RIP Politics, We hardly Knew Yee

For those who haven’t been keeping up with current events, Manchin is not voting for BBB. This was fairly obvious to, well just about anyone, as long ago as Sept. Yet in the 3 months since a lot of negative rounds were won on the politics disad with “will pass” as the uniqueness claim, with judges in fact voting on that argument as recently as this past weekend. Over the last few months I wrote a series of posts about how the affirmative could combine updated uniqueness evidence with spin and persuasion to defeat this “must pass”/momentum kind of argument, and I have gotten quite a few messages along the lines of ” judges not buying it”. One such message sender replied this morning with ” Do you think the judges who still thought BBB was going to pass will learn…” and I’ll stop you there, the answer is no.

This wasn’t “close”. This wasn’t a case where “there are cards on both sides that make reasonable arguments”. This was one of the most one sided set of politics uniqueness debates in the 20 years I have been involved in politics. No negative card said anything. No warrants, no facts, no vote counts. They literally just said some version of “Biden hopes”. At each stage there was a major setback the disaster was somehow spun as a win- Biden was playing 4D chess because he’s a master politician. This was all, obviously, laughable. Why would Biden publicly fail for 3 months before finally getting it done- what could the possible rationale for that be? There isn’t one, its just wishful thinking.

The impact claims were borderline as ridiculous- each time the bill got cut back and made less meaningful the impact evidence about how important it was got more rhetorical and less substantive. A few judges who I know voted in the past that a US carbon tax will not solve climate change repeatedly voted on BBB solves it/outweighs the case. Again, laughable.

So, we come to the point where I offer you a solution for these problems and oh boy do I have one for you:





Radical I know, but if there are judges who are making quite bad decisions and voting for terrible arguments you don’t have to pref them. I already know what the response/push back is (We will ignore the fact that in reality you are probably just preffing people who are popular) and it will be this: but the other judges are bad!!!

No, no they aren’t. You’re current judges are bad, and if you can’t win in front of other judges YOU are bad.

Merry Christmas! I’m seriously not trying to be a downer here but I have sort of reached my breaking point with the current line of debater complaint which basically boils down to “I have used MPJ to only get a very narrow slice of the judge pool, and I now am not satisfied with the judges I get”. Well, that’s your fault- and here I use the royal you as your coaches may also be involved in the pref sheet. If you pref judges who will vote for the BBB disad in december 2021 you have made a choice, you have said

“I know this judge does not live on planet earth, but I am willing to accept that because…”

and the thing following “because” is in 99.9% of instances the K- the fear that other judges are as biased in favor of the K as they are in favor of politics. That this is an obvious “try or die” where you are losing uniqueness ironically never occurs to the cult of try or die…portable skills.

Look, you HAVE to be aff 1/2 the time roughly unless you are coin flip god and get to be neg in all your elims. You cannot fill out a pref sheet by saying ” I want to pref judges that make it almost impossible for me to win 50% of the time” and hope that’s going to turn out well. Well that’s obviously not true as that is what people are doing, but you SHOULDN’T do that.

And to be clear, I’m not talking about a judge who when you look at their track record over the course of a season is like 53% neg. Anything up to maybe even 60% neg can be excused given the mad scientist who designed debate came up with the negative block and no aff should ever win. On the other hand, if they are voting neg like 70%+ and mainly on the politics disad in the last few months thats a deal breaker. Its possible no aff ever did something in front of them to win the debate, but remember how low the bar should have been (having a card, reading at least part of it).

So you are worried about being aff vs the K, do some prep. You currently

-pick your aff solely to avoid states/politics and as a result your aff is bad

-pref judges for whom all the prep you did in step 1 is irrelevant- they let the neg get away with ridiculous cp arguments /planks/fiat abuses and say the rider disad outweighed your soft left advantage because Bostrom

-go to tournaments, lose, complain, rinse and repeat

You don’t have to do this, you can opt out. Every time a former labbie complains they lost on the states CP when it was awful I immediately go through a checklist of judges who would not have done that and ask how they preffed them. Shockingly these judges are not high on their sheet. When they tell me X judge voted on Y argument I will often say “did they render a decision that sounded word for word like this”, then I’ll describe it and the debater will go “YES! That is what they said”. Well I’m not a magician, your judge has just been saying the same thing for like 10 years. This is all freely available evidence floating around out there, you just have to know how to grab it.

If most teams spent as long preparing for the K as they do over a season preparing for politics the K win % would plummet. But thats not what people do- they read the same blocks from 5 years ago and then lose and complain about the judge. So you have

-Judge A- votes on fairytales despite hundreds of hours of aff prep

-Judge B- votes neg because the aff is unprepared/hasn’t done any work

and debaters come to the conclusion judge B is the problem because it aligns with their ideology.

Because here is the thing- if debaters all think judge X is the bees knees and pref them, judge X will judge a lot of debates/appear to be quite popular. If that judge sees debates a certain way, those rounds influence other people and how they see debate. Getting rid of a judge isn’t like launching missiles from a submarine where both of you have to turn your key, you can just not pref them and there isn’t anything they can do about it. If debaters don’t like decisions of type X, and stop preffing them, those decisions cannot happen anymore- the judges can’t “make” them happen even if they wanted to.

Why am I saying all of this now? Because politics is not going to get “better” for a long, long time. What just happened with BBB?

-this happened right at the beginning of his term when PC is allegedly at its highest

-it was bidens “top of the docket”- not just at the time, but of his presidency. See all the articles about BBB/midterms

-he unquestionably pushed it hard. There were cards that said he was staying out of it etc in sept/oct, but at this point its obvious he wanted it and tried to get it

-he really only needed to get 1 vote/change 1 mind at the end

So, in the future for a politics disad to be “better” than BBB it would somehow have to be more important, more pushed for etc. Not possible. Any future agenda item is going to be less important, be pushed with less force etc. This would seem to be cause for optimism- if future disads are worse, maybe judges will see light?

No, no they won’t. The reason this BBB thing is so illustrative is that literally every month from August on the disad became something new- a new bill, a new vote etc. At every state it go worse. At every stage judges were fine with it. Its win % didn’t go down when it got worse, it apparently got better. And again, this is on a topic where

-every aff is written to defeat states and politics

-the politics disad is basically the only neg arg the aff has to prepare for

This isn’t just true about politics, but this is probably the most glaring example of it recently. This should have been a semester of unbelievable success for soft left style affs vs politics, so if you were struggling now is a good time to ask why.

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