they just say “extend XYZ from the 1AC”. At the end of the round the judge has 2-3 aff cards that are awful, and 5-10 neg cards that are close to as bad. What the judge does then is go “meh, neg”. So how should you properly construct an advantage?
1. You need to dedicate at least 3 minutes to an advantage. Anything less than that is garbage. Even if you have the absolute best most amazing evidence ever you need to read several cards both to construct your advantage and to defend it. This means you can’t have 20 impacts in your 1AC, but that is a good thing. To continue with the terrorism example you would want to make all the following arguments
-terror threat high now
-terrorists have the means/motives to use WMD
-WMD terrorism is a big impact
-The plan is sufficient and necessary to solve terrorism
Assuming you had 1 amazing card for each of those, that is 5 cards (newsflash- most of you don’t). These cards are hopefully well explained and warranted meaning they will not be super short. So assuming each one took 30 seconds that would be 2 1/2 minutes. Given that I want terrorism to be a round winning impact I would probably read more than 1 impact scenario- so 2 cards on nuclear terror, 2 cards on biological terror etc. You can see how the ev adds up pretty quickly. You also probably want more than 1 solvency mechanism (although in this day and age almost no one attacks the ridiculous solvency claims people make in their 1AC so this is less important).
2. Your evidence should be the best and most recent. Once you figure out the 10 or so cards you need to construct an advantage you don’t just want to go to a camp file from a sophomore lab and pick the first 10 you find, you want to comprehensively look at every possible card and pick the best ones-i.e. the ones with the best, most explained arguments and hopefully the most recent version of those arguments you can find. You are going to read your 1AC in 50% of your debates, the 1AC evidence is going to be the most read evidence of our season. Invest a lot of time getting it right. The last affirmative I wrote when I debated I spent roughly 3 weeks cutting most of the evidence , and then an entire 4 day weekend sorting and classifying it to find the best cards for the 1AC. For the “US Key” argument I started with about 35 cards that made different arguments. Some of them were more qualified, some of them were more recent, some made 2 arguments but not very well, some made only 1 but did it very well. I knew in any given debate I would only be reading 1-4 cards on “US Key” and that if they went for an international counterplan this would be the most important argument in the debate. How many rounds did we lose on an international counterplan? Zero. How many rounds did we debate an international counterplan? Ok actually that was also zero- but is that because no one ever cut that as a strategy, or is it because my evidence selection was so on point that no one dared? Who’s to say. Point being you prep a lot of things in debate you never get to use- its better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. This is something that kids at camp almost never get. They all want to write the 1AC on day 1. The 1AC is the last thing you write- you need to get all the best evidence together and then sort it and figure it out. I think there are a lot of reasons the neg is winning more debates now than they did 20 years ago, but a big part of it is that most people simply do not put in the mount of time needed into crafting their 1ACs (and subsequent blocks).
3. You need to anticipate the common negative arguments. If you are breaking a new hegemony advantage that is something that people can impact turn, and something they will likely have a lot of blocked out defense for. While terrorism good is an argument people have read, it is way less common than heg bad. This means you know that the neg is probably going to go for defense- what kind of defense are they going to read against you? There are a lot of different things they could say, so what you need to do is prioritize what are the most likely and make sure you have built in answers to them in the 1AC. So for example, to answer nuclear terrorism they neg could say either of
-terrorists don’t have the know how to make nuclear weapons
-nuclear weapons don’t kill a lot of people
I have seen both arguments read in debates, but the former is way more common than the later for obvious reasons. Therefore its way more likely that you will debate that argument , and therefore better if you build your 1AC to respond to that argument. So make a list of the potential answers people can make and then prepare your evidence/strategy to deal with them. This is where having longer cards helps, a long card that makes 5 arguments is superior to a short one that only makes 1 argument. Or a long card that gives multiple warrants for a single argument is superior to a short card that only makes 1.
If you follow these steps, you shouldn’t find yourself losing rounds to impact defense. A typical impact defense round looks like this
1AC – 1 impact card on a 3 card advantage
1NC- 2 impact d cards
2AC- reads no new ev
2NC- reads 3 more cards, reads prewritten block repeating everything 1NC cards said
1AR- tries to extend 40 impacts , answers no negative arguments
2NR does anything
2AR is already screwed
Here is how the debate should look
1AC- reads 2 well developed advantages with distinct internal links and diverse laundry list impacts
1NC- is required to read many defense cards to cover it all, takes forever
2AC- kicks some impact claims, develops others with additional evidence
2NC- has to spend a ton of time on defense
1AR- collapses to one impact, collapses to few arguments on politics. Reads extension evidence for both
2NR is near impossible, screws up something
2AR easy street
This is already getting long so we will address the other points in future posts