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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

PART TWO: CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE Preparation: The Foundation of Success .......................................3! Korry Harvey, Western Washington University

Prime Minister Constructive: Building The Government Case .70! Ben Reid, McKendree University

The Leader of Opposition Constructive: Selecting Strategies and Delivering the LOC in Parliamentary Debate ............................84! Joesph Hykan, Whitman College

The LOR: Waste or Weapon? .....................................................125! Lauren Knoth, Washburn University

The Prime Minister Rebuttal: Seeing the Forest through the Trees .............................................................................................146! Josh Ramsey, Washbutn University

Reading Critical PMCs ...............................................................175! Katie Bergus and Megan Gaffney, University of Oregon

“Let The Squo Work For You”: A Treatise on Opposition Strategy ........................................................................................193! Jeff Jones, McKendree University

Debating the Government Case: Using Case Arguments .........208! Matt Reisener, William Jewell College

The Case for Politics: Researching, Writing, and Answering Politics Disadvantages ................................................................225! Kevin Garner, William Jewell College

Effectively Answering Criticisms in the Member of Government Constructive .................................................................................245! Jared Bressler, Texas Tech University

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Keeping a Level Playing Field: The Necessity of Unconditional Approaches in NPDA Debate.....................................................265! Brandon Merrell, Southern Illinois University

Making the Case for American Hegemony: Defending Goliath in Academic Debate .........................................................................292! Kevin Calderwood, Concordia University- Irvine

Student-Run Programs: Lessons from the CU Bou1lder Experience ...................................................................................324! Rachelle Harris, Nathan Jeffries, and William Van Treuren, University of Colorado, Boulder

Winning With Permutations and Permutation Theory ............350 Joe Allen, Washburn University

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Preparation: The Foundation of Success Korry Harvey Western Washington University INTRODUCTION After nearly three decades of involvement with various styles of either high school or college debate, some of the best coaching advice I have ever heard, from a number of different people and in various forms, essentially boils down to, “Debater, prepare thyself.” Put quite plainly, academic debates are more often than not won by that team which was better prepared, not necessarily or simply the team possessing the most raw talent. As such, it stands to reason that if you wish to improve your chances of achieving success (regardless of whether that is defined in terms of competition, education, personal development, or otherwise), perhaps the most basic and fundamental way to go about that is to be as thoroughly prepared as possible. It must be plainly understood, that no one else can really do this preparation for you—it is a process which requires a significant amount of personal effort and dedication. However, as with nearly all other aspects of life, hard work and perseverance often result in well-deserved rewards. To be most effective in your preparation efforts, it is important to understand that “preparation” is itself a multi-faceted process, particularly in competitive parliamentary debate. It involves far more than simply the 20-30 minutes of official “Prep Time” that you are given after the announcement of the topic and before the actual

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

debating begins. Unfortunately, far too many debaters limit their preparation efforts to just that pre-round preparation period, failing to avail themselves of the many tools which could put themselves in a better position to be successful. This essay is intended to help debaters, especially those who are either in the earlier stages of their debate experience or those looking for a few ways to take their debate success to a higher level, to be more effective and efficient in the preparation process. And it is exactly that: a process. It involves not only the things that you do during the officially allotted “Prep Time” before each individual debate, but also the many things you can do before ever even leaving home, as well as the numerous steps that you can and should take even after a particular tournament is over. In the pages that follow, we will look at the primary elements of preparation, why each element is important to the overall preparatory process, and some suggestions for how each element can be best approached. EVERYTHING’S RELATIVE It should be clear that, as with all of the recommendations made throughout this text and any other debate training materials, the suggestions offered here in this chapter are just that—suggestions. There is really no one “right” way to do nearly anything in an activity that is rooted so firmly in the subjective realm of one person trying to persuade another. The practice of argumentation and debate is designed to encourage both creative and critical thought toward the end objective of persuading someone else. The great thinkers of history, hailing from a multitude of different cultures and civilizations, have long understood that persuasion is a largely contextual process. And parliamentary debate is highly contextual.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

The very nature of parliamentary debate is ephemeral—in other words, it is ever-changing. No two debates are ever the same. Not only will you debate a different team in every round, each with their own particular styles and preferences for types of arguments, but you will also have a different person evaluating each round who will also have their own individual preferences with regard to type of argument and style of presentation. This becomes even further complicated when considering the fact that the topic of discussion changes for every single debate. In such an extensively dynamic environment, the ability to be flexible in your preparation efforts and to adapt to these constantly changing variables is critical to your success. Don’t be afraid to innovate and try different things. Each individual debater and team should experiment with different approaches, techniques, and methods in order to discover what combination works best for them. Theoretically this exploratory process will help debaters to develop the flexibility needed to adapt their preparation process for specific circumstances and considerations. That said, a proper balance has to be found between the somewhat oppositional values of adaptation and consistency. Consistency, both in preparation and performance, is important because it helps you to establish patterns and routines which make you more efficient. Ideally it also means that your process and technique become more and more refined and as a result you become better and better at doing what you do. Consistency requires practice and repetition.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Adaptation, on the other hand, is crucial in adjusting your usual approach to specific circumstances in order to deal with the constant nature of change in this activity. You never really know which side of any number of issues you might end up on. In order to be successful, you have to do all that you can to move as seamlessly as possible, not only between different advocacies and positions on the issues, but also different styles of debating and types of arguments. One debate may see you defending the political and ideological foundations of a market-based economy, while in the next you might be arguing over which international organization is best suited to respond to a particular humanitarian crisis, and yet another may hinge on the differing interpretations of a particular legal statute, followed by a debate which will be determined not by social or political issues but rather by a team’s ability to offer an ethical defense of their particular semantic choices and rhetorical framing of the issues. Likewise, one debate might be filled with the highly organized and rapid presentation of one factually-driven claim after another, while the very next may be predicated upon making persuasive moral appeals with a much more conversational tone and pace. As a result, focusing purely on fine-tuning and mastering one consistent approach will serve you well in specific situations, but may leave you underprepared for a number of other circumstances. So your preparatory process, like basically all other aspects of debate technique and strategy, should ideally strive to find a proper balance between consistency and adaptation. MULTIPLE ELEMENTS OF PREPARATION In the following pages we will be exploring three primary elements to debate preparation: (1) Pre-tournament preparation, (2) Intournament preparation and (3) Post-tournament preparation.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Although these elements of preparation are somewhat unique, each with its own specific purpose and individual set of tools and techniques. There is also a fair degree of interconnection and interplay between them, with each serving to reinforce the others. When combined into an overarching preparation strategy, they offer a much more comprehensive and holistic approach than any of the individual elements purely on their own possibly could. We will now explore the purposes and techniques of each. WHAT IS PRE-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION? Pre-tournament preparation involves everything that you, your partner, and your debate squad as whole, do to get ready for a tournament before ever leaving your home or campus to attend a competition. This includes general strategizing, skill-building drills and practice rounds, as well as research and file production. Each is an important element of the overall preparation process. In the policy debate format practiced by many colleges and high schools, where competitors debate the same exact topic for an entire season, you will often hear the term “infinite prep�—because the topic does not change, debaters have a tremendous amount of time to prepare well ahead of their tournaments. While perhaps not actually an unlimited amount, there is plenty of time to do research, strategize and prepare a number of different arguments with a great deal of depth and sophistication. Although the situation is different in parliamentary debate, where topics are changing all the time, you can still do a significant amount of work to prepare for debates even before you know the topic. Part of this effort involves researching topics that you believe are likely to come up. In the days and weeks ahead of an upcoming tournament, you should pay attention to the

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

top stories in the news, as they are likely to be relevant to many of the issues you will eventually debate about. You will not always guess correctly, but when you do you are in a much, much better position going into your debate. Part of this effort also involves working on your speaking skills and debate technique. There are a number of speaking drills you can do with a coach, a teammate, or even by yourself to improve clarity, word economy, time allocation, etc. All of these things will put you in a better position to compete once you find out the actual topic that you will be debating. WHY DOES PRE-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION MATTER? Parliamentary debate has become increasingly sophisticated over the past several years, and it is getting harder and harder to get by with lackadaisical preparation efforts. There may have been a time when a debate team could manage to hold their own with just a quick wit and good speaking skills. For better or worse, those days are largely gone. As previously mentioned, debates are increasingly won by the team which is better prepared, not necessarily the best speakers (although there is no reason why you cannot be both). Competitive debate tends to compress time—prep time, as well as the individual speeches, are both of rather limited duration, making deep and thorough exploration of the various aspects and angles of any given topic fairly difficult. As a result of this compression, time becomes a precious commodity and those methods and techniques which make its use more efficient are highly sought after. This is particularly true for the opposition team—although the time advantage during the debate itself rests with the opposition, the advantage clearly belongs to the government team until the first

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

speech begins. This is because only they know during prep time what they are going to make the debate specifically about. The opposition can only guess, so they must use that time as well as possible. Even though you may not know exactly what issues you will be debating, you can make an educated guess. One of the primary objectives of pre-tournament preparation is to reduce the number of variables beyond your control. By preparing ahead of time for a number of different possibilities—different topics, different types of arguments, different styles of debate, etc., you will improve your ability to react quickly and flexibly adapt to the circumstances, thus minimizing the chances of either the topic or another team’s approach taking you by surprise. This will not only deny your opponents an advantage, but will make you feel much more comfortable and confident, which will carry to the judge. Sounding like you know what you are talking about is critical in establishing ethos. Ethos is one of the three methods or modes of persuasion developed by Aristotle and is defined as ethical proof (the other two being logos, or logical proof, and pathos, or emotional proof). Ethos is essentially an appeal to authority and is largely based on the level of credibility you have with your audience—do you seem like an authority on this topic? The best and most simple way to sound like you know what you are talking about, is to know what you are talking about. This creates a self-reinforcing loop of good ethos—your degree of knowledge and familiarity with a topic will show to your audience, and if you actually are familiar with the topic, that will make you feel more comfortable in debating it, which will then make you seem even more credible. Preparing ahead of time will only make your positions stronger—arguments made on the fly are typically not as well developed, lack convincing and

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

credible proof, are sometimes even contradictory to other arguments you may make, and often lack strategic value. It is always best to prepare ahead of time as much as possible then add specific details and connections that make your arguments more relevant to the unique circumstances. Ideally you will already know something about your topic when it is announced. This makes prep time far easier, in a number of ways. Knowing some general information about your topic helps with generating useful and relevant ideas, building complete positions out of prep-prepared data you have gathered and allows you to keep your prep time smooth and calm, which facilitates creative thought. Additionally, because pre-tournament preparation makes your prep time much more flexible, since you do not need as much time to generate ideas, you can actually spend more time figuring out the best way to apply your positions to the specific topic, making them more strategic. You will also have greater opportunity to consider the likely counter-arguments and to prepare additional contingencies, rather than having to spend the bulk of your limited prep time simply trying to learn something about your topic. This allows prep time to be more about applying the knowledge and prepared arguments that you already have. This will help your prep time run much more smoothly, which will make you feel more confident about your debates. There are many ways to make your arguments more persuasive, but being well prepared by having done some significant research into a topic beforehand is simply the best. This offers the debater the ability to refer to the actual literature base that exists about the given topic, and to base their arguments in a valid and substantive

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

foundation rather than relying on conjecture, supposition, or, in the worst case, making things up—something that all debate practitioners should discourage. Being prepared will not only increase your competitive success, but equally as important, being able to identify supporting arguments in others’ work and being able to explain why they back up your position is an invaluable academic and life skill. HOW DO YOU DO PRE-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION? General Strategizing In addition to specific speaking drills, practice techniques, and your research efforts, you can also engage in some more generalized strategizing. To begin, try to identify your own strengths and play to them. Are there certain social, cultural, economic, or political issues that you are particularly knowledgeable about? If so, you may want to develop argument positions centered around those issues. Not only will you feel comfortable debating about things with which you are familiar, but there is a good chance that this will give you a competitive edge. For example, if you have taken several Women’s Studies classes, perhaps it makes sense to dive into feminist literature and prepare arguments that will allow you to talk about those issues. If you have recently written an extensive research paper about US-China relations, find ways to make that knowledge apply to some of your debates by presenting a disadvantage about how China might react negatively to a particular action of the United States. Maybe your mother or father is a school administrator deeply involved in educational reform efforts, or maybe your family has only recently arrived in the US and you have first-hand familiarity with the need for immigration reform. In

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

other words, try to find ways to make your debates about the things that you want to talk about. In politics they talk about “controlling the message,� and that is essential what we are trying to do here. You will often find that many of the issues you are particularly interested in are relevant across a broad range of topics, you just have to take the time to identify the connections. It is also very helpful to spend time before tournaments familiarizing yourself with the judging pool and their varying approaches to evaluating debates. There are many different approaches to debate and the judging thereof, so it makes sense to learn as much about your potential critics as possible. Many tournaments require that judges submit a judging philosophy ahead of the competition so that debaters can do just that. These philosophies will typically include the judge’s biases and proclivities on certain types of arguments, and will be listed somewhere online for general access. By learning a little bit more about what certain judges like and do not like to hear in debate rounds, you can often tailor your arguments to their unique interests. Drills and Practice Rounds Not only should you prepare arguments and strategies ahead of your debates through research, but there are also presentation and delivery elements you can work on ahead of time as well. These include doing speaking drills, practice rounds, memorizing some content, working on adaptation skills, and other techniques. While each debate is unique, there are some things you can do to help your presentation abilities in general. For any particular debate you will always want to remember your audience and their

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

specific interests, but these basic practice techniques will serve you well no matter the situation. It may not be obvious at first, but debate is a physical as well as mental activity. While many people have no problem talking for hours upon end with friends in social situations, most never have to speak uninterrupted, often at a high rate of delivery, for several minutes at a time. Just as if you were planning a bike race you would practice riding a bike to get used to the physical demands, you will want to practice speaking out loud for extended periods to get your body used to that unique challenge. A simple exercise is just to read a newspaper out loud while standing for several minutes. Newspaper text is usually very dense and information packed, which is a good way to get used to being verbally efficient. You may surprise yourself at how difficult it is to speak out loud for a sustained period of time. You will begin to tax your breathing, your posture, and other physical aspects that you never notice when you speak only in short, alternating messages with friends. You will also become aware of your volume, rate, and pitch. As you become more fatigued you will be quieter and slower, not something you want to have happen in a debate where you have just as much need to make important points at the end of your speech as at the beginning. Of course you do not want to just be able to speak for an extended period of time for simple duration; you want to have good clarity and verbal dexterity with words as well. So in addition to reading out loud, there are some drills you can do to give your vocal skills a real workout. These are also good ways to warm up just ahead of your actual debates.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

While rapid delivery may not always be appropriate for your debates, there are times when it is not only appropriate but perhaps even expected. You will want to make sure you are physically capable of doing so comfortably, which means some practice speaking at faster rates. Even if you never speak fast in your debates, your practice at doing so is still going to strengthen your voice and vocal capabilities so that a more leisurely presentation is still easy to do. One surprising thing this drill can show you is how disconnected your eyes are from your mouth and your brain! Trying to keep your vision, brain processing, and vocal abilities all in sync takes more skill than you may think. There is also the time-tested technique of practicing a speech with a pencil between your teeth. It may look silly, but the idea here is to improve fluency and diction by making your speaking muscles exert extra effort. When you hold a pencil in your mouth while you try to talk, you can immediately tell all the muscles that have to work to speak and how difficult it is to enunciate. Try reading a passage from a paper with the pencil in your mouth for one minute, and then take it out. You will be amazed how easy it seems to speak once the pencil is gone. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.� So it is with debate. It only makes sense to practice the techniques and strategies you hope to use at an actual tournament. This gives you a chance to locate and fix the weaker aspects of your arguments, and also simply makes you more familiar with the material which will help you to feel more comfortable and appear more credible in your competitive rounds. This is particularly helpful in parliamentary

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

debate where we debate about so many different topics over the course of the year, or even at a single tournament. It is advisable to try a lot of different things in your practice rounds. Try something new. Use arguments and positions that you are not generally accustomed to. It is far better to experiment in a practice round, where the stakes are not so high and you can receive some feedback from a coach or teammate about how to deploy that particular type of argument more effectively, than to do so at a tournament (although I would encourage you to try new things at tournaments as well). In addition to experimenting with new and different types of arguments, you should also practice adapting to different situations that may arise. Have practice rounds where you assume your critic is looking for a slower, more communication-oriented debate, and some where you assume the critic wants you to have a highly technical approach with a faster rate of delivery. Because you will encounter all kinds of judges, it makes sense to practice for that eventuality. You might also try something like giving one team more or less time for their speeches, in order to increase/decrease the difficulty level. Or you can go through a normal prep time, but then go into the practice round without the notes you prepared in order to improve your ability to think on your feet and recall things you prepared in prep time—after all, it has happened on more than one occasion when a debater prepares great arguments in prep time but then misplaces their notes somewhere between their prep room and the actual debate. Feel free to experiment with a variety of circumstances for your practice debates.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

It is also good practice to record these debates. While nothing beats a live audience for feedback, recording yourself so you can hear and see for yourself what is going on is very helpful. Most teams these days have fairly easy access to laptop computers or video cameras for this purpose. This allows you to review the debate with a critical perspective and not only make adjustments to your arguments, but also your speaking patterns and presentation style. Although it can sometimes be mildly embarrassing, it is also extremely educational to watch yourself and observe some of the mannerisms that you display while speaking that could perhaps be modified for greater audience appeal. Recording your debates also allows a coach or teammate to view the round at a later time and offer valuable feedback. Additionally, practice rounds are one of the best places available for coming up with the foundation for writing really good pre-prepared positions. Take the positions that you create for your practice rounds, then, based on the responses you hear, go about improving that position. What were the main weaknesses? Where could you use a little more data to better warrant your claims? How could you word the argument to be more clear? Essentially, this technique gives you a trial run for your positions so that you can improve them for when it really counts. Time Management By practicing your speeches you not only become more familiar with the specific material you may use in a debate, but you also become more aware of how much time it takes to make those points. Debates can often come down to who can better manage and allocate their time. Your practice will help you understand how

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

much you can still say, or what to prioritize, if you find you have less time left than you had hoped. This will also help you become more comfortable with merging your spontaneously generated ideas with your pre-prepared arguments. Research Although it is a bit beyond the scope of this essay to offer thorough and comprehensive guidelines for an effective and efficient research process, it will offer some direction. Becoming a proficient researcher takes time and practice, and requires that you work with your coaches and teammates to build these skills. You should also go to the library and seek out resources there that will help you in the research process. For the purposes of this project, this section will focus on some of the general strategies and procedures for research and file production. Debate requires that we move beyond mere differences of opinion and begin to substantiate and prove our positions. To do so requires collecting relevant supporting material that is sufficient enough to thoroughly validate our claims and establish a more objective evaluation of the question at hand, independent of the way we may personally feel about a given topic. Gathering supporting material is an exploratory mission and it is important, just as in individual speeches, to have a well thought out strategy and to stay as organized as possible. It is perhaps also meaningful to note that research skills are one of the most transferable of abilities that being involved in debate helps to develop and refine. Many find the search for supporting ideas to be one of the great joys of being involved in debate. It certainly

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

does provide a reward for the intellectually curious. However, the research involved in debate is more than just a fact-finding mission. Being able to put information in an argumentative context can add to the understanding of the issue in unique ways. It will also serve as an important foundation for many of the other things you will do in your academic experience and professional lives. How to Begin The first step is to begin with the obvious. This means starting with basic search terms and getting background information on the issue to make you feel more comfortable going into greater depth. You should make an effort to identify all the main issues that are relevant to your topic, even if you decide later not to pursue all of them in detail. It is important to acknowledge that this is a building process—you do not need to know everything as you begin working on your topic. You will probably establish a steep learning curve as you immerse yourself in the topic. Reading a few articles of general information and background about your topic early on can really help unlock additional ideas and even open up new paths of investigation. As such, it may not be a good idea to collect a whole bunch of materials without having read a few at the beginning in order to make sure that you are collecting materials that will actually help you. It is always helpful to at least sketch out some of the primary elements and basic structure of your position in the early stages of the research process. This rough outline will help guide you toward the materials and substance that need to complete your project, and will help you to target those particular areas that may be in need of additional support. Be sure to take the time to brainstorm those

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

ideas that may support the opposing side’s arguments so that you are not caught by surprise. As you move through the research process, you will always want to be mindful of information you come across that might reveal ways to help you answer counterarguments. Online Search Engines Some of the topics which are addressed in debate can be rather complex and sophisticated. Nevertheless, as mentioned previously, beginning with a somewhat general approach may not be a bad place to start your research efforts. Try to find some general knowledge and background on your topic, as this will often help you to better conceptualize the overall controversy. If you begin with a basic Internet search, you will need to strike a balance between the vast amount of general resources you find and the equally vast minutia that presents itself. Web pages and sites that are designed to summarize information, or are more encyclopedic in nature, can be a great way to simply begin familiarizing yourself with the ideas, concepts, and terms associated with whatever issue you will be debating. As you steadily increase your understanding of the topic, you will be able to refine your search efforts and look a little more deeply. Specialized Databases, Academic Journals, and Law Reviews Once you have established a foundational knowledge base for your topic, try to move steadily toward more sophisticated and specialized databases. Rather than relying solely on Internet search engines, which often overwhelm the researcher with too many irrelevant and extraneous sources of information, you should utilize the resources that are associated with academic libraries and the

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

portals they provide. These databases are incredibly helpful in gaining access to higher quality, and more relevant, information and they usually operate in essentially the same way as most Internet search engines. These databases will generally direct you toward academic journals and/or law reviews, where you will find materials which have typically already gone through some form of review before publication and thus provide evidence that can be used with fewer concerns about their credibility. These databases also tend to include journals and reviews from a diverse range of sources, allowing you to assess your topic from many different angles. You might also choose to go directly to a relevant academic journal or law review. There, you can browse the table of contents for applicable material. When you find something interesting, it is sometimes wise, and certainly more efficient, to read the introduction, or abstract if available, to determine if it is really what you are looking for before reading the entire essay. Finally, these resources are usually the product of the author’s own research process and therefore are likely to have an extensive bibliography that may end up being more useful than the original article in pointing you to specific information about your topic. News Sites Sometimes it is preferable to search specifically for news articles, rather than a general Internet search which may return hundreds, even thousands, of sites, including commercial sites, blogs, and others that may not have much value. Along with mainstream news sources, be sure to seek out more regional, independent, and alternative sources as well. You will want to become familiar with any particular perspectives they may represent. Are they

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

commercially oriented or publicly oriented? Are they government sourced? Government owned? Who are they quoting or interviewing as the authorities? What journalistic devices are being employed that may be somehow distorting the information? It is important to be critical of news sources and treat them as being just as potentially opinionated as any other source you may encounter, even if unintentionally. Nonetheless, news sources are a great way to stay informed of recent changes in your topic area, allowing you to update your arguments as conditions demand. Books An increasingly underutilized resource is books. Admittedly, it can be daunting to think you have to read an entire book or even several books just to do your debate research. However, it may be worth taking a look at the relevant books because you may find some extremely helpful material since books have the space to develop an idea far more completely than a newspaper or magazine article. The right book might be a treasure trove of information specific to the position you are researching. Finding one of these can really help you understand and organize your thoughts on the issue. You probably also do not need to read the entire book, but rather just the chapter or two that are relevant. Government Documents and Policy Papers From Think-Tanks For those willing to dig a little deeper, searching out relevant government documents can be a rich source of data. You will want to search specifically for those government documents that represent hearings by committees of Congress on the issues you will be debating. Often these hearings are arranged to include a wide variety of perspectives on issues being considered for legislative

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

action. There are also a variety of organizations dedicated to studying and offering policy recommendations to government and public actors, sometimes referred to as “think tanks�. These organizations bring together experts to produce policy papers on a variety of issues, and they span the political and ideological spectrum. The work they generate is often of very high quality. Of course, it always possible that they may also be poorly founded diatribes that only feign intellectual content in order to forward an ideological perspective, so you must still be critical in your assessment. These types of documents can be found at an organizations’ web site, or sometimes are published as periodicals. A general search engine may return them as well, or you can use search terms that increase your odds of returning them in your search. What are you looking for? Of course, having research materials to look at is only part of the story. Just what is it that you are looking for in those sources? Evidence and support can take a variety of forms beyond simply statistics. General Background and History There are a great number of details and historical elements that may help provide context, even if they do not necessarily add content to your actual debate positions. Sometimes that context can help build the basis for analysis or explain data that can only be understood by knowing the timeline of the situation. While it may not directly provide supporting evidence, looking up information on the background of a certain situation may help you better understand the information that you end up using as evidence. The general

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

background information may help explain the dominant or conventional wisdom on the topic you are debating. You do want to be careful, as often presenting the history of the issue only seems like filler rather than being a reason to support your position. In some cases, however, a proper understanding of the relevant history is essential to knowing what has been tried, or past conflicts and the basis for them. Statistical Data Statistical data is always helpful in supporting your arguments. The difficulty with statistical data, however, is that it can often be overly abstract and difficult to put into context. Even if what is being measured is relatively straightforward, it may not in itself prove any particular claim without the proper application. The value of statistical data is that it can be used to express numerical significance in terms of quantifying impacts and costs. Statistical data can also be useful in cases where what is being measured, and how it was done, is easily understood and the relationship between what is being measured and the point being drawn is clear. Expert Testimony Often, much of what you are looking for is concentrated in the testimony or advocacy of noted experts or authorities on the topic. These experts might be government officials who have addressed the issue, members of the academic community that have studied the issue, or persons speaking from their personal experiences. These sources may use statistics or historic examples in their own testimony to help support their argument, which makes it easy for you to use their comments on your behalf. Even if they are not offering supported arguments, their analysis and reasoning in itself

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

can often be useful for explanations about how things work or why they are good or bad. Narratives The use of statistics alone may indicate a large number, but the real impact of that number may require a more narrative-based explanation for how the harm identified actually affects people. Knowing a certain condition impacts hundreds of thousands of people is one thing, but to understand what it means to one individual severely impacted can help emotionally amplify a number in a vacuum. Narratives can also represent a viewpoint that is not present amongst the people involved in the debate. Some people may be so marginalized that they do not have access to the privileges of education or public participation. Including narratives can bring their perspective and voice into the discussion. Narratives also represent an element of pathos that can help round out a strictly logic- or reason-based argument. Court Decisions Court decisions typically include the rationale of the court, which can obviously be very useful for supporting your position. In establishing an interpretation of the law, the basis for the decision will often reveal the values or purposes of the law in terms of social good or order. In dealing with issues of crime and the law, this type of information can be invaluable in making a more persuasive appeal.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Some additional considerations for Pre-Tournament research As parliamentary debate practices become increasingly complex, there are a number of additional aspects of the research process you and your squad will need to consider. Topic Area Tournaments It is increasingly common for some tournament directors to announce limited areas from which the topics will be drawn several weeks before the actual competition (e.g., a particular tournament may choose to address only Education Reform, US-Russian Relations, Alternative Energy, and Space Exploration). This gives debaters substantially more time to prepare on a much more specific set of issues. The intention behind this approach is that by limiting the possible debate topics to a more narrow and exclusive array of options will encourage a more thorough and comprehensive exploration of those topics, thus resulting in more detailed and substantive debates. Knowing your general topic areas in advance allows for more fine-tuned and specialized research. Tournaments with pre-designated topic areas tend to encourage somewhat greater depth of research and knowledge, while tournaments without specific topic areas tend to encourage somewhat greater breadth of research and knowledge. Offering a judgment on which is better or more important is well beyond the intent of this essay, but it seems reasonable to assume that both are highly valuable for different reasons. If you know the general topic areas ahead of time, this allows you to really dig deeply into your topics, building a more firm foundation of knowledge and understanding and more thoroughly examining the finer nuances of the issue. As you do your research for topic-

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

area tournaments you will want to remember that although you have greater foreknowledge about your upcoming debate topics— so, too, do your opponents. This means that their arguments and positions will also be more nuanced and detailed, and that they will likely have taken the time to prepare more relevant counterarguments to your positions. As mentioned in the very beginning of this essay, the team that is more thoroughly prepared is typically in a far better position to win the debate. While tournaments with topic areas obviously focus your preparation efforts, you can still narrow the focus of research even for tournaments that do not announce topics in advance. Some tournaments may have somewhat predictable types of resolutions (e.g., at some of the more “traditional” tournaments, you might expect a few value-oriented resolutions, while at the larger national circuit tournaments you might expect resolutions to be very timely and closely tied to significant current events). Also, some tournaments tend to consistently have topics about certain issues— economics, social justice, nuclear weapons, court cases, etc. For these tournaments, brainstorm a list of likely topic areas that may come up—new developments in ongoing current events, important upcoming issues, economic trends, prominent cases in the Supreme Court, etc., then divide up the issues amongst your team members and prepare for them. Remember that your topics could come from anywhere, so try to prepare somewhat broadly. You might not always guess correctly, but when you do it definitely makes the time before your actual debate much easier. Regardless of whether your upcoming event has topic areas or not, the research you do ahead of time will serve you well since it can serve as a basis for discussion

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

about evidence formatting and structure, the content of many practice debates, and further the development of your “team file”. Creating Pre-prepared Argument Positions To improve prep time efficiency, your team can keep a list with a wide range of possible topics and a brief outline of various ideas for positions (possible cases, disadvantages, counterplans, critical positions, etc.), in “shell” or “skeleton” form (this is a basic, rudimentary outline of the position with some of the key information included; other elements, such as specific links to the topic you are debating, can be added later). Referred to by debaters and coaches variously as “files”, “evidence briefs”, “argument blocks”, etc., these pre-prepared positions will help speed up the process of coming up with ideas during prep time. No matter how knowledgeable and clever the members of your team, you will almost always be able to come up with more, and better, ideas in a brainstorming session back in your own squad room or home, than during prep time with all of its accompanying time pressure, tournament pressure, and other stressful distractions. The idea is to organize pre-prepared positions on topics that you know you will want to talk about in your debate as well as those you think may come up from the other side. These positions are very helpful in organizing and pre-arranging relevant information and providing the necessary evidentiary support to make your arguments more valid and persuasive. How To Prepare Your Files How you prepare your materials can vary greatly based on the type of arguments you prefer, the region in which you typically compete, and several other factors. This chapter will offer basics on this

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

question, whereas other chapters of this text will delve into greater detail about how to organize and structure particular types of debate positions. Remember that, often, trial and error is the best way to find out what works for you. It is possible that you may see someone doing something different than you that seems to work well. Do not be afraid to adopt others’ techniques. There is no single right way to prepare your materials, but it is almost always true that the better prepared your materials are, the better your debate will be. Depth: Backgrounders, Fact Sheets, and Complete Positions You will probably want to prepare some files with depth in mind. In other words, files designed to increase your level of knowledge and understanding about a particular topic. These might include “topic backgrounders” which provide a broad-based overview of the primary issues on the topic—historical background, recent developments, cultural or demographic elements, economic or political structures, key leaders, etc. These are meant primarily for pre-tournament education, not necessarily prep time. The deeper your background on any particular issue, the easier prep time will be, and the greater chances of your arguments being well-received by your critic. You might also create a topic fact sheet with more specific data points that is more directly intended for prep time. These documents might include precise bits of relevant information such as the names of key leaders and officials involved in the situation, relevant legislation or court cases, key economic data, etc. Included in this fact sheet, or perhaps in a separate document designed specifically for updates, you will identify the breaking news and

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

most recent developments of the past week or so that are relevant to your topic. These documents provide the specific pieces of information that you will need in your debate to validate your positions. And, of course, as previously mentioned, you may want to create fully prepared positions with outlines, extension arguments with additional evidence and examples, and even answers to the likely counter-arguments you anticipate hearing. You can do this for cases, counter-plans, disadvantages, critical positions, theory arguments like topicality, and others. A Defense of Pre-Prepared Positions Some may argue that this kind of pre-prepared, or “canned�, position is to be avoided. A few reasons for this, such as encouraging the unique skill in parliamentary debate of being able to think quickly and creatively on your feet, are perhaps more pedagogically sound than some of the competitive reasons offered, such as claims that it is not fair for some teams to have done work ahead of time while others did not—every team has at least the opportunity to do so. There are also several good reasons why preprepared positions are beneficial. To begin, there is no rule anywhere in parliamentary debate against preparing positions ahead of time. There is a rule, which should be strictly followed in order to guarantee fairness, that debaters can only take those materials into a debate which they themselves write down during the allotted preparation time. That does not mean debaters cannot prepare an argument ahead of time then write it out during prep time. Beyond simply making prep time more efficient, it seems reasonable to assume that the amount of knowledge and information that has been gathered ahead of a debate will be somewhat correlated to the

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

quality levels of arguments made during it. The more familiar you are with your positions, the more smoothly you will speak, the better you will be able to defend your arguments against your opponents’ positions, and the more persuasive you will likely be. The research and preparation part of competitive debate is probably where you gain the greatest amount of actual educational value, which seems reason enough to easily justify it. This is a highly important life skill. You are more than likely to experience a situation where you need to organize a variety of materials in order to support a project or proposal. Thinking of how you build a case and support it and what materials you need to do that are skills you will be directly enhancing by participating in the preparatory process of debate. Breadth: Covering Your Bases You will also want to cover a breadth of issues, especially for tournaments without topic areas. If you do not know what kind of topics you might be debating, it only makes sense to prepare for a variety of possibilities. Under such circumstances, rather than creating complete positions, it may serve you better to simply create scaled-down versions of cases, disadvantages, etc., that can serve as the foundation for more complete positions to be finished during your prep time. Sometimes just a list of talking points is very helpful, particularly with a topic that is constantly changing. If you spend a lot of time developing a lengthy position on a topic that is in a state of flux, something may happen in the day or two before the tournament (or even during the tournament) to dramatically change the situation, and now all the work you did is no longer useful. It might be better

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

with some issues, therefore, to simply keep a list of talking points on recent developments. One example might be a list of talking points about current economic conditions, containing a variety of data referring to recent employment rates, projections by significant economists, data about the trajectory of consumer or business confidence, and other relevant data points that you might want to reference during your debates. This data should come from a variety of different sources and locations. By consolidating them into one document you have quick and easy access. The same can be done for rapidly developing geopolitical crises, or natural disasters, or any situation that is undergoing significant change. “Big School” vs. “Small School” Some debate programs have over twenty people competing while others may only have four or five competing students. Do “big” teams have an unfair preparation advantage over “small” teams? The bigger teams certainly seem to have the luxury of being able to divide up the research assignments in order to spread the burden more widely than the smaller teams. Theoretically at least, this means they should be able to cover a much broader range of issues and in a much shorter amount of time. However, while there are definitely some advantages that come with larger numbers of people, there are a few potential drawbacks as well. First, although there is a broader distribution of the research burden, there is no guarantee that having more people doing the research will produce files that are of any higher quality than even a much smaller number of people. It is quite possible that some people will simply not put in the time and effort necessary to create a useful position. It is also rather likely that there will be a wide

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

range of research and argument skills among team members. Further, students on a large team are perhaps less likely to receive direct and individual assistance in the research and argument production process from a coach than the students on a smaller team. And finally, it is often much more difficult to truly understand an issue simply from reading the argument files that someone else has produced as opposed to having done the research and produced the file yourself. On a smaller team, you may have to work a little harder to produce as much useful material, but you are likely to have gained greater insight and understanding because of that effort. If you are debating for a school with a small number of competitors, you will need to take extra care to be efficient in your research and the producing of argument files. There are a number of ways to do this. First of all, be sure to prioritize your research efforts. If a significant world event has taken place shortly before a tournament—a military coup in northern Africa, a catastrophic natural disaster in the Caribbean, a surprise missile test on the Korean peninsula, a controversial decision by the Supreme Court, etc.—be sure to spend some time coming to a decent understanding of the issue, as it is likely that at least one or two rounds of the upcoming debate tournament will use a topic that addresses these timely situations. There are also a number of issues that make regular appearances as topics at debate tournaments, such as economic policy, immigration reform, climate change, health care, military aid, and many others. Because the probability is high that you will debate one or more of these recurring topics, it only stands to reason that you should highlight them in your preparation.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Another way to be efficient is to focus on your strengths, or perhaps even more fundamentally, to create strengths. Focusing on the more generic kinds of arguments that are applicable under a wide set of variables is a way to address a large number of topics without an overwhelming amount of work. For instance, there is a reasonably high probability that a number of your debates will involve the federal government applying more stringent regulations on industry (e.g., environmental protections, worker safety laws, tax increases, greater transparency of financial transactions, etc.). In these instances, a fairly good response is that increased regulation will harm the economy by decreasing business confidence—when businesses feel they are over-regulated, they tend to invest less, and sometimes they make up for lost profits by laying off workers, going overseas, etc. You can simplify your research burden by concentrating on a variety of economic indicators in order to know whether the economy is generally improving or faltering, and understanding the ramifications of passing legislation which would likely dampen business confidence. If you become well versed in the literature on this issue, its nuances and details, then you will be well prepared for a large number of the topics you are likely to hear. For bigger teams, spread the work around and use your numbers to your advantage. The luxury of engaging in the division of labor will help you cover a broad list of issues with relative ease. Also, encourage specialization—have people work on issues where they have a certain degree of familiarity and expertise, as this will produce better overall results. However, because you have a greater amount of material coming in, try to create some form of quality control guidelines, and be sure that research assignments are turned in with plenty of time for everyone to go over them and

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

become familiar with the nuances before they have to defend the arguments in a debate. The Value of Pre-Tournament Research In summation, as you gain experience in debate, you will notice that you are multi-tasking at a pretty high level. You may be listening, taking notes, thinking about what your answer will be, and writing that answer down, all simultaneously. The more you have prepared before the debate, the easier it will be. In parliamentary debate, with its ever-changing topics, you must be adept at using your own analysis and evaluation of the arguments in the debate as a way of coming up with responses to arguments made by the other side. However, rather than relying solely on coming up with all of them in the debate as it happens, having thought about the arguments and hypothesizing what you will say or how the other side may respond should give you a competitive edge. Each debate will vary, but being prepared and anticipating responses to your arguments is essential to your competitive success. IN-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION: EFFICIENCY AND VIGILANCE In-tournament preparation involves everything you and your team can do to prepare after arriving at a tournament site. This includes, but is not limited to, the official “Prep Time� before each debate. As mentioned, debaters too often think of prep time as the only preparation to be done while at a tournament. While we will look at prep time, we will also cover other important elements of intournament preparation that a debater can (and should) engage in, such as scouting or intelligence-gathering, updating your pre-

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

prepared positions, making adjustments based on the feedback you receive from your judges, and utilizing available time to work with your partner, teammates, and coach to learn a little more about debate. Although there is a great deal of crossover between them, this section will be divided between pre-round preparation, inround preparation, and post-round preparation.

WHY DOES IN-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION MATTER? As it is the preparatory element perhaps most directly relevant to your actual debate rounds, the significance of in-tournament preparation seems fairly self-evident. Prep time is typically the first time you will know exactly what the topic is that you will be debating, which side of the topic you are defending, and who your opponent and critic will be. Until the moment a topic is announced, the bulk of your preparation efforts are largely based on educated guesses. However, as with pre-tournament preparation, we can do things at a tournament even before the topic announcement to decrease the chances of being taken by surprise and having little to say. It is also important to remember that many other debate teams are not sitting idly by doing nothing at the actual tournament. They are constantly adjusting and improving their own arguments, so it is important to keep pace. Sometimes a team will introduce a new argument at a tournament that they have been working on at home for several weeks. It is important to communicate with other debaters, both from your own school and others, to learn about such things. Likewise, the world does not stop simply because you have attended a debate tournament. It is essential that you do your best

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

to stay abreast of the changes and developments in significant current events. It has happened on many occasions when a major political, economic, or social development has taken place during a debate tournament which fundamentally alters that issue. If you are not aware of these changes, your arguments may become invalidated. Finally, the in-tournament element of the preparatory process is the one time when you are taking part in actual competitive debate rounds. This is often where the greatest amount of learning in academic debate takes place. You are no longer researching, hypothesizing and anticipating, but rather you are now putting your arguments and persuasive skills to the test against others. You are also receiving direct assessment and feedback from your audience— in this case, your judge(s). The more we do to work with and take advantage of this dynamic, real-time learning environment, the more we are likely to accomplish, both competitively and pedagogically. It is often the little things that make a big difference. HOW DO YOU DO IN-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION? Be organized. Be efficient. Be productive. Be Organized Be clear on the procedure for things like getting the pairings and the topic. Be consistent regarding how your prep room is going to be set up, and what each person is expected to do during prep time and throughout the tournament. Know the schedule and be on time. Have a clear procedure for gathering and sharing information about what other teams are doing.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Be Efficient In order to be efficient, first be organized. Ideally, your pretournament preparation should have put you in a reasonably good position so that when you find yourself debating either a particular topic or a particular team, you have minimized the chances of being caught off-guard and unprepared—you already know what you have to do, now you just have to go about calmly and effectively doing it; your anticipation has paid off, now you just have to execute. Be sure that you are establishing a clear division of labor in prep time, as well as properly allocated your time and efforts. Establishing an efficient prep time is very much about creating a “rapid learning environment�. Sometimes this involves simply sitting at a computer and quickly transcribing arguments you have pre-prepared, while other times it involves listening intently to a knowledgeable person sharing succinct and concise information about the topic at hand, while still other times it means conducting a very targeted Internet search Be Productive In order to be productive, first be organized and efficient. While debate tournaments are indeed an opportunity to socialize with people from both your own school and others, it is still import to use your time wisely. Gather intelligence on other teams, judges, and topics. Update your pre-prepared positions to account for recent developments. Spend time becoming more proficient with the positions you commonly rely upon or learn about new positions you might want to try out. Familiarize yourself with the research and positions your teammates have compiled.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

PRE-ROUND PREPARATION Basic Logistics As with pre-tournament preparation, there are several things we can do at a tournament to prepare for a round before a topic is announced. Some of these are very basic, such as checking the pairing before each round to be certain about which side you are on, who you are debating, who your judge is, and where the debate will occur. These are important pieces of information which will guide your pre-round preparation both argumentatively—you should always try to frame your arguments in ways that are more persuasive to a particular judge or more strategic against a certain team, as well as logistically—you should estimate how long you have to actually prepare before needing to walk to the room you are debating in. Remember, every minute is valuable. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the campus layout so that you are able to get to your room efficiently. Most tournaments will include either a printed map of the campus in the registration packet or provide a link to an online map. These might seem like rather simple tasks, but coaches are constantly bewildered by how often a team does not know these things before the topic is announced. Because your actual prep time is so limited and precious, you do not want to waste it by having to look up this information after the topic is announced. You should also try to read your critic’s judging philosophy before the topic announcement whenever it is available (it is becoming increasingly common for tournament directors to make these available via an online database), especially if it is someone that you are not already quite familiar with. This is highly valuable and targeted information regarding how best to adapt your positions and

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

strategies to meet the preferences of that particular critic. It makes little sense to make arguments or pursue strategies that your judge has already plainly indicated in their philosophy as something they do not like or have a predilection against. At the end of the day, academic debate is still an audience-centered communication activity, which means you should make every effort to adapt to your critic’s preferences, even if they are not your own. Updates and Developments It is quite common that you will find yourself debating issues that are rapidly changing and developing. You will want to do what you can to pay attention to breaking news in order to make adjustments and updates to your pre-prepared positions. It is also possible that relatively new issues may come up during a tournament that affect the kinds of arguments people make. For example, if the stock market plunges or new unemployment figures are announced on Friday, that may well impact a number of things that you might debate about on Saturday. If an important political leader is assassinated in a war-torn nation, or a border skirmish breaks out in an unstable region, it may have significant ramifications for a variety of your positions. There are a number of online news sites that can keep you attuned to the latest developments in the world, or you can always pick up an old-fashioned newspaper each morning. Warm-Up Drills Just as a musician, singer, or dancer warms up prior to a performance, so, too, should a debater—after all, debate is just a particular type of performance. There are any number of different warm up exercises you might use to get ready for a debate, some of

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

which are outlined above in the pre-tournament preparation drills. One exercise that seems to make sense is to simply read some of your pre-prepared positions out loud窶馬ot only does this warm up your voice, but also builds your level of familiarity with your materials. Regardless of the exercise, the most important thing is simply to get your mind and vocal chords in a state of readiness. The Prep Room It is becoming regular practice at most tournaments to simply assign prep rooms to each school on a random basis. However, if you attend a tournament that does not do this, try to arrive a little early to find a good place for your squad to prep. This typically means somewhere that avoids outside distraction, is large enough to comfortably accommodate your squad, and is reasonably close to both the place where the topics might be announced and where your actual debates might take place. Also, if there is someone on your team that requires accommodation due to mobility issues, be sure to contact the tournament director well before the event to let them know so that they can assign you an appropriate room. Once you have located your prep room, there are a few additional things to bear in mind. Try to come up with a prep room process that encourages success. Your prep room should be orderly and efficient. This involves both good group communication processes as well as physical organization or layout. In other words, you may want to set up the desks or tables so that not only the teams on each side of the topic but possibly even speaker positions are separated from one another in order to allow people on the same side and same position to work together cooperatively. Perhaps it makes sense to separate the more experienced debaters who can do more

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

to prepare themselves from the new members of the team who might need a little more direction and assistance from a coach. Sometimes the room is divided according to particular strategies that will be deployed. As with most things in debate, there is no one “right� way, so experiment with a few different things to determine what works best for you and your squad. Regardless of what layout your team determines as the best one for your particular needs, there are a few additional things that seem universally applicable. For instance, everyone who has one should have their computers, tablets, smartphones, and other assorted electronic devices on and logged in to the internet if available. If your team has created any electronic resources, such as a Dropbox or Google Docs account where you store your pre-prepared positions, be sure to have those ready as well. And, of course, have plenty of paper and pens available. If you need to fill up a water bottle or take a bathroom break, try to do these things well before prep time starts. You should be completely ready to devote your time to writing down arguments as soon as possible after the topic has been announced. Finally, try to keep your room clean and tidy—not only is it likely that other teams will be debating in your prep room, but we should all show some respect and appreciation for the host school by trying to keep their rooms in good shape. Getting The Topic Although many tournaments now use an online announcement process, many also still use a central verbal announcement. If you attend a tournament in which the latter is the case, you will need a clear process for getting the topic. This usually means sending a trustworthy and dependable person to the place where the topic is

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

being announced who will then quickly bring back the topic to the prep room, or, preferably, will call or text someone in the prep room with the exact wording of the topic. It is wise to check the connectivity of your phones beforehand, and be sure that whoever is receiving the topic repeats it word-for-word back to the person sending the topic to ensure accuracy. More than a few debates have been lost, and some embarrassment caused, simply because a topic was not relayed accurately. This should be an easy thing to control, but sometimes the “easy� things are the most difficult to remember. Prep Time At this point, a topic has now been announced and we have finally reached the point at which too many people assume preparation actually begins. As we have already seen, a great deal of time and effort can and should be put into preparation well before this. Once the topic has been announced, one of the most important things to remember to do is to start the clock! Not only do you want to monitor your progress and allocate your time as efficiently as possible, but you most certainly want to be sure that you do not stay too long in your prep room and end up forfeiting a debate because you arrive too late. Some tournaments are extremely strict about this, with teams automatically losing if they are not in the proper room ready to speak within one minute of the end of the allowed preparation time. With regard to what each person should be doing during prep time, there are many different opinions, strategies, and philosophies. And again, you should experiment until you find the one that works best for your circumstances. Indeed, you may even approach individual prep times in very different ways depending on the situation.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Generally speaking, it is optimal if everyone does their own prepping with as little assistance as possible. Theoretically, this would mean that you had anticipated the topics well in your pretournament preparation, and now all you have to do is spend time writing down arguments you have already produced. This will make your prep time smooth and efficient, which should allow you some extra time to consider ways to adapt your pre-prepared positions to the specific topic you are given, the team you will be debating and the particular judge you will have. It will also afford you the opportunity to brainstorm some alternative options in case the other team does something unexpected. Prepping as much on your own as possible also means you will be more likely to have a firm grasp of how your positions operate, both alone and in context to one another. A pretty good position that you put together mostly on your own, and that you understand well, is often of far greater in-round utility than even a really, really good position that your coach or a teammate put together for you but that you do not really understand. Again, that is the ideal situation, but it usually takes some time before debaters feel comfortable with completely prepping themselves. A good way to develop this skill is to have practice debates where no one but you and your partner help one another during prep time. There is an abundance of models to choose from (e.g., highly controlled coach-led recitation, loosely organized and student-led efforts with guidance along the way, entirely student-driven, etc.), and there are both pros and cons to each. Some will work for you while others may not. That said, there are some general guidelines

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

that are somewhat widely adhered to in terms of how to most optimally apply your effort during prep time. The First Few Minutes: Analyze and Brainstorm If you are attending a tournament with pre-announced topic areas, you may have already considered the issues well enough and prepared enough positions ahead of time that you can simply start writing out your pre-prepared arguments. If not, then the first thing you will want to do after hearing the topic is to spend a couple of minutes quickly analyzing the topic to be sure that you understand it and are able to identify the main issues. You may need to determine what type of topic it is—is it a resolution of fact, a resolution of value, or a resolution of policy? How does your judge feel about that distinction in the first place? What is the resolution asking? What does it mean? It is imperative that you understand the topic before preparing, otherwise how do you know that your arguments are even applicable? Once you are sure that you understand the topic and what it is asking, spend a moment quickly brainstorming your options, as there are usually several. You do not always have to go with the very first idea that pops into your mind. In general, the quicker the better, but do not jump too hastily at the first idea that comes to mind. Sometimes your best ideas are not necessarily the first ones to present themselves. At the same time, you will want to be efficient—the longer it takes you to settle on a strategy, the less time you have to actually prepare that strategy. Hopefully the topic will be something you have anticipated and have prepared several relevant arguments. At the very least, it is

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

helpful if you have created a background document with some of the most relevant information in order to get started. If not, someone on your team, coach or student, might still be very knowledgeable about the topic and be able to quickly catch everyone up to speed. Otherwise, you will have to either brainstorm or execute an Internet search as efficiently as possible. Try to use specific and detailed search terms to help filter the number of options the search engine will return. Sometimes news sites will give you more up-to-date information, but an encyclopedia-type site might give you more complete topic knowledge. If you have gone more than four or five minutes without finding what you feel is a winning strategy, you may simply have to just pick from your existing options. Similar to the previous sentiments about prepping yourself, sometimes a merely decent strategy that you are able to spend fifteen minutes developing is more likely to be successful than a really good strategy that you only have five minutes to work with. Once at least you and your partner are on the same page and you have settled on a basic strategy, whether that is an government case or opposition positions, then you are ready to really get to work. The Next 5-15 Minutes: Who Does What? Prep times vary from tournament to tournament, partly depending on the size of the campus and partly depending on the philosophy of the tournament director, but are usually between twenty and thirty minutes. Initially that may seem like hardly enough time to prepare for a complicated debate. However, when you think about it, 20-30 minutes is not that bad for a 45 minute debate in which no

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

individual debater speaks for more than 12 minutes, and half the participants speak for only eight minutes. It is plenty of time, if used well. Ideally, if you have been very productive and thorough in your pretournament preparation efforts, the bulk of your prep time will simply be spent writing things down that were already essentially complete. If not, then you will need to efficiently do as much as you can. An orderly division of labor is invaluable in producing a positive outcome. In other words, no one should be inactive or idle during prep time—there is always something else that can be done to be better prepared for the next debate. In formalized, competitive academic debate, each speech is somewhat unique with regard to its function and objective. It only stands to reason that the preparatory process for each speaker will likewise be somewhat particular and specialized as well. It is important to remember that debate is a team activity, and in order to be successful, you must learn to trust your partner. While other chapters of this text will offer a more in-depth assessment of the specific roles and functions of particular speeches as well as how to construct specific types of arguments such as government cases, disadvantages, counter-plans, and critiques, here we will take a simple look at what each person might be expected to accomplish during prep time. Government On the government side, the first speaker or “Prime Minister” (PMC) should probably write the case as independently as possible. Not only does the second speaker or “Member of Government”

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

(MGC) have plenty of things to do as well, but the first speaker is the one who will have to read the case, so it is best if they know best the original arguments presented in the debate for the government side. They should, however, obviously seek assistance if it is needed. The first speaker should let their partner know the general idea (preferably, the exact wording) of the plan text as soon as possible so that the second speaker can make their extension arguments specific and applicable. While preparing the case, this person should take note of those areas they feel are perhaps not as strong as they would like them to be and share that with their partner so that they are aware of the areas that may need extra support in later speeches (MGC “add ons”). Likewise, they will want to identify those areas that are particularly strong, as those will become key points that they will want to be sure are extended throughout the debate. It is also helpful for the first speaker to write their case as strategically as possible. This might include writing in arguments that are likely to answer an opponent’s positions even before they have made them. This is sometimes referred to as anticipatory refutation, and not only helps shield you from opposing claims but also increases your credibility with the judge because it indicates that you have taken a broad and critical approach to your position—you have actually considered the counter-arguments and still think your point is valid. This can be very effective in denying the shock value or persuasive appeal of opposition arguments if the first time the judge hears them is in your opponent’s speech.

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Opposition On the opposition, which debater preps which positions depends on a lot of different things—skill levels and relative strengths of debaters, strategic choices for a particular round, judge preferences, individual knowledge of the topic, and other considerations. This will probably be individualized on a per team basis. Some people feel the first speaker, or “Leader of Opposition” (LOC), should write the most important issues because they are the one who is going to have to read them and also give the rebuttal speech (LOR), where the overall “weighing” of arguments typically happens. Others feel the second speaker, the “Member of Opposition” (MOC), should have the responsibility of writing the arguments that have a high likelihood of emphasis because they are the one that must extend them and answer the other side’s responses, so they need to be more familiar with the finer details of the issue. In this way of thinking, the first speaker only has to read the argument, but the second speaker has to be able to defend it. Again, there is no one “right” answer. What is important is that each partner is actively working on something that might be useful and that this division of labor is clearly determined either before prep time begins or quickly after the topic is heard (since sometimes the topic itself heavily influences this decision). It is commonly agreed that it is wise for opposition teams to prepare a variety of options during prep time. This is largely because you typically do not know what the government team is going to do until they begin speaking, which gives them a 20-25 minute advantage of knowing exactly what the debate is going to be about. This time advantage switches heavily in the other direction once the debate begins. Having a few different options gives you the flexibility to

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adapt to whatever you hear. This means you might have one partner working on a “straight up” strategy with specific case arguments against what you think the other team might say, while the other prepares a more generic critical or philosophical argument that you can shift to in case the other team does something unexpected and your more traditional strategy does not apply well. This approach, wherein you are developing contingencies plans and alternative strategies, will help protect you against surprises. Second Speakers It may initially seem that the “second speakers” do not have much to do until after the first speeches of the debate actually take place, but this is far from accurate. Remember once more, the team that is best prepared is the one that usually wins the debate. If you have prepped effectively, you will be in a much better position to respond to many of the arguments that you will hear. This means the second speaker must also be actively engaged in the prep time process. To begin, the second speaker should always be ready to assist their partner in creating a case/opposition positions. Again, it is a team effort. Despite the fact that each speaker has different responsibilities in and before the debate, you still need a cooperative effort to come up with what you agree are the best options. You may have a lot of good ideas for your partner to use. It is especially important for you to be available to help your partner if they are having trouble completing the initial positions you are going to defend in the debate. It is also important for second speakers to be familiar with the arguments and positions you will be debating. You cannot extend

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an argument very well if you do not understand it. Hopefully you will have been able to go over some of the positions your team has created ahead of time so that you are more comfortable with the ideas and concepts, putting you in a much better position to effectively develop and defend the positions initiated by your partner. At the very least, pay close attention during prep time to any discussion of the finer details of your positions. Sometimes they will have subtle nuances and/or strategic “tricks” that you should be aware of. It is also primarily the responsibility of second speakers to anticipate likely counter-arguments you are going to hear and to prepare responses. You may think quickly on your feet, but the more you narrow down the things you have to be prepared for during prep time, the more effective your in-round thinking will be. On the government side, the second speaker (MGC) has the specific task of preparing what are commonly referred to as “front lines”—the first set of responses you will offer to the major positions you are likely to hear from your opponent. These might include your first line of defense against a likely topicality violation, or a disadvantage that you know is commonly used by the team that you are debating, etc. These should not only be your best arguments, but should also be diverse and call into question many different aspects of your opponent’s position rather than relying solely on the one or two responses you think are simply “right”. In a court of law, a defense attorney does not offer just one reason why their client is innocent simply because they think it is a good reason, but rather they offer as many different and varied defenses as possible.

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The second speaker should spend some time looking critically at their own case, trying to identify potentially weak points and preparing a more through defense for them in case the opposing team also identifies that point as a weak one. Just as your opponent has to prepare for a number of different possibilities, so too must the second government speaker (MGC)—you never know exactly what the other team is going to say until you actually hear them say it, so prepare accordingly. You will want to prioritize your time by focusing more heavily on what you think are the most likely arguments, but do not overlook spending at least a couple minutes also preparing a few basic responses to the less likely options. Even a few arguments prepared ahead of time will be beneficial in the event they become necessary during the debate, when you have less opportunity to think of additional answers. On the opposition side, the second speaker (MOC), if not preparing a particular position for a specific purpose, should be doing a combination of identifying potential weaknesses in their own positions and preparing contingency options to fall back on in case the government team advances an unpredictable/unexpected argument. If nothing else, the second speaker can spend time quickly searching your team’s files or online resources for additional tidbits of information that will help to better warrant your positions. Some teams like to spend a few minutes of prep time simply scouring websites for specific details about the topic—recent developments, statistics, names of significant people, specific examples, etc., that they will then be able to use during the round to show that they have credible knowledge about the topic. The more topic-specific knowledge you are able to present in the debate, the more persuasive your claims will be.

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Final Minutes: Walk and Talk Perhaps the most important thing about the final minutes of prep time is —to reiterate a previous point—be on time to your debates! Not only will this help you avoid a pointless forfeit, but also helps in other ways. First, even if a judge does not automatically disqualify you, many are increasingly frustrated with teams showing up late because it means they have essentially “cheated” by using more prep time than officially allotted. Even if you did not intend to do so, this can seriously impact both your credibility in that particular debate and your broader reputation in general. Additionally, on a pragmatic note, you should avoid running behind and having to rush to a round, showing up out of breath and flustered. Sometimes your prep room is far away from where you will be debating, be sure you know how long it will take to get there. These final few minutes, as you make your way to your assigned debate location, are also a chance to reconfirm with your partner that you are both on the same page and understand your overall strategy and any last-minute revisions that might be necessary. Be sure to share the subtle nuances of the arguments you prepped in order to optimize the persuasive effect of your claims. It is also a time to identify any major concerns about potential weaknesses in your position so that you can be mindful in the debate to protect those areas, as well as identifying and addressing any possible conflicts or contradictions between your positions. Does your plan really solve the advantages you claim? Is there anything in your plan text that goes beyond the scope of the resolution and might open you up to a topicality argument? Are there elements of your plan text that are unnecessary? Does your counter-plan

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inadvertently link to the disadvantages more than the government plan? These are all things that you should ask yourselves as one final check on the consistency and validity of your individual positions and overall strategy. If you identify any of these problems in the final few minutes, you can still work quickly in the early moments of the actual round to try to resolve them. ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS Stay Calm A quiet and calm environment is not only best for creative productivity, but will also help keep anxiety at bay. Try to stay relaxed and work cooperatively as a team. Do your best not to waste valuable time fighting with your partner or a coach. Have a process in place that allows for differences of opinion to be dealt with quickly and productively. Even if you end up having a poor prep time, it just means you are going into your round not as wellprepared as you might have liked. You are still very capable of coming up with winning arguments in the heat of the moment during your round. And even if that does not happen and you lose your debate, it is far from the end of the world. Each debate is a learning opportunity, regardless of the decision. If you have prepared for the tournament properly in the pre-tournament preparation stage, you may have a significant amount of practice debating with limited prep— making you comfortable with this inevitable scenario. Note-Taking Everyone will have their own techniques and methods that work best for them. The suggestions here may help. To begin, keep your

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notes as neat and organized as possible. After all, what good is something you wrote down during prep time if you cannot read or understand it during the debate? This is especially true if your partner is going to using any of your notes. It is also helpful to develop your own style of short-hand and abbreviations that make sense to you (and your partner). Before you arrive at the tournament, you should have a discussion with your partner about handwriting legibility, agreed upon shorthand, and the circumstances that will necessitate the sharing of your flows. Still, you simply do not have enough time to write everything out completely. You will need to become skilled at extemporaneous speaking—a planned speech but delivered with little or no notes. You will want to write clear and detailed outlines, but much of the substance that fills in the outline will have to come from your thoughts. You should also use a separate sheet of paper for each major argument position (i.e., a different page for each disadvantage, counter-plan, etc.) in order to keep your notes from getting all jumbled together and confusing. Be sure to write your notes during Prep Time in an organized and orderly way that also allows you to write down your opponent’s arguments on the same sheet of paper, so that all the individual arguments about that position are essentially in the same place. Many teams like to use sticky note paper (e.g., Post-It notes), which work quite effectively for some. Sometimes there are specific points you know you will want to make during a debate, you are just not sure where they will apply. Sticky notes allow the flexibility of simply “posting” the argument where it is needed. They can also be used to keep running lists of various examples that might support your general strategy as you come up with them during prep time.

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Examples serve as proof, and a lack of examples will hurt your persuasive appeal. Examples also connect your arguments to reality. And if you end up not using these notes, little harm is done. Work Backwards Envision how you want the round to conclude and prepare accordingly. What issues do you want the debate to come down to? Which arguments do you think are going to win the debate for you? If you have a little bit of extra time, spend some of it prepping the final speeches—likely not “word-for-word”, since you will still need to adapt to the specific situation, but at least general outlines and overviews. Think strategically and anticipate the things, both general concepts and specific details, that you will need in the final weighing of arguments. In-Round Preparation Ultimately, the more effective and productive you were in prep time, the easier your in-round preparation efforts will be. But just because the actual debating has finally begun does not mean you are done preparing. You can still come up with plenty of arguments by thinking quickly on your feet. While this may be a difficult skill to master, anyone can at least try, and there are some things you can do to make it easier. Similar to prep time, one of the most important things to remember is to be active—with such limited time available, you do not have the luxury of sitting idly during any point of the debate— if your pen is not moving or you are not deliberately executing an element of strategy, you are not as actively engaged in a parliamentary debate as possible.

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Points of Information Unlike some debate formats that give each side 5-10 minutes of “prep time” during the debate to be used however and whenever you like, in parliamentary debate you have very limited time available to prepare arguments during the round, so you must use this time wisely. “Points of Information” (POIs), or simply questions, are vital in this regard. Beyond establishing some clarification, a question can also give you much needed time to quickly write out a few responses while the speaker is answering the question. It is usually good practice to have the person who is not speaking next ask the questions. Sometimes you have to stand or raise your hand for an extended time before your question is recognized, and it takes time to actually ask the question and get an answer. This is valuable time for the next speaker to use filling in blank spaces in their speaking column. If you are speaking next but have a really important question that you would like to be asked, either whisper it to your partner, or jot it down and have them ask it. Selective Note-Taking It is not always necessary to write down every single thing the other team says. In order to give yourself a little bit of time to write your own responses, there are some places in an opponent’s speech where you can listen to their arguments but write your own. This is primarily true for those arguments that you are already reasonably familiar with. For example, if you are the second government speaker (MGC) and your opponent begins reading a disadvantage related to the cost of your plan, as long as you listen to make sure there is not anything unusual about it, you may simply write “Spending DA” at the top of the column and begin writing your

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own responses. However, be aware that this is a technique with some risk— it is very important that your partner is listening and flowing closely to make sure he/she catches anything unusual or particularly damaging to your case. It is also not necessary to write down everything you are going to say. Not only do you simply not have the time to do so, but as eluded to earlier, extemporaneous speaking is often one of the most effective forms of persuasive discourse. Of course you want to have as many of the basics written down as possible, and particularly those things that are really important, but the more you can use abbreviated outlines the better. More experienced debaters will work to commit certain kinds of arguments that they use regularly to memory so as to eliminate the need for having to write them out each time they use them. This can make both the note-taking and the speaking itself more efficient. It can also help you get out of a difficult position if you do not have a lot else to say. Finally, it is great if you are prepared to simply jump right up and begin your speech when your opponent finishes. However, sometimes you may need to take a moment or two of your actual speech time to collect your thoughts and quickly come up with an additional argument or two, and perhaps even have a brief conversation with your partner about what you should do. That is not only perfectly acceptable, but is even becoming a much more common practice among the most skilled and prepared debaters. Once more, it is probably better to have just a few really good arguments than lots of mediocre ones, even if it takes up a little bit of your actual speech time to come up with them.

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POST ROUND PREPARATION Effectively Using Feedback Even though the debate round is over, it does not mean you do not have more debates to come. The things we learn and process immediately after a debate are sometimes the most important with regard to preparing for future rounds. This is perhaps more true of the post-round feedback you receive from your judge than any other element. Your judge’s “RFD” (reason for decision, also referred to as an oral critique) is a great opportunity to receive some immediate guidance on things you can do to improve your arguments and presentation style, even if you won the debate. It is also feedback that you receive while the actual debate is still very fresh in your mind, making it arguably more valuable in many ways than reading a ballot later or talking about the round with your coach (who probably did not see the debate themselves). It is helpful to write down some of the main elements of your critic’s feedback, both to have a record of some of the things you can do to improve, but also because it gives you some additional insight into what that particular judge likes and does not like, in case you have them as a judge again. They will also likely offer some valuable advice about how to improve your positions, not only for future tournaments but maybe even for the very next round. Debate easily takes us out of our comfort zones. This feedback that you receive from your judge is one of the things that can be most difficult to handle, particularly in a competitive setting where one team wins and one team loses. This feedback can come in many forms, such as an oral critique at the conclusion of a debate, a

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written ballot, or even the informal nonverbal responses from your judge and even the other team as you are speaking. No matter the form, debate is set up to elicit a response that is unique from most other forms of public speaking. Dealing with the criticism you receive can be difficult, but most comments can be useful in trying to improve, even negative ones. The key is to keep the feedback in context. Just as the other side of the debate is challenging your arguments rather than attacking you personally, the judge who does not vote for your argument is not saying you are a bad person or that they do not like you. A judge who is not persuaded to vote for you is not rejecting you personally, but rather the intellectual idea that you were presenting. Due to the nature of “switch-side� debating, it is quite likely that you may have simply been advocating the arguments relevant to the side you were assigned rather than your own personal feelings on the matter, so there is no need to see a negative outcome or response as a referendum on your personal worth. As you receive feedback, try to determine what elements of the debate the judge’s comments specifically relate to. Was the comment directed at what you said or how you said it? Also, the comments may be empathetic to your position, but simply question how you chose to present it. Someone might even preface their comments with acknowledgment that, in principle, they may agree with a lot of your position, but may not have understood clearly the entirety of the argument you were presenting. Even if they state a disagreement with your position, knowing the specific element that they had issues with can be a means to research that point further, or reconsider how you might approach that element differently in

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the future. It might also reveal a perspective on your arguments that that you may have never even considered before, giving you a new avenue to explore. Just as you receive comments on the papers you write for your classes with the goal of making you a better writer, comments you receive on your debate performance are a means of helping you grow as a debater and speaker. Many competitive debaters find that getting feedback that is not positive is far superior to getting no feedback whatsoever, even if they won the debate. Remember, the value of the feedback is in its ability to help you to improve your critical thinking and presentation skills. Ultimately, winning or losing a particular debate is far less important than being able to effectively receive feedback and to be self-reflexive about what others have to say regarding your arguments and your presentation of them. Save Your “Flows” and/or Record Rounds You should also save your notes, or your “flow”, of the round since it is quite possible you will use similar positions again, even at the same tournament. Record as many of your rounds as possible. While this adds an additional element to your preparation before the round (setting up a flip camera, laptop or tablet in addition to often being asked by opponents to share the recording with them as soon as possible), the added investment is certainly worth your time. Having a record of a previous debate with that position will help you to improve it because now you will have heard another team’s responses and you can prepare answers to them. Keeping your flows is also very helpful because it gives you an outline of your opponent’s positions, which you can cross-check with the recorded

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version of the debate. When you have downtime, you can prepare better responses to opposing arguments, developed mimic versions of successful arguments made by your opponents, and re-evaluate your overall round performance (flowing, partner communication, overall strategy, etc.). Later, you can also evaluate these materials a coach or teammate to get a better understanding of what you could have done differently. Debrief With Your Partner and/or Coach It is often a good idea, especially after a debate that might not have gone so well, to go through a brief review of the debate with both your partner and a coach or teammate. Not only might this help further explain something that may have been confusing, but it also helps to clear the air and make sure that you and your partner are able to remain positive rather than getting upset about how things are going. Remember, this can be a difficult activity and it takes everyone time to build up their skill set. It is also a useful skill to be graceful in both victory as well as defeat. Gathering Intelligence Many schools are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they track other schools’ arguments. By scouting what other teams are doing, it not only helps you to prepare for their more common arguments ahead of time, but it might also give you ideas for your own positions. One very simple way to do this is simply by creating a database of the rounds that teams from your own school are in. Soon after each debate, the various partnerships on your team can enter some basic information into a shared document that outlines the basic arguments they heard. This includes general things like case lists, disadvantages, and counter-plans, but you can also

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expand these lists to include more specific and detailed (particular solvency mechanisms, their primary answers to a particular disadvantage or critique, hidden tricks, or commonly used modular impact arguments). By tracking these things, you are in much better shape if one of your school’s teams debates one of those teams in the future. Your intelligence gathering is also not limited to just the rounds that teams from your school has been in. Once you have had a chance to get to know some of the people from other schools, it is not only acceptable but even quite common to ask people from other schools about what particular teams have been doing in their debates. If you know someone who has already debated the team you are about to meet (which is a good reason to keep a copy of the pairings from previous rounds), you could ask them if that team did anything in particular or if there were certain things that they either did really well or had trouble with. This is really no different than the way sports teams will scout their competition. ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR INTOURNAMENT PREPARATION Watch Rounds One of the very best ways, especially for beginning debaters, to learn more about debate and its nuances, theories, and techniques, is to watch other people debate. If you were not fortunate enough to reach the elimination rounds at a tournament, take the opportunity to observe those teams who did and try to model some of their practices. The teams in elimination rounds are typically the most experienced and skilled competitors at the tournament and it is

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highly likely that you will pick up some very helpful pointers. This will serve the added benefit of scouting other schools’ positions, which is especially valuable if a team from your school is still in the competition and may yet debate that team in a later round. Wellness As with any demanding activity, taking care of yourself is a crucial factor in effective preparation. If you are not feeling well, you are not likely to be in the best position to debate to your fullest potential. This means getting enough sleep (relying too heavily on caffeine throughout the day can have unfortunate consequences), eating well (relying on sugar throughout the day can have unfortunate consequences), staying hydrated (relying on carbonated beverages throughout the day can have unfortunate consequences), and minimizing activities that might impair your ability to be in the best condition to perform at optimal levels (again, unfortunate consequences). Debate can be extremely stressful, and although we want to be as productive as possible, sometimes it is important to your overall wellness to simply take a break between rounds and listen to some music, hang out with friends, or go on a quiet walk around a college campus. Winning may be important, but it is not everything. Fortunately, more and more people in the debate community are coming to understand this.

WHAT IS POST-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION? The line between post-tournament preparation and pre-tournament preparation is somewhat blurry. In fact, in many ways post-

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tournament preparation is simply the pre-tournament Preparation for your next competition. It is essentially a cycle, and you are now returning to all those things in that previous section of the chapter. However, there are also some things that make post-tournament preparation slightly distinct. It is a time to review your situation and utilize the feedback you have received to work on specific areas in your skill set that need some attention. It is a time to improve the positions you have created and to write new ones from the ideas you gathered at the tournament, as well as to prepare answers to the positions you had trouble responding to. Post-tournament preparation is basically a time to reflect and revise. WHY DOES POST-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION MATTER? No one is perfect, and yet we can work towards becoming so. We all have things we can work on to improve both our skills and our knowledge base. Similar to the practice-makes-perfect mentality of pre-tournament preparation, with post-tournament preparation you are still practicing, you just have a few more resources to work with. Now that you have been to a tournament you have some feedback and personal experience to work with—you have probably had a half dozen rounds or so and have heard from as many judges with some unique and targeted guidance for improvement. Theoretically, these extra resources should improve your ability to prepare even more effectively for the next round of competition. Always remember that learning to become a better debater is a process. It takes time. But with some dedication and a little bit of guidance, anyone can do it.

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HOW DO YOU DO POST-TOURNAMENT PREPARATION? The post-tournament period is a time to improve. If you reflect on your experiences after each tournament, both on your own and with your partner and/or coach, you will be able to identify what went well and what could have gone better. Prioritize a couple of specific things to improve on before your next competition, whether that is in your argument positions, your presentation and performance, your flowing skills, or some combination thereof. Create Better Positions Your debate experiences, and especially the feedback you received from your judges, should help you to assess the major weaknesses of your arguments. What was missing? Where did they break down? Use your time before the next tournament to fill in the gaps of your more favorite arguments. How can you make them applicable to more topic areas? How can you give them your arguments a higher probability, larger magnitude or quicker timeframe? You can also do some investigation into some of the issues or positions you lost to in order to increase your knowledge on that subject and prepare yourself for the next time you might encounter it. Or you might have been so impressed with a particular argument you heard that you will want to do some research and create a similar position for yourself. Either way, the experiences you had at the previous tournament can be a useful guide in directing your ongoing research and preparation efforts.

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It is also worth bearing in mind that while you are preparing responses to the argument positions you have heard other teams advocate, they are probably going to do the same for your positions. If you do little to update or improve your positions simply because they were successful the last time, you might find the next time you meet a team that you had previously defeated to be a very different story. You should consistently adjust and fine tune your arguments and ideas in order to keep them fresh and strategically viable. Improve Your Performance One of the areas we are constantly working on in debate is our performance—both personal and team performance. Presentation styles in debate are very unique from virtually any other form of communication, and they take practice and perseverance to master. In addition to the speaking drills addressed earlier in the chapter, now that you have some debate experience under your belt, you have more materials to work with. One commonly recommended drill is to redo speeches from your last tournament experience. By giving the speech again, maybe several times and perhaps with a coach or teammate observing, you can make steady adjustments and improvements. This will help you not only recognize the mistakes you were making, but will also allow you to fix them. Perhaps you needed to improve your word economy, or the organizational layout of your argument positions. Maybe you needed additional explanation of a particular part of one of your more important positions, or maybe you need to learn how to answer a particular kind of argument that you are not yet very familiar with. Just as a baseball player who struck out several times in the previous game because the opposing team’s pitcher had a

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mean fastball will spend several hours in batting practice before the next game, the debater who lost to a particular argument at the previous tournament should spend some time redoing their speech until they have figured out how to defeat that position. You can also tailor your practice rounds to address specific arguments or situations that you had a difficult time with. Perhaps you ran into a counter-plan for the first time in your debate experience, and the judge’s decision might not have been in your favor. Now you can have some practice rounds that focus on building your ability to deal with counter-plans. Using this as an example, you should also have practice rounds where you defend a counter-plan, as one of the best ways to learn how to answer particular types of positions is to learn how to deploy them yourself. By increasing your familiarity with whatever issue or type of argument is in question, you will become more comfortable and confident when debating them, which will make you more credible and persuasive. These practices and drills will both keep your mind attuned to the process and test your development in order to help identify areas to prioritize. Managing The Intelligence You Have Gathered While at the tournament, you were gathering information about what other teams were doing, as well as learning about specific judge preferences. Now you need to work to effectively organize and utilize that resource. Your team should come up with an efficient way to collect and synthesize the information you gather about other debate programs. By properly managing this database you will be better prepared in the future when you meet a team you have already debated or have the same judge you have had before.

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If there are teams that you know you are likely to meet again at upcoming competitions, you can prioritize their arguments and positions as the ones you need to prepare for. Obviously the topics will change, but many teams tend to run similar arguments over and over again because they are comfortable with them and may have experienced a fair amount of success with them. Just as it is a good idea for you to develop pre-prepared positions that you are comfortable with and that you will try to make relevant to a large number of topic areas, the same is true for other teams as well. CONCLUSION To conclude, always remember that there are a multitude of things you can do to prepare for a debate beyond just the limited time allotted before each of your rounds. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the better and more efficiently you will be able to use the actual prep time before your individual debates. Prep time is obviously the part of preparation most directly relevant to the immediate debate—at this point you know the topic, your opponent, your side, the judge, etc., but the quality of that Prep Time is heavily influenced by how thoroughly you have prepared long before having ever arrived. Likewise, just because the debate is over does not mean you cannot use that experience to help you prepare even further for future debates. Competitive academic debate is a process, one that takes time, effort and perseverance to master. Try to find a balance between vigilant dedication and being patient with yourself. No one learns how to do all of these things efficiently all at once, but with a good attitude and a reasonable level of commitment, you will see rapid improvement and the rewards that brings, both in terms of greater competitive success and, more importantly, valuable education and important life skills.

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Ultimately, these preparatory skills and techniques are rather good practice for the things we encounter in everyday life, whether it is the various demands of the workplace, the challenges of interpersonal relationships, politics, social issues, etc. All of these things can change and fluctuate rather swiftly, usually without any prior notice. In many ways, parliamentary debate is really not all that different than conversation itself. It typically moves rapidly and seemingly without considerable conscious effort from one issue to the next. One topic of discussion quickly gives way to another, sometimes with little to no noticeable connection between them, and yet you have to immediately formulate thoughts and opinions. In this important way, the ever-changing and evolving nature of parliamentary debate simply mimics the dynamic lives that we lead. By learning to prepare in an efficient and orderly manner, we are building a firm foundation from which to ready ourselves to face whatever challenges may come our way.

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Prime Minister Constructive: Building The Government Case Ben Reid McKendree University INTRODUCTION This chapter provides a practical education, specifically regarding the effective construction and deployment of government cases in what may be considered an average parliamentary debate environment. It is composed of an introduction to and explanation of what I consider to be best practices for the crafting of government constructive arguments to be used effectively at any competitive level. While most of my knowledge and experience comes from a nationally competitive perspective, extensive experience on regional and local circuits have also tested these methods, and demonstrate utility. Together, we will walk through the basic components of a Prime Minister Constructive (PMC), describe basic formatting conventions, and review the strategic considerations that may be taken during both the crafting and use phase of your argument. Included in that process will be a brief discussion of potential competitive and preparatory scenarios, and a couple of example documents pulled from McKendree University’s debate files that are located at the end of this document— McKendree's file template, and a government case that McKendree read at the 2013 National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, with a video URL to the debate in question that can be used as an example and teaching tool. This chapter speaks primarily to writing PMCs as a component of the pre-tournament preparation process,

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rather than providing an exhaustive look at the methods used to construct your case wholly during prep time. This is not to say that information contained herein will not be useful in round-by-round preparation scenarios. For example, strategic advice about the basic arguments that ought to be included in foreign policy debates can be applied to a foreign policy topic regardless of whether the topic in question was prepared ahead of time. Moreover, advice provided here can be used to write generic arguments that you may file away for use in a variety of scenarios that would not afford you the luxury of using your pre-written PMCs. Additionally, this chapter assumes that you are writing PMCs that include a plan text, which has become a common presumption at most parliamentary debate tournaments. BASIC STRUCTURE There are a number of possible methods for constructing your argument based on your specific needs or goals. Here, we will focus on what has become generally accepted as the basic structure of the PMC case in competitive intercollegiate parliamentary debate. At the most basic level, there are three parts to your PMC: (1) everything that comes before your plan text, (2) the plan text, and (3) everything after the plan text. Generally, PMCs are structured to begin with an observation introducing the resolution for the round, as well as providing a basic vision for the objective of the debate—which is often contested in the debate. This observation is often referred to as “resolutional analysis.” After a brief discussion of the resolution, teams will typically include an “inherency observation”, potentially including more background information about the topic at hand. At this point, the government team generally presents the plan text. This is the real starting point for

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the debate. We will talk a bit about plan texts and the strategies and considerations that go into writing them. By and large, however, our focus is on what comes after the plan text. The vast majority of the PMC consists of the case advantages. These arguments provide the justification for the implementation of the government plan. They are composed, usually, of three distinct parts: one describing the status quo (uniqueness), one explaining why that condition of the status quo is damaging (impact), and one describing how the plan can alter the status quo to avoid the impact (solvency). The manner in which you structure, write, and research your PMCs will be influenced by squad norms, the directions of your coach, the advice of your more senior debaters, and your own experience and skill level regarding exhaustive research and argument construction. Those norms, however, would benefit from being informed by community standards. The broader community, through community-derived judging, dictates common practice. It is beneficial to structure your arguments in a way that is familiar to the broader debate community, both because people often, correctly or incorrectly, perceive there as being a right and wrong way to do things, and because comfort and familiarity makes it much easier for us to engage something. Keeping this in mind, any suggestions I make from here forward should not to be considered the definitive word on how you ought to structure your PMCs, rather, they are my own thoughts about current best practices. As I have mentioned, my focus will deal with what comes after the plan text. We will, however, spend a little bit of time talking about the strategic considerations that may go into crafting your plan text. The only thing that bears mentioning about the part of the case that

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comes prior to the plan is this—I believe that teams would be well served by scrapping their resolutional analysis observation. This section is really only a waste of precious seconds that could be better used clarifying or deepening an argument, or answering a point of information or two. Because these sections only consist of the Prime Minister stating that “we believe the round should be evaluated on a criterion of net-benefits, which means…” and “all terms will be defined in the context of…”, there is no reason that I can see to include them. This is the case for a couple of reasons. First, if you are reading a plan text, as is the norm, then it is generally assumed that you want the debate to be evaluated based on a comparison of the government plan and any advocacy defended by the opposition in the Member of Opposition’s Constructive speech. Second, it is now common practice for any definition debate to begin only after the opposition has challenged the topicality of the plan text. Given this, we again assume that the context of the debate informs the interpretation of various resolutional terms. Moreover, the decision to define or provide an interpretation of a term at the outset of the debate can only harm the government by boxing them in to one interpretation that would likely not be competitive with the interpretation read by the opposition, making any topicality debate immediately more difficult for the MGC than it might otherwise be. Given these reasons why the resolutional analysis observation is largely vestigial, and given that it takes time to say anything in a debate, it is likely best to remove that part of your PMC. Some suggest that this may also be true of the inherency observation, but the reasons for this are unclear. Moreover, given the ever-changing nature of parliamentary debate topics, it is useful for teams to provide some background

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information for their judges, their opponents, and themselves from the outset. WRITING A PLAN TEXT A typical plan text usually takes anywhere from five to ten seconds to read. Coaches, judges and debaters typically place a great deal of importance on the plan text. Overall, the community places on a great deal of importance on the precise language of the plan text, which is one reason why great care and thought should be put into the crafting of the text. Moreover, this small bit of text is, oftentimes, the focus of the debate, and the point of origin from which all of your offense originates. For this reason, you must know precisely what you want the plan text to say, and why each part of the plan text is written. It is imperative that each and every part of your plan text has a reason for existing. Beyond the fact that an overly lengthy plan text will waste your speaking time, there are a number of practical reasons for this dictum. First are concerns of topicality. Unless it is your intention to either not defend the topic for any number of strategic or philosophical reasons, it behooves you to ensure that your plan exists within the bounds set by the most basic possible reading of the resolution to defend yourself from the topicality debate. Oftentimes, an excess of “moving parts� in your plan text can muddle the meaning of the text, and make it much more likely that you will not receive a favorable reading of your text, increasing the difficulty of answering theory issues raised by the LOC. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the plan text is not only your primary source of offense in the debate, but it is also usually

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the seed from which all of the opposition’s offense will also originate. In that sense, an overly complex or large plan can create obvious counterplan ground for the opposition or increase the number or magnitude of links to the opposition’s criticism(s), disadvantage(s), and/or case turn(s). For these reasons, a basic plan text should generally conform to two guidelines: “1. A plan should stay light: do one thing and do it well….”, and “…2. Find the smallest subset of whatever your original plan is that still gains your advantage….” (Samuel & Tenny, 2005). It is important, however, to remember that these guidelines are specific on the utility of your plan—on what you want it to accomplish. There may well be a reason for your plan text to be long and complicated. The size of your plan is not the same as the length of your plan in words or characters. Here’s an example from an PMC I wrote for the 2013 NPTE on the cyber-security subtopic: “The United States Department of Homeland Security should condition the dispensation of Homeland Security Grant Program funds upon an appellant agency’s commitment to switch all supervisory control and data acquisition systems to isolated networks which use proprietary technology”. McKendree’s PMC was to adopt a specific method for insulating networks, and to do so by modifying a specific program. At first glance, this plan is quite large. But an examination of the content of the plan and an understanding of the literature upon which the plan is based would reveal that the opposite is true—the physical length and verbal complexity of the plan are, in fact, deceptions which usefully hide precisely how small the plan is. An informed reading would tell you that it modifies one small part of a very specific and

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popular policy initiative in a way that would only make sense to someone who has a base understanding of the way that “SCADA systems” work. This minimizes the link ground afforded the opposition, makes it harder for the opposition to write a meaningful counterplan, and has the added bonus of making you look smart, as long as you do not drop the ball when it comes time to demonstrate your knowledge of the topic. The above example is not to say that there is always a reason for a plan text to be physically long and verbally complicated. Often times, we read the resolution for the round as the plan text. This is viable and, I suspect, the ideal way to write your plans in most circumstances. In any instance, the guidelines laid out in the original blog post published by Ian Samuel and Marie Tenny still apply. You must have a reason for everything you do. I should point out that you might decide to insert a detailed solvency argument contention between your plan text and advantages. The decision to use such a contention will always be situational. Generally, this will occur when one of two things would be accomplished—either the plan mandate bears some explanation because of obscurity or complexity, or you can use the single contention to resolve almost all of the links that will be the focus of your advantages. My general inclination is to forego this contention unless it is necessary for explaining what the plan means. Such an explanation would feel out of place or incomprehensible elsewhere in the debate. Finally, the advantages will be your primary focus when it comes to the actual, hands-on construction of argument. There are, at a

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minimum, three parts to an advantage— uniqueness, impact, and solvency. What follows are guidelines for how those parts should relate to each other, and how you can maximize their utility. In the context of a PMC advantage, your uniqueness argument should almost always describe the world in such a way that the forthcoming impact is absolutely inevitable if the policy proposed by the PMC were not to be enacted. As a demonstration, we will use the example of McKendree’s SCADA System PMC, the plan text of which has been used previously, and the complete PMC for which is included in the appendices of this text. The first advantage of that PMC deals with cyber-threats to utilities in the United States. The argument, as written, aims to make it very clear that the United States will inevitably be rocked by a major cyber-attack in the immediate future, absent some change in our security infrastructure. This is a feature that every advantage should have. The goal of the PMC is to impress upon the judge the absolute necessity of adopting the plan. There are few better ways to do this than by making and winning the argument that something devastating is going to happen over the short term. In many cases, this will be the single most important argument in the PMC, particularly if it is combined with an impact that terminalizes to extinction. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, it puts unique pressure on the opposition to either make either a very good argument in defense of the status quo or to write a compelling, competitive counterplan. Second, it becomes a vital component of impact comparison later in the debate. While the specific, labeled impact scenario of the PMC ultimately represents the reason why the inevitable event of the status quo is bad, and precisely how bad it will be, the use of an inevitability argument

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becomes an important part of the impact because it provides a description of the probability that a particular impact will occur. While impact comparison is not a part of this chapter, you should keep in mind that a 100% probable impact with a large magnitude is good for the government team because it allows your solvency mechanism to be imperfect, but ultimately preferable to alternatives. It is critical that the government case is designed to allow you to win. To do this, it must be forward thinking in terms of its strategic utility, and it must make the MGC and PMR easier than they otherwise could be. The impact argument is probably the simplest part of any advantage. It is a description of the inherent harm of the event that will occur if the status quo is allowed to continue without change. There are few guidelines for this, other than that it should be as large as evidence and logic allows. The specificity of the impact scenario will vary. Depending on whether your PMC makes claims about structure or power relations of the status quo on a broad scale—a hegemony argument is a good example of this—or it describes something very specific that is going to happen, you may have more or less intricate causal chains constitute the impact. The importance of having a highly specific, situational scenario is often a matter of dispute. Some would say that it indicates high levels of research, and in depth knowledge of the topic. Those benefits come at a cost, however. One of them is that long causal chains become very easy for the opposition to disrupt by focusing on one weak point. Such a strategy can be devastating to your entire argumentative posture. Another is that, at some point, long causal chains explaining how an impact may occur to sound

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incredible to the point of absurdity. It can be hard to convince a judge that exactly twenty things will happen in a precise order as a result of not doing the government team’s plan. So with that in mind, the complexity of your impact will always be dictated by a judgment call based on what you feel you can defend given the literature you are drawing from, and your own abilities. Similarly, the nature of the topic, the hypotheses of the literature, and the bounds of logic often dictate impact magnitude. Usually, PMCs will be written in such a way that the result of the inevitable event will eventuate in total planetary extinction. Given that the usual method of impact comparison depends on a combination of probability and magnitude, it makes sense that having absolute probability, and infinite magnitude is good for the government’s odds of winning. There are, however, instances where you may choose not to do this for a number of strategic reasons. You may be concerned about a potential impact turn or kritik the opposition may read predicated on the use of large impacts or impacts that claim a nuclear conflict will occur. Similarly, you may decide, based on the topic, to minimize your magnitude, maximize your probability, and then read a number of framework arguments about why your judge should prefer those impacts. These calls are all situational, and all based on team doctrine and personal preference. The final component of a PMC advantage is solvency. There are a couple of critical components to solvency arguments. First, you need to strive to ensure that your solvency arguments can resolve each of the conditions of the status quo in the uniqueness section in a way that they eliminate or minimize the risk of the impact. Second, and perhaps most importantly, you should use the solvency

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arguments to insulate yourself from predictable, or particularly effective counterplans. On international topics, for example, it is common for opposition teams to read “actor counterplans,” which typically advocate for the same action as the government team, but through a different agent of action. For this reason, international topics should always include at least one advantage that cannot be solved by an alternate actor counterplan. Often, this means deploying a hegemony argument, or, if you are advanced in your research process, finding reasons why the United States (or topically designated actor) is the only nation capable of doing the plan—whether it be their diplomatic standing, their technology, or their proximity to an issue. The same principle can be applied to a PMC where you want to defend a domestic action against the actor counterplan. Think of reasons why only Congress, or only the Supreme Court, or only an executive agency is capable of doing something, and then include that argument. ADDITIONAL PMC ITEMS Beyond advantages, there are other items that you can include in the PMC. You may or may not choose to read framework arguments preempting a kritik, for example, or you may choose to read substantive arguments to give you a head start on defending against the predicted line of opposition attack. This is another contentious area. For example, reading framework to preempt the kritik may waste time that you could use to read more and better arguments related to the substance of your case. They allow the opposition a similar head start on the framework debate. Moreover, convincing your judge to reject the kritik on face because of a PMC framework argument is rare.

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There are risks involved with other types of pre-empts as well. For example, you may choose to read the link turns to the predictable politics disadvantage in the PMC to try to persuade the opposition not to read that argument and to make the time pressures of the MGC less problematic (eg. Reading “Republicans support our plan” or “our plan is bi-partisan”). Of course, the problem here is that if you guessed wrong about the disadvantage or are faced with a nimble opposition team, then you are locked into a specific defense of your plan against politics. This is harmful because you would both lose the ability to read link-turns and no-links to the disadvantage and because it provides high levels of link probability for the opposition to use against you. These types of arguments are often, at best, a waste of time, and at worst, they can all but guarantee that you will lose. A couple of exceptions to this that may be useful, if deployed judiciously, are impact framing (arguing for you judge to evaluate either small, probable impacts or large, improbable) and generic defense against a host of popular argument types and impacts. As an example, we can look to McKendree’s Synthetic Biology PMC as it was deployed in the semi-final debate of the 2013 NPTE. The original file version of the PMC is included with this text, as is a link to the video of this particular debate. Looking at the PMC, a couple of things should stick out. Generally, because of the risk of impact turns, link turns, advantage counterplans, or any number of opposition arguments, it is almost always advisable that the PMC include at least two advantages. PMCs that include only one advantage are at risk of having all of the offense it might have provided completely stripped. This PMC, written by Brent Nicholson, is a classic example of PMC’s straying from usual modes

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of PMC construction because of their purpose-built nature. Informed by the smallness of the topic, and by an understanding of arguments frequently read by opposing teams, the decision was made early to make this PMC quite small due to a desire to limit the ground offered the opposition, because of the highly specific suggestions posited by the research, and by the small number of potential scenarios that may arise from a compromise of synthetic biology lab security. Instead of reading a second advantage, you should note that, in the video, McKendree instead read a fourth contention designed to limit Whitman’s ability to read and go for disadvantages. Only one small part of this contention is included in the file provided. This is because while it was always the plan for McKendree to read a small PMC and dissuade the opposition from doing something, the specific mode of preemption was to be a preptime decision. Based on McKendree’s understanding of Whitman DM’s abilities and preferences, McKendree spent time in prep writing reasons why politics disadvantages are irrelevant, why the links are minimal, and why most impacts are intellectual nonsense. This is a productive way to utilize prep time at topic area tournaments, particularly if you are prepared with smart, flexible PMCs. Making small changes based on the nature of the competition is critical to adjusting to the competitive environment. I would suggest you watch the debate and look at the advantages and limitations of this type of strategy, and how you can use similar PMCs for specific reasons. While Whitman, the opposition, won the debate, the PMC in question admirably did everything it was designed to do short of winning. The smallness of the plan’s action,

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and the wealth of arguments about politics and numerous impacts limited Whitman to going for a kritik that they may have not wanted to go for, particularly given the stated judging philosophies of some members of the judging panel. CONCLUSION In fact, you should watch more rounds than just this one. While here you are provided with an excellent textual resource to help you improve your debate ability and skills, I am a firm believer that there are really two ways to get better at debate: to learn by doing, and to learn by watching. Ultimately, watching high-level debaters, understanding what they do and why they do it, and then emulating that—with or without your own modifications—is the most effective way to achieve high levels of competitive success. Watching debates, as with writing your PMCs, and as with everything else in the debate, must have a reason behind it. With a little thought, and a lot of work, success in parliamentary debate can be quite easy to achieve.

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The Leader of Opposition Constructive: Selecting Strategies and Delivering the LOC in Parliamentary Debate Joe Hykan Whitman College INTRODUCTION As the first speech given by the opposition team, the Leader of Opposition Constructive (LOC) lays out the opposition strategy, and sets up the collapse for the Member of Opposition Constructive (MOC). The fundamental goal of the LOC is to establish a strategy that generates as much offense in comparison to the Prime Minister Constructive (PMC) as possible. By reading some combination of off-case arguments (disadvantages, kritiks, procedurals etc.), and specific answers to the PMC, the LOC ideally sets the stage for the MOC to collapse to only a few vital arguments in order to win the debate. The LOC is often regarded as a relatively unimportant speech, perhaps because it is seen as primarily regurgitating a set of arguments written down in prep time. While it is true that the LOC does less to determine the outcome of a debate than the MOC and that many LOC’s are exercises in recitation, the speech can be tremendously important and dynamic in its own right. A good LOC dictates the terms of the debate by establishing a diverse set of tasks that the Member of Government Constructive (MGC) must accomplish, and sets up the MOC to capitalize wherever the MGC fails to execute. The influence the LOC exerts over the character of

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the debate makes understanding how to give the speech effectively critical for any team’s opposition success. PRACTICE AND PREPARATION AS AN LOC The most important step in doing anything well as a debater is preparation. Luckily for LO’s, the right type of extra practice reliably returns increases in performance. Because reading preprepped arguments is a major part of the LOC, the ability to deliver these arguments quickly and clearly is a core skill LO’s must practice. Learning to speak quickly will allow you to make more arguments, open up new strategic options, and make answering your speech more difficult. For most debaters, speed is one of the easier debate skills to acquire. Several techniques exist to improve your speed as a debater. Reading a strategy from your files in eight minutes and then trying to read it again in seven works fine. Consistency is key; try to allocate a few minutes every day to do a speed drill. It is important not to pick up bad habits while practicing your speed. Do your speed drills the same way you give speeches in rounds and pay special attention to eliminating filler words and speaking clearly. If you do have clarity issues, you will need to work on that in practice as well. You can improve your clarity by overenunciating in speed drills or by beginning a drill slowly and increasing your rate of delivery only when you can speak clearly. Successful LOC’s must also prepare by memorizing arguments they frequently use. Having a library of memorized arguments makes preparation time more efficient, allows you to enter a debate round with more strategic options, and makes it easier for you to adapt your LOC strategy to unexpected PMC arguments. The actual process of memorizing arguments is simple. You will end up

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partially memorizing some arguments just by debating. However, you should also be conscientious of what arguments you need to memorize and actively work on that process by doing your speed drills with those arguments. All debaters should memorize as many of the major impact scenarios (economic collapse, U.S. war with China, global warming, etc.) as possible and (at minimum) the voter level of procedurals, as it saves prep time and cleans up your delivery. Being prepared also means knowing how you like to answer certain advantages and memorizing those arguments. For example you might decide to go with a “uniqueness overwhelms the link”1 approach to soft power advantages and memorize the specific “soft power low” warrants and “link thumper”2 arguments you want to deploy. The off-case arguments you need to memorize will vary based on what strategies you prefer, but you should focus on ensuring you have a solution to any type of government plan that might be read against you. For example a debater might memorize their current politics disadvantage, a pair of generic kritiks (meant to counter critical PMC’s), the federalism disadvantage and the states counterplan (meant to counter small, domestic PMC plans), and the China and Israel disadvantages for international topics. The list of memorized arguments for a more kritik and procedural-oriented debater might 1

“Uniqueness overwhelms the link” arguments claim that the action of plan is insufficient to resolve the problems isolated at the uniqueness level of the advantage. E.g. if the uniqueness of a soft power advantage contends that the US is seen as illegitimate due to its use of drones, the opposition can argue that a single package of humanitarian aid is too small of a correction to repair America’s image. 2 “Link thumpers” are arguments that assert the link of a position has already been triggered. E.g. if an advantage claims that the US giving humanitarian aid will improve its soft power, the opposition can read thumpers that show how much humanitarian the US has already given. This demonstrates either that the problem is being solved, or that plan is insufficient to resolve the problem.

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look quite different, which is fine. What matters most is that you are certain to have an answer no matter what the government team does. A well-prepared LOC should also know how long it takes to read their favored strategies. Obviously, you cannot know exactly how long everything in your files takes to shell out, but getting a sense of timing is important. Knowing how long it takes you to read a strategy allows you to adapt in round more efficiently. If, after hearing the PMC, you think you will need more time on case than you anticipated, you will need to know how long the off-case takes in order to decide what to cut down or remove entirely. Cold LOC drills build on a debater’s delivery and memorization skills while also improving strategy and time allocation. In a cold LOC drill, the LOC listens to a Prime Minister Constructive (PMC) without preparing beforehand and gives the LOC immediately afterward. You can do this drill as part of a full practice debate, by having one of your teammates or coaches read a PMC from your files, or by watching a PMC online. The cold LOC will test how well you have memorized arguments, challenge your ability to adjust and improvise, and give you a sense of which strategies work and which do not. In your cold LOC’s, and all of your drills, it is also important to introduce variety. You should have a drill against a critical PMC before you debate one at a tournament, the same for a whiteness PMC, a blatantly untopical policy plan, etc. As an LOC you will also need to develop a knowledge base that allows you to answer case effectively. This means developing a base level of knowledge on commonly debated topics and staying up to

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date on developments in the news. Being diligent about understanding the issues you debate will prepare you to understand and interact with types of government cases and allow you to focus on strategy and depth as you progress. Whether you prefer to read a newspaper, download podcasts, or take classes on Middle East politics, it is important that you actively try to learn more about the issues that you will debate. It is equally important that you actively work to translate your knowledge into debate success. If you find an article quoting a congressperson on a bill that is a common politics scenario, do not trust yourself to remember it. Put the quote in your answers file, look up the congressperson so you can try to claim they are a particularly good source of information, and then write some analysis of why your warrant disproves the politics story. Being well informed is a good start, but you need to put in the effort to ensure your knowledge is contextualized to debate arguments. SELECTING A STRATEGY The LOC Strategy (i.e. the combination of arguments deployed in the speech) is the single largest factor in determining whether an LOC is effective. At some programs strategy, selection may be handled largely by prep coaches, but understanding the rationale behind that selection is still important for your development as a debater. As your strategic vision grows you will become better at adapting your LOC’s to the nuances of the government’s PMC, and more capable at conceptualizing strategic decisions. Selecting the correct LOC strategy requires an understanding of what makes some strategies better than others. Many debaters have a tendency to believe that the inclusion of certain arguments makes a strategy good or bad. This approach to strategy selection is flawed

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because it does not consider context. Eight minutes of case answers can make for a devastating LOC that gives the MGC fits or it can be completely ineffective. Debaters also tend to overvalue specific positions on the basis of their warrants. While warrants are a key part of any argument, they are of secondary importance to effective strategy. Your choice of strategy should instead be informed by the goal of the LOC as outlined earlier in this chapter, to establish comparatively more offense than the PMC. A crucial step in gaining a favorable balance of offense is to read a LOC that allows the MOC to collapse in multiple different ways. This increases the difficulty of the MGC by raising the number of distinct answers an MGC will have to make, which in turn increases the number of potential mistakes the MOC can exploit. It is a common misconception that flexible strategies need to include multiple conditional advocacies or a high number of off-case positions. A diversity of impacts and multiple options for collapse within a position create the same effect. For example, a politics disadvantage that contains a link about focus tradeoff, a link about moderate democrats, and a link about republicans is very difficult to read link defense against. Conversely, an LOC that has both an investor confidence disadvantage and a politics scenario with an economy impact limits your diversity and allows the MGC to crossapply impact defense to both positions. In addition to reading a diverse set of offensive arguments, strategic flexibility requires multiple ways to deal with the offense of the government team. This type of diversity allows the MOC to collapse to whatever option the MGC does the poorest job of covering, whereas less flexible LOC’s can force the MOC’s hand by

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providing only a single option that can catch up to the government team’s offense. Take the example of an LOC that contains a conditional actor counterplan, a politics disadvantage, and a relations disadvantage. This sounds like a fairly flexible strategy, but if the LOC does not substantively answer case, that flexibility may be neutralized. If the MGC were to read disadvantages to the counterplan the block is in a difficult position. Either the MOC has to answer these disadvantages on the fly, knowing that the PMR will have a monopoly on the second line of these arguments, or kick out of the counterplan and deal with a nearly conceded case. All this to say, that giving a strategic LOC means thinking very deliberately about what the options may look like for the MOC, and thinking through the ways in which an MGC might be able to limit those options. A good LOC strategy also maximizes efficiency by avoiding arguments that are unlikely to be extended in the block. Part of this is an issue of case writing; you should eliminate warrants that do not contribute to the internal story of a position,3 as well as excessive warrants that do not add a new dimension to your case (it is good to know four reasons your second link is true, but it’s rarely wise to include all of those reasons in the shell). The most common LOC inefficiency is the inclusion of arguments a debater has no intention of collapsing to, in order to gain a favorable time trade off. This strategy is usually ill advised for a few reasons. First, it is often transparent when a team is taking this approach, and your 3

E.g. if you are reading an advantage about inflation in the Eurozone you should be careful about reading uniqueness arguments that highlight other macroeconomic problems in the region. These warrants don’t help win a core component of your story, and risk lending credibility to a disadvantage or an alternate-causality claim.

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opponents may call your bluff by only reading a minimal level of answers. More importantly, your “time-suck” position trades off with developing options that you can collapse too. Perhaps you can read a topicality in one minute that takes 90 seconds to answer, but that time trade off will do you very little good if it you are forced to go for a position that the MGC answered extremely well. Reading an LOC that is difficult to answer is another important component in selecting an LOC strategy. Sometimes this means reading a combination of arguments that traps your opponent. For example, against a global warming advantage, you can read a China counterplan and a series of case arguments that say the government can never solve warming because China will continue to pollute. This puts the pressure on the MGC to claim that it is not feasible for China to do the plan themselves, but that if U.S. did the plan, then China would voluntarily reduce its emissions—a hard scenario to imagine. You should also make sure your LOC is built to beat the most likely answers. You should note how opposing teams have answered your arguments in the past, and tweak your LOC strategy accordingly. For example if you want to run a debt ceiling politics disadvantage you must be prepared for the argument that the GOP will always back down before we reach a collapse. You can make this adjustment with a miscalculation argument, a claim that even a moderate delay on passage will cause a crisis of confidence or by finding warrants that say the GOP is unwilling to cave in this specific instance. Any of these changes will allow your MOC to explain that your scenario accounted for the MGC answers and make extending the position much easier.

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Though several factors determine the strength of an LOC strategy, the actual process of selecting a strategy is relatively simple. When the topic is released you should begin by asking yourself what offense you are likely to get links to. Then you should think carefully about what offense the government team is likely to read in the PMC. A small domestic PMC, for example, gives you the option to read a domestic actor counterplan and place less emphasis on case. If you believe that a South China Sea war scenario is likely than you will need either a counterplan, or a robust set of “no war in the status quo” arguments to make your disadvantages viable. Think these issues through, and settle on a set of off-case positions that will provide diverse offense against likely PMC strategies, while simultaneously allowing you to handle the case. SITUATIONAL STRATEGY CONCERNS Many different LOC strategies can be successful on a given topic; choosing correctly between these strategies is largely a matter of adapting to the specific context of the round. Your LOC strategy should play to your strengths and more importantly your partner’s strengths. The LOC is about putting the MOC in a favorable position, and the easiest way to do so is by giving your partner options that they are comfortable with. However perfectly a position fits your strategy, if you partner does not understand it, it is probably a bad choice to include it. Even more importantly, you should avoid reading a position that opens you up to offense that your partner is going to have trouble answering (e.g. a conditional counterplan when your MOC does not know their “conditionality good” arguments). Playing to your strengths does not mean you can ignore situational realities. If a judge or opponent makes a certain strategy untenable, do not force it. Nor should you narrowly define

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your strengths early in your career and never branch out from them. While playing to your strengths is an effective philosophy, you should always be writing and practicing new arguments to broaden those strengths. Your judge, or judges, will also play a role in determining how you adapt your LOC strategy. It is crucial that your LOC strategy be compatible with a rate of delivery that your judge is capable of handling. It is far better to read fewer arguments than to lose your judge by going too fast. Because the status of your advocacies determines (in most circumstances) your ability to run both a kritik and a counterplan, and several other strategic issues, your judge’s stance on conditionality will factor into your strategy selection as well. There is a fairly small set of judges that have a major predisposition to vote for “conditionality bad” procedurals— with these folks, a conditional advocacy is simply not worth the risk (due to the second line monopoly on MGC theory held by the government). In these cases, you will need to find a strategy that does not rely on conditionality.4 Aside from those two major limitations, judges have varying stances on topicality, kritiks, and several other issues that you should take under consideration; but, if you first establish how your critic will constrain your speed and the status of your advocacies, a picture of your LOC strategy will start to emerge. A good LOC strategy should also be tailored to succeed against your specific opponents. There are a number of ways to do this, but 4

Some judges will vote for “conditionality bad” but have a higher threshold for doing so, in these cases the risks of reading a conditional advocacy are more marginal, and should be weighed against the strategic value of being conditional

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most of them involve picking on your opponent’s weaknesses. If you have a speed advantage over the other team’s MGC, exploit it by reading enough off-case positions to spread them out of the round. A number of teams are much better at answering the straight-up debate than the kritik; exploit that weakness by including a kritik in your strategy. Conversely you should be aware of your opponent’s strengths and not play into them. If your MOC is significantly slower than the MGC you are debating, reading a generic one-off kritik is a usually bad idea. Some more critically oriented teams like to read kritiks of topicality in the MGC when they deploy critical PMC’s—be very careful about giving them access to their preferred offense by reading Topicality. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE OUTMATCHED A specific type of adaptation is necessary when you face teams that are significantly more advanced than you. The conventional wisdom for debating a better team is that you should “do something weird”, which is often poor advice. The best teams are usually familiar with a wider variety of arguments than you are, and have spent time practicing against exactly this approach. Rather than reading an argument you have no familiarity with, you should seek a debate that you can be especially well prepared for. While simply doing something weird may not be helpful, doing something new has a better chance of working. If you use a strategy that has generally not been seen much in parliamentary debate, you have a good chance at catching your opponent off guard and preventing them from blazing through the memorized answers that top teams are so good at deploying. This could mean reading a new and highly specific disadvantage, going for eight minutes of case, or reading a brand new kritik. A similar option is to read an abusive and

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unpredictable strategy (like the delay counterplan) and have your MOC be extremely well prepared for the theory debate. The delay counterplan captures all of case and has few disadvantages, which often force the PMR to go for theory. Since the MGC is unlikely to have prepared “delay bad” theory, and the strategy is uncommon enough that they might not have memorized answers, your MOC’s three minutes of pre-prepped answers may be enough to swamp a weaker MGC shell. Perhaps the best option available for debating against better teams is the procedural debate, especially topicality. Topicality is, at least in my experience, the argument good MGCs are most likely to fumble. Winning competing interpretations5 as a mechanism for evaluating topicality also means that if an MGC makes a mistake in their counter-interpretation, they have little hope of coming back. Topicality is also the easiest argument to get a favorable time trade-off. MGC’s will always put T on top, allowing the opposition to decide if T is a viable option. If Topicality is viable, the MOC is functionally allowed six or more minutes of preparation. Because Topicality is A Priori, going for T also means not having to kick out of other positions or answer case—you get twelve minutes of the block versus however long the MGC spends on it (usually between one and two minutes). What these strategies have in common is that they attempt to force the debate down a narrow set of corridors and stack those corridors in your favor. The more you can force your opponent into having 5

A competing interpretations framework on topicality means that the benefits of the opposition’s interpretation are weighed against the benefits of the counter-interp. This is very favorable for the opposition as it puts the onus on the government to explain not only why they haven’t skewed the opposition out of the round, but why their interpretation actively makes the debate better. Winning competing interpretations allows you to exploit the tendency of most government’s to read mostly defense against topicality.

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the debate you want, the easier it is to gain favorable prep-time or speech time tradeoffs and overcome deficits of speed and experience. To adapt in any of the ways outlined above requires information. Adapting to judges means knowing how they see debate and to exploit your opponent’s weaknesses. That means taking notes on the RFDs that judges give, diligently reading philosophies, and watching debates when you are eliminated from tournaments. Information is power when picking strategies, so collecting as much information as you can is the only way to ensure an optimal decision. ADAPTING YOUR LOC IN THE ROUND Part of the reason that the LOC is overlooked is because many LOC’s are highly static, with the LOC simply delivering the offcase positions they prepared before the round and answering case with whatever time is left. This approach doesn’t usually lose rounds, but it is also unlikely to deliver optimal results. LOC strategies that are picked in prep time are made with partial and imperfect information, and often a single strategy is chosen for an entire squad. The more you can use the information you gain during the PMC and the more you adapt to the specifics of your round the better your LOC is likely to be. When and how you adapt should be governed by your goal of generating as much offense in comparison to the PMC as possible. To that end you should adapt when you have a shot at generating offense you had not anticipated or when you have a shot a nullifying offense you had not expected. Some adaptations of the LOC are simple and can be done in every round. You can add to the impact level of every disadvantage a reason that the disadvantage turns the government case. This can

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help make sure that, if you win a disadvantage, the case does not outweigh your disadvantage, forcing the judge to look at your offense first. You should also tailor your links and internals to the specifics of plan (e.g. in your China relations disadvantage you should explain why plan is an especially sensitive issue for Beijing). Whenever possible you should tailor your counterplan solvency arguments to the PMC. On the link and internal-link level of an advantage the government will usually set a threshold for what action is needed to solve plan.6 If your counterplan solvency explains which link you capture and why, it becomes difficult for the government team to argue that you are not solving case. You may also want to tweak your counterplan solvency to pre-empt any “perm shields the links to the disadvantage” or “counterplan links to the disadvantage ” arguments that you think could give you trouble. An LOC can also be improved by fixing mistakes made in preparation time or by file writers. Even during your speech you can fill missing warrants, clarify explanations, or fix inconsistencies in your story. ADVANTAGE COUNTERPLANS The advantage counterplan is one of the most underused positions in parliamentary debate, and one of your best tools for adapting the LOC in round. Advantage counterplans seek to solve the impacts of an advantage without linking to the LOC offense and, when successful, go a long way to shifting the balance of offense in your favor. The counterplan takes about 30 seconds to shell out, and puts 6

E.g. The link of a heg advantage may plan establishes US credibility in the South China Sea, and the internal may say credibility is key to check east Asian proliferation. This combination of arguments means that any action that establishes US credibility in the region solves the proliferation impact.

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tremendous pressure on the MGC to deal with it or lose a major portion of their offense. The best times to use advantage counterplans are circumstances where you can fiat solvency of the internal links. This is usually an option with politics-esque advantages. For example, if an PMC advantage argues that cutting a specific program leads to spending on another project, you can read an advantage counterplan to just fund the other project directly which forces the MGC to either kick an advantage or start reading a politics disadvantage in the MGC. It is possible to use advantage counterplans against almost any advantage though, especially those with broad impacts like global warming, economic collapse, etc. In those cases, it is best to develop a favorite advantage counterplan that does not link to your usual off-case positions. Adding a greater emphasis on case answers can be a helpful way to deal with surprises or capitalize on the government team’s mistakes. Some PMCs are simply too weak to hold up to three minutes of case in the LOC. In these instances the government team is simply hoping that the LOC spends as much time off-case as possible and they are able to sneak through some extensions and re-articulation in the MGC. Do not comply— spend an extra minute on case and eliminate it as an offensive option for the government, rather than being greedy and reading a third or fourth off-case you may not need. Your LOC should also increase your emphasis on case when the PMC endangers the offense you meant to read. If, for example, you plan to read a securitization kritik, a PMC advantage about war in the South China Sea requires a thorough response. You will need to interrogate the “war coming now” warrants, ideally in a way that highlights threat construction and U.S. counterbalancing as the root cause of the conflict.

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You should also be aware of PMC’s that appear to be laying traps for you and adapt your LOC to avoid those arguments. If a PMC seems strange to you, especially against a capable opponent, ask yourself why? For example, if a team that usually reads big impacts skips an obvious nuclear war scenario, you should be worried about a kritik of nuclear war impacts in the MGC. In this case you will have to weigh how well you feel your MOC could answer such a kritik, versus the strategic advantage of having a nuclear war impact. Strategies like this are very risky for the government team and, if you can see the trick ahead of time, you can take a commanding lead. When possible, your LOC should include a procedural, especially topicality (provided your MOC is good at the theory debate and you have a judge that will listen). The reason that topicality is run so rarely is that teams are, for the most part, topical. When listening to the LOC you should consider if there is a reasonable T interpretation that the government team violates. If there is, you should usually make room for T and ideally have your partner shell it out while you flow the PMC. THE LOC AUDIBLE In some cases you will encounter PMC’s force you to radically adapt or even throw out your original LOC strategy. The act of throwing out all, or nearly all, of your pre-prepared strategy is referred to as an “LOC audible.” The decision to audible is usually prompted by atypical PMC’s, such as extremely small policy PMC’s, “impact turn” strategies such as de-development, or critical PMC’s that do not defend a topical plan. These strategies are

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designed to deny you links to the offense you planned on reading and therefore require more dramatic adaptation than simply adding a disadvantage or tweaking your link arguments. Teams often pick strategies that force an LOC audible because they believe the LOC will be unable to answer it effectively. The strength of many of these positions is not persuasiveness or depth, but an ability to surprise and fluster opponents. For this reason it is important to remain calm against atypical government strategies. Even if you need to take 30 seconds or a minute of prep time to be ready for the speech, the time trade-off is worth it to avoid a flustered LOC. If you can capably execute an LOC strategy that gives your MOC options, you will neutralize the advantage your opponents hoped to generate, and likely put your partner in a great position to win. In high-pressure situations it is best to have a system to default to, so that you can start reacting rather than frantically wondering how to proceed. The following is a checklist that you can use when considering an LOC audible, to determine your options in the round: 1. What can I keep from my original LOC strategy? When faced with an unconventional PMC, many debaters will assume that they have lost access to all of their offense. This is often not the case. You should go through the offense you prepared and consider how you might alter it to keep it relevant. Consider how the MGC would argue that your offense is not relevant and whether there is a good answer to that argument. For example, maybe the government read a strange “war with china good� advantage, but

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you correctly predicted the plan text. In that case you still have easy access to any disadvantage that is not “war with china bad”. You may need to explain in the LOC why your offense remains relevant, but doing so successfully allows you to keep structured, pre-flowed offense, and save the time of writing a new argument.7 2. Is there procedural ground and do I want it? Many times you were not anticipating a PMC because it is arguably untopical or operates in an unconventional framework. In audible situations your opponents are likely aware of the procedural ground they afforded you and are prepared to answer those arguments. Usually it is still to your advantage to read a procedural. If someone is blatantly untopical, no amount of MGC answers can really prevent you from going for T and the MGC is likely to over-prepare for the procedural debate and spend too long answering it— allowing you a clean collapse on another position. There are however, some instances in which you will be better served by skipping the procedural. If you are facing a kritik PMC from a team that likes to read kritiks of topicality (or framework), you probably should not give them a chance to leverage that offense. You should also usually avoid reading procedurals against PMCs that kritik debate or address identity politics. These PMC’s are built from the ground up to beat your procedural and the vast majority of judges are not willing to vote for framework against these positions.

7

Time efficiency is a major factor when executing an LOC audible. You have only the PMC to generate an entirely LOC strategy while flowing the PMC. You cannot do this successfully without working with your partner. Ideally you can ask them to shell an argument you both know while you either flow case, or write a different shell. If that won’t work at least have them flow case while you come up with your strategy. Confirm with your partner that they’re comfortable with the strategy you audible to as well, they’ll be the one extending it in the block.

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3. Why is the plan a bad idea? Reading intuitive offense is one of the most effective ways to beat an atypical PMC. Often the government team has caught you offguard precisely because their arguments are counter-intuitive. Collapsing the economy is a very bad idea, but for some reason debaters have trouble simply saying that in a round. Take a moment to brainstorm the potential problems with the government plan and structure a few turns. The MGC is likely less prepared for this debate than a generic K, or a procedural, and you are probably on the side of truth. For the most common unconventional PMC strategies (de-dev, rights-Malthus, etc.), you should have this offense memorized. 4. What is my counterplan? Advantage counterplans are successful here because the advantages you are answering are usually non-intrinsic. By reading an advantage counterplan you can kill the PMC’s offense, retain a topic disadvantage you prepped, and shift the debate away from the area the PMC selected. As always be sure your disadvantage is not compromised by the PMC. Non-advantage counterplans are fine too, just look for ways to argue that you solve for the impacts of the PMC. 5. Can I use generics? As detailed in the section on practice and preparation, you should have memorized several generic positions for these circumstances. Run through the positions that you have memorized and decide which, if any, apply. Ideally you will know in advance which generics you like to read against different atypical PMCs.

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6. How can I deal with the government teams impact inevitability? Government plans that force you to audible will often try to establish control over the “root cause” portion of the impact or impact inevitability.8 You should be carefully listening for these arguments and flag them on your flow to be sure that you respond. You can do that by reading a kritik that contests root cause, by trying to solve the PMC impacts with a counterplan, or by directly answering these arguments on case. In any case you need some answer to these claims to prevent the government team from leveraging “try-or-die” framing in the PMR. ANSWERING CASE Answering case is a critical part of a successful LOC. Effective case arguments allow the opposition more strategic flexibility by preserving the status quo as a viable option, create an effective time trade off, and limit the offense of the government team. MGC’s also tend to have a difficult time with case answers, as they spend prep time thinking about potential off-case positions and usually know comparatively little about the PMC or its weaknesses until the round begins. Case answers are also more likely to require line-byline responses, whereas MGC’s can more easily dump answers on each part of the disadvantage and let the PMR sort through the comparisons. While this section goes into detail the ways in which you can improve your case arguments, the most important takeaway should be simply to make case arguments a bigger part of your 8

E.g. rights-Malthus is entirely set up to argue that both oppression and extinction are inevitable in the status quo. Kritiks of debate are also usually going to claim that there is no education or fairness in the status quo, to kill uniqueness for any impact your procedural might have.

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LOC strategy. Despite the strategic utility of case arguments they are a frequently neglected element of LOC strategy, usually to the detriment of the opposition team. The first step to answering case well is to have a specific plan for your case arguments. Simply making the first arguments that occur to you during the PMC will not maximize the damage you can do to the government team or give you a set of answers that work well with the rest of your strategy. In order to ensure you include the correct arguments you need to know how long you want to spend on case and which arguments you will go for before your LOC begins. The arguments you select should be based on the weaknesses of the PMC, compatible with your off-case positions, and possible to execute given how long you will spend on off-case. For example, against a global warming advantage you could decide to rely mainly on “link thumpers”, and arguments that say, “it is too late to solve global warming.” This combination of arguments simultaneously paints the government team as having to massively reverse the current trend of global emissions, and as being not as dramatic a policy as the steps that have already failed. Your plan for case arguments should be consistent with the rest of your offense (e.g., be careful of reading defense to your own impacts). In most circumstances it is important that your case answers defend the status quo. Many debaters have a tendency to make a series of defensive arguments that mitigate the solvency of the government’s plan, but do not contest impact uniqueness. This approach is vulnerable to “try-or-die” framing in the PMR. In order to protect yourself from this framing, you need to put forward the case for the status quo not resulting in extinction.

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A weakness of many LOC’s is a tendency to read counter-warrants to the PMC taglines, but fail to capitalize on the specific weaknesses of the PMC. To be able to seize on flaws in the PMC you will need to actively listen to the construction of the advantages during the PMC, instead of just pre-flowing generic answers. You should be listening for “tough sell arguments”— the claims in a PMC that are simply are hard to believe (e.g. The US economy is collapsing in the status quo). Most PMCs will have at least a few of these, and putting pressure on the MGC to justify those claims can make extending the PMC difficult. During the PMC an LOC must also pay attention to the internal consistency of PMC arguments (i.e. how neatly the claims in each part of an advantage fit together), and test that consistency in the LOC. As you listen to the PMC ask questions like: Did the uniqueness arguments prove that the impacts are inevitable? Is there an indication of link uniqueness? Does the link resolve the harms listed in the uniqueness section? Interrogating the structure of a PMC in this way can allow you to make the government’s arguments work for you or force the MGC to spend valuable speech time trying to fix the arguments made by the PMC—which does a lot more damage than a simple counterwarrant for a uniqueness claim. DELIVERING THE SPEECH Despite the nuances of the LOC noted in this chapter, the speech still involves a large amount of reading off of your flows, and it is important that you can do so quickly and clearly. The most important parts of successfully delivering an LOC are practicing your speed and clarity, and timing out your LOC as detailed earlier in this chapter. Still, there are a few other concerns worth noting.

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Giving your LOC in the correct order can help with efficient delivery. Any arguments that you will be cross applying should be read earlier in your speech. This allows you to establish your warrants and note that the judge should cross-apply them elsewhere, which is much cleaner than saying that you plan to crossapply something that has not been read yet. For the same reason, you should also read disadvantages before a counterplan, so that the judge has the proper context when you argue that your disadvantages do not link to the counterplan. Avoid reading any advocacies in the last minute of your speech; it denies the government side an opportunity to ask questions and exposes you to a procedural from the MGC. While it is fine to put case on bottom, that is not an excuse for being light on case arguments. Decide how much time you need to make for case and stick to it, even if that means trimming down an off-case position. As a tiebreaker you should always read arguments that you are most familiar with first (e.g. the disadvantage that you prepped instead of your partner) so that you to start the speech strong and slide into a rhythm. Whatever order you choose for the LOC, just settle on one and give it quickly. Fumbling around for twenty seconds will not make your speech better; it will just annoy the judge and hurt you perceptually. Efficient LOC delivery requires capably handling points of information (POIs). In dealing with POI’s it is important to answer quickly and confidently. You cannot afford to appear rattled by the question, or to let it or take away from your speech time. When debaters make mistakes with POI’s it is almost always by pausing too long to think of a perfect answer or by allowing an opponent to ask multiple follow up questions. When in doubt give a cursory

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answer and move on. If you tend to have trouble taking POI’s, you should limit the number of questions that you take. Decide that you will only take one question before the round, tell the other team that they will only get one question when they ask POI, and ignore any other questions. This approach may frustrate some of your opponents, but it is a fairly common practice and there is no real strategic downside. Like any skill, handling POI’s should be practiced— do at least a couple practice rounds where someone questions you aggressively, even obnoxiously, during your speech. As mentioned elsewhere in the chapter, keeping careful track of your time is a crucial part of LOC delivery. Checking your timer after each section of a disadvantage is good practice and allows you to quickly recognize when you are falling behind. Many debaters will recognize that they are falling behind, but do nothing to catch up other than try to read faster. Obviously, most debaters are already reading about as fast as they can and this approach rarely improves a debater’s time allocation. Instead LO’s should have an idea of which arguments can be cut, and where explanations can be shortened. Your partner should be active in keeping your time, and the two of you should develop a verbal or non-verbal signal for when you are running long. Only by being disciplined about keeping your time during the LOC can you ensure that the LOC strategy you worked so hard to craft actually makes it into the round.

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Collapse: A Guide to the Member of Opposition Speech Strategy and Argument Selection Adam Testerman Lewis and Clark College INTRODUCTION The unique aspects of parliamentary debate make the Member of Opposition Constructive (MOC) speech one of the more interesting and challenging tasks in the event. As with every speech, the unique characteristics of each speaker will alter the stylistic and strategic decisions available in the MOC. Understanding how the MOC can simultaneously develop and collapse arguments will hopefully allow each debater the ability to make the speech her/his own. It is my goal to share how you can systematically approach the MOC to maximize your opportunities to make winning decisions. The MOC incentivizes strategic thinking and therefore benefits debaters who have a working knowledge of a wide variety of available argumentative strategies. I will attempt to provide insight on presentation/style and argument development for the MOC. I will then analyze how those tools can be utilized on particular argumentative strategies: procedurals, disadvantages/counterplans, and critical arguments. Ultimately, this writing is only one template that worked for me— the only way to fully maximize the potential of the MOC is to find your own voice and make the speech work for you.

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PRESENTATION/STYLE Parliamentary debate has rapidly developed many of the technical aspects of policy debate, however presentation and style remain integral to competitive success. Self-confidence, or at least the perception of it, gives the MOC needed momentum. The MOC decides which LOC positions that the opposition team will ultimately defend at the conclusion of the debate. The MOC makes decisions to emphasize certain arguments over others and exposes ineptitude in the MGC; thus, the MOC should be delivered with a sense of intentionality. Avoid the deployment of self-doubting language. It is extremely tempting to say things like “Even if we aren’t winning X argument…” or “this argument is stupid, but it is conceded”. Those phrases are a waste of energy and rarely accomplish the intended goal of deflecting government momentum. It is always more strategic to emphasize the positive reasons particular arguments have been selected. Confidence also relates to how particular arguments are presented in the MOC. Debate is ultimately a game of storytelling, particularly for this speech. The MOC should be telling the story of the debate round— from start to finish. This means being overtly honest about why particular strategic decisions are being made and how those decisions mean the round should be evaluated in favor of the opposition team. To be more specific, I recommend that MOC’s intentionally decrease their rate of delivery periodically throughout to deploy overviews that crystallize the thought-process of the MOC. It makes a great amount of persuasive sense to choose particular moments where you actually look up at your audience/judges and tell them slowly and persuasively why the

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debate round is beyond recovery for the Prime Minister Rebuttal (PMR). In my experience, judges tend to preference debaters who command their arguments by being able to explain them effectively. Understanding debate arguments as “stories to be told” should help one understand the way to present the MOC. Good storytellers present deep wisdom about their subjects, are interesting to listen to and are interested in the things they are saying. Great debaters are great storytellers. When and how to deploy round overviews is often a contentious subject among judges, coaches and competitors— ultimately depending on individual preference. In my opinion, round overviews tend to lack strategic use of time. Positions overviews, however, can be effective at demonstrating strategic thinking. An overview of the round will typically identify the three reasons why the opposition has won the round and should include exact language that the judge would write on the “general RFD” section of their ballot. An overview of a position is a one or two sentence statement explaining the circumstances that make that particular piece of paper problematic for the other team. The forthcoming LOR has to be considered by the MOC, and I have found that much of the analysis found in round overviews can be more effectively developed in the LOR. Position overviews tie the MOC to the specifics of the flow at hand, which conceivably allows the LOR room for more universal coverage. The dynamics of this situation will depend on the team, but it is useful to understand how overviews can aid in presentation and also aid in separating duties for the MOC and LOR.

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THE COLLAPSE The most important strategic choice to be made in the MOC is how to develop “the collapse”. A collapse occurs when the MOC selects certain arguments from the LOC for full-development and chooses to de-emphasize or completely eliminate consideration of others. It is strategic for the MOC to have multiple combinations of offensive choices to select from the LOC. This can mean reading procedural arguments along with disadvantages, case arguments, a counterplan, and/or a critical position. In some instances, the opposition team will encounter opponents who are better prepared to answer an argument than the opposition is at deploying it. There will be times when a government team is able to speak much more quickly than the opposition, making a one-to-one argument tradeoff a no-win option for the opposition— just one of the strategic reasons that demonstrates, in a vast majority of instances, you should have the ability to shift the debate into more focused territory in the MOC. The collapse is most effective when the MOC’s decision making is based on the choices of the MGC. It is tempting for debaters who closely identify with a particular style of argument to force the issue and frequently make the debate about one or two specific topics. The problem with this strategy is that other teams will catch-on to habits and start front-loading additional answers to them in their cases and give increased attention to these items in the MGC. Collapsing strategies not only prevents the MGC from sandbagging, it also creates time-tradeoffs. When executed properly, the collapse allows the MOC to nullify several minutes of MGC speech time in a few seconds. Time saved on one position allows more arguments to be generated elsewhere in the debate, increasing the difficulty of

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delivering the PMR. Collapsing strategies should be dictated by choices made in the MGC, meaning that there is rarely a defined, universal method of execution. Collapsing strategies can be accomplished by moving vertically and horizontally across the flow. Moving vertically across a flow means that particular LOC strategies are eliminated from the debate. After a vertical collapse, there are typically less “pieces of paper” left “in the debate” and one path to the ballot has been completely developed. A horizontal collapse occurs on one piece of paper/ argumentative strategy. A MOC may attempt to execute a procedural strategy where one standard (i.e. education) from the LOC is given supreme emphasis while a different LOC standard (i.e. ground,) is de-emphasized; such an example would represent a horizontal collapse on that piece of paper. The MOC does not always have to be a fast speech, but it should certainly aim to answer each MGC argument on a piece of relevant paper with one or more responses. Vertical and horizontal collapses allow the MOC to completely commit to one path to winning the debate. Understanding how and when to execute collapses is a vital component of an effective MOC. PROCEDURAL ARGUMENTS Procedural arguments offer the MOC unique strategic flexibility and should be a well-practiced strategy of every MOC. Procedural arguments object to the process of the other team’s strategy as opposed to its supposed implementation or ethical positioning. In spite of the large number of procedural arguments (specification arguments, topicality arguments, etc.), there are many similarities between the positions. The thought-process the MOC goes through

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to decide whether a procedural is a viable strategy holds constant for almost all procedurals. To go for a procedural, debaters must first make sure they have a judge who will allow it. Procedurals tend to be an area where judges have wide-ranging and clashing viewpoints about when they are appropriate and what purpose they can serve. Though it is true of all arguments, with procedurals in particular, reading a judge’s philosophy and watching her/his facial reactions when a position is read, are very important elements to choosing your collapse strategy. Procedurals are ultimately games of interpretations. The MOC knows that a procedural is a viable strategy when the MGC fails to make a viable “we meet” and/or does not have a “counter interpretation” that is preferable to the original interpretation. The MGC is under incredible time pressure and that pressure can make it difficult to generate an effective counter-interpretation and counter-standard strategy. MGC’s will often deploy quality counterstandard arguments without connecting those arguments to a counter-interpretation. The MOC should always question the interpretation vs. the counter-interpretation. This thought-process will often reveal that the original LOC interpretation can solve much of the counter-standards made by the MGC or that the MGC’s counter-interpretation does not solve for the counterstandards. Access to the interpretation that solves the most, or most important, offense tells the MOC if the procedural strategy is viable. It is also important for the MOC to understand the nuances of the LOC procedural shell in order to properly execute a horizontal collapse on the position. Often times an interpretation will be tied to

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one central argument supported in the standards. If the topicality violation argues the need for Supreme Court action in the topic, arguments concerning “Supreme Court education good” are likely an important part of the standards debate. A competent MGC might provide a substantial defense of a counter-interpretation, but still fail to address the crux of the original shell about Supreme Court education being good. A smart MOC knows which arguments in the original shell were important and can leverage those against the MGC’s omission. The “a priori” nature of procedural debate can be exploited to create strategic advantages in the MOC. Procedural debates are said to be “a priori” because they question the plan on a prior level to other positions. If procedurals were not evaluated before the fiated implementation of the plan, then they would never be evaluated at all in a net-benefits framework. The plan will solve some huge impact or help a group of people who really need it; that cannot be weighed directly against an objection to plan wording because those issues are more important. Allowing a procedural to operate “a priori” allows judges to evaluate issues of conduct as a gateway to determining if the rest of the debate was fair. Collapsing to a procedural argument can be a strategic method of short-circuiting government offense, particularly if the MGC is attempting to leverage a lot of offense against a criticism by extending their PMC. Debaters should not attempt to go for another strategy in addition to a procedural. Doing so undermines the credibility of the procedural position and the “a priori” nature of procedurals as a strategic tool. Utilizing the unique structure and strategic positioning of procedural arguments will help develop the MOC into a complete speech.

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DISADVANTAGE AND COUNTERPLAN ARGUMENTS Strategies engaging the government team on a policy level allow the MOC opportunities for unique strategic positioning. Debates concerning implementation and framework can become easily convoluted. For this reason, many judges prefer that the opposition team engage the government team on the terms established by the PMC/resolution. Disadvantages are at the heart of a policymaking framework since they question the consequences of a particular course of action. Counterplans and disadvantages allow the opposition to make strategic concessions while still leveraging a significant amount of offense. Objecting to the entirety of the government action lies at the heart of many critical arguments. Disadvantages and counterplans limit the government offense to their case and direct responses to off-case arguments. Arguments on the disadvantage and counterplan will already be on the terms dictated by the LOC shell and those should, theoretically, already answer selected portions of the case. The amount of available PMC/MGC strategies that answer disadvantages and counterplans are much more limited than with other opposition arguments and is also limited by the specific scope of the LOC strategy. Identifying when a disadvantage has become a viable argument for the MOC is accomplished by understanding the obligations of the MGC. There are a wide variety of disadvantages that will dictate MGC answers, all in unique ways. The first step to mastering the disadvantage debate is to understand how to argue a position on its own terms. A good example is the proper deployment of a Business Confidence Disadvantage. A Business Confidence Disadvantage argues that the government plan will cause businesses, in some

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form, to withdraw their support from the US economy, which will trigger negative economic impacts. It is tempting for MGCs to answer this position in the same way they might approach a “Spending Bad” disadvantage — which is to say that “the plan actually helps the economy for X reasons and therefore turns the position.” A skilled MOC will understand that arguments about how “the government plan helps the economy” are not directly responsive to the position. It is possible to spend money on highway construction, for example, and see positive economic benefits because traffic times are decreased but also cause businesses to lose confidence in the economy because of the perception of reckless spending. The unique nature of the Business Confidence Disadvantage can be used to undermine a large number of MGC responses and that holds true for almost any disadvantage. MOCs should attempt to understand how the LOC is constructing positions to undermine MGC offense. As outlined in the above scenario, MGC responses to LOC shells often fail to answer the specificity of LOC arguments. Disadvantages are always potentially viable when MGC’s fail to meet minimum argument thresholds to properly constructed LOC positions— that is, the MGC must typically make a certain number or a certain type of arguments for it to become untenable for the MOC to defend that particular position. This idea is obviously tied to an understanding of how to properly construct LOC positions. There are several arguments that every MOC ought demand that they find a way into the LOC: a disadvantage should always attempt to both (1) turn and (2) outweigh the government case and these arguments should be made explicit in the LOC. A MOC that is able to generate even a tenuous link to a disadvantage can win the

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round if the disadvantage clearly turns and outweighs the case. The MGC will only be able to generate offense stemming from the action in the plan text. If the opposition can win that access to the disadvantage will alter the solvency of the government case, the opposition has also implicated the entirety of the MGC strategy on the disadvantage, since the MGC strategy assumes proper implementation of the PMC plan text. Diversity in uniqueness and link sections of disadvantages provide the MOC flexibility. Uniqueness arguments can be predictive, assumptive, and descriptive; MOCs should be able to identify and explain the differences. A descriptive uniqueness argument provides a snapshot of how “things look now”. Citing an economic report of current GDP is a descriptive argument because it identifies a current “truth”. A predictive uniqueness argument identifies future variables and factors their potential outcome in its conclusion. Arguing that even if the economy is doing poorly now and the unemployment rate is high, one could make a predictive uniqueness that says new hiring is picking up now which will swing the other factors in the near future. Assumptive uniqueness arguments are ones that directly identify and clash with potential government link strategies. One could argue that the plan is good because it decreases unemployment but make a uniqueness argument that argues the economy is doing well in spite of a poor unemployment rate; the uniqueness can make potential offense generated by the government irrelevant. Each kind of uniqueness argument has the potential for usefulness beyond its original deployment. The same basic structure of uniqueness arguments can be executed in the link section of a disadvantage as well. MOC’s demonstrate command of

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these strategies by unraveling LOC positions in ways that undermine MGC offense. Counterplans are cornerstones of opposition strategy, but also create unique obligations for the MOC. To effectively execute a collapse with a counterplan, the MOC should look to nullify offense from the government case. Nullifying case offense is accomplished by solving the same internal links that the government team advances in the PMC advantages. Arguments about how “the counterplan solves the case” should be explicit in the LOC counterplan shell and should be extended as clearly as possible. The MOC should identify exactly how the counterplan operates and capitalize on any reason why it potentially solves better than the PMC’s plan. Highlighting counterplan solvency in the MOC can potentially nullify government offense on another position. Many MGCs will make the mistake of answering disadvantages without consideration of how the counterplan will interact with their arguments. The MOC can often argue that the counterplan has access to the same link turns as the plan, because it solves for the same internal links. For example, if the government plan gives money to alternative energy companies and claims an economy advantage, the LOC may read a Business Confidence Disadvantage and a counterplan that gives tax breaks to alternative energy companies. The MGC might answer Business Confidence by saying “there will be growth in alternative energy sector.” The MOC can then extend that the “counterplan solves case” arguments that argue tax breaks allow alternative energy sector expansion, and then extend link argument on the Business Confidence Disadvantage that argue the perception of new spending is bad and separate from giving out tax breaks. This example shows that it is possible for the

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MOC to both solve the case and avoid a link to a disadvantage. Horizontal collapse opportunities can be generated in similar fashion with many different kinds of counterplans. The lesson is simple— be strategic in constructing the LOC and selectively choose which arguments to highlight in the MOC. MOC’s should use the counterplan to gain access to the net benefits framework. In a net benefits framework the judge votes for the policy option that creates the most amount of good. This understanding allows the MOC to make strategic concessions and still capture the ballot. It is possible that the MGC will have several strong reasons why a counterplan is ineffective at solving for a particular advantage. The MOC has the opportunity to concede those types of arguments and privilege a different impact scenario. For example, the counterplan might not clearly solve one of the two PMC advantages. In this scenario, the MOC could spend time making defensive arguments on one advantage and argue that the disadvantage has bigger impacts. The counterplan could still solve the other advantage contained in the PMC and avoid the link to the disadvantage, resulting in a ballot for the opposition in a net benefits framework. The MOC should constantly look for these types of opportunities to collapse, especially with a counterplan that changes how the PMC can be leveraged as offense. Be thoughtful of how the counterplan interacts with all other arguments and remember to execute a collapse that allow a clear story concerning all the other arguments remaining in the round. CRITICAL ARGUMENTS Critical arguments offer the opposition chances to shift the focus of offense into strategically beneficial ground. Most of what the MOC

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does with a criticism is contingent on the nature of the particular argument being read. Critiques can approach questions of framework and argument interaction in different ways, which can change the types of arguments MOC’s need to make. The key to developing a successful MOC critical strategy is to understand the LOC shell as much as possible and use it strategically. LOC critique shells tend to pack a lot of strategy into a very small “space”, requiring the MOC to execute horizontal collapses throughout the position. MOC’s equipped with strategic vision can develop critical strategies into their own unique approach, which increase chances for competitive success. MOC’s should utilize a critical framework to both prioritize weighing mechanisms and clarify thesis-level understandings of the position. Framework arguments should highlight the position’s interaction with other offense in the round. Framework should explain why a particular way of understanding impacts is problematic and thus establishes the critique impacts as the focal point for offense. Frameworks should not exclude arguments; instead, they should seek to explain why certain offense is more important or relevant than other parts of the debate. If the MOC is successful in this effort, the entire position should be easy to understand. The framework introduces the critique at a thesis-level, which means the central argument in the position should be easily understood. It is often tempting for MOC’s to use framework as a panacea— as if winning framework alone is enough to justify a ballot. This temptation should be avoided because it misidentifies the purpose of framework debate and ultimately takes a lazy approach to argument interaction. MOC’s should use framework to highlight how their offense should be evaluated in the context of the

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topic that the position is attempting to critique before shifting to the offense contained in the rest of the position. The links and impacts of a critique should develop a central and focused argument in the MOC. Centering the links and impacts means eliminating arguments that are superfluous to the main argument in the LOC shell. It is the time to unwrap the arguments that are most important for the opposition to control to win the round. The process usually involves focusing on one or two arguments from the LOC and explaining how those arguments control the internal link to other things happening in the round. The ability to horizontally collapse in these sections of the criticism should allow the MOC to discount many MGC arguments as irrelevant. The internal collapse allows the opposition to frame particular arguments as being of primary importance to the round. The collapse will obviously look a lot different from position-toposition— for example, some critiques will want to leverage arguments that function as case turns while other critiques may prioritize systemic impacts. The MOC should attempt to make this collapse seem obvious and inevitable, because it should interact with the “thesis-level” of the critique. If the judge understands the central argument of the critique, the function of the offense should also be apparent. MOC’s should approach critique alternatives in similar ways to counterplan debate. A critique alternative should solve the links/impacts that are being leveraged against the government team. The links and impacts of a criticism are usually descriptive of a larger status quo rather than narrowly focusing on the government plan. Critiques often discuss systemic problems with systems of

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power and use those explanations to argue that the PMC project is problematic. Successful government debaters will attempt to position the links/impacts as inevitable and not unique to the PMC itself. These arguments allow the government to position their case as offense against the criticism, because the PMC action does not uniquely trigger the impacts of the criticism, but can uniquely solve the impacts of the advantages. Similarly, the alternative should serve to provide uniqueness for the links/impacts of the criticism by attempting to solve the mindset that produces them. After that, the alternative should work the same as a counterplan. It should seek to identify the most important issues in the round and provide a way to solve for those issues. MOC’s need to consider the ways the alternative is mutually exclusive with the PMC action in order to guard against permutations. Permutations almost always claim the case as a net benefit. MOC’s need to show how the PMC action derails the solvency of the alternative or re-entrench problems described in the links/impacts. The MOC needs to have a central story that intuitively connects all parts of the criticism in a way that makes the plan unconscionable. CONCLUSION The MOC speech provides individuals with strategic flexibility and decision-making. MOC’s ultimately decide which story to tell about why the government team should not win the debate round. Telling that story allows you to showcase your unique skill set and approach to the debate. There is no single, proper way to give an MOC as long as decisions made in the round are intentional and grounded in an understanding of strategy. Remember, the MOC is a constructive speech— which means new arguments are allowed. MOC’s need to be careful because new arguments have the

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potential to be turned in the PMR, without the opportunity for further clarification from the opposition. This usually means that new defense in the MOC can be very strategic, because the government team cannot impact turn those types of arguments. The government team can spend time justifying arguments they already were making, but they typically cannot use “you don’t solve” arguments against the opposition in any significant way. The LOC sometimes forgets to answer a key argument contained in the PMC or does not spend enough time answering the substance of the PMC. The arguments the MGC “blows up” need to be dealt with head-on in the MOC. The opposition does not win by tricking a bull with the cape, but by meeting it at the horns. The MOC needs to support the LOC by unwrapping nuance and focusing on strategically important aspects of the LOC. The MOC should not depart far from the LOC shell. It should focus the LOC shell and highlight the ways the MGC erred in answering the LOC. The shell establishes the terms on which the opposition will be engaging the government. Using the shell in the MOC prevents the MGC from dictating the offense and establishes consistency and fluidity between both opposition speakers. The potential for the MOC is only limited to the strategic scope of the debater giving the speech. It is a speech of opportunity, which can overwhelm or empower. Great stories are intuitive (at some level) and show command of their subject. The path to opposition victory is open when the MOC tells a great story.

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The LOR: Waste or Weapon? Lauren Knoth Washburn University INTRODUCTION The Leader of the Opposition Rebuttal (LOR) is too often considered a wasted speech— an unnecessary 4 minutes in the debate round, a repeat of the Member of the Opposition Constructive (MOC) arguments, or prep time for the Prime Minister Rebuttal (PMR). The goal of this chapter is to introduce approaches and techniques that will help rid the community of these stereotypes and allow debaters to make use of a strategic opposition advantage. Better understanding of the arguments that can and should be made in the opposition rebuttal clarifies that this speech is not a waste, but is an often-underutilized weapon for the opposition team. This chapter is divided into four sections. First, I provide a brief overview of what the LOR is and what the current parliamentary rules and norms are for the speech. Next, I cover the structure of the LOR with a breakdown of the key components of the speech. Third, I will covers specific arguments that should be included in each LOR and different strategies of argumentation. Finally, I will give specific focus to LOR’s that heavily involve theory debates. THE LOR—RULES AND NORMS The leader of the opposition rebuttal lasts 4 minutes and makes up the latter portion of the “opposition block.” When done correctly, the PMR faces a 7-minute deficit in which they must frame the debate and respond to new MOC offense. These two responsibilities

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(offense and framing) are split among the opposition team between two speeches totaling twelve minutes. Immediately following the MOC, the LOR is the final opposition speech, and must abide by limitations set forth for all rebuttal speeches. According the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence tournament rules, “Rebuttal speeches shall be used for the crystallization and weighing of previously established lines of argument. New arguments may not be presented in rebuttal speeches except in the case of a Prime Minister responding to an argument originally made by the Member of Opposition.” Addressing the issue more specifically, the National Parliamentary Debate Association “Rules of Debate” states, “Introduction of new arguments is appropriate during all constructive speeches. However, debaters may not introduce new arguments in rebuttal speeches except that the proposition rebuttalist may introduce new arguments in his or her rebuttal to refute arguments that were first raised in the Second Opposition Constructive [MOC]. New examples, analysis, analogies, etc. that support previously introduced arguments are permitted in rebuttal speeches.” These rules are taken literally far too often, making debaters feel as though they are unable to say anything that was not said in the LOC or MOC. This limitation has undermined the utility of the LOR and often serves as a psychological block for debaters giving the speech. In addition, this limitation has led to widespread criticism that this speech has limited utility and is little more than 4minutes of preparation time for the PMR. While different judges have differing opinions on this subject, it is widely accepted that new connections can be made between arguments; additional examples and new specificity in impact calculus are permitted. The

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introduction of brand new impact framing goes too far, but making connections between impacts and their order (timeframe), magnitude, and probability are generally acceptable. For example, explaining how a solvency argument interacts with the probability of being able to solve for an impact is not new, but rather an explanation of interactions of previously made arguments and what they mean for the judge’s evaluation of the debate. For debaters familiar with policy debate, the transition from the first negative or second negative rebuttals to the LOR may be difficult. The opposition team does not “split the block” in the same sense. The job of the LOR is to explain what arguments mean in the greater context of the debate, connecting together the implications of different positions and explaining not only the sequence of events, but also any alternative and why your positions are preferable. Comparison, prioritization, and preemption are the most important roles of this speech. Each of these roles will be addressed in later sections of this chapter. Finally, it is important to note that neither association’s rules indicate that judges may only consider arguments explicitly extended in the LOR. I have often heard LOR’s express their feeling that they must extend every argument that the MOC makes, else it will not be considered by the judge. This is certainly not the case, and has contributed to the belief that the LOR is simply a waste of time. The rest of this chapter seeks to explain a better use of this speech and how it can do significantly more than parrot the words of the MOC. While extensions are obviously an important part of this speech, it is more critical to make strategic extensions and explanations than spend four minutes trying to functionally re-give an eight-minute speech.

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One cannot stress enough the importance of establishing a trusting, cooperative relationship with your MOC. Prior to the beginning of the MOC speech, you should know what arguments you (as a team) will collapse to in the block. Without dedicated preparation time in parliamentary debate, the LOR has an advantage in the debate because it is provided with, functionally, 8 minutes of imbedded preparation time. While you should not ignore the arguments made by your partner, you will learn to develop a balance between listening to the arguments and extensions being made in the MOC and preparing for your own speech. It was not uncommon for me to fold a blank sheet of paper in half with the letters ‘T,’ ‘P,’ and ‘M’ (standing for timeframe, probability, and magnitude) on the left hand side before the MOC even began. While I had the correct flow to follow my partners’ speech, I was constantly writing my overview, specific arguments for each level of timeframe, and organizing my speech on this separate sheet of paper. Having these papers juxtaposed made it easy to follow along while preparing for my speech. Often times, I would not flow new MOC impact arguments on the position themselves, but rather would write down the most important ones on the overview sheet where they belonged (timeframe, probability, or magnitude, respectively). How you handle this bifurcation is something that you will have to develop individually depending on your comfort level. The bottom line is that you must not ignore your partner’s speech, (it is still your job to make sure they answer all critical arguments) but you must also take advantage of this time and allow yourself to prepare for the rebuttal and view how the various positions of the debate all fit together. Unlike every other speech in parliamentary debate, the LOR has the ability to take a few

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moments to truly conceptualize how the different arguments come together in the debate. This provides another unique advantage for this particular speech. In addition, since the LOR provides the shells of the positions in the debate as the LOC, you are most prepared to understand how the opposition arguments fit together and are most familiar with what arguments are critical in the debate, specifically for the opposition strategy. As such, you should arguably have the best round vision of any debater in the round. Developing synergy within the block is not solely the responsibility of the LOC. MOC’s should know that their partner will sufficiently frame the debate and provide impact comparison. Abdicating this role to the LOR will not only help change perceptions about the usefulness of the rebuttal (by minimizing “repetition” between the block speeches), but can also free up time for the MOC to make additional warrants and responses to the MGC arguments. Thus, MOC’s should be confident in the ability of the LOR to sufficiently cover impact calculus and weighing of issues and should focus more on developing additional responses to further hedge against the PMR’s issue selection. STRUCTURE Individual round circumstances often dictate the content of the LOR. However, there are some general stylistic approaches that should remain consistent from each round to the next. The general structure of the speech is one of these consistencies. How you structure the LOR is largely based on your personal preferences. Empirically, successful LOR’s have followed differing structures. Some prefer to have the entire 4-minute speech flowed on a separate sheet of paper and provide impact calculus and voting issues

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without going to the line by line, functionally giving a 4-minute overview of the debate. Others locate each argument in the debate separately making extensions and impact calculus for each respective position. My preference and the focus of this chapter attempts to strike a balance between a separate overview isolating critical portions of the debate and specific extensions made within each argument itself. THE OVERVIEW The overview of the LOR should summarize the reason for decision (RFD) articulated by the judge at the end of the round. Decisions are not often made on a single position, let alone a single warrant. It is more likely that an RFD is a combination of arguments and how they function together that allows a judge to conclude one way or another. The LOR has the advantage of being able to focus on ‘connecting the dots’ of the debate, minimizing the work of the judge and subsequently resulting in a preferable decision. Even though the LOR is only a 4-minute speech, debaters should not be afraid to commit half of the speech (roughly 2-minutes) to impact calculus and framing in an overview. It is not the responsibility of the LOR to directly respond to each individual argument in a line-by-line fashion; rather, this speech should be dedicated to tying together the individual arguments made by the LOC and MOC, considering the responses of the MGC. Impact calculus provides a way for the LOR to extend critical arguments in the debate as well as frame the debate in order to preempt and overcome the expected PMR arguments.

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Impact prioritization is critical. Each offensive position should be included in each level of impact calculus. There are various ways in which this can be accomplished and there are too many different circumstances to address them all in this chapter. For a better explanation, I will provide an example overview. In this example, the government has read a case with 2 advantages, one leading to a U.S. nuclear war with China and extinction and the other with a Chinese trade war collapsing the United States economy. The opposition team collapses to a United States Economy Disadvantage indicating that the plan undermines US competitiveness, a Human Rights Disadvantage, and case arguments. This example attempts to highlight the strategic advantages of comparison, prioritization, and preemption and how they can be specifically applied to impact calculus in the LOR. Keep in mind that specific extensions of key arguments are helpful in impact calculus, but for the sake of this example, these have been truncated. The LOR overview in this situation may include the following: Magnitude: “Both teams have access to internal links on collapsing the United States economy. Magnitude calculation comes down to the risk of a nuclear war with China and the dehumanization accessed through the human rights disadvantage. Extend the arguments on Advantage 1 (you may want more specific extensions of your arguments here) that indicate China would never launch a nuclear weapon against the United States. At best, they may access a small conventional war. Our second disadvantage indicates that dehumanization is a prior question to war because it is the methodology that informs war, meaning that their impacts are

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inevitable in a world of the disadvantage. We win this disadvantage meaning that even if they win a risk of their advantage, we still win the round.” Time frame: “Their advantages propose a possible war with China over territory that has been fought over for decades. Our defense on case (arguments x, y, and z) makes it unlikely that the case would be able to solve in a quick enough timeframe to avoid the impacts. If their arguments on the advantages are true that a trade war and/or territorial war with China will happen tomorrow, there is no risk the implementation of the plan would happen quick enough to avoid these impacts. Additionally, our economic disadvantage would occur following an immediate perceptual shock to the markets following the passage of plan, meaning that the internal link of our economic disadvantage happens substantially faster than the trade war internal link. Additionally, dehumanization occurs immediately and thus you should prioritize the ability to solve for this quick impact over a potential war that may or may not happen months or even years from now.” Probability: “Both teams access economic collapse, although ours is much more probable given that the plan would immediately send new fear into the markets. Extend the arguments on solvency and advantage one (say specific arguments), which indicate that the probability of China and the United States going to war is .01%. The opposition team has external offense that is systemic and 100% probable with the human rights disadvantage. As noted previously, this

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disadvantage also makes their impacts inevitable, meaning the only way to solve any impacts in this round is with the opposition team and solving for the disadvantage.� As shown in this example, each position is tied together rather than explained separately. This is significantly more effective than giving multiple levels of impact calculus on each separate position. Being able to incorporate the positions into two coherent and comparative scenarios helps clean up the debate and makes the connections that a judge will inevitably have to make when deciding how to vote at the end of the round. This also provides greater depth in the calculus. Rather than just stating the timeframe of a single impact, these comparisons allow you to explicitly discuss why the timeframe does or does not matter. The LOR should always address all three levels of impact calculus. Even if your impacts admittedly occur on a longer timeframe than the government team’s impacts, you should preemptively hedge against arguments included in the PMR. It is often helpful to think about which area of impact calculus the opposition strategy is weakest and propose reasons why that is irrelevant in the face of other circumstances of the round. This framing alone may help outweigh the PMC even in the face of unanswered offense. Another consistent structure that should be integrated into your LOR repertoire involves the counterplan debate. Your overview in these types of debates should still involve all three levels of impact calculus as articulated above, but there are additional key arguments that typically apply. The overview should include (and often begin with) an explicit comparison of the world of the

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counterplan as opposed to the case. For example, “The counterplan solves 100% of the case, but does not do X which allows us to also solve for the net benefit Y.” This comparison clearly articulates to the judge the overall differences between the government and opposition plans. This should always include an articulation of what the counterplan does that is different from the government plan, how it solves all or some of the PMC, and the implications of the net benefits. SPECIFIC EXTENSIONS Critical extensions should be referenced in the overview. However, isolating each position in the debate establishes more localized focus for the judge. A good rule of thumb is to isolate the two or three most important arguments on each position and choose to focus on quick extensions highlighting their importance in the debate. Calling attention to the arguments where they appear in the debate, particularly where they were located in the LOC, will help the judge during their final evaluation of the round. These specific extensions should be significant offense that overwhelms the rest of the government’s arguments, or significant defense that minimizes possible government offense. If extensions are made in the overview and thoroughly discussed, it may be helpful to simply reference the overview on the respective position. A simple, “cross apply the overview here,” is often sufficient. Many justifications can be given for a plethora of different orders in the LOR. Putting the PMC first and the opposition offensive positions (i.e. counterplan and disadvantage) on bottom allow you to end the opposition block with focus on opposition positions. Putting the opposition offense on top and the PMC on bottom ensures that you spend enough time on the offense and that you spend less time on the case if you start to run

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out of time. This strategy also allows you to close by discussing why the government has no case offense to leverage in the debate. You could also do an LOR order that is the reverse of the MOC order. This helps to balance time allocation if it was not well distributed in the MOC. There is no “right� answer to the order of the LOR and it is often dictated by the circumstances of a particular round. It is important that the LOR not get sucked down the rabbit hole of re-explaining every argument in the debate. For example, the LOR does not need to extend every uniqueness argument on a disadvantage, but rather should focus on the one or two that preempt the key government uniqueness arguments. Additionally, the LOR should only focus on those uniqueness arguments needed for the link that the MOC chose to collapse to. Even if the government wins some of their uniqueness arguments, that fact should be irrelevant in the context of our specific link story. Specific extensions are also a prime opportunity to isolate where the PMR is most likely to collapse and preempt their concluding arguments. The MOC collapse helps eliminate some potential areas of discussion in the PMR, but with the development of more mature round vision, a good LOR can often isolate what arguments the PMR must go for in order to win the debate. Locating these areas and spending disproportionately more time hedging against their collapse is also a useful allocation of LOR speech time. You will eventually develop a certain balance in which you know how much time needs to be spent making proper extensions of arguments on each position. Time allocation should not be equitable, but rather strategically divided according to the needs of each round. Spending

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more time on potentially valuable PMR selections is one example of this strategic allocation. KEY ARGUMENTS Debate is often conceived of as a round filled with different puzzles (e.g. a disadvantage, counterplan, criticism, and case) without realizing that debate is truly one puzzle with several different pieces. The most critical job of the LOR is to recognize how these puzzle pieces fit together in order to frame the debate in a favorable way for the opposition. Three components make up this goal: comparison, prioritization, and preemption. Combined, these tactics can improve not only the ‘offensive’ nature of the LOR, but together provide for a round vision that paints clearly the picture constructed with the various pieces. In general there are two application aspects for any given argument: (1) the warrant of the argument and (2) what that argument means for the debate. The LOR should not focus on making new warrants, rather explaining what the arguments previously presented by the opposition mean for the outcome of the debate. For example, rather than making new solvency arguments, the LOR should explain how the plethora of solvency arguments already made undermine the probability that the government’s impacts would be solved for following passage of the government plan. Three ways to express the implications of a particular argument or group of arguments is by comparing them to the PMC and MGC warrants, explaining why yours is a prior question, and by explaining how your arguments preempt any offense of the government team. WARRANT COMPARISONS

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Explicit comparisons of warrants in the LOR are critical. Naturally, this is an inherent part of impact calculus, but should also be included as you make specific extensions of LOC or MOC arguments. Rather than simply extending an argument, you should discuss how the opposition positions interact with the PMC and MGC arguments. For example, it may be the case that your politics disadvantage uniqueness arguments presuppose the non-unique arguments presented by the government. Explaining these interactions and clearly isolating these differences is a critical step for isolating they key winning arguments for your judge. In the example previously provided in this chapter, significant focus was given to the differences in the internal links of the economy advantage and disadvantage. Explaining these unique differences (even though they do not occur on the same position) helps provide overall clarity for the judge. PRIORITIZATION Prioritization of arguments goes beyond winning the timeframe portion of the debate. The rebuttal should be focused on reasons why the judge should look to opposition arguments first when deciding their RFD and seek to minimize the significance or importance of government offense. Establishing an impact framework is a necessary tool for the government and opposition teams and should begin in the initial constructive speeches. ‘Prior question’ and/or ‘root cause’ arguments are also useful tools for this portion of the speech. In the example previously given in this chapter, the LOR stated that dehumanization impacts were a prior question because they inform the methodologies used to justify larger war impacts in the first place. Thus, even though the body count of dehumanization, on face, may appear smaller than the US-

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China war scenario, the war impacts are inevitable without solving for dehumanization with the disadvantage. This prioritization guides the judge as they attempt to make their decision at the end of the round. You direct the judge’s focus, first and foremost, to your offensive positions, and thus should prioritize them so in the final opposition speech. “Even-If” arguments may also be considered to be a sort of prioritization in the rebuttal, but I will cover those separately below. Each round individually dictates what types of arguments are necessary or available in the LOR. Some rounds may lend themselves to prioritization based on magnitude, while in others you will want the focus to be on probability. Isolating which level of impact calculus best supports your opposition strategy (as a whole) will help you in constructing your overview to prioritize those levels. While timeframe is not always the most amenable to your strategy, you should take advantage of it when you can. If both teams access nuclear war impacts, but the impacts of the disadvantage happen months before the potential war of the PMC the LOR has a prime opportunity for prioritization. One might say, “It is best to prevent the immediate nuclear war from the disadvantage, allowing X to solve the concerns isolated in the government case in the mean time.” That is to say, the impacts of the PMC are irrelevant if nuclear war happens immediately, but it is possible that alternative solutions will develop in the few months between now and the impacts of the government case and thus you should prevent the immediate war and take the chance that we can also prevent the future war.

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One final area that individuals tend to overlook is the solvency of the PMC. Provided that you have developed sufficient defense against the case solvency, this can be leveraged as reasons why it is unlikely the government team could truly solve for their impacts. You may even be able to use the government’s case arguments against themselves. For example, the government team may have a plan that is a major regulative overhaul of a sector within the United States (i.e. Health Care, Airlines, etc.). The government may have an advantage that claims to solve for an economic collapse that will otherwise happen in the next week (teams too frequently default to saying their impacts may even happen tomorrow!). The LOR should point out that it is illogical to believe that the plan, a massive regulative overhaul, could be completed and efficiently implemented in one day, or even a week. Thus, if their advantage is true that the economic conditions of the US are so fragile that they will collapse tomorrow, it is extremely unlikely the plan would actually solve and thus the judge should prefer the risk of the disadvantages occurring. Along these same lines, any “status quo solves” arguments undermine the imminent need for the passage of the plan and allow you to shift the focus back to the opposition offense. These arguments should be explained in a way that functionally renders the need for the plan irrelevant in the LOR. PREEMPTION You will often hear that the job of the LOR is to predict what the PMR will collapse to and preempt their potential arguments. LOR’s may explicitly isolate these portions by stating, “the PMR will go for…” or, “the PMR must win…” however preemptions may be more implicitly isolated as well. As discussed before, isolating all offensive positions in each level of impact calculus is critical for

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preemption. This isolation ensures that, no matter what the government team collapses to, you have included their offense in your calculus thus presenting barriers to any option they choose in the final speech. If you are able to predict what offensive position the government is likely to collapse to, you may want this bit of information to guide your decisions regarding time allocation. When making specific extensions, it may be strategic to dedicate more time to the likely areas of collapse in order to more sufficiently hedge against the PMR. Identification of where a PMR collapse will occur may sometimes be difficult. If you are the PMR, you can think about where you would likely collapse if the roles were reversed. Alternatively, if you are not the PMR, you should develop a system of communication with your partner so that they can tell you where they would likely collapse and where you may want to spend some extra time. A particularly effective system includes having your partner write notes for you that you can glance over following the overview. Since you should always include all positions in the debate in the impact calculus/overview, this gives some time for your partner to get settled after the MOC and allows you to start a rhythm to your speech uninterrupted. It may be the case that the MOC dropped an important argument or was unable to dedicate sufficient time to a certain area of the debate. Rather than ignoring these sections of the debate, it is important to frame these arguments as “strategic concessions” and address them as such in the LOR. You should try to leverage against this drop using impact calculus and discussing how the government team can win the argument and still lose the round. This is a critical deployment of preemption that, in my opinion, would not be considered a new argument— rather preemption and

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comparison allowed within the LOR. This is another instance in which “even-if statements” may save you the round. EVEN-IF One of the best tools for an LOR is the “even-if statement.” This statement alone accomplishes the goals of comparison, prioritization, and preemption. These statements directly compares government and opposition offense, defends against any possible PMR collapse, undermines the significance of government offense, and prioritizes opposition arguments. Put simply, this statement says that “even if” the government wins one of their arguments, winning that argument is not enough to overcome the opposition’s positions. Using the scenario previously posited in this chapter, one might say, “even if the government wins a risk to solve for the USChina war, it will inevitably reoccur without solving for the dehumanization impacts of the disadvantage.” Alternatively these statements can be deployed for arguments on a more micro-level. For example, the LOR may say, “even if they win solvency argument X they still can’t overcome our no solvency argument Y,” or “even if they win their non-unique argument, it doesn’t overcome our uniqueness arguments Y and Z.” These arguments should always be followed by additional explicit explanation as to why this hedging is true in the context of the arguments being compared. It is important to note that even-if statements are not necessarily a concession of the government arguments. Even-if arguments can be used when you have substantial offense against their position. In particular, if the government only has one offensive position (e.g., one advantage or one link turn), you can use an even-if statement to grandstand about your offense. In these instances it indicates that

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there is no way the opposition could lose the debate, that is, even if the government wins all their offense, the opposition still wins the debate. THE LOR ON THEORY Arguably the most difficult rebuttal speech to give is when theory positions are involved. There are two distinct types of theory rebuttals: those in which the opposition collapses all in on a theory argument (i.e. topicality) and those in which the opposition must respond to a theory position that the government may collapse to in the PMR (i.e. counterplan or kritik theory). Each of these instances requires a unique approach. Even though there are differences between these speeches and substantive based LOR’s, they should still follow the previously identified framework: comparison, prioritization, and preemption. An LOR that involves a theory argument that is not the focus of the opposition collapse should not give substantial time or attention to extensions of the theory arguments from the MOC. This most often occurs when the opposition team reads a counterplan or kritik and the government team reads counterplan or kritik theory arguments. Since the MOC is often the first chance the opposition has to respond, there is little comparison or extensions that can or should be done outside of those already made in the MOC. Your MOC should significantly cover these positions to eliminate them as a potential area of collapse for the PMR while you should return focus back to the substantive debate. At most, you should quickly make a comment about extending the opposition arguments from the MOC and perhaps spend 10-20 seconds isolating a few of the most important arguments.

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In my opinion, an LOR on a theory position that substantiates the opposition collapse is the most difficult rebuttal. Theory debates are inherently different that substantive debates and can take some time to get used to. Most importantly you should develop a general format for the LOR that you can follow in these instances. A good example is: framework, impacts, and standards. In this instance the LOR first establishes the framework for evaluating the theory position – most likely competing interpretations. The framework determines how the judge should evaluate the rest of the arguments in the debate. Next, the LOR should isolate the impact that the opposition team has chosen to collapse to and how that preempts or circumvents the government’s impacts. For example, if you have collapsed to fairness as the impact and the government’s arguments are focused on education, you should explain how “fairness is the internal link to education” or that “some education is inevitable, but topic-specific education can only come with fairness.” This covers both the comparison and prioritization steps of the LOR. This is also a good place to use “even-if” clauses—“even if they win all their standards, none of them impact to fairness and thus we outweigh on the impact level.” Theory debates can often get muddled and providing this type of prioritization and clarification can help clean up the debate for a judge by showing how the arguments function together. Finally, the LOR must address the standards level of the debate. Standards function as the links (and internal links) to the impacts you are trying to win. You should approach this portion of the speech by asking yourself why the standards matter, what they get

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you in the debate, or, more specifically, how they get you to your impacts. Similarly, you should ask why their standards do not give them access to your impacts. For example, if the government team has a counter-standard of ground and isolates specific arguments you could have run, you should discuss why that is not fair ground. Simply saying “we had no ground” is not nearly as persuasive as discussing that “we did not have fair ground.” Thus, even if they win that you had some ground, they cannot access an internal link to a fair division of ground, which is necessary to subsume the fairness impacts. This level of the LOR acts as preemption to the standards that you anticipate will be included in the PMR. This proposed format is certainly not the only option and may not be the best way for you to give an LOR on theory. As with any other option presented in this chapter, you will have to develop your own strategy over time. No matter how you choose to organize your speech, it should be divided in easy to follow segments for the judge, and incorporate the three key aspects of the LOR: comparison, prioritization, and preemption. CONCLUSION Using the tools isolated above you will be able to strategically deploy an effective LOR that gives you an advantage over the government team. Practicing these methods and developing your own techniques will greatly enhance your confidence and abilities as the LOR. It is important to remember that this chapter serves as a guide for your individual development as a debater. You should always read the philosophy of your specific judge and take into consideration any special or different thoughts they have on the LOR. You will eventually be able to successfully give a stand-up

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LOR exuding confidence as the final opposition speaker and significantly increase pressure on PMR’s. Ultimately, your goal as the LOR should be to hear lines from your speech read back to you from the judge during the reason for decision. It is now your turn to change perspectives in the community and convince others that this speech is certainly not a waste, but rather one of the best opposition weapons.

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The Prime Minister Rebuttal: Seeing the Forest through the Trees Josh Ramsey Washburn University

INTRODUCTION The Prime Minister Rebuttal (PMR) is the final government speech. The task of the PMR is to successfully refute twelve minutes of arguments and impact framing by the opposition block. The PMR cannot make new arguments except to respond to new Member of Opposition Constructive (MOC) arguments. The speech involves isolating, extending, and developing key arguments from the debate. Since the speech is only five minutes in length, it requires the speaker to be very selective on which arguments to advance—this selection process is also known as “the collapse.” Unfortunately, debate is not a game with an objective or visible scoreboard. Wins and losses are decided by the risk of different outcomes based on the perceived likelihood and importance of those outcomes. The PMR balances offensive and defensive arguments, frames the debate, and engages in impact calculus. The purpose of this essay is to illuminate a perspective on strategies for the PMR that promote a hyper-awareness of every element of the debate and how to tie these concepts together for a round winning speech. This essay contains three sections: Preparation for the PMR as the round unfolds, delivering the PMR, and final notes and conclusions.

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The first section breaks down what to do in each speech of the debate leading up to the PMR— discussing the establishment of credibility, the Member of Government (MGC), the opposition block and issue selection, finally discussing strategies for collapsing in the final speech. The second section analyzes the components of the PMR, including the theme, the overview, framing, argument comparison, the under-view, and credibility and perception as they link to persuasion. The final section includes advice for executing these strategies.

PREPARATION FOR THE PMR AS THE ROUND UNFOLDS While the best PMR builds on a solid PMC and MGC, this chapter is concerned with the execution, argument selection, and overall experience that constitute a PMR. To provide for a more holistic and clear understanding of the preparation for the PMR, this section will discuss what actions to take during each speech of the debate and how to best position yourself to win. THE PMC: ESTABLISHING CREDIBILITY In competitive parliamentary debate the round begins when you walk into the room. Everything you do from the moment you walk in will be monitored and judged—whether or not it is intentional or conscious. These initial judgments cannot cause you to lose a round per se, however, given that parliamentary debate does not allow individuals to bring printed evidence to the round, your credibility as debater can implicate the credibility of your arguments and vice

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versa. You want to show up to each round and be on-point, ready for the metaphorical battle that is about to unfold. There are two levels of credibility within the PMC: (1) perceptual credibility and (2) warrant credibility. Perceptual credibility is how you deliver the PMC. Are you able to speak fluently, look up from your paper and explain your warrants, and insert passion in to your arguments? The second level of credibility, warrant credibility, involves the quality and accuracy of the arguments in your case. If you read a case that lacks sufficient warrants—makes a lot of big claims without any support—you will negatively position yourself in the debate from the standpoint of warrant credibility. Warrant credibility involves a series of strategies. First, you should cite reputable sources (think tanks, scholarly institutes, news sources, politicians, or experts in the field of the subject). Another aspect involves the logic behind your arguments. Does your argument on face seem logical? If there is a risk that it does not, utilizing a source can only help you, however, the best arguments are ones that, on face, seem logical. The credibility that you establish in the PMC through your delivery and quality of arguments will assist you in your PMR when doing warrant comparison and edging out your opponent through impact calculus. Why is credibility so important? The answer is simple. When you are a top tier team facing another top tier team, the flow will most likely be flawless, but will the warrants and perception be comparable in credibility? This could potentially be the game changer. These elements of credibility should not be associated with a sense of laziness and a promotion of “sounding and looking good.” The best way to accomplish perceptual and warrant credibility is a

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combination of warrants and appearance. You must know more of the context to the warrants being debated than your opponents. You must know the history that led up to the particular context of a given warrant. Finally, you must know how all of these pieces to a larger puzzle are connected. Having this knowledge will best position you to have credibility and confidence in your argument selection—ultimately helping you win debates. THE LOC AND MGC: AWARENESS AND STRATEGY As the PM, since you wrote the government case in preparation time and delivered it in the PMC speech, you will most likely have more knowledge of the specific utility of arguments within the back ground, solvency, advantages, etc. It is your job to make sure the MGC is aware of the preemptive arguments that can be utilized against the LOC. During the LOC you should make note of arguments in your case that serve to answer the opposition strategy. Arguments from the PMC are uniquely compelling in the PMR when extended by the MGC and unanswered by the MOC/LOR block. The Prime Minister should not have a negative impact on the MGC speech. If you have arguments that you feel need to be in the MGC, you must come up with an agreeable framework for communicating with your partner in round. For example, wait until your partner has made all of the arguments they plan on making when answering each different argument from the opposition (disadvantage, counterplan, kritik, etc.). This should avoid a negative time trade off based on your communication. Constantly interrupting your partner and telling them to make obvious arguments risks irritating them and knocking them off of their rhythm or diminishing their credibility in the eyes of the judge— only interrupt if absolutely necessary.

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Since debate is a rhetorical activity that involves a person, or group of persons, making a decision about who won a round based on words, you should be aware of judge’s predispositions and opinions of arguments in debate rounds. As the PMR you are at a unique advantage—you speak at the beginning and end of the debate. You have the opportunity to witness the round from the same perspective as the judge. This is not to say that you should disengage from the debate, but rather you should take advantage of the ability to observe the judge and your opponents simultaneously. Be observant of the judge/s and opponents as much as possible. Attempt to read their reactions and gauge their opinions of the arguments in the debate. If there is an argument that is blatantly not liked by the judge/s it is wise to use that argument against your opponent to undermine their credibility— often regardless of the strategic deployment of that argument in the broader context of the debate. If the judge visibly agrees with an argument your opponent is making, you should increase your awareness of which arguments will require more time. While judges will often give you a clue, in many cases you might be unaware of exactly what they think. In these instances, you must trust your instincts. The more you get into the habit of watching the judge and taking note of the outcome of a debate, based on your judgment of a perceived attitude, the more effective this process will become. If you are unclear about a particular MGC argument or you want additional contextual explanation, take advantage of the small amount of time between the MGC and MOC. Understanding the context and larger picture of an argument will assist you in your PMR collapse decisions. This additional context is also useful

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because it allows you to better understand how the MOC arguments interact with the MGC. If there is not sufficient time to have this conversation with your partner, you can always ask them questions about warrants during the LOR. However, you want to try and hear as much of the LOR as possible, so only spend time communicating on issues that are substantially discussed in the LOR. THE OPPOSITION BLOCK: WHAT DO DURING THE MOC AND LOR One of the most important aspects of PMR preparation during the MOC is decisiveness. The earlier you find the round winning arguments the better. When you are flowing the MOC you need to look at each argument on two levels: (1) the flow and (2) the ballot. Winning “the flow” is just what it sounds like— you have more and better arguments than your opponent on a sheet of paper. Winning the ballot is more difficult. This process involves connecting arguments on the flow to the bigger picture of the round as a whole and why they mean that you should win. Thinking of the PMR in this framework assists your ability to determine the importance of arguments based on their perceived return on investment of PMR time. As the PMR, the MOC is the most exciting part of the debate (outside of giving your speech). You need to have a hyperawareness of how arguments interact so that you can make decisions in real time. If the MOC skips over an argument that is critical in the debate, you should circle this argument to indicate the intended expenditure of valuable PMR time. Often, in top tier debates, arguments will not be “dropped” and an issue selection

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decision for the PMR is more difficult. You have to focus on the arguments that you are most familiar with in regards to their larger context. When an MOC makes an argument and your initial reaction is, “that is malarkey,” it is a good indication that you could potentially collapse to that argument. This initial reaction most likely implies that you know more about this particular issue than your opponent or that they just did not frame it in a way that is compelling for their position. In either event, you have the final word and opportunity to frame this argument against them using additional context. However, many times in a debate you may know more than your opponent on a specific argument, but you must be aware of how important that argument is in regards to the bigger picture of the debate. This process of issue selection is further elaborated on in “the collapse” section below. The main strategy of the PMR should be decided by the time the LOR begins. The best way to devote time in the LOR is to first create your overview. Get it done fast— and be specific as possible. Next, you must go through your flows to guarantee a comprehensive understanding of how your collapse matches the overview. The last step is to write an outline of your under-view. Once skilled at observing the round from a global perspective, you will not need to write the under-view. A smart strategy for your overview/under-view is to write the overview on the top half of a new sheet of paper and the under-view on the bottom half. This allows you to read your overview at the beginning of your speech and then put that sheet of paper on the bottom to refer to when you conclude.

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Once you have completed these steps, you should reflect on the strategy you have selected. How does your strategy interact with the LOR? Sometimes in really close rounds you will have to focus more on the preparation for specific line-by-line. In these instances, you should utilize a cooperative framework for communicating with your partner. The MGC should make sure that no new arguments are slipped into the LOR. If you are unable to hear a lot of LOR framing it is imperative that you find out from the MGC. Too often, the LOR will often frame a debate one-way, with the PMR ignoring this framing— creating a scenario of two ships passing in the night. In many circumstances, the PMR should capitalize on the framing provided by the opposition and reframe the debate in a way that positions the government as the clear winner. THE COLLAPSE: ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES, COUNTERPLANS AND KRITIKS Collapsing is a major part of strategic execution in debate. Time trade-offs, depth of arguments, and opposition block make collapsing a requirement. The collapse should be discussed before delivering the PMR because it must be determined and agreed upon before you stand up to speak—preferably in the MOC as previously mentioned. Many debaters struggle in their decision of which arguments are most relevant at the end of the debate. This section discusses different strategies of collapsing: government advantages, disadvantage debates, counterplan debates, and kritik debates. What is appropriate to “kick,” (concede or not extend) in the final speech? The answer is solely based on the round. However, you should start by asking yourself, even if I kick this argument, can I still capture the offense with other arguments, or can I still win this

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position/debate? A good place to start is with your advantages. If you read two advantages it is often beneficial to kick one of them. If a team reads a counterplan that solves one of your advantages it would be wise to only spend time on the advantage they do not solve. There is no strategic utility to weighing an advantage against a counterplan if the counterplan solves the links to your offense. In the event that the opposition team has read ten or fifteen defensive arguments against one of your advantages, while relatively undercovering the other, it is also a good idea to try to kick the advantage. This strategy allows you to spend more time winning the advantage that has fewer arguments and answering the opposition’s disadvantage. In a kritik debate, the PMR should never go for both advantages. It is guaranteed that one advantage will interact better with the kritik and this allows you more time to go for an impact turn, link turn, or permutation. It is an appropriate circumstance to keep both advantages, for example, if the opposition is reading a disadvantage that interacts with one of your advantages— it can be strategic to use your other advantage as offense, as well as the arguments made by the MGC, and use the second advantage as a “tie-breaker” to tip the scale in your favor. Case versus disadvantage debates require that you to select several arguments from the MGC and one of your advantages to beat the disadvantage. When answering disadvantages there are multiple offensive strategies: link turn, internal link turn, and impact turn. In a link turn debate, which happens most often, it is important to be aware of how your non-unique arguments interact with your link turns. A good rule of thumb for collapsing on a disadvantage is to isolate your best non-unique and go for it—especially if it was very warranted in the MGC. After you isolate your best non-unique

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claim, you can extend two or three more non-uniques that have been under covered or mishandled, preferably, that interact with the LOC’s specific uniqueness. Next, you should find your best link turn. Ways of deciding what is “best” include asking the following questions—Does it interact with the original link? Does it interact with your non-unique arguments? How good were the MOC answers? How probable is your link turn versus the original link? After figuring out your offensive strategy, select some internal link defense, impact defense, or a combination of both. In debates that involve internal link or impact turns, it is difficult to collapse. The PMR is normally required to win a majority of the arguments in addition to winning substantial defense to the risk of the opposition’s original impact. Thus, the PMR must select the arguments closest to “terminal” defense to answer the impact or internal link, demonstrate efficiency in extending and executing the original impact or internal link turn, and compare the probability, time frame, and magnitude of both scenarios. Counterplan debates often require the same procedure discussed above since they usually have a net benefit in the form of a disadvantage. Against a standard disadvantage-only MOC/LOR collapse, the PMR could potentially win the debate with only a defensive strategy to the disadvantage. If the MOC/LOR includes a counterplan, it is nearly impossible. A good counterplan will solve all or most of the government case, making it difficult to weigh the PMC against the disadvantage. When answering a counterplan in the PMR, find a locus of offense and stick to it. A PMR can go for a combination of defense and offense, but offense should be the number one priority. The PMR should always try to turn the net benefit. The PMR should also attempt to collapse to solvency deficit

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arguments (i.e. “the counterplan cannot solve the PMC”). A balance of “counterplan can’t solve the case” and offense to the net-benefit ensures the government is ahead at the end of the debate. If the MGC reads a disadvantage to the counterplan, the PMR has a potential option for the collapse. In this instance one must prove how this disadvantage outweighs the net-benefit of the counterplan and it also positions the government to, once again, weigh their impacts. Kritik debates require a very small collapse. My personal favorite collapse involves the permutation. However, impact turns, link turns, and framework are also a viable option. Kritik debates are often hard for new PMRs because of the vast amount of arguments spread out over four or more pages. Often, a PMR will go for an argument on every sheet of paper and never fully develop them. The opposition has the advantage of a very specific shell that grants them flexibility to pick and choose extensions in the MOC. Winning a kritik debate also requires thinking about your “locus of offense.” You need to find an argument and latch onto it. In a permutation debate the PMR needs to find the best net benefit to their permutation— whether it is the PMC, an external impact, or both. Once you have found the net benefit you then need to isolate all of the MOC/LOR block answers. Normally, kritik teams will have pre-prepped permutation answers as well as preempts in their shell. This is why, in my eyes, it is impossible to go for framework, an impact turn, and a permutation. It is inevitable that the PMR will concede several MOC arguments. When the PMR collapses to one advantage and the perm, there is an allowance of time to quickly extend case and discuss its interaction before spending at least three minutes answering every argument on the alternative or

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permutation section. If you can win a permutation, you prove that the argument is not competitive with your plan— it is a “one-shot kill.” You could spend close to four minutes on this one sheet of paper, whereas the MOC had to divide time equally among the framework, links, impacts, and alternative (assuming the MGC answered every sheet). You might even win the time-trade off with the block, which is a very difficult feat to accomplish. In an impact turn debate the same concepts apply— the most important part of the kritik collapse is to keep it small! Keeping the collapse small allows for more development of your arguments, ultimately making it easier to win what is often a very unclear debate. DELIVERING THE PMR The purpose of this section is to arm you with the tools and knowledge to establish more doubt in your opponent’s arguments and a sense of comfort on behalf of the judge in voting for you. This will be accomplished by breaking down the strategy of a PMR, which includes: the theme, an overview, framing, argument comparison, the impact calculus/under-view, and the combination of perception, credibility, and persuasion. PMR THEME The PMR should always have a theme— which should be thought of as a grand narrative. In each PMR, there should be one narrative, not conflicting ones. Many PMR’s create conflicting narratives by collapsing to a counterplan theory position and the case turns. When a PMR decides they will have two themes, they are disadvantaged from the start. The PMR only has five minutes to successfully answer thirteen minutes of opposition argumentation. If

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this time is bifurcated, it becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to effectively execute one of the strategies. The concept of a theme is more complex than simply picking the strategy. A good rule of thumb for your theme is to select three crucial arguments that win you the debate and make these three arguments your overview. Given the vast amount of contexts that exist in different debates, it is difficult to explain a “one-size fits all” solution. What is the utility of having a theme? Too many debates are lost because a PMR spends too much time looking at the trees as opposed to the forest—the PMR is fixated on each individual argument and does not explain them in a way that corresponds globally. Establishing a theme and continuously integrating it into the speech will make the debate clearer for the judges because it draws connections to how each individual argument is important in the scope of all arguments that have been presented. Another utility of the theme is a constant reminder to the judges why the opposition’s best arguments in the debate are irrelevant or have been resolved, which is done by illustrating how your arguments intersect with the MOC/LOR’s collapse. PMR OVERVIEW A good overview is necessary for the PMR. The overview is the location of important framing in the debate. The first consideration when constructing the overview is the theme. The second consideration is how you can make it clear you have won the debate in the first ten seconds of the speech; two to three sentences. You will know that your overview was successful when the judge’s RFD is synonymous with the arguments you selected. In an ideal world the RFD will be a combination of arguments from the overview and

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under-view because the under-view will contain the impact calculus. It is acceptable to hint at impact calculus in your overview, but wait to get into specifics until later in the speech. The overview establishes why you are winning and creates a table of contents for the rest of the speech. It is wise to create your road map in conjunction with the overview, (i.e. answer the arguments in the speech in the same order as established in the overview). If you say that you are winning “x impact on the case and that outweighs the disadvantage” or “functions as an internal link turn” etc.— go to that advantage first. Below is an example overview from a debate in the fall of 2011. The plan was to withdraw all United States troops from Japan, which closed all US bases. There were several critically framed net benefits—imperialism, sexual violence, and one advantage specific to biodiversity in the United States. There were several solvency arguments in the PMC. The sub-point A indicated the people of Japan overwhelmingly support the plan, the sub-point B indicated the plan would boost Noda’s (Japanese Prime Minister) credibility because the people are angry over noise pollution, sexual violence, and overall bad behavior from the US government, the sub-point C is the solvency for the critically framed impacts in the background. In the Advantage, the second link argument indicates plan would be a huge perceptual win for Noda and Japan because he has been badgered by the United States for new base construction despite not actually wanting to comply. These credibility arguments are very important because Noda had just taken control of Japan, and research indicated his credibility would be key to passing economic policies, particularly natural disaster relief. The opposition read a plan inclusive counterplan, which left certain Special Forces in the

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region. The net benefit was based on US troops being productive for the economy and the terminal impact was disaster relief Example Overview: “Three reasons why you should vote for Washburn KR: 1. We are winning the natural disaster debate. a. They make the argument that the Japanese economy will collapse when we pull out all of our troops with a terminalized impact of tsunami relief. However, they have conceded offense from the PMC. Our solvency evidence indicates that Noda’s credibility is key to solve for disaster relief because, without credibility, he can’t get more flexibility to increase funding for natural disasters. b. Our case solvency sub-point B and advantage solvency indicate the only way Noda Credibility increases is with a full withdrawal of US troops, he is key to increase help for natural disasters, which means the counterplan can’t solve its own net benefit. 2. We are winning the only extinction level impact in the debate, which is a disadvantage to the counterplan. They lost this debate when they said the base is in Okinawa (where they leave troops with the counterplan). If the base is in Okinawa that means they have to take a boat, plane, or some vehicle to transport troops, which means counterplan pollutes the island more, this is a round winner because they concede the precautionary principle. Our uniqueness evidence indicates we are at a critical point for biodiversity collapse resulting in extinction

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3. Ethical Obligation: They can’t solve our ethical obligation arguments that were prioritized in a probability framework from the PMC and have yet to be answered. One soldier being left in Okinawa means individuals are forced to face their oppressors and the imperial legacy is continued. They say Department of Defense contractors are there, we pull out all forces because they are not necessary, even if they are right, the government is the only way to solve because of our number 4 argument on the counterplan that indicates the counterplan creates a loop hole and won’t be any incentive to leave and the CP creates a foothold to justify future troop increases.” This example overview is rather long, but it was in a case vs. counterplan debate where the collapse was small. The PMR went for: “case is the only way to solve the counterplan net-benefit due to Noda credibility,” “natural disasters are inevitable,” and “no matter how good military technology is it simply cannot prevent them.” PMR also went for “advantage one is a disadvantage to the counterplan,” isolating specific warrants from the uniqueness and links that the counterplan did not capture; and finally the PMR emphasized the ethical obligation. There are two different types of overviews for different circumstances. Global overviews and issue specific overviews, often called “micro-overviews.” Micro-overviews on specific positions can be helpful, especially if the opposition’s collapse is small. If the opposition collapses to a politics disadvantage, a micro-overview can be effective to isolate critical points and warrant comparison. While micro-overviews can sometimes be a useful tool, they can also make time allocation difficult, especially if you lack experience in the deployment of such a strategy.

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FRAMING EXTENSIONS AND ARGUMENTS IN THE PMR Member speeches are mainly focused on line-by-line and coverage, whereas the LOR and PMR are about how arguments are framed— since all arguments can be interpreted in a number of ways. If you want the judge to see the debate a certain way it is your responsibility to frame the debate in a manner that advances your perspective. At local, regional, national invitational tournaments, and the national tournament, many debates are decided by how one or two arguments were framed. This is why many debates are 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 decisions— each judge has to look at a piece of paper that may have twenty arguments made throughout the debate on one flow and has to make an interpretation based on the facts presented. Becoming effective at framing can make a 2-1 against you become a 2-1 or 3-0 in your favor. Imagine a debate where you are giving the PMR and the MOC has conceded an advantage that leads to extinction. You could say, “They dropped our entire advantage, the uniqueness, link, internal link, and impact. This means we outweigh the disadvantage.” In this scenario, you have chosen to focus on debate technicalities of a dropped argument (extending an abstract idea of an advantage). A more effective way to extend this argument would be as follows: “The opposition has conceded that relations between the United States and North Korea are at an all-time low. We have multiple arguments indicating relations will continue deteriorating (insert specific from the uniqueness), we are also winning an argument that absent plan war is inevitable (insert specific warrant). Our plan and only our plan is able to solve (warrants from the links). Voting opposition ensures a continual deterioration of relations and an

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outbreak of global war, extend our x, y, and z arguments from the internal link. (The next two sentences illustrate connecting this extension to the ballot). This has several implications for the debate. It means we are more probable—the judge should prefer the specificity of our warrants and lack of any counter argument. If there is a question of the direction of the disadvantage we have enough defense to guarantee a minimal likelihood of its impacts meaning you vote on the advantage.” Debaters often get stuck in a frame of mind that, if an argument has been dropped, that the judge should know exactly what to do with it. While it may seem obvious, you should it open to interpretation. Typically, judges are judging your words and not their thoughts, as much as possible. When debaters leave arguments open for interpretation it creates a scenario in which a judge could misinterpret the PMR strategy. Any argument that is important in the debate should have analysis as to why it is relevant in the debate— not just that you won one argument on a sheet of paper that has thirty. Always remember the two mechanisms of winning a debate— (1) the flow and (2) the ballot. Get yourself into the habit of winning an argument on the flow and connecting that argument to winning the ballot. Connection to the ballot is the most important part of framing. If you get into the practice of explaining why issues are important to the ballot, you will automatically become better at framing arguments in the debate. ARGUMENT COMPARISON Comparing the quality of arguments is one way to compare the quality of warrants. A team may make a great claim, but lack sufficient empirical proof. Simply isolating how their argument is a

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claim and lacks a warrant compared to your argument is one strategy. Citing a study, a reputable scholar or person, or discussing the historical context of the event achieves this type of isolation. Another good strategy is to make arguments that are very dense (i.e. arguments that may have multiple parts). Arguments with multiple parts give the PMR a lot of room for explanation and comparison in the PMR. It is wise to utilize this strategy especially on “link turn” arguments since the LOC’s original link argument is often very specific. Throughout, I have referenced “knowing more context than your opponents” several times. An example of this can be seen in a hypothetical politics debate. A team may read a politics disadvantage saying that the Federal Aviation Authorization Act is going to pass in the status quo. One of their warrants may be that negotiations are being finalized. However, you know that John Boehner (current Speaker of the House) has said he will not budge on the unionization of airline employees, a key sticking point of negotiations. You may also know that previous negotiations had been “finalized,” but that the distribution of funds to certain airports for tarmac restoration would inevitably continue because of an upset party in the negotiation. You may also know that the only reason those negotiations were “finalized” is because of a certain provision that has been tabled for discussion in a later negotiation, like the funding for next generation satellites. The MGC argument against politics may say, “non-unique, negotiations aren’t finalized and aren’t going to be because Boehner won’t budge on unionization and there are still multiple financial negotiations to come, which stall passage of the bill entirely.” The opposition might say, “x source says that negotiations are finalized and Harry Reid

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said that negotiations are almost complete and will be next week.” If you know the chronological sequence of the release of these news stories and quotations it enables the PMR to say: “The opposition is operating on assumptions, we know that Boehner won’t budge on unionization, he said it after Reid’s announcement, even if the Democrats make a concession on this issue there are future negotiations about funding that fiscal conservatives like Paul absolutely won’t compromise on. When you pair this non-unique with our link turn that indicates plan saves the government millions of dollars annually it creates the most probable scenario of the bill passing. Given the enormous federal savings of plan, fiscally conservative republicans won’t block passage and creates the most likely scenario for Boehner and the Republicans to compromise on unionization, which is the only way the bill will pass.” A very common type of distinction between warrants is descriptive versus predictive. A descriptive warrant explains the status quo, whereas a predictive warrant provides insight onto what might happen in the future. Using a combination of descriptive and predictive warrants against a team who is only making descriptive claims can help you decrease your opponent’s likelihood of a particular impact. Within this distinction, there is one more detail that applies to both—specificity. The specificity of a warrant can be used as a means to establish more credibility in your argument. In debate rounds, the more specific you can be, the more likely you are to win the debate. Another tool for comparing warrants is utilizing “even-if” statements. You can make the argument that “even-if the opposition wins certain solvency defense it does not mitigate the probability of

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our second advantage because the link is based on the perceptual act of passing plan.” Even-if statements can also be used in a disadvantage vs. case debate. “Even-if the opposition wins the disadvantage, without passing the plan, war is inevitable based on the concessions of our uniqueness and internal link,”— allowing you to debate the probability, time-frame, and magnitude of the impacts and edge out the opposition. Using these even-if statements allow you to frame scenarios so that, even if the judge thinks the opposition may have won a certain argument, it does not constitute a ballot for the opposition team. IMPACT CALCULUS AND UNDER-VIEW The PMR must practice skillful time management. Many debaters do not leave enough time for an under-view. Forty-five seconds to a minute and a half is a large enough window. The purpose of the under-view is to summarize the major impacts—through a lens of probability, time frame, and magnitude—and remind the judges of the theme, which short-circuits the opposition’s ability to win. You should conduct global impact calculus, incorporating the entire debate into one section of comparative analysis. This comparative analysis creates a framework in which the entire debate is visible on one flow and critically considered as a whole, not separate pieces to a larger puzzle (the forest vs. the trees). Global impact framing will make it clearer that you have won the debate. When possible, you should characterize your impacts as “more probable” than the impacts advanced by the opposition. You can do this in a variety of ways: citing defensive arguments you have made against their position and why those arguments historically make more sense than anything they have said against your case, citing

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arguments they have dropped, and isolating key warrants from your position about (for example) “now being a unique likelihood of x impact” triggering whereas they have no brink argument in their shell. You should also discuss the timeframe of your impacts. You will typically argue that your impact will happen first. Arguing that your impact happens first allows you to claim that the impact would change the landscape of the world (alters all other uniqueness in the debate), ultimately reversing the risk of the opposition’s impacts. Another option is for you to claim that the impact of the opposition is only a short-term harm/outcome, whereas your impact will last for years, maybe even generations. You have the option of either or both of these strategies when discussing timeframe. Having good warrants in your original case about how now is “the key time” can bolster your ability to win timeframe arguments, especially if they are in the PMC and the opposition concedes them— always look to include these items in your PMC during prep time. The final level of impact calculus is magnitude. Which impact causes more harm? Magnitude can (and should) be discussed through a lens of timeframe and probability. When comparing a nuclear war impact versus a dehumanization impact, the team with nuclear war will most likely go for magnitude. This is because they can say that, “a nuclear war would cause extinction, which means there wouldn’t be any humans to suffer,” (subsuming the dehumanization impact). Magnitude can be argued in nuanced ways based on the size of conflict. For example, if two teams claim to prevent different wars, knowing more about how populated a region is, as well as the biodiversity, can help you edge out an opponent by saying that you

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effect more people or pristine nature. In your under-view it is best to discuss all three forms of impact framing— but if you only have time or feel you only need to go for one or two, that is fine— any impact framing is better than none. Often, teams may have the same magnitude of an impact, thus timeframe and probability become significantly more important. PERCEPTION AND CREDIBILITY LINKED TO PERSUASION A big mistake many individuals make in the PMR is reading at a rapid speed and never lifting their head from the flow. Everything that has previously been discussed in this essay—from credibility, to perceived attitudes, to argument selection—comes together in the PMR. The purpose of this section is to tie these concepts together at their culmination. When the LOR is finished, you should be excited and ready to give your speech. You had four minutes to prepare and you do not need a second longer! This gesture signals that you have the utmost confidence. There are three words a PMR should live by: clean, confident, and committed. Efficiency, organization, and absolutism are key for the PMR. If you do not believe you can win the debate, if you cannot dismantle your opponent’s arguments in an organized fashion, and cannot commit to a strategy, you do not stand a chance. If you are not clean on the flow, it makes it very difficult for a judge to “pull the trigger” for one of your arguments and vote for you. A judge may feel like they are “doing work” for you if you do not properly connect the dots that they would like to be connected. If you are not confident in yourself it might make it difficult for a judge and audience to find your arguments accurate or your

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strategy believable. The final word in this trio—committed— involves your commitment to your collapse and time management. When you deliver your overview, you are isolating the reasons you are winning the debate. If you decide to change midway through the PMR, the change breaks the narrative of your strategy which signals confusion, lack of confidence, and desperation. Perceptual credibility in the PMR is mostly a focus on pathos. When delivering a PMR, or any debate speech for that matter, a speaker should not talk in a soft monotone voice, even if delivering at rapid speed. The amount of emotion within a speech signals how much you believe in your argument and how much you care about the issue. When delivering the PMR the speaker should take time to look up from one’s paper to “connect the dots” in the debate round. These moments signal that you have control of the speech and of the debate. If the opposition is going for an absurd or ridiculous claim, pause and make that known. The lack of logic in their argument may not be as apparent until you grandstand and pinpoint exactly what is lacking. These are the moments that can shift the momentum in a debate round. A term that is becoming prolific in popular culture is “swag.” In debate, “swag” is synonymous with visible control of the round, and is crucial. This term largely refers to your confidence, but in the PMR it can be seen from your ability to delegitimize arguments with ease, slow down and draw connections, and your ability to use humor to you’re your opponent’s arguments against them. I previously discussed the two types of credibility established in the PMC, (1) warrant and (2) perceptual. I would like to introduce the final type of credibility— argumentative credibility. Argumentative

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credibility sounds similar to warrant credibility, but is more complex. This form of credibility and skill is missing from many PMR’s. It can be defined as “the time spent on and ability to develop an argument,” in other words, how good you are at balancing time on the most important issues and “closing the door.” An argument in a debate may be very good, but if it is not expanded, developed, and compared then it does not have the same credibility. Even if an argument has been dropped in its entirety by the MOC, the PMR should still spend time explaining why this extension is important. Always remember that there are two levels to winning a debate round, the flow and the ballot. Extending a dropped argument without explaining why it means you win the round and how it interacts with other arguments is almost as bad as not extending the argument at all. All three of these forms of credibility are essential to delivering a successful PMR. In regards to perceptual credibility, a PMR is faced with points of order. You must be able to provide an immediate, on-point response to these objections. You must be able to make clear which argument you are extending, how you are further developing and comparing this argument, or how it is a response to a new MOC argument. You must also have the ability to discuss how you are framing issues. It would be unreasonable to expect the MGC to accomplish all government-side framing. The MOC will make new arguments to answer the MGC while also extending LOC arguments. You should expand on MGC arguments and prove how the MOC’s warrants are not responsive and/or insufficient.

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Persuasion is a term that can sometimes be seen as “evil” within national circuit parliamentary debate. This is because persuasion is seen as convincing a judge who may not be “qualified,” in the eyes of the debaters, to vote for an argument that should not have won the round. After being involved in hundreds of debates in front of judges who had never previously seen a debate to those who have been involved in the activity for decades, it is clear that persuasion is in play in every debate. However, as previously stated, the persuasion discussed in this essay is accomplished with facts and warrants— the more specific you are and the better warrants you have, the better you will be able to persuade. Persuasion goes back to knowing more than your opponents. When you absolutely know you are right this comes across in the debate. Judges cannot distance themselves from being influenced by what they hear, the frames in which that information is presented, and the interpersonal signs of the sender. Thus, resisting a strategy or perspective of debate as persuasion can only hinder your ability to win. However, there is an ethical burden within this framework— pretending that you are absolutely right is different than knowing you are right. In any form of debate you may encounter someone who will act as though they are 100% correct, which is why knowing more than your opponent will always hold an advantage. TIPS FOR DEVELOPING BETTER ROUND VISION True mastery of the PMR includes quality “round vision.” Round vision is the ability to predict and accurately see the possible outcomes of a debate as the debate happens. To help develop round vision, watch as many debates as possible, whether they are online or at a tournament. I can credit my round vision to the amount of debates I watched. From the time I was a first-year to my senior

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year, I was watching debates. Even if I were eliminated from a tournament in the later years of my career, I would go and watch other rounds. You should never feel like you cannot learn from watching any debate— that is simply not the case. Every debate is full of opportunity for you to learn something new, whether it is about a judge, a team you will inevitably face, argument delivery, or overall argument execution in debates. Not only should you watch these debates, you should also stay and listen to the judge’s decision. If you do not know the decision and how they saw the round, you have disadvantaged yourself if you debate in front of that judge in the future. Also, force yourself to examine what you would have done in the debate. What arguments would you have gone for? How could you have avoided what the judge didn’t like? If a team lost, how could you have made that loss a win? REBUTTAL RE-DO’S AND REFLECTION When doing practice rounds, do not give the PMR in round and assume that your practice is over. Whether you won or lost a debate, take time to reflect on what you said and how it could have been improved. A good strategy for this is to examine your flows and think critically about the debate after hearing the reason for decision. Find a pen that is a different color from the color that you used on your flow and write to the side, word for word, how you could have better framed and executed arguments. You will find that you often come invent more nuanced ways of comparing warrants from the debate. Learning these nuances and reflecting on rounds will make you better at execution in the future. Later, try giving this new and improved PMR to the person who judged you in the debate or to a fellow teammate who was in the practice round. Doing this allows you to get feedback from someone that witnessed

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the debate and is familiar with the arguments. If you are unable to give the speech to an individual that was present it still would be beneficial to deliver it to a fellow debater because they can give you feedback. Even absent context, most debaters will have something useful to input on your speech. The Prime Minister Rebuttal is an adrenaline filled speech that involves a major shift in the debate. In any high-level debate, the government team will be significantly behind after the opposition block. A smart PMR will never let this bother them because they know that they have control of the round. No matter how good the MOC was, no matter how persuasively the LOR portrayed their dominance, and no matter what anyone in the room thinks— there are still five minutes left in the debate. Embody the three C’s of the PMR (clean, confident, and committed), effectively collapse the debate, shift the momentum with your overview and passion, and rhetorically paint a picture of the world of voting for the government in your under-view. Critically reflecting on the suggestions in this chapter can help you become better at giving the PMR. Putting in the work is necessary and you have my assurance that it will pay off. CONCLUSION I would like to leave you with one final note. When you sit down for a debate, whether it is a regional invitational or the final round of the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, it will be you and your partner, no one else. Your coaches, teammates, and friends cannot sit with you at the table— the responsibility of winning is on your shoulders. Knowledge is power in debate. Know more than your opponents, cleanly execute with style, trust and

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commit to the strategy, and always be aware of the forest when examining the trees.

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Reading Critical PMCs Katie Bergus and Megan Gaffney University of Oregon INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of critical PMCs and how debaters can effectively prepare, deliver and debate a critical PMC. Though the chapter focuses on how to read critical PMCs successfully, it also aims to de-mystify critical arguments thus eliminating confusion and making them easier to respond to. A critical PMC is distinct from a traditional policy oriented PMC because the solvency and advantages derive from the speech act, methodology, or discourse of the PMC in addition to/or opposed to the fiated policy action of the plan text. There are four main categories of critical PMCs discussed in this chapter: (1) project PMCs, (2) kritiks of the resolution, (3) topical/critical PMCs, and “middle of the road” critical PMCs. It is important to remember that these definitions and categories are based on the views of the authors. Other definitions and classifications for critical PMCs certainly exist. In fact, most PMCs that vary from a traditional, policy-based PMC are often lumped into the category of “critical PMC.” TYPES OF CRITICAL PMCs Project PMCs “Project” PMCs generally focus on philosophical or social problems within the debate format or community and are often not based on a particular resolution. It is easier to define these arguments based on

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what they hope to accomplish— not necessarily the structure of the PMC, since the structure and performance will change based on the thesis of the particular argument. In many cases, “projects” allow debaters to incorporate their own experiences into the debate space, thus creating social awareness and eventually changing the norms within the debate community.

Example: At the 2013 NPTE Alyssa and Brandon of Northern Arizona University read a white privilege project that critiqued how whiteness is viewed as a neutral force in debate, including a performance element in their argument. Alyssa, a white woman, wrote examples of her white privilege on her body in order to deneutralize how whiteness is perceived in debate rounds. Brandon, a Chicano debater, dressed in a bowtie and sweater-vest to perform the aesthetic of whiteness on his body, taking off his outer layer of clothing throughout the debate to reveal a bandana and a Chicano power shirt worn underneath to demonstrate the disparity between the aesthetic he was pressured to perform and his lived experiences as a person of color. The main strength and benefit to reading a “project” PMC is that the debaters are presented with the opportunity to speak from their social location and about their experiences. Often, the strategic strength of this argument is the long-term shift in how debaters view identities. However, in the short term, a strategic advantage to reading a project is the ability for a team or squad to become very familiar with a particular argument and out research their opponents based on the depth of their argument, not the breath of

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the arguments in their toolbox. The main strategic weaknesses of project arguments is demonstrating why the project itself should be included within the debate space, more specifically answering arguments such as framework and topicality. For example, many judges feel that projects are unfair because it appears as though the debaters are asking for the ballot simply because they spoke first in the debate. In addition, teams reading project PMCs often run into conflicts over what constitutes “pre-prepared materials” in a parliamentary debate (such as writing on the body, clothing, art, or music). Critiques of the Resolution Critiques of the resolution begin with the basic idea that resolutions are more than statements of policy action with evenly divided government and opposition ground. Instead, these PMCs aim to understand resolutions as crossroads of ideas, specifically as products of political and cultural histories. Under this interpretation of a “resolution”, the government team can define affirming the resolution as a process of uncovering the historical narratives that are the foundation of the resolution, not necessarily through an advocacy statement or plan text. The method that the government team uses to analyze the resolution becomes the advocacy. In the PMC the government advocates for a specific method of inquiry and develops arguments as to why that type of method is educational and productive within the debate space. Example: Given the resolution, “The USFG should increase pressure on Russia for its support of Syria”— a PMC that critiqued the resolution might explain how the United States has come to view

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Russia as a political enemy and geopolitical threat. The government team may, for example, advocate a historical analysis of the resolution. The government would also include a very specific framework within the PMC as to why historical inquiry is the best method of education within the debate space. This type of argument allows debaters to analyze and affirm the resolution in a purely critical manner. The government gains offense from their method of inquiry, which allows for a broader range of methods than reading a plan text based in particular political action, brining a new type of education into debate rounds. A second strength of this argument is that it does not force debaters to alienate their personal beliefs from their debate arguments—if one ethically disagrees with a resolution; this type of PMC allows them to affirm the resolution in a nuanced way. The main strategic weakness to critiquing the resolution is answering topicality or framework—in other words, it is hard for the government to defend why their interpretation of the resolution is predictable and provides a fair division of ground to the opposition team. The government can gain offense on a theory or framework position by controlling access to the best type of education in debate, however this type of education is also possible on the opposition. This makes arguments about switch side debate (arguments that advocate that critical inquiry should primarily be provided by the opposition) persuasive to many judges. Topical/Critical PMCs A topical/critical PMC will typically read a topical plan text and a framework that defines the role of the ballot as evaluating the methodology of the PMC instead of the fiated implementation of the

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government plan. This type of PMC may defend the hypothetical enactment of the plan in an abstract sense, while, in most cases, asking the judge to evaluate the ideology behind the PMC before considering fiated actions and consequences. The framework will provide justifications (standards) as to why questions of ideology or methodology come first. Example: Resolution: The United States Federal Government should increase the tax on capital gains. A topical/critical PMC on this resolution could simply read the resolution as the plan text and then have one contention on how the plan text deconstructed neoliberalism. The solvency would discuss how the plan deconstructs neoliberalism and would be based on what ideas and values in society change as a result of the plan text; the solvency would not be focused primarily on economic data. A good illustration of this distinction would be how the government responds to a Business Confidence Disadvantage. The answer to the disadvantage would be a framework argument that claimed that, “the specific economic consequences of the plan text cannot be adequately determined, because the research about the economy comes from a slanted neoliberal perspective.� Therefore, we need to use the PMC to reconstruct how our society produces and values knowledge about the economy before we can understand the fiscal consequences of the plan in a traditional policy manner. As discussed above, the main benefit of a topical/critical PMC is that research can be focused on the framework aspect of the debate. Framework can be utilized to focus the debate on a particular

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concept that is well researched, providing the government with a strategic advantage. Another strength of topical/critical PMCs is that they allow debaters to explore critical theory and incorporate that education into debate. A main weakness of topical/critical PMCs is ensuring that the plan text itself is ideologically aligned with your kritik. For instance, in the case of capital gains taxes the PMC has to be able to prove that changing tax policies is an effective way to combat neoliberalism. This weakness is fairly easy to resolve by ensuring that the PMC includes a defense of the action of the resolution through the use of a solvency contention. Often, defending the action of the resolution means advocating for incremental reform instead of a radical overhaul. If the PMC does include a defense of the incremental reform in the solvency, that argument can also be cross-applied to develop offense against a kritik run by the opposition team. Incremental reform becomes a net-benefit to the permutation on the kritik and a solvency deficit to any alternative that is a negative action (i.e. rejection). Middle of the Road PMCs A “middle of the road” PMC is a hybrid between a topical/critical PMC and a traditional policy PMC. “Middle of the road” PMCs will typically read a topical plan text and then read two separate advantages. One advantage will be based off of the fiated policy action of the government team— the impacts of the advantage are solved by hypothetical consequences of government action. The second advantage is usually dedicated to the methodology of the PMC— the impacts are solved by a change in mindset that occurs within the debate round. Example:

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A plan text could say, “The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States executive branch should establish a policy outlawing the production or purchase of products from controlled animal feeding operations (CAFOS).” One advantage could claim that banning CAFOS would prevent extinction from environmental degradation. The second advantage could claim that banning CAFOS represents a shift in how we view animals as “raw material”— the shift in mindset of how debaters conceptualize animals and politics allows for a revaluation and prioritization of value to life. Argument Strengths: The main benefit of the Middle of the Road PMC is flexibility. Depending on the LOC strategy the MGC can collapse to either the critical advantage or the policy advantage. The middle of the road PMC is strategic because the critical advantage can be used as both defense and offense against a kritik read by the opposition. In addition, if the opposition reads only disadvantages, the critical advantage can be used as an external impact and tiebreaker in the event that the impact calculus debate with advantage one versus the disadvantage becomes complicated. The main strategic weakness to this type of PMC is also its flexibility—the opposition team can choose to go either farther left or further right than the PMC and the government team is left having to defend the both a policy action and some type of critical element to their PMC. This can put an extraordinary amount of pressure on the MGC and PMR because they have to either cover more arguments or spend time kicking out of arguments from the PMC. For example, the opposition could read a kritik that claims to solve for the devaluation of life through non-policy means. In this scenario, the

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opposition team accesses critical impacts of the PMC and can claim the government is incapable of solving because of their focus on incremental policy action. On the other hand, the opposition can read all policy focused arguments in the LOC and framework arguments as to why the judge should evaluate the consequences of the plan action. In this scenario the government has to divide time in the MGC, both answering the framework-based arguments and completing impact calculus on their first advantage versus the disadvantage in a consequentialist framework. WRITING CRITICAL PMCs— KEY COMPONENTS This section will provide an explanation of some key components of critical PMCs and develop one example of a step-by-step method of writing and preparing the PMC. The first step in writing a critical PMC is generating a concept for the PMC and researching that concept or literature base until it is possible to generate a more specific thesis for your argument. The second step is deciding on the structure of your PMC. Sometimes, the structure of the PMC is determined primarily by the thesis statement— i.e. a PMC about white privilege in debate will generally fit best into a “project” (or performance) PMC category. Other times the structure or type of PMC will be determined by the strategic utility of various arguments within the round. A PMC that criticizes neoliberalism could become a topical, critical PMC or a middle of the road PMC based on what type of strategic flexibility the debaters desired. The next important step is deciding on the type of “text” advanced in your PMC. The traditional role of the PMC is to “affirm” the resolution. As previously explained, there are various definitions of what “affirming” the resolution can mean. However, regardless of

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what type of critical PMC you have chosen to read, you generally will have a thesis of what you are arguing and how. It is advantageous to include some sort of text or written version of your thesis during the first minute of your speech because it clarifies the debate, increases the quality of the argumentative clash, and provides defense against fairness abuse claims from the opposition. Here are a few examples of types of texts. Standard Plan Text “The United States Federal Government should remove the severity, prosecution cooperation, and single employer requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and amend the act to rely on a self-application process. This plan text is a statement of the policy action taken by the government team— the government will usually defend the fiated implementation of their plan text by the actor specified. Demand Texts “My partner and I demand that the United States federal government should remove the severity, prosecution cooperation, and single employer requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and amend the Act to rely on a self-application process.” “Demand Texts” usually include most of the same components as a plan text, however they are distinct in two ways. First, in a typical plan text the United States is the primary subject of the sentence that does the primary verb. By adding the demand clause, the debaters are the primary subject/actor and the act of demanding is

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the primary verb. Second, the government team will typically not defend fiat when reading a demand text. The government-side debaters defend their demand upon the government (which occurs during the speech act of the PMC) and their advantages are based upon the act of advocating for the plan, not the effects of the plan implementation. Advocacy Texts “My partner and I advocate that the United States Federal Government should remove the severity, prosecution cooperation, and single employer requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and amend the Act to rely on a self-application process.” An advocacy text can function similarly to a demand text, where the government team does not use fiat and advocate for a topical plan text that simply shift the actor from the USFG to the debaters. However, advocacy texts do not have to include the USFG/other actor or a topical plan text based in the resolution. One can advocate for anything and then defend why that advocacy is good for the debate. Role of the Ballot “Vote (government) to endorse our performative interrogation of white privilege within debate and support a vision of parliamentary debate that encourages the deconstruction of community inequity” (NAU RS, 2013). Some PMCs do not have a specific advocacy/demand text but instead a role of the ballot claim, which explains why the judge

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should vote for the government team and what the ballot “does.” The example above specifies that the ballot is an endorsement of the performance of the PMC and it also gives a brief explanation or thesis statement of the PMC (performance of white privilege as a method of deconstructing community inequality).

FRAMEWORK “Framework” is a procedural argument that explains how the debate round should be evaluated, what arguments should be prioritized, and what constitutes the role of the ballot. A traditional policy framework argues that the role of the ballot is to endorse the best policy option—the government team can read a topical plan text and the opposition can read a counterplan or advocate the status quo. A critical framework could argue that, “the role of the ballot is to evaluate the discursive justifications for each team’s arguments”— this is one generic example of a critical framework. There are many different critical frameworks and it is advantageous to read a framework tailored to the specific kritik being read in the round. In a critical PMC, “framework” is generally its own contention at the beginning of the PMC. It can also be placed at the end of the PMC or incorporated into solvency. It follows a similar structure to other theory positions and includes an interpretation, standards, and voting issues. In a framework position, the interpretation outlines the role of the ballot in the debate. There are many different interpretations/roles of the ballot such as epistemology, ontology, discourse, rhetoric, or endorsement of performance as the primary factor deciding which team wins the debate. It is usually best to read a framework that is specific to a

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particular critical PMC because then your standards can argue why your specific kritik is good for debate, not just critical debate in general. In addition, reading a specific framework limits response options to your framework because some arguments about why critical debate is bad may not apply to your specific framework. Frameworks for critical PMCs will often include standards— reasons why your interpretation and role of the ballot are good for debate. You should include offensive standards that show why your “role of the ballot” is good for fairness and education in addition to defensive standards that preempt common opposition arguments. READING A CRITICAL PMC This section describes the speech-by-speech process of reading a critical PMC at a tournament. There is, of course, more than one way to conceptualize a critical debate. This section aims to provide one example of how strategic decisions are made and critical performance is deployed. The first discussions of prep time would begin when we learned whom we would debate and who was judging the debate. First, a few basic questions to determine if a critical PMC is a good idea for this debate— How does my judge feel about kritiks? What about critical PMCs? What does this judge think that I need to defend in order to win as the government team? How similarly do this judge and I think about kritiks? What type of critical literature is this judge most familiar with? These types of questions will help you decide if you will be able to get the judge on board with the story of your critical PMC. Second, we would consider our opponents and how they might respond to a critical PMC, giving us a sense of what preparation time would look like once the topic was released. When the resolution came out and

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preparation time officially began, we would revisit the discussion of whether a critical PMC was a good idea—this time with the discussion centered on one or two specific PMC options. If we found a specific PMC viable, we would pull it up on our computers and get to work copying it down. Before the tournament, we would prepare a few kritiks and/or modify links based on topic areas—there was almost always a file to prep from. It can be very helpful to have generic PMCs written prior to inputting specific harms based on the resolution, then write a few specific solvency arguments and detail your internal links and impact scenarios to the topic. I liked to write from the file and leave space where I wanted to look up specific details. When the whole PMC shell was written, I would return to the marked spaces and research the details that I wanted. Be sure to tailor your arguments with respect to the topic as well as the team you are debating and the judge, inserting spikes, arguments that the judge finds clever, etc. as you write. In our partnership, the PM would prep the whole PMC most of the time. If the kritik was new or if the MGC ran out of things to prep, the MGC would also help with PMC prep. If you are going to read critical PMCs with any regularity, it is to the benefit of the PM to have frequently used framework arguments and impacts memorized since these are very transferable between different kritiks and being able to write one word instead of flowing an explanation of the argument saves you a lot of pen time during preparation. One of the main reasons that I enjoyed reading kritikal PMCs was that I was passionate about the arguments that I was making and I tried to reflect this ethos throughout the debate. In getting a judge

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and audience on board with a kritikal PMC, one of your main goals is to make their heart bleed for what is making your heart bleed. Paint a vivid image of the importance of your PMC, use deliberate detail, and insert stories appropriately through the PMC. The delivery of the PMC is very relevant. It should not be too fast and it should have meaningful inflection and eye contact. A confident, matter-of-fact tone of voice that says, “I care about this. This is wrong. We can do better” is the tone that I frequently used in my PMCs and I found it very effective. Because critical PMCs tend to flow more like stories than policy oriented PMCs, it is especially important to be thoughtful about when you will take questions during the PMC. Wait until you reach a logical break— for instance, following the text, the harms, the solvency, or between advantages if you have more than one advantage. It is good sportsmanship to read the text at a conversational pace twice, pass a copy to your opponents, and then ask if they have a question. This goes for any text read, but it is especially important if you are reading a critical PMC because it is often the case that the opposition’s preparation time did not include preparing for your PMC. Do not feel obligated to take every question the other team has if they are raising their hands every 15 seconds, but do make sure that your opponents know what is going on. Good clash is premised on an understanding of the other team’s arguments as well as your own. Be sure to give a short, complete explanation of your PMC to your opponents so that they can know what they are debating. During preparation time, the MGC will typically focus on writing blocks to common positions that are read against critical PMCs— framework, topicality and case turns. One of the most useful tasks

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during prep time is to write short overviews for the advantages that can be extended at the top of the case flow. These overviews will help ensure that the explanation of the critical PMC stays consistent between the PMC and the MGC. Overviews also help with clarity for your opponents and judge. In the round, the order of the MGC will typically begin with answering theory (topicality or framework), case debate, followed buy other off case positions. If you are answering disadvantages primarily with framework, it may be strategic to put the disadvantages at the bottom of the MGC order, since you will already have explained framework and can cross apply it very quickly if you run out of time. Many critical MGC’s fall into the trap of extending the case failing to apply their specific kritik to the opposition’s positions. It is true that one of the benefits of reading a critical PMC is being able to narrow the debate down to something you are prepared to defend. However, you can use your method to specifically indict the opposition positions and this often makes your kritik more coherent in the mind of the judge. Generating additional offense against the off case positions gives the PMR more strategies to go for in the last speech and is still advantageous in a critical PMC. THE PMR The overview for the PMR should explain clearly and plainly the story of the government side, the insufficiency of the block strategy, and the approach that you will take to perform impact comparison. I preferred to do specific impact comparison down the flow and general impact explanation and comparison in the overview so that the judge knew what to listen for as my speech progressed. The overview should dictate the rest of the PMR and be the initial, superficial explanation for why the government has won the debate.

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Framing the debate in the PMR depends significantly on the block strategy. If the block went for a kritik, you need to win the impact debate, which is often done by controlling root cause claims. You may also need to win a framing question—winning priority of your framework. If the block went for framework, depending on the PMC, you could use the PMC as an explanation for why the exception of the government is more valuable than policy-only debate. If the opposition block went for topicality or a generic theory position, you can also use the PMC as a reason why the priority structure emphasized in the PMC is an answer to their argument. It is very important to maintain consistency with the MGC throughout the PMR, especially when reading a critical PMC, because it is told like a story through the duration of debate. Use the exact language of the MGC as much as possible when extending arguments to remind the judge of the argument so that it is very clear that the argument that you are making is not new. Phrase your arguments as a “development of a part of the MGC” in the context of an argument that the block went for— shielding you from most points of order. Some points of order are inevitable and they can be tricky. I would number each argument that my MGC made so that, during points of order, I could refer to the argument number on the flow then explain why the argument that I was making was a reasonable extrapolation of the MGC argument. ANSWERING A CRITICAL PMC There are many different strategies and off case positions that can be used to answer a critical PMC. The most important component of any strategy is effectively answering the PMC itself. If the

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opposition is unfamiliar with critical arguments and they hear a critical PMC, the common response is to make the debate about an off case position that they are more familiar with. This is often strategic. Still, in order for this to be an effective strategy the opposition has to answer the government case first. Answering the government case is almost always a good idea in debate, but it is especially key when debating critical PMCs. Most critical PMCs have built-in preempts to off case positions and theory— the opposition needs to answer those preempts in order to get access to their desired positions. If you neglect to answer the case, the government team gains full access to solvency and can claim to solve for root causes making it very hard to outweigh with an off case position. The first step in answering a critical PMC is to understand the PMC. No matter how unconventional a PMC is, it usually falls into one of two categories: (1) a PMC that advocates for something or a PMC that kritiks the notion of advocating for a particular thing. If the PMC kritiks the notion of advocating for a particular thing, then the opposition needs to explain to the judge why advocating for that particular thing is good. If the PMC advocates for a particular thing, your first step is to figure out what the PMC advocates for exactly and their method of solvency. Understanding these two components of the critical PMC will allow you to undermine the thesis of the PMC’s arguments and generate offense against the case. You can generate offense by reading case turns or miniature disadvantages that isolate why what the PMC advocates for is bad. For example if the PMC kritiks securitization and advocates for eliminating securitizing discourse, you could read case turns as to why securitization is good. You can also read defensive solvency arguments as to why the method of advocacy that the PMC uses is ineffective.

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CONCLUSION Critical PMCs are a useful and beneficial argument for debate because they allow debaters to speak from their specific social location and practice advocacy skills that will benefit them throughout their personal lives and professional careers. In addition, critical debate can be utilized to raise social awareness about issues within the debate community itself, thus empowering debaters and making debate into a more accessible activity.

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“Let The Squo Work For You”: A Treatise on Opposition Strategy Jeff Jones McKendree University

INTRODUCTION At the 2010 Midwest Debate Co-Op, I delivered a lecture on opposition strategy. Andrew Potter, a former debater for William Jewell College, posted a picture of me with the superimposed words “let the squo work for you” onto my Facebook timeline. At the time, I took it to be a largely well-intentioned joke. As I considered it more seriously, I realized that the comedy was in the simple reality that many debaters no longer believe that defense of the status quo is a viable opposition strategy. In this chapter, I will do my best to disprove that myth. The finals of the NPTE in 2011, 2012, and 2013 all featured an opposition strategy with either a counterplan or a critical alternative at its center. The government won all three of these debates with a combined 17-4 ballot count. This, in and of itself, is obviously largely meaningless because of its myriad mitigating factors, but it stands in contrast to cursory research by Lewis and Clark College Director of Forensics Joe Gantt, which suggests that the government side bias is a myth— Gantt’s numbers from the spring of 2013 showed a government win percentage of somewhere south of 48%.

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If it is true that the opposition wins most debates and that the opposition rarely defends the status quo, why then is there a need to make a change? The answer is fairly simple – because there are so few ways to affirm the topic (at least with widespread judging acceptance) and so many ways to negate it, that the element of surprise available to the opposition in a flow-centric debate will pose problems for even the most adaptable Members of Government Constructive (MGC). The central benefit to defense of the status quo is that it does, indeed, offer multiple creative collapse strategies for the Member of Opposition Constructive (MOC) speaker. This chapter discusses the necessary components of defense of the status quo, the proper way to collapse in the opposition block, a comparison to counterplan and critical debate strategies, ways to use a disadvantage to turn the government case (leveraging the status quo as a form of counterplan), and a few interesting tricks to defending the status quo while also maintaining a counterplan strategy. The goal of this chapter is not to convince you that defense of the status quo is the only viable opposition strategy, rather that it is at least one viable strategy that is well worth exploring and practicing. TIMING When should you choose a strategy that defends the status quo? The most critical point in any parliamentary debate is in the first three to five minutes of preparation time (excluding tournaments with predetermined, researched topic areas). The first few minutes of preparation time largely determine the strategic positioning of the opposition. There certainly is not any defined formula that will

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outline when it is best to defend the status quo, but there are two general situations that I will cover here. The first is what I refer to as an “embarrassment of riches” scenario. This occurs most frequently in the instance of being prepared with several well-developed disadvantages with links that may interact with each other delicately, but are all viable collapse strategies independent of each other. This may also include the presence of one or several case turns of varying length— the practice of “hiding” disadvantages on the case debate by labeling them turns is drastically underutilized. Even the best MGCs are frequently seeking places to make up for time allocation errors and frequently undercover case debate. Rather than robbing an MOC of one or more of these options, defending the status quo allows for a large number of viable hypotheses to be tested. This also allows for a significant benefit to preparation time— rather than wasting valuable minutes attempting to delicately tailor and fine tune a opposition strategy, there is more flexibility to undertake what can be called a “spray and pray” approach (being able to advance multiple arguments decreases the advantage of the government team since you have increased the likelihood of their concession or mishandling of one or more of those arguments). The second, perhaps more common situation, to defend the status quo is in the case of a judge who is predisposed to have an opposition to “conditional” opposition argumentation— i.e. the judge would not favorably view a team who read a counterplan and a criticism. It is my belief that it is essential, in any debate format, to preserve strategic flexibility. It follows logically that every team should be in support of conditionality in their opposition debates

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and opposed to it when they are on the government side. Many judges, however, would disagree with this assessment and for any number of reasons are opposed to opposition conditionality. In these instances, the way to best preserve your flexibility is indeed to defend the status quo, since the government will be largely unable to read straight turns to every single disadvantage without also providing you with the ability to kick the argument via their defensive claims on the same argument. Pairing a number of viable disadvantages with your defense of the status quo provides you with two or three hidden, conditional counterplans that have the ability to functionally solve the government case while still avoiding the ire of a judge who shuns a conditional strategy. COLLAPSE Contemporary convention in parliamentary debate holds that the back half of any given debate should feature a collapse of the opposition (the choice to focus on one or two arguments and dismiss all others in the hopes that the depth of the MOC will offset the ability of the PMR to cover them, while simultaneously adding credibility to the LOC by reasserting or perhaps even asserting for the first time warrants to the arguments that were originally presented). This has, of course, the additional benefit of making it difficult for the MGC to predict the back half of the debate and forces tradeoffs in MGC response selection that make the MGC difficult. Why, then, is there such fetishizing of the counterplanheavy opposition strategy, when it makes collapse nearly impossible? It is true that a counterplan could theoretically be read with multiple net benefits and that an MOC collapse would choose one

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of those net benefits in their collapse. In practice, however, this is extremely rare. The average LOC that is focused on a counterplan strategy will typically feature a procedural, the counterplan, the counterplan’s net benefit, and a great deal of case defense to leverage against the possible solvency deficit to the counterplan. Indeed, the increased requirement for depth of warrants in LOC shells (in the minds of many judges) means that by the time counterplan solvency and a net benefit are fully warranted, the time crunch leaves the LOC without the option to read multiple disadvantages. At the highest levels of parliamentary debate this becomes less true. While those who may decry national circuit parliamentary debate may list speed among their complaints, it is flatly not true that the event even approaches speed thresholds seen in other forms of debate (collegiate policy debate). This is necessary, of course, as the mystical need for “pen time” leaves many debaters attempting to throttle their own speed, leaving less time for a depth of argument selection. In that case, two disadvantages, opposed to a disadvantage and a counterplan, provide (at minimum) double the options for collapse— assuming proper variety in disadvantages is selected. Critical debate, of course, faces a similar obstacle. It is somewhat common to assume that criticisms must be “one off” arguments (a shell in the LOC that is 8 minutes long with very little reference to the PMC). Setting aside the basic disadvantage of conceding 7 minutes of speech time to the government, the “one off” criticism creates a situation where the government is always able to perfectly predict the back half of the debate and MGCs frequently realize that simply loading up the impact turns and permutations in their speech make the MOC very difficult. Indeed, this leaves the

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government team with the choice of collapse rather than the opposition, since the PMR can focus on the impact debate or the link/alternative debate. In this scenario, the MOC remains committed to an LOC strategy without any ability to bail out once the water is over the bow. The MOC collapse, in a situation where you choose a basic defense of the status quo, remains extremely simple. Issue selection is an extremely important part of any LOC formulation. Assuming that you have selected your LOC arguments well, the presence of two distinct disadvantages along with a variety of case arguments force the MGC to make his or her own choice and prediction of MOC issue selection and can create both a time and substance tradeoff that will allow the MOC to choose his or her own path forward. The process of collapse is fairly simple. I have seen a staggering number of debates (even some featuring debaters I have coached) that feature the MOC going for both disadvantages and nearly every case argument— they have featured an MOC who is afraid to choose. Collapsing in the MOC is a matter of choice— when selecting to “kick” an argument, disadvantages, typically, can be quickly resolved and dismissed. MGCs rarely answer a disadvantage with a strategy of “only offense,” frequently MGCs leave terminal impact defense or link defense that can be extended in the MOC to eliminate an unwanted position. It has also become fashionable for MGCs to dump huge walls of generic uniqueness take outs – sometimes called “thumpers” – and to follow that with a similarly large amount of asserted link turns. The problem with this particular MGC strategy is that the link turns very rarely manage to resolve all or any of the thumpers, resulting in a pile of parallel assertions that should achieve very little if the MOC manages to

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clarify this fact. “None of your thumpers are resolved by your link turns” is a phrase every MOC should commit to memory and should quickly deploy against many MGCs. The last, perhaps most vital, part of the MOC collapse is the selection of case arguments. Having a versatile and quick LOC who is able to make a variety of answers to the PMC in the LOC is extremely valuable. Without an MOC making intelligent choices (or perhaps any choices at all) about which of those arguments has the most utility, the LOC answers to the PMC can become a trap for their MOC. I have seen countless debates where the MOC refuses to choose case answers, instead selecting to advance nearly every argument presented by the LOC. In this circumstance, an MOC may suddenly find themselves with 60-80 seconds to cover the disadvantage that they intended to select. Obviously, this is a disastrous time tradeoff— making selections of the “correct” defensive arguments will save untold amounts of time. The key to MOC case argument issue-selection is to balance technique with truth. Obviously arguments that are wholly conceded are worth extending. From the perspective of a judge, extending some case arguments with depth and intelligent warrants will provide a significant ethos boost that can make mitigating the government case far more likely, even if that requires spending more time on those particular case arguments. COMPARISON TO COUNTERPLAN AND K DEBATE The word “inevitable” is perhaps the largest buzzword that exists in the current form of national circuit parliamentary debate. There is a large and growing belief that the PMC must assert that as many things as possible are inevitable – war, economic collapse, the loss of

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US leadership, the collapse of the gulf shrimp market – and that without properly addressing these issues the opposition side is hopeless. I have both given and coached PMRs that consist of some form of “sure, the disadvantage happens faster and it is larger, but if the world blows up the next week, who cares?” The counterplan is a convenient tool to dismiss this strategy. If the counterplan can solve for the same collection of inevitable impacts as the government, it is less relevant that the world is ending next Tuesday. Thus, a collection of angry Republicans (on a politics disadvantage) appear a much more looming threat. Perhaps the most defined difference between defending the status quo and defending a counterplan is that these inevitability claims must be addressed. I have been frequently teased for one simple observation that sums up a great deal of my philosophy in defending the status quo, “I don’t see extinction happening, do you?” This is a simplification, of course, that perhaps does not adequately address some existential threats that may be comparatively slow burning, but it does speak to a very simple tool that can work in your favor in attempts to defend the status quo: inertia. Inertia is a basic scientific concept that claims situations tend to stay in their current state unless acted upon by an outside force. In the case of inevitability claims of the PMC, those claims have to overcome a type of inertia. “We know there’s no great power war between the US and China now, but just wait, it’s coming.” Modern geopolitics seems to be lousy with examples of posturing and diplomatic strategies designed to avoid just that sort of incident. To suggest that the naturally existing path of events would eventually lead the world to distraction is simply interrogated. Disadvantages, of course, avoid this inertial problem because they make the exact opposite assertion; “the world now is

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fantastic (at the very least, there is no way that our impact is going to happen), but the plan will introduce a serious problem that changes everything in a very serious way.” These arguments become round winners, not because they are particularly nuanced or creative, but because the opposition often concedes these arguments. Parliamentary debate is organic and can take many forms. From a coaching perspective, it is nearly impossible to train your debaters in a “they say x, you say y” format. Inevitability claims, though, are a red flag to any opposition debater who wants to defend the status quo and harness the benefits discussed in this chapter. Interrogation is vital, but is not particularly difficult. Achieving the central goals of critical debate while embracing the status quo is difficult. A criticism problematizes the government side, their plan action, and/or the status quo. It would be very hard if not impossible to claim that maintenance of the status quo is the best way to address racism, gender bias, government control and the like—largely due to the same inertia problem discussed earlier. It cannot be denied that choosing to defend the status quo is also a choice to abandon a great deal of “critical” high ground. In my experience, a large number of debaters who prefer the criticism are drawn to it because they feel a higher moral calling than simply using debate as a competitive activity and they believe that the use of the discursive forum in a particular way is important for reasons that may have little to do with winning debate rounds. Defense of the status quo will surely never satiate that belief, but it is my firm opinion that that belief is inherently misguided. The use of the adversarial forum to advocate genuinely may be positive, but when that forum is merely a simulation with a strict win/loss dichotomy, being an adversary will always trump being an advocate. Hurt

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feelings and personal offense abound as a result of the refusal of many “critical debaters” to accept that their forum is poorly chosen. Defense of the status quo is absolutely a viable method for circling the wagons and deploying strategic options, but is not recommended for advocacy. “THE DISAD TURNS THE CASE” I have spent a large portion of this chapter writing about the lack of necessity to use a counterplan to resolve the central harms of the PMC. It may come as a surprise that I believe of the largest benefits to defending the status quo is that it can, in fact, address the central harms of the PMC. While it is absolutely true that the counterplan is not necessary, it is also true that there are some strategic benefits. Often times, the status quo is indeed untenable, and its defense can prove difficult. Some situations truly are unraveling, and some actions truly are needed. How can defending the status quo address these situations? The answer is quite simple – not all those who wander are lost and not all those who read counterplans are actually reading counterplans. One of the biggest mistakes I frequently see MOCs make, even in high-level debates, is that they do not think about how the opposition strategy interacts with the government strategy. I have seen countless debates that feature an economy advantage to the PMC and an economy disadvantage in the LOC— mind bogglingly, never the twain shall meet. Parallel and simultaneous debates about any number of issues can take place without proper resolution because the opposition does not force the issue. It is in the best interest of the government to frame similar issues in as disparate a manner as possible. This is because of the inevitability issue that

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was discussed earlier; the PMR is frequently framed as a “try or die” proposition because it makes for a succinct reason for decision. Far less common is a PMR strategy that frames two competing issues as a wash and urges the judge to view a separate advantage as a tiebreaker, perhaps because the “wash” strategy seems to be an inherent concession of many of the central claims of the opposition block and is very likely to undercut the ethos of the PMR. It is the burden of the opposition to force the issue and to force the judge to call a spade a spade. Many debates feature an overview from the opposition that uses the term “the disadvantage turns the case.” This can be a valuable tool for argument evaluation, but is far too often merely asserted without any sort of justification. In actuality, this explanation can be very simple and it hearkens back to the conversation about inertia that repeats throughout this chapter. The LOC should always provide an explanation of the steps the status quo is taking to address the problem area outlined by the government team. Unfortunately, for at least as long as the twelve years I have been involved in competitive debate, it has been decidedly not sexy to engage in an inherency debate. Given the intense push for “offense, offense, offense”, that seems unlikely to change any time soon. When defending the status quo, however, engaging in this debate is vital. Frequently, the MGC will attempt to dismiss these claims without direct interrogation and merely assert that the inevitability of harm as outlined by the PMC is sufficient to answer them. Nuanced and clever assertions of the status quo solving the problem area will allow a clever MOC to functionally introduce a new counterplan into the debate in the block, as the defense of the status quo suddenly becomes a defense of a superior solvency mechanism to

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the PMC. A counterplan is merely an opportunity cost disadvantage; that is, if we solve this harm in the way suggested by the government team, we lose the opportunity to solve it in this other, superior way. Asserting that the status quo solves the harms isolated in the PMC, then, makes the status quo an opportunity cost to the plan: “If we do the plan, we can’t keep doing the status quo and the status quo is doing pretty well so far.” Arguing that the disadvantage turns the case is the final step in executing this plan. The focus on inevitability can truly work against the government side because the opposition should be prepared to assert that the plan disrupts the totally tenable and solvent status quo and that the disadvantage will make the problem area outlined by the government far more severe in addition to accessing an external impact. A PMC that claims to solve for US leadership, for example, is likely to deal an equal blow to leadership if it happens to spark a specific conflict on the Arab peninsula. This leaves the MOC with the ability to make the comparison between the increase and decrease in leadership potential while also pointing out a large and specific harm that will exist external to that conversation. In their crunch for time, MGCs often find themselves conceding large parts of the specificity of various impact scenarios, making the PMR extremely vulnerable to the opposition block’s choice to exploit larger portions of that concession. DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS The so-far-unspoken drawback to counterplan debate is that the counterplan frequently needs theoretical justification— a government strategy to which an opposition defense of the status quo is not susceptible. For reasons surpassing my understanding,

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many MGCs frequently read theory to answer a counterplan, regardless of its strategic viability. These objections run the gamut from the perhaps understandable (“Opposition cannot read a PIC if there is one topical PMC”, “Conditions CPs are illegitimate”) to the utterly absurd (“No opposition fiat” or “Textual competition good”). Opposition teams who want to engage in counterplan debate must be prepared to address the full breadth of these theory objections. This can frequently suck the debate down into a myopic disaster that becomes far more “meta” than could ever be productive, while simultaneously affecting no real change. I can recall exactly only a few debates over the last three years where the round actually resulted in the judges deliberating counterplan theory. Even still, counterplan theory persists, like a bad cavity, seeping into a huge percentage of debates around the MGC and being summarily dismissed by the time the block has concluded. From a judging perspective, very few things are as tedious and bothersome as treading that same tired ground repeatedly and those choices can frequently factor in to speaker points. Counterplan theory often becomes the ultimate time suck, detracting from discussion on more pressing issues and causing the entire debate to become much thinner than it otherwise may have been. These theory debates often become a competition of two different, equally non-responsive shells and front lines. Defense of the status quo circumvents this problem, allowing the MOC to increase its depth on important substance and preserving clarity for all involved. The least used “trick” to defend the status quo is doing so in the course of actually reading a counterplan. Consultation counterplans have quickly gone out of favor in modern parliamentary debate for a number of very good reasons, not the least of which being that it is

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difficult to win both a link to a relations disadvantage and a “say yes” portion of a counterplan. This logistical inconsistency can benefit the MOC in some unexpected ways. An MGC worth his or her salt is sure to load up in the MGC on reasons why the entity being consulted would be sure to say no to the plan, meaning the counterplan solves none of the PMC. The MOC, if there is sufficient defense to the case to fall back on, is able to concede these arguments as additional warrants to the link to their disadvantage. While the counterplan no longer has any hope of solving the PMC, the link to the disadvantage can become decidedly unidirectional and place the PMR in the unenviable position of being functionally “all in on impact defense” to answer the disadvantage. This method of “backdooring” defense of the status quo into the block is unlikely to be successful often, but in the right circumstances, it can certainly catch a very good opponent unaware and unprepared. CONCLUSION Debate is ever evolving and ever changing. As parliamentary debate continues to take shape and rise to its full potential, trends in argument and strategy will change with it. It cannot be said that defense of the status quo is mandatory or always the superior option. However, it cannot be denied that it remains a viable option that is far more nuanced than it is frequently given credit for. The parliamentary debate community has taken to counterplan and criticism debates like a duck to water and without hesitation. A return to fundamentals is not always a return to simplicity. At its core, debate remains a competitive activity, and the goal is to win. Most times, the best way to achieve that goal is through embracing the path of least resistance. “Letting the squo work for you” can place you on that path with many more roads to victory available.

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Like any other strategy it must be undertaken with nuance and care, but the options that become suddenly available will make it a much more rewarding path than might otherwise have seemed possible.

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Debating the Government Case: Using Case Arguments Matt Reisener William Jewell College INTRODUCTION A successful Leader of Opposition Constructive (LOC) strategy revolves heavily around debating the case. If left un-indicted by the opposition, a strategic Member of Government Constructive (MGC) will utilize critical arguments from the Prime Minister Constructive (PMC) to answer nearly all of the positions read in the LOC. No matter how well substantiated the LOC’s off-case position are, failing to answer the PMC will almost certainly result in a victory by the Government team. Thus, it is important for the Opposition team to develop a strategy to answer the offense read by the PMC by deploying arguments against the case. TYPES OF CASE ARGUMENTS “Status Quo Solves” arguments contend that the harms isolated by the PMC can be resolved without the passage of the plan. These arguments can be especially strategic for a variety of reasons. First, if a variety of status quo solves arguments are read, they can function as de facto counter plans for the opposition team. For example, if the plan text calls for the United States Federal Government to reform the healthcare system, the LOC could read multiple arguments indicating that previous federal policies, Supreme Court decisions, and private sector reforms have already solved, or will shortly solve, the impacts isolated by the PMC.

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This strategy can be extremely beneficial because it allows the MOC to collapse to one or two of these arguments and present them as viable alternatives to the plan text. If the opposition can effectively prove that any of the policies that exist in the status quo will resolve the impacts of the PMC without risking a link to the LOC offense, there are no advantages to voting for the plan. Thus, much like a counter plan, “status quo solves” arguments allow the opposition to claim solvency for the government’s impacts while avoiding the risk of a link to the disadvantage. Since the MOC can choose which of these arguments to focus on during the opposition block, status quo solves arguments can arguably provide the opposition with a higher degree of strategic flexibility than a counterplan can, especially if the opposition is committed to running a counterplan conditionally. In the context of the case debate, a “straight turn” is an argument that indicts both the uniqueness and the link level of the government team’s advantage and claims that the passage of the plan will actually make it more likely that the harms of the PMC will come to fruition. Each straight turn is composed of two essential arguments— (1) a “non-unique” (which holds that the government’s uniqueness arguments are incorrect, and that the harms of the PMC will not occur the status quo) and (2) a “link turn” (which argues that the passage of plan will cause the impacts isolated by the PMC to occur as opposed to preventing them from happening). As an example, imagine that the government’s plan text calls for the ending of all American military aid to Israel. The PMC claims that American arms shipments to Israel have emboldened them to act aggressively towards their Middle Eastern neighbors,

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making regional war inevitable. The PMC further contends that ending arms sales to Israel would solve this problem by limiting their military prowess and making them less likely to threaten a war that they are not confident in their ability to win. The following is an example of how the LOC could attempt to straight turn this argument: 1. “Non-Unique: Israel is actually becoming less militarily aggressive towards their neighbors, largely because America’s substantial military aid has allowed us to exert leverage over Israel and compel them to negotiate with other countries.” 2. “Turn: Ending American military aid to Israel would not only remove our leverage over the Israeli government and decrease their incentive to rely on peaceful negotiations, but would also make them less confident in their own security, which would cause them to act more aggressively towards their neighbors in order to neutralize potential security threats.” These arguments can be very beneficial to the opposition team because they function as mini disadvantages against the government case. As is the case with the example above, the opposition team can use a straight turn as offense against the PMC and leverage it as a reason to reject the plan text. Since the PMC has already spent a considerable amount of their speech detailing the variety of reasons why their impacts should be avoided, straight turns can be read without having to explain an entirely new impact scenario—which is why they generally require less time to read than impact turns.

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Finally, straight turns have the added benefit of functioning not only as offense for the LOC, but as potential defensive arguments as well. In order for a straight turn to function as offense against the case, the opposition must win both the non-unique and the link turn in order to prove that solving the PMC’s impact is an opportunity cost to the plan. However, even if the government is able to effectively answer one half of this argument, failing to resolve the other half can still provide a potentially beneficial scenario for the opposition. Think back to the example of a straight turn against the plan text involving the termination of American aid to Israel. The government’s failure to answer the non-unique argument indicates that Israel is not acting aggressively towards its neighbors, which means that there is no tangible problem with the status quo that necessitates the passage of the plan. On the other hand, if the government team is unable to answer the link turn, they have conceded that the plan would cause Israel to act aggressively towards their neighbors as opposed to discouraging such behavior. While it would be difficult for the opposition to win the debate on a turn without uniqueness (if Israel is already acting aggressively, the fact that the plan results in the continuation of this action is not a unique reason to reject it), linear offense such as this functions as a solvency takeout to the government side (these arguments will be discussed later). “Impact Defense” arguments are designed to prevent the government team from gaining access to their PMC impacts. These arguments indict the logic behind the government’s impacts and prove that they will not occur or will not produce the catastrophic effects that the government claims they will. For example, if the government team claims that American economic collapse and,

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eventually, a global financial meltdown, are inevitable absent the passage of the plan, the LOC can use impact defense to answer this argument in a variety of ways. 1. “No Impact- China or the IMF would bail out the United States before they allowed our economy to collapse.” This argument is relatively simple; it holds that some exterior force will prevent the PMC’s impact from coming to fruition. 2. “The Impacts are Empirically Denied- The ongoing recovery of the American economy that has occurred after the most recent recession empirically proves that the modern American economy is resilient and will not collapse.” This argument is still fairly easy to grasp, but is slightly more complex because it relies on empirical examples to help predict what would happen if America fell into another recession. Impact defense that are rooted in compelling historical examples can be particularly difficult for MGCs to answer, especially if their terminal impacts are things such as a completely global economic collapse or world-wide thermonuclear war that have never actually occurred. An LOC that can effectively identify previous times in history when the PMC impacts have been avoided and give compelling warrants as to why they can again be avoided absent the plan will expose the absurdity of some of the more outlandish impact stories and will likely make the PMC’s warrants look weak by comparison. 3.“No Impact- Even if the American economy does collapse, that would not be sufficient to collapse the global economy.

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Other burgeoning markets like China and India would simply fill the void left by the United States.” This argument is distinct from the previous two examples because it assumes that at least a portion of the PMC’s impact will come to fruition and is content to challenge the actual effects of the impact story coming true. While not a complete impact takeout, this argument does heavily mitigate the strength of the impact, which likely makes the impact of the LOC offense seem greater in comparison. While it would obviously be preferable to make arguments that completely deny the Government team access to their impact stories, impact mitigation arguments can greatly minimize the amount of damage that these impacts can do in the PMR. The general strategy for reading impact defense is simple— if a PMC reads a bad impact argument, make smart, intuitive responses that isolate why the argument is bad. Impact defense alone will not win a debate round, but eliminating the government team’s impacts ensures that the only implications the judge can vote for are on the side of the opposition. Offense wins championships in debate, but strong defense that prevents the other team from accessing offensive arguments at the end of the debate round strengthens the opposition’s offense by weakening the opponents’. Both “impact turns” and “internal link turns” are arguments claiming that the supposed harms that the plan aims to eliminate are actually benefits that exist in the status quo. In other words, instead of eliminating a bad thing from the world, these arguments contend that the plan actually eliminates a good thing. Much like straight

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turns, impact turns can be highly beneficial for the opposition team because they function as disadvantages to the PMC that can be leveraged as reasons to prefer the status quo. In one sense, impact turns are one of the easiest offensive arguments to understand, since they generally boil down to “they say that ‘X’ is bad, but we say that ‘X’ is good.” However, there are two rules to keep in mind when attempting to impact turn an advantage. 1. Never read impact turns and link turns to the same advantage! This is a particularly easy trap for novice LOCs to fall into, as it seems logical that, if offense wins debate rounds, that the more offense read against the PMC, the greater the opposition’s chances of victory might become. However, a link turn and an impact turn read against the same position constitute what is known as a “double turn”. For example, imagine that the PMC claims that global warming is bad for the environment and that passing the plan will improve the environment by limiting the amount of CO2 that is produced. The link turn to this argument would contend that the plan actually increases global warming as opposed to stopping it, while the impact turn would argue that global warming is actually a good thing. Thus, if both of these arguments are run in conjunction with one another, the LOC has effectively argued that global warming is good and that the plan increases global warming. Instead of creating a reason to reject the plan, the presence of a double turn has inadvertently created an advantage that that the government team can solve.

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2. A good impact turn is nothing without good impact defense. While impact turns can certainly be deadly weapons when answering a PMC, it is important to remember that they are only one part of the opposition strategy. Unlike straight turns, which can win the debate round for the opposition absent the presence of impact defense, impact turns become significantly less effective if they are not read in conjunction with these arguments. Think back to the example of the advantage that claims to solve the opposition impacts of global warming. Now envision that the warrant given by the PMC for why global warming is bad is that dangerous increases in CO2 can cause ocean acidification eventually leading to a collapse of oceanic biodiversity. An impact turn contending that global warming is good because it lengthens the growing season and allows more crops to be produced would still function as offense against the plan text, but does not answer the PMC’s claim about global warming being harmful to oceanic biodiversity. While it is still possible for the opposition to win the debate with this impact turn if the LOR can convince the judge to prioritize crop yields over oceanic biodiversity, it would likely be much easier for the judge to vote for the opposition if the LOC is able to give compelling reasons why ocean acidification will not occur, is not caused by global warming, or will not affect oceanic biodiversity. Thus, it is important to remember to indict the logic of the PMC’s impact scenarios in addition to reading distinct scenarios as impact turns. Just as impact defense arguments focus on challenging the impact claims made by the PMC, “solvency defense” arguments indict the

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ability of the plan text to solve for the harms isolated in the case. Solvency defense arguments can be exceptionally useful to an LOC because they call into question the utility in enacting the plan in the first place. It does not matter how many terrible impacts will occur as a result of events such as economic collapse, starvation, or a great power war if the plan is not capable of preventing these catastrophes from occurring. Thus, if the impacts of the PMC are inevitable with or without the passage of plan, the opposition will likely be able to win the debate on the risk that the plan will link to at least one of the opposition’s disadvantages. As was the case with impact defense, teams will not usually be able to win debates simply by winning solvency deficit arguments. However, when combined with exterior offense, solvency take-outs can prove an effective way to mitigate the relevance of the PMC’s impact claims. The final category of case arguments are “impact framing” arguments that seek to compare the impacts of the LOC to the impacts of the PMC in a manner which portrays the LOC impacts as being the most important in the debate round. While these types of arguments are exceptionally common in later opposition speeches such as the MOC and LOR, they are often underutilized during the LOC in spite of their strategic importance. Impact framing arguments typically focus on three factors to determine the preferentiality of impact arguments: timeframe, probability, and magnitude. Timeframe arguments contend that the judge should preference impacts that are either occurring in the status quo or will occur in the near future as opposed to those that will happen down the road. Probability arguments hold that the impact that is the most likely to occur should be preferred over larger or faster impacts that happen to be less probable. Magnitude arguments state

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that the impact that produces the greatest effect on the greatest number of individuals is the one that should be prioritized. While many teams are content to save these arguments for the opposition block, any impact framing that can occur during the LOC puts the opposition a step ahead of their opponents. LOC impact framing can help to create a consistent narrative in the judge’s mind that will allow for the block to be substantially more coherent. Impact framing that is presented in the LOC and unanswered by the MGC are susceptible to a point of order ruling during the PMR that would be favorable to the opposition. Many LOCs have the tendency to appear random and chaotic in terms of their organization largely because the structure of parliamentary debate lends itself towards the LOC shot-gunning many tangentially related arguments only to allow the MOC and LOR to make sense of this mess by crafting a coherent story during the block. However, impact framing in the LOC can draw a clearer connection between the varying pieces of LOC offense and the plan text by allowing for the comparison of impacts. Being able to say in the LOC that “the politics disadvantage will outweigh the advantage on the basis of magnitude,” “the impact turns will occur in the fastest timeframe,” or “the impacts of the criticism are the most probable and systemic impacts,” will ensure that, regardless of how confusing the government team’s speeches may be, at no point in the debate round will the judge have any doubt regarding how the opposition’s positions interact with one another and the PMC. The earlier that the opposition is able to create this narrative, the less likely the judge will be to give the PMR free reign to respond to the overall thesis of the opposition if the MGC fails to adequately do so

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(which is likely, considering how focused MGCs tend to be on the line-by-line as opposed to the big picture). READING CASE ARGUMENTS WITH A COUNTERPLAN Many debaters incorrectly assume that it is not necessary to read case arguments when the LOC includes a counterplan that will intuitively solve for the majority of the case. This belief could not be further from the truth; case arguments can actually increase the effectiveness of a counterplan in a variety of ways if they are deployed strategically. When an LOC reads a counterplan that solves for the case and case defense that does not link to the counterplan, that defense actually functions as de facto offense against the PMC. This is because the plan is now faced with a massive solvency deficit that does not affect the counterplan, which would justify voting for the opposition in order to solve the harms of the PMC as opposed to voting government. With this in mind, LOCs who opt to read counterplans should also make a wide variety of case arguments against the actor or process utilized by the plan that do not link to the counterplan. For example, if the LOC decides to read a counterplan calling for the UN to pass the plan as opposed to the United States, they should also read arguments indicating that the US is uniquely incapable of solving for the case impacts while also providing offensive reasons why the US acting would be a bad idea. Additionally, effectively answering the case during the LOC can strengthen a counterplan by mitigating any potential solvency deficit that the counterplan might have in comparison to the plan. Imagine that the opposition is considering reading a counterplan that clearly solves the entirety of the government’s first advantage,

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but likely only solves a small portion of advantage two. While the LOC might be somewhat deterred from reading a counterplan that does not solve the entirety of the case, a strong list of case arguments against the second advantage would eliminate the ability for the government to leverage a solvency deficit as offense against the counterplan. Consider the following examples: 1. Reading a list of impact defense arguments against an advantage that the counterplan does not solve prevents the MGC from claiming that the counterplan should be rejected on the basis of a solvency deficit. If neither the plan nor the counterplan is capable of solving for a particular advantage, the advantage in question will likely become irrelevant to the debate. This same logic can be applied to status quo solves arguments. If the opposition can prove that the status quo will inevitably resolve the impact of a particular advantage, then solving that impact in question cannot be considered to be an advantage for the government against the counterplan. 2. Impact turning an advantage that the counterplan does not solve actually creates an advantage to the counterplan by ensuring that the benefits of the status quo remain unaltered. Therefore, if the PMC reads an advantage that the counterplan clearly cannot solve for, it is strategic for the LOC to impact turn that advantage and claim that the counterplan’s inability to solve for it is actually an advantage to the counterplan. For example, if the plan claims to solve for US hegemony while the counterplan does not, impact turning this advantage and claiming that US hegemony is actually bad would make the counterplan’s insurance of hegemony’s

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collapse a net benefit to the counterplan as opposed to a solvency deficit. READING CASE ARGUMENTS WITH A KRITIK The types of case arguments that an LOC should read with the kritik are largely dependent on what kritik is being run. For example, if the kritik indicts the military industrial complex, it would be a very poor strategy for the LOC to read case arguments indicting that US hegemony would solve the internal link to the PMC’s impacts. While the following strategies may not work with every kritik, they are all viable options that can help to strengthen kritkal arguments when deployed in the correct context. 1. Case arguments can function as hidden links to the kritik. While many kritikal teams prefer to make all of their link arguments in the shell of the argument itself, other teams prefer to litter the advantage flows with additional link arguments that isolate specific representations from the PMC that they find problematic. In some instances, this can actually be a more effective way to make link arguments, as it allows the LOC to point to specific arguments from the PMC and explain why they function as links to the kritik, while also allowing the judge to actually look at and reference the arguments being referred to. Thus, this strategy can help to ensure that the kritik establishes a clear link story from its inception, making the argument seem substantially more compelling to the judge. 2. LOCs can read smaller, more condensed kritikal arguments as turns to the case that can function as additional net benefits

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to the alternative. This can be an especially strategic way to read additional offense if the kritik is being run unconditionally, as many debaters find it difficult to read case turns that do not also link to the kritik in some way. However, in order for this strategy to be effective, it is important that the turns read are not only philosophically compatible with the kritik itself but can also be solved by the alternative. For example, if the LOC reads a kritik of colonialism, it could also be strategic to read smaller kritiks on case that indict similarly problematic endorsements such as capitalism and militarism that the LOC could likely claim to originate from the same root cause as colonialism. 3. Case defense provides an opportunity to question the genesis of the PMC’s impact claims. While the shell of the kritik is hopefully engaging in this strategy to a certain degree, the LOC can also use case arguments to argue against the probability that the PMC’s impacts will ever come to pass, while also indicting the flawed mindset that caused the government team to read this argument in the first place. For example, if an LOC has read a kritik of capitalism and is responding to advantage about American hegemony, the LOC could make arguments that our notions regarding the importance of military dominance are false ideals that were created by the military industrial complex to prop up the very systems of power being criticized and that the PMC’s impact claims are based on illusory threats constructed by these systems of power to justify their continued existence. Such arguments not only serve as potentially devastating impact defense, but could also function as hidden links to the kritik

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since they illustrate how the PMC is heavily influenced by the very mindset that is being indicted.

READING CASE ARGUMENTS WITH THEORY POSITIONS While many judges are willing to vote for theory arguments absent proven abuse on the part of the opposition team, it is almost universally agreed upon that these arguments become more compelling if the government has clearly abused the opposition in some way. Case arguments present a unique opportunity for the opposition to bait the government into proving abuse on theory, as the LOC can read case arguments that assume that their interpretation on theory is the correct one. Examine the following scenario: Resolution: The United States Federal Government should militarily intervene in Syria. Topicality Interpretation: “Militarily Intervene in Syria� means that the plan text must mandate the presence of American troops on the ground in the nation of Syria. Topicality Violation: The plan does not call for any American troops to actually be on the ground in Syria, but instead calls for the US to create a no-fly zone over the country. In order to bait the Government team into proving abuse on Topicality, rather than reading a full disadvantage discussing US troops, the LOC could read smaller case offense against American

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troops being on the ground in Syria. While this argument absolutely does not link to the plan text, it begs for the MGC to make this very argument, which would function as a “no link� to these offensive LOC arguments and prove the abuse on topicality. Making arguments that obviously do not link to the plan text may seem like an odd strategy for an LOC to adopt, but it allows the LOC to control the direction of the debate. If the LOC spent 20 minutes of prep time under the assumption that the plan text would involve a ground invasion of Syria only to be caught completely off guard when the plan takes a different action, reading a topicality argument arguing for the interpretation of the resolution that the LOC predicted in conjunction with offense against the predictable plan action forces the MGC to do one of two things: 1. The MGC no-links this offense, providing the MOC with proven abuse and a clean opportunity to collapse to topicality. Or 2. The MGC does not no-link the offense and instead accepts that the offense (which does not link to the plan) does in fact link and chooses to answer it using other arguments. If the MGC takes this option, it eliminates any strategic advantage the Government team may have gained by catching the LOC off guard and forces them to make the debate about what the Opposition team prepared to answer. Naturally, this strategy works with other theory arguments as well. If the LOC is reading E-Spec, read offense against a specific enforcement agency and dare them to either no-link the offense and

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prove abuse or debate the position that you specifically prepared for. While it is inadvisable to use this as a primary opposition strategy, it does allow the LOC with a fallback option if they are caught off-guard or anticipate having to go for theory alone in the opposition block. CONCLUSION Case arguments are an extremely valuable tool for the LOC to utilize, but it is important to remember that there is no exact formula to follow to determine which case arguments to read. Instead, debaters should focus on reacting to the arguments presented in the PMC and crafting the strategy that best answers that specific case. Whether they are read to bolster other positions such as counterplans or kritiks or are read simply as a defense of the status quo, the ability to make effective LOC case arguments can frequently be the difference between winning and losing a debate round.

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The Case for Politics: Researching, Writing, and Answering Politics Disadvantages Kevin Garner William Jewell College INTRODUCTION Since the politics disadvantage falls into a category that a handful of arguments occupy, “love them, or hate them,� there is a need to discuss the relevance and importance of the politics disadvantage to parliamentary debate. If you come to this text with a predisposition against this argument, I ask that you keep an open mind to the argument being ran in front of you as a critic, taught to you by a coach, or ran against you as a debater. While the argument does not have to be your favorite, nor do you need to read a politics disadvantage, encouraging argumentative diversity is important to the goals of our activity. All debate is good debate and that includes politics disadvantages. The largest objection I hear with politics disadvantages is that they are not realistic; that a policy action cannot change the course of an election, congresspersons do not horse trade on legislation, and there is no connection between plan and the increasing/decreasing of magical political capital. First, the underlying belief that these scenarios do not or cannot happen is untrue. To say that policy actions happen in a vacuum and do not have political ramifications

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for the individuals tied to the particular action would ignore all political calculus made by the president and members of Congress. Democrats who stuck to party and personal beliefs lost re-election in 2012 after supporting the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)—a backlash against a large policy action. Horse-trading is most notable concerning earmarks or on concessions concerning like-minded action. Committee members frequently trade votes to get their pet projects on to bills; however, in an era without earmarks, congresspersons are finding other ways to get legislation through Congress. The debate over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also proof of the role of horse-trading. At the time of writing this chapter, NPR and others report that members of Congress are preventing a vote on the Director position, however, have agreed to allow the vote if they have more control over the agency’s regulations, since they currently have none. While one can contend each of these examples and the many more I could provide have other operating factors, a significant role does exist for how other policy actions influence the passage or inaction on other legislation. Second, whether or not a politics disadvantage is realistic should be a question of probability framed in debate rounds. Most of the arguments we make in rounds are not realistic; we developed the concept of “fiat” due to that very fact. However, for many, the politics debate is taken out of our “game playing” mindset and placed openly for criticism. Are there politics disadvantages that are bad, unrealistic, and even flat out lies? Absolutely— which is why you should read the rest of this chapter. The same is true for kritiks, counterplans, cases, and procedurals. As a lover of the politics disadvantage, nothing frustrates me more than hearing teams run an

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argument where the bill is not even out of committee or states a slew of polls to prove their argument. Like all other arguments, we should not exclude them out right. We should teach and write good politics arguments and responses to them—all of which allow for further inspection of the effects of plan and add another layer of depth to our activity. TYPES OF POLITICS DISADVANTAGES While there can be a variety of different ways to frame a politics disadvantage, I am going to outline the three most common: elections, horse trading, and political capital. Briefly, I want to describe a “focus link” element that is a common component to politics disadvantage—the notion that the president will get distracted by the plan and so the president cannot focus on another piece of legislation does not seem well articulated in the literature base and hints at a larger question of how much capital the president needs in order to deal with multiple major policy initiatives. Focus Link In the event of a “focus link,” the opposition team contends that, in the status quo, the president and/or media focuses on one issue, which is on the brink of passage. The issue requires 100% of the president and media’s attention in order to pass. The uniqueness also includes a “now is the key time” argument, contending the issue is at a “make or break” moment. The government plan disrupts the focus on the major issue. The link arguments generally include the plan being controversial and/or partisan or the plan changes the how the media covers the major issue. As a result of plan, the

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attention is no longer focused on the major issue, which causes the issue not to pass and the implications ensue. Election Story The election politics disadvantage is popular in months leading up to a major election, whether a presidential cycle or mid-term elections. Tournaments in even number years (particularly from September through October) will see a flood of these arguments. Debaters should also be aware of any key special elections occurring, since they often have dramatic implications on policymaking. The uniqueness argument contends that one ore more elections are close now, whether for president or for key congressional races, that can determine the balance of power in Congress. To prove uniqueness, debaters will cite recent polling data and quotes from articles about the intensity of the race. The uniqueness will also include key issues that can swing the election along with reasons why the races are important. The link level contends that the government plan upsets key constituencies; the plan is unpopular with voters or the plan changes the message on important issues. As a result, the favorable candidate/party (per the opposition) will lose, causing the alternative person/party to pass bad legislation or prevent good legislation from becoming law. Horse Trading Horse-trading, or vote trading, is a political practice with a long history of use. Vote trading occurs when elected officials vote on legislation in exchange for support or opposition to other legislation. The process is hard to quantify and often lacks transparency. Trading is common for earmarks, as members will agree to vote for one another’s pet projects. In theory, earmarks are now banned;

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however, they still exist in a different form—committee chairpersons decide if the “earmark” is an appropriate congressional appropriation. Horse-trading also describes elected officials who make politically driven votes in order to help their re-election or pass their own agenda. For instance, in order to avoid appearing too liberal, a moderate Democrat who is on the fence regarding gun control may vote against important legislation to appease their district, especially in light of other controversial votes. In a debate round, the opposition’s uniqueness states that passage of a bill is likely, but is on the brink and any change by a congressperson will doom the bill. The uniqueness will describe how the current congressperson has cover to vote for or against a particular bill, but cannot have other legislation that would remove their cover. The link argues that the government plan will cause a congressperson to shift votes on other legislation in order to appease their constituency. The shift in the vote will cause a bill to pass or not to pass and that is bad. Political Capital Political capital has a long history in literature discussing the presidency and congressional action. There is no doubt that a popular president has the ability to drive an agenda and unpopular presidents see difficulty navigating gridlock in Congress, even among the president’s own party. The degree to which political capital exists and its power is a source of debate among presidential scholars, yet it is hard to dispute the presence of political capital. The opposition team contends in the uniqueness that the president’s political capital is high, but finite, and the president is using the capital to push through a major piece of legislation. The link shows how that the government plan forces the president to expend

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political capital, since the president is signing a controversial bill. The plan’s expenditure of political capital removes focus, changes the docket, or for some other reason detracts from the legislation. The internal links and impacts will highlight the importance of the bill that does not pass and the terminal harms that result. SELECTING A DISADVANTAGE TOPIC Debaters and coaches often find the research and selection of a topic for a politics disadvantage very difficult. There are always the obvious choices if a presidential election is happening or a piece of hot button, controversial legislation is actively being debated in Congress and receiving media attention. Even common disadvantages, take effective research and framing in order to make them successful, especially since government teams often predict these disadvantage topics. The first step in researching a politics disadvantage is finding out which elections are important and what bills are currently in Congress. For an elections disadvantage, you should focus on races that are close and can determine the balance of power in Congress. Too often, I hear debates that involve races that are pre-determined outcomes that are unlikely to shift. Bad politics debates involve a team reading off every race and trying to sound good by namedropping incumbents, challengers, and states; that is meaningless and only wastes time that you could use to focus on critical races that shape future, specific legislation (well informed judges get a good laugh when people get the state or party of the candidates wrong). Simple searches for “battleground states and races” or “toss-ups” can point a debater in the right direction. Using running polling data provided on realclearpolitics.com or analysis by Nate

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Silver of FiveThirtySeven through the New York Times can give a debater insight on important races. When starting to research a bill, the first place to look is on a website that monitors the status of bills in Congress. Two good sites to track bills are govtrack.us and opencongress.org. A quick note on Govtrack, the website provides a percentage as to the likelihood of a bill passing; I do not suggest relying on this number to determine what bills to use as a scenarios or how critics should evaluate the legitimacy of a position. The methodology does not take into account non-quantifiable factors, such as political capital, the political climate at the time, circumstances facing members of the committee or larger congressional body, and so forth. Debaters should also go directly to the House and Senate committee websites. The sites provide the full list of committee members that will help with uniqueness stories and provides a full listing of bills the committee considers. Before writing an argument, make sure the bill actually exists in the current session of Congress. Too often, when researching responses to a disadvantage, I find the bill does not exist in the current session, but was an old bill. Instead of taking the time to do extra research, debaters often read of an interesting bill that could cause nuclear war impacts and run with it without knowing the full facts. Make sure you know (and are honest) about the status of the bill— it is advisable to make the status of a bill clear in your LOC. Is the bill in committee? Is it scheduled for debate on the floor? Does the bill exist in both chambers of Congress? All of these are important factors to outlining (and answering) a good politics disadvantage. Just because a bill is in committee does not mean you cannot run the argument. For example, a bill’s passage may be

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inevitable if it just gets through a committee vote. A team can argue that the government plan prevents bill from getting through committee. It is all about creativity, but also honesty and being informed. The next step is to read the text of the bill—not just the summary, news report or the sponsor’s press release— read the actual text of the bill. While a third party’s description of a bill may get you the impact story you want, the actual text of the bill provides context and complete provisions. Debaters will also find gems contained in bills that are useful for the link story and alternative impact framing. Knowing the bill inside and out will also give you a perceptual advantage, showing the critic that you understand the complexities of your argument, gaining credibility, even from skeptical politics critics. After reading the bill, you should then see if there is public commentary and media coverage of the bill. Direct quotes from elected officials, leaders of interest groups, and other policy stakeholders give credibility to a disadvantage, showing that you are not making an assumption about the positions of the parties mentioned in the argument. As you read the bill and any news coverage available, take thorough notes about anything that pertains to the bill. Relevant items include sponsors, co-sponsors, interest groups who support and oppose the bill, where the bill exists in the legislative process, what happened to the bill in previous sessions, public perception of the bill, and any other materials. At this point in the research process, do not get caught up in trying to find out how everything fits into the “uniqueness, link, internal link, and impact” categories. Focusing your research on the

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final product prevents debaters from discovering additional information that can make the disadvantage stronger. Once you outlay out all of the possible research (go beyond the first couple of articles on Google; actually get into detail in your research) and determine a legitimate scenario exists, you can construct the disadvantage. UNIQUENESS The uniqueness portion of the debate is the most difficult part of a politics disadvantage. The uniqueness section of the disadvantage is where the bulk of the debate on the argument takes place. Even the best politics debaters seem to miss key uniqueness elements of a politics disadvantage. The uniqueness debate is also the reason many debates on the politics disadvantage become unclear, creating frustration for critics and opponents alike. I will outline the important elements to include in the uniqueness of a politics disadvantage while also discussing examples of how the uniqueness debate might become confusing and/or messy. For elections politics disadvantages, uniqueness debates often center on the latest polling data. The best uniqueness for election arguments does not rely on citing 30 different polls showing a close election and moving on—rather, the opposition should outline the key indicators in the poll and factors influencing voters’ decisions. A good place to find the latest polling data is realclearpolitics.com. However, instead of advancing generic numbers before you move onto the link portion of the debate, read each poll and look at the data; here you will find even more information about what voters are thinking that will benefit your disadvantage. Look for data concerning issues the voters find most important and likelihood of

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voters switching in that particular location. Use the data that you collect as warrants for your uniqueness claims. You also want to develop reasons that your polls are the best, beyond just the date of the poll, as second line analysis for competing poll debates. Poll preferencing analysis in the LOC shell makes the critic’s job easier, resulting in a debate that is more likely to be decided in your favor. When running a presidential scenario, focus on key state polls; remember the popular vote does not matter, just the states that will get the winning candidate 270 Electoral College votes. When writing a horse-trading or political capital disadvantage, the first point should always be a description of the legislation that your scenario discusses. Debates go awry when the critic and government team are not clear as to the name or intent of the legislation. While some opposition teams do this strategically, critics generally (and should) err government if the necessary background information does not exist or is unclear. The LOC should include the bill number and full name of the bill— do not start out by referring to the bill by an acronym. Outline the relevant points of the bill and where the bill stands in Congress. After describing the bill, you should construct an argument demonstrating the status of the bill— how the bill will likely pass now (or fail, depending on your story). You shold give specific reasons while also listing the relevant officials to your position and why they are crucial to the bill’s passage/defeat. If you are running a political capital scenario, you will want to detail how the president’s political capital is high enough to pass the bill now, but political capital is finite and cannot be split on multiple bills. You will need to research the president’s victories to see why the president has enough political capital now as warrants for your argument. Be careful to avoid portraying

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capital as so resilient/high that the president would have enough capital to advocate for multiple positions (uniqueness overwhelms the link). Having spikes/pre-empts (arguments that predict and take into account government responses) should always exist in the uniqueness level of a politics disadvantage. One of the most effective ways to create and defend an argument is by brainstorming all the ways in which you would answer the same argument if another team ran the position against you. Constructing your arguments in a way that already assumes the government’s responses will give the MOC the advantage of extending conceded arguments that put the government team behind in the debate. Good ways to frame the argument include, “Despite (government response), (insert opposition claim/warrant),” or “Even though…” Using the previous examples helps the critic flow the argument and makes the connection clearer later on when the LOR extends and analyzes the position. A uniqueness point needs to also include “now is the key time” arguments. The opposition can get an early timeframe advantage with a correctly framed uniqueness argument that discusses the immediate need to address the election or the legislation, etc. A solid timeframe argument, coupled with attacks on case, allows the opposition to prioritize the disadvantage from the LOC. Finally, the last point in a uniqueness story is one that is often overlooked by opposition teams— you should always generate uniqueness for your impact story. While the bill or election exists to generate uniqueness to an extent (“x” bill prevents the impacts), for many scenarios, that is not enough. Be clear about the status quo

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situation regarding your impact story. For example, if you intend to win that Republican control of the house means that they will pass legislation that is bad for the economy, you will need to win that the economy is not collapsing in the status quo. In addition, add a “zero sum” element to your argument. By framing your story as all or nothing, you have an advantage over the government in terms of impact framing since there can be alternative causes for harms and solvency of the PMC scenarios but not so for the disadvantage. LINKS The link section of a politics disadvantage seems intuitive; aside from a few minor changes that I will suggest, most teams usually correctly engage the link level. I advocate for a change in the depth of the link analysis. For example, a typical link should include the claims, “plan upsets key group” or “plan forces the president to use a lot of political capital.” The key is for the opposition to go beyond making a generalization of the group who is upset. Instead, the opposition should give specific reasons as to why the group is upset and why the group is critical to the rest of the disadvantage’s story. Do not say, “Plan is good for the environment and Republicans hate the environment, therefore would all be very upset with the plan.” Politics disadvantages should also have a perception link. Elected officials, the media, interests groups, and the general public respond to actions based upon the created perception, regardless of the actual effects of a piece of legislation. If a politician, for example, believes the public will perceive an action as harmful to its interests (even if the action is helpful), a politician will often oppose the action out of self-preservation. The perception link gives the opposition an advantage because the opposition no longer has to

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win that a group actually gets upset or the president actually loses political capital, but the mere fear of these actions will lead to the impact scenario. Finally, opposition teams can benefit from nuanced wording of link stories. While the wording of the link needs to be constructed in a way that will not confuse the critic and opposing debaters, framing a link story so that a link turn or no link argument that might seem obvious becomes non-responsive, gives more weight to the disadvantage. For example, instead of saying, “the plan upsets moderates because of more government control,” frame it as, “plan upsets moderates because of the perception that it is a tax increase.” The second bit of language is more specific and effective. The link should then give warrants as to why the moderate perception is key. INTERNAL LINKS The internal link section of a disadvantage generally has little weight in most rounds. Often, the internal link does not exist or the link includes the internal link story. The internal link provides detailed warrants about how the plan leads to the terminal impacts. Inexperienced debaters often confused the internal link for the impact, such as saying, “plan causes the economy to weaken,” or “plan hurts United States hegemony,”— these are not terminal, weighable impacts. For an election scenario, the internal link should discuss how the upsetting of key constituents results in loss of an election for the candidate and/or political party (the link gives reasons why the plan upsets the uniqueness; the internal link creates the connection). The internal link should set up the impact scenario by stating what policies will/will not pass as a result— again, be

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specific and name legislation— go beyond saying “Republican control will hurt women, the LGBT community, etc.” An effective and under-utilized strategy for election scenarios is to set up an impact story that can happen immediately because of the plan shifting the eventual election winner. The downside to election stories is the timeframe is often distant and other unforeseen events can prevent the impact story. For example, if government plan causes the Democrats to win, the opposition can argue that Israel is fearful that the particular party or presidential candidate is perceived as pro-Palestine, so Israel will choose to strike Iran immediately while still having a supportive government. Now, the opposition has an immediate terminal impact, which will likely turn case, while also have long term, terminal impacts. IMPACTS The first important impact argument, commonly absent in politics disadvantages, should be that the disadvantage turns the government case. Knowing the resolution ahead of time and having a rough sense of the government plan allows you to construct the impact story so that the election story or legislation rolls back or prevents the government plan from happening. Creativity is important here since the story may not directly deal with the government harms claims. Remember, since perception is critical, the perception of the disadvantage implicates the solvency of the case. The most effective disadvantages do not jump immediately to a nuclear war and extinction scenario. Debaters often focus on the magnitude level of the debate— especially since many PMCs will

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begin the debate by claiming to solve for a large impact. However, in combination with good case defense, more probable disadvantage scenarios often win the debate. The benefit of reading the bill at the beginning of the research process is that you can identify provisions that develop an impact story that does not necessarily lead to nuclear war. The bill that you select will certainly affect many people. These impacts are beneficial since the timeframe is immediate. Of course, the disadvantage can end with a larger magnitude, lower probability impact. The impact should include specific elements of the bill that will create both perceptions and tangible conditions to cause a large-scale impact. The bill does not even have to deal directly with the larger impact, whether nuclear war or the environment, but can establish conditions that will lead to a worstcase scenario. MGCs will often read a bulk of their arguments on the last impact claim made by the LOC. Multiple, smallermagnitude impact scenarios offer the MOC the opportunity to dismiss many MGC arguments simply by extending defense and advancing smaller, more probable impacts. ANSWERING THE POLITICS DISADVANTAGE When responding to a politics disadvantage, you are making many similar answers that you often make to other disadvantages; as such, I will not re-hash all the ways to respond generically to the argument. Instead, I want to outline a few specific recommendations about framing your answers specific to the politics disadvantage. Just as the opposition does not need to list off twenty different polls to win the uniqueness debate, neither does the government. Instead,

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you should also engage in an evaluation of the polls and argue why yours subsumes and/or takes priority. In addition, the “uniqueness overwhelms the link” argument rarely finds its place in the debate. During the 2012 election cycle, I listened to opposition teams read off ten polls saying Obama was winning; while the polls showed the election somewhat tight, most of the numbers indicated an unlikely victory for the Romney campaign. The government, when the scenario is a presidential election, needs to force the opposition to outline specific states that can swing the Electoral College and to detail how the plan can create a common response in each of the states. The popular vote does not matter, thus, state polls should be evaluated first. Similarly, many non-elections based politics disadvantages hinge on the opposition’s ability to characterize a common response— i.e. all Republicans will not backlash in the same way to a particular piece of legislation. The common, inept willingness by opposition debaters to cast a net of large groups (interest groups, political parties, etc.) and characterize their response as united is a prime location for the government to answer politics disadvantages. After learning about a new politics scenario, government teams should look at the congressional docket and what major legislation is under discussion and receiving media attention. If the bill is not on the docket or slated for a later vote, the government team can argue that both the scenario cannot exist and potentially make a straight turn by arguing that the plan causes a positive shift in the docket or committee. In addition, if other controversial pieces of legislation are on the top of the docket, the government should outline those bills and contend that other pieces of legislation are more likely to trigger the scenario— the “more likely” part does not

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exist in many rounds. The ability to characterize other legislation as “more likely to trigger the scenario” is an effective an effective means of creating a hierarchy of competing reasons that the opposition impact scenario is inevitable. Finally, media focus matters. If the plan is not big enough to gain any focus, then there is no reason that a vote on the government plan would cause backlash by voters and/or members of Congress. There is also a variety of effective ways to specifically attack the link level of the argument. When debating a horse-trading scenario, the government needs to develop an argument contending that horsetrading does not exist on major pieces of legislation. While horsetrading exists within committee work, usually to allow different congresspersons’ pet projects into a bill, members of Congress do not trade their votes on major legislation, issues that members campaign on and/or, issues that gain the focus of national commentary. The opposition should force the government to give specific, proven examples of horse-trading on major bills and regarding the bill in the disadvantage scenario. In addition, the government can challenge the notion of “political cover.” Opposition teams claim that the status quo gives officials cover to vote for/against a controversial bill and the plan removes that cover, causing the official to switch votes. Much like the horse-trading argument, government teams need to put the burden on the opposition to give examples of instances in which the same type of scenario took place. “Winners’ Win” is the standard offensive argument against the link level of a politics disadvantage. The government team contends that the plan is a win for the president and/or Congress and as such

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causes the bill in the disadvantage’s scenario, which will not pass now, to pass— or causes a bill that will pass now to pass inevitably. The theory behind this link turn is that popular leaders get to pass an agenda— similar to a political capital argument advanced by the opposition. Make sure the link turn provides specific reasons why the plan is popular (too often these link turns fizzle because of the lack of depth) and give a clear, warranted connection to the passage of the disadvantage’s bill as a result. There are two major, under utilized arguments made on the internal link and impact level. The first is that the president will veto the bill. Since the vote was close per the disadvantage, the veto cannot be overridden. Rarely does the president come up for discussion in legislative politics debates. Remember that the president may veto the bill, provided the government team provides warrants for the veto claim. In addition, when debating an election scenario (and even bills scheduled for a later vote), the government needs to make arguments along the lines of the familiar “October Surprise” claim. Major events often happen that can change the course of an election and passage of legislation. While the government team obviously cannot predict the future, they might be able to predict any logical chain of arguments that may result in substantially changing the disadvantage impact uniqueness. Finally, answering the impacts and framing impact calculus can help government debaters. The government needs to find a way that the plan can solve the impacts to the disadvantage. At times, this argument requires more creativity (be honest, still). Government teams need to think beyond just the direct implications claimed in case, but what larger perceptions and/or direct effects of the plan

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prevent the impacts. Since the opposition runs a politics disadvantage with the goal of having a large-scale impact to outweigh the government case going into the MOC, the MGC needs to frame impacts in a way that allows the PMR, in the worstcase scenario, to lose the disadvantage, but still win the debate. The MGC can prioritize timeframe and probability. Elections scenarios take a long time to become reality (remember, even after the election it is not until the following year that the new president and Congress assume power— a commonly missed argument). The effects of legislation, though the opposition will claim perception, do not matter until the bill and all its mandates go into law. For any large, sweeping bill, mandates are gradually rolled out (the Affordable Care Act, for example). The MGC should contend that the plan impacts happen first and thus change the direction of the uniqueness and entire story of the disadvantage. If argued correctly in the MGC, the government team is generally ahead on the probability debate. The connection between plan mandates and case impacts should be clearer and more direct than the links and internal links of any politics disadvantage, requiring the opposition team to win many more connections for their impact claims to be true. If the MGC spends time arguing for the impact framework level of the debate, this may render mute even the most specific and difficult to understand/answer politics disadvantage. CONCLUSION While the politics disadvantage has many critics, the argument is not going away. By taking the time to properly research and construct a politics argument, the debate as a whole becomes better and more critics will be open to listening to the position.

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Effectively Answering Criticisms in the Member of Government Constructive Jared Bressler Texas Tech University

INTRODUCTION Criticisms have become an important element of parliamentary debate. Some debaters, coaches and judges categorically disapprove of these arguments and actively discourage debaters from reading these arguments. Despite disdain for critical arguments among many debaters and judges, these arguments continue to appear in late elimination rounds of national tournaments—including the final round of the NPTE for three of the last five years. Refusing to take these arguments seriously makes competitive success impossible. In this chapter, I will discuss advisable strategies for answering criticisms. Framework arguments focus on what and how impacts should be prioritized. All criticisms, whether presented in the Prime Minister Constructive (PMC) or Leader of Opposition Constructive (LOC), include some form of framework debate—i.e. a decision to prioritize probability, magnitude, systemic impacts, etc. Many criticisms also have a separate section dedicated to explaining the thesis of the criticism—typically, a “thesis section” is included by debaters who do not include a macro-level explanation of their argument in the framework section. Theses often make broad claims about the nature of reality, the state, society or the nature of competitive

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debate that are continually reinforced throughout the entire criticism. If you are tasked with answering a criticism, conceding these arguments can make many of your arguments irrelevant, while properly answering them can undermine the entire criticism. Link arguments generate a link to the government case or to the resolution/debate round. There are many ways criticisms link to a case including reference to specific plan action, discourse used to justify the government’s plan, or failure to address issues that the criticism considers imperative. Often, links are the most uncontested portion of the criticism. While most criticisms have obvious links, there are many opportunities to generate arguments that can work as part of an overall strategy. Impact arguments generate offense for the team reading the criticism. Typically, teams reading criticisms that argue for broad changes to society (such as removing capitalism or the state) are susceptible to big impact turns about why the institutions they wish to remove are actually beneficial. Most criticisms also include a specific alternative section that claims to solve for the problem highlighted in the impact—arguing for their ability to “solve” these impacts in some form. Teams often use the alternative section of the criticism debate to make claims that indicate that a vote in their favor creates a circumstance that affects the isolated problem. These claims, when conceded, can be especially damaging to the government team because they generate uniqueness for the criticism—i.e. capitalism is inevitable only in a world without the alternative arguments. Alternative arguments are typically juxtaposed against the impacts of the government plan that

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are typically “solved” through the use of fiat (imagined government action). The alternative section of the criticism should also serve as the location of numerous attacks from the opposing team— including reasons why the alternative to the criticism is not desirable. Since the divisions between different, commonly used strategies to answer criticisms are often unclear, this chapter will focus on several essential arguments that you can use when answering criticisms. Instead of presenting exact blocks of argumentation, I will explain the thesis of each argument, the importance of each argument, and a few basic defenses of each argument. You should specifically adapt suggested arguments, tailoring them to exact arguments contained in specific criticisms and other positions advanced in the debate. DEFENDING NET-BENEFITS AND UTILITARIANISM Utilitarianism, for the purpose of providing a primer, advocates doing that which creates the greatest good for the greatest number. Utilitarianism is the basses of the net benefits framework typically utilized by government teams in parliamentary debate. Utilitarianism defines “good” as “happiness.” Some criticisms (often, those deriving from the works of Nietzsche or Schopenhauer) question the validity of this assumption. One can defend happiness by looking at happiness. Evolution argues that happiness exists to encourage us to do things that keep us alive. Since evolution programed seeking happiness into us, we cannot help but position it as a basis of ethics. Also since, at our core, we all seek happiness, it becomes the only universal basis of making policies. While not everyone is happy with the same things, we can still aim to create

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the condition to make the most people happy—this is preferable to less general goals that are not “universal.” If, at times, we must suffer, we can aim to minimize that suffering while knowing and accepting that it is inevitable. Criticisms rely on impact framing, typically presented in the framework portion of the argument. You will commonly hear debaters arguing that a particular impact (usually dealing with the loss of some autonomy) is “worse than death.” Most traditional, policy-based government cases are premised on preventing death as a primary consideration. If you are advancing a traditional case structure, defending death as the “biggest” impact, or the impact that ought be given primary consideration, is necessary to win the debate. Typically, debaters can win the primacy of a “death” impact by arguing that the choice to live or die is the most essential choice an individual can have—from that choice, all other choices come. Further, you can argue that the impact framing of the criticism is indeterminable—we cannot determine if another’s suffering is or is not worse than death. Finally, you can construct an argument to prefer your impact framing—killing that person denies them of their most basic choice, to exist or not, denying that choice is the ultimate loss of autonomy. Debaters will also often argue that net benefits, utilitarian decisionmaking calculus ignore issues of structural violence. For example, if we only focus on our avoidance of nuclear war, we will certainly end up ignoring problems such as poverty, bigotry and small-scale violence that occur daily. Utilitarianism, of course, does not advocate we ignore small-scale violence, but instead weight the suffering of all equally—that is, you can argue that your framework

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and the criticism framework are not inherently contradictory. You could argue, for example, that evaluating structural violence over “net benefits” positions the lives lost in the war seem less valuable than persons considered by the criticism’s impact framing. Another commonly absent argument from many criticism debates is that utilitarianism, or net benefits, utilizes “probability” claims to temper outrageous, improbable impacts— i.e. if you can win that a war is likely per the government case, it becomes difficult for the opposing team to win that systemic impacts are more likely. Remember, net benefits considers not only at how many people may get hurt, but what the probability of that injury is. This means we can still look at structural issues, but we should not necessarily preference these issues over the experiences of death advanced by a “net benefits” scenario. Essentially, debaters opposing criticisms should defend the ability of utilitarianism to weight all impacts. You should spend time focusing on the probability of your specific advantage and focusing on the probability of the lives lost in your impacts. Ultimately, you will need to win that these impact claims are not just another contrived excuse to ignore the problems highlighted in the criticism. In doing so, you can argue that your impacts are just as important those presented in the criticism and that we have a moral obligation to prevent them. You can argue that the framework of the criticism is not competitive—advancing that there are always implied trade-offs. This can be done in two ways. First, you should try to win the premise that “we cannot solve every problem.” If there is not a necessity to make difficult choices, ultimately letting some “bad” things happen to prevent other “bad” things, why is the criticism competitive? Second, you should try to win the premise that we have

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limited resources and choices available. In fact, we often face choices where we must choose between harming a person to prevent more harm from coming (i.e. killing a shooter and a stopping a shooting spree). Refusing to take the action that results in “less harm” assumes the world is just right now, with indifference making things worse. This type of impact-preference assumption, as deployed in many criticisms, ignores the multiple different routes available to prevent suffering. DEFENDING SCIENCE AND PREDICTIONS Policy (net benefits) debate tends to look at the world though a somewhat scientific perspective. A key element of a scientific perspective is the idea of falsifiability. Falsifiability means that your claim can be tested. For example, you can falsify whether an object will fall when you drop it to the ground. You cannot necessarily falsify the claim that “all reality that exists is based in our perception of the material world.” Certainly, the “facts” debated in high-level, competitive debates are often more difficult to test than basic laws of physics. Still, despite difficulty in testing the claims of a criticism, you can use historical examples to draw conclusions. While these conclusions are more debatable (obviously) than those drawn from the pure sciences, these debates can still be based on solid facts. Many post-modern and psychoanalytical criticisms make such claims. Psychology often acts as a science that seeks knowable facts, but psychoanalysis, specifically claims often used in competitive debate, do not have such a scientific basis. When debating against criticisms, many debaters neglect to answer unfalsifiable claims that allow their opponents to make incredibly broad claims about the nature of reality. If deployed properly in the criticism, these arguments make much of the government case irrelevant. In order

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to answer these broad claims about reality, compare your specific warrants to why your case is “real” to the arguments in the criticism, attempting to frame the criticism’s arguments as unwarranted and unfalsifiable. It is helpful to win arguments advancing that your version of “reality” should hold equal weight with your critic, since we can never “know.” Also, it is helpful to argue that we, as individuals, should make discussions based on falsifiable data— counting on unknowable calculations to avoid death is morally irresponsible. Finally, you can generate offense against the framework of a criticism that includes this type of argument—i.e. the impossibility and fairness or educational value of debating “unknowable” or “unfalsifiable” issues. PRAGMATISM Policy (net benefits) debate looks at practical policy options to solve specific, real-world problems. Criticisms, alternatively, consider philosophical shifts to solve an underlying problem. When you are debating a criticism, defending pragmatic actions might help you win the debate. A key element of defending pragmatism is defending utilitarianism— that is, winning that we must act to do the greatest good for the most people. You can logically argue that utilitarianism implies that we should act to solve problems instead of just changing how we think about them. In addition, there are numerous disadvantages to holding out for a “perfect” solution or radical change instead of taking practical action—remember, if you are able to win that both are possible at the same time, there is no opportunity cost to the alternative which means that the criticism is not competitive. Refusing to get involved in debates about possible policy options because of left wing, academic principles leaves the right wing to make all the policy decisions—this argument is

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commonly referred to as “cede the political.” Since most criticisms are left leaning, “ceding the political space” would make the impacts of the criticism worse. The Green Party, during the 2000 presidential election, is an excellent example of “ceding the political.” Ralph Nader, presidential candidate for the far left Green Party, had an incredibly unlikely chance of winning the election. Nader took away votes from Democrat Al Gore in Florida resulting in Republican George W. Bush winning the presidency in the closest race in U.S. history. While we cannot know, with certainty, the outcome of the election without the presence of Ralph Nader, we can be almost certain that the U.S. would have more stringent environmental policies and the U.S. would likely have decided to forego the invasion of Iraq. If Green voters in Florida had chosen to vote pragmatically for Gore, instead of choosing impractical idealism with Nader, hundreds of thousands of lives may have been saved in war and perhaps billions in future ecological damage. Another common justification for preferring criticism alternatives is that they “solve the root cause of the problem.” When advancing a criticism on the opposition, teams often argue that the government case ignores the real reason why the impacts of the PMC (and most other impacts) happen. They will argue that, without addressing the “root cause” of the issue, nothing can be solved. When answering a criticism that makes a similar claim, you must first emphasize the quality of your solvency arguments. Typically, the PMC solvency arguments are far more specific than the root cause claims made by criticisms. You can also argue that isolating root causes is problematic. As discussed previously, “root cause” claims are

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unfalsifiable—i.e. we can never know if the system of capitalism, our construction of international relations, our relationship with nature, or our relationship with our subconscious is the root cause of violence. Furthermore, only focusing on one “root cause” claim, even if it could be determined, would be a time consuming, substantial endeavor, requiring us to take short-term actions to solve the problems identified in the PMC. You can also develop reasons why their “root cause” claim is incorrect—i.e. if they say that capitalism is the root of all violence, contest this claim by arguing that patriarchy is the root cause of all violence. You may also want to develop an offensive impact to this type of alternative root cause claim, resulting in an argument that critiques the criticism’s isolation of particular impacts. This type of argument provides another opportunity for you to generate offense against the criticism. DEFENDING CURRENT STRUCTURES: THE STATE AND CAPITALISM When advocating for a government plan, using “fiat” typically means that you use existing institutions and structures. These institutions and structures are ripe with problems—if they were not, you would not be able to generate impacts for your PMC. Since these institutions are so problematic, critical arguments often call for them to be radically changed or outright abandoned. The two elements of society that are commonly criticized, in some form, is the state and capitalism. While these two systems are (in many ways), separate entities, they are deeply intertwined. Capitalism likely cannot exist without a state to enforce contracts and property rights. Likewise, a state cannot exist without an economic system to generate revenue. While there have been systems where the state

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owns the means of production and generates revenue, in eight years of involvement with parliamentary debate, I have not seen a team advocate for a Soviet-style command economy. “Stateism” and the “Cap K” are not the only criticisms that critique large structures— so do most criticisms of international relations, criticisms of state boarders, criticisms of military securitization, critiques of globalization and criticisms of structural violence all call for radical changes to the state or capitalism—likely both. When facing these criticisms, debaters tend to focus exclusively on demonstrating that the state/capitalism are desirable/inevitable in their current form. While these arguments are powerful and often necessary to win the debate, they should not be the primary focus when answering a criticism. When answering structural criticisms, debaters can gain a significant amount of offense by debating the link of the criticism. Similar to any other argument, link offense alone may not solidify victory. Link arguments should focus on your plan and your proposed action, resulting in a claim that demonstrates that the government plan solves for some (perhaps even most) of the impacts of the criticism. Unlike link turns (arguing that you solve for the impacts of the criticism), this strategy does not preclude impact turns. In a typical disadvantage debate, you would not link turn and impact turn the argument. When debating a criticism, it is possible to provide a nuanced explanation that results in your plan solving some negative elements of capitalism, for example, while preserving other useful elements that the alternative would destroy. In addition, demonstrating that the government can solve impacts of the criticism while simultaneously jettisoning the part of the alternative that wholly abandons the institution, should demonstrate that the alternative is

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not competitive with the government case and/or that the permutation is net beneficial. In contemporary parliamentary debate, the most common impact turn advanced when debating a criticism argues for the virtue of U.S. military and economic hegemony. Most critical alternatives would result in a massive decrease in U.S. power abroad. U.S. power helps maintain global stability through clear, defined leadership. A withdraw of U.S. power would mean other countries would fight to claim that position of leadership risking extinction (debaters will often use the term “proxy wars”, “great power wars”, or “resource wars”—unfortunately, somewhat interchangeably). Defending hegemony against a criticism is very different than debating hegemony in a traditional disadvantage debate. In a traditional, net benefits framework, teams will most often claim to better solve hegemony or claim that hegemony is less stable than a multi-polar world. Criticisms typically claim to drastically alter systems of international relations, rendering current calculations of hegemony irrelevant. In order to use knowledge of hegemony to your advantage, you will likely need to defend that realism is inevitable. “Realism” is a theory of international relations that says nation states are the most important actors and will always act to increase their own power and interests. This expansive body of literature includes the theory of “hegemonic stability.” In a world full of competition for power, a clear leader creates stability. If we can escape the struggle for power and drastically change the composition of international relations, hegemony would be unnecessary and likely undesirable. If you intend to win the premise that “realism is inevitable,” you must first argue that the state is inevitable—i.e. people will always form groups in order to survive.

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These inevitable groups will need a way of group-level decision making, which results in the ultimate creation of a government. It also follows that these groups will compete with each other over resources. There are numerous materials that suggest competition is genetically programed at an evolutionary level due to scarcity of mates and food. Because these groups are necessary, and will inevitably exist, people will use these groups to compete. Since there is no power over these “groups”, stronger groups (or hegemons) are the only method of national and international stability. Some criticisms will call for the end of “the state of exception” for U.S. hegemony, in particular. When answering this type of argument, there are many other impacts you can utilize. Many of these impacts are also strategic when debating teams critical of capitalism, since a sudden collapse of capitalism would likely require the collapse of the state. First, the U.S. government secures nuclear weapons and material (both at home and abroad) through the Nunn Lugar program. In addition, the U.S. government protects dangerous biological agents at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and at various university laboratories throughout the U.S. The state also attempts to impose the rule of law, deterring violent crimes like rape and murder, through the assurance that all citizens can be held accountable for criminal activity. While no government is free of corruption, the system that we have is likely better than it’s absence. The state also provides a lot of material benefits to the poor. While the U.S. has an unquestionable issue with resource distribution, again, the status quo is likely preferable to a complete absence of the state apparatus. Mixing large impacts discussing stolen weapons and nuclear war with “smaller” impacts about discrimination allows you to advance

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the claim that your arguments operate in the framework of the criticism in addition to capturing an impact with a greater magnitude. Capitalism also has many benefits. First, perhaps capitalism does a better job of handling information than other systems? In a world where goods are distributed based on anything other than price, people will attempt to possess as many products as possible since there is no price deterrence. This means that it is impossible for any other system to efficiently distribute resources. If the criticism advances a claim that the waste and inefficiencies of capitalism are rooted in greed, try imagining a world where physical possessions might not have a “price”—when people must pay for things they will only acquire things they need or will use. Also, you can often argue that capitalism creates the best system for new, useful, and efficient technologies. Capitalism creates market conditions for incentives to innovate and tends to produce resources more efficiently, allowing more resources to reach the market. You can also argue that, due to the evolutionary theories discussed before, that competition over resources is inevitable— capitalism allows such competition to be efficient, whereas in other systems, people may gain resources by gaining favor from those who control the means of production. Remember, you do not need to defend unrestricted capitalism—again, it is possible to impact turn a criticism and link turn certain portions. A complete rejection of the system might mean losing all the benefits of capitalism and the state, allowing the rich to behave arbitrarily without a system of predictable repercussions in place.

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THE PERMUTATION DEBATE Like a counterplan, a criticism typically contains an alternative advocacy—that alternative should be directly competitive with other advocacies presented in the debate—in most cases, the government plan. A competitive advocacy/text is one that either cannot be adopted at the same time as another advocacy/text or would not be net beneficial to adopt simultaneously. Much like a counterplan, a criticism alternative is competitive when it demonstrates an opportunity cost of the government plan. The competition can be tested with an argument called a “permutation.” Novice debaters are tempted to view permutations as a new “advocacy” of sorts—it is not. In contemporary parliamentary debate, permutations are considered to have a “text.” The commonly accepted definition of a “perm” or “permutation text” for a criticism would be a text that includes all of the plan text and all or part of the alternative text. There are a few common permutation texts used by the government in the MGC to dispute the competition of a criticism. First, “do both”—or, all of the plan text and all of the alternative text. For example, if the government plan text reads, “The United States Federal Government should end all weapons sales to Israel” and the alternative says “View international relations through a feminist standpoint” the perm would read, “The United States Federal Government should end all weapons sales to Israel and View international relations through a feminist standpoint.” For obvious reasons, the “do both” permutation is typically most effective when the alternative does not call for a direct rejection of the plan or the government team.

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In the event that a criticism alternative directly rejects your plan action, you can advance a permutation that includes the plan and part of the alternative text. For example, if the government plan text reads “The United States Federal Government should end all drone strikes” and the alternative reads “Reject the government team and re-imagine the world as a space for individuals” the perm would read, “The United States Federal Government should end all drone strikes and re-imagine the world as a space for individuals.” This permutation can also be used when the alternative calls for a rejection of a whole system and replacing it with another. A similar, lazier version of this permutation is, “Do plan and all non competitive parts of the alternative.” Above, we have demonstrated that the “Reject the government team” portion of the alternative text is not competitive (often referred to as “artificial competition”). It follows that, “Do plan and all non competitive parts of the alternative” functionally possesses a similar implication. However, using the second formation of the language is vague and allows your opponents flexibility in their MOC answer of your permutation. As such, more exact permutations are generally advisable. Another commonly used permutation strategy carves out an exception for the government plan. For example if the plan reads, “The United States Federal Government should regulate hydraulic fracturing under the clean water act” and the alternative text reads, “Reject the capitalist system” your perm can read “Reject the capitalist system except for The United States Federal Government should regulate hydraulic fracturing under the clean water act”. However, if you recall, a legitimate permutation is commonly considered “all of the plan text and all or part of the alternative text”— in this permutation, you have added the words “except for”

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to the permutation, which is a phrase that appears neither in the original PMC plan or the LOC criticism alternative. This is commonly referred to as an “intrinsic permutation,” (adding an element that was not present in either text alone). Similarly, many would take issue with a permutation that read, “Reject the capitalist system and regulate hydraulic fracturing under the clean water act.” This permutation removes the USFG element from the plan text— often referred to as a “severance permutation” because it severs a portion of the government plan text. In this case, the “USFG” portion of the PMC plan text would be a link to the LOC’s criticism of capitalism. Parliamentary debate’s lack of “backside rebuttals” (three less speeches than a standard policy debate) creates a situation where government teams can rarely be punished for an intrinsic or severance permutation. If the MOC objects to the fairness of a permutation advanced by the MGC, the PMR has nearly unlimited flexibility to answer this argument and is the last speech in the debate. Some clever teams will include a definition of an intrinsic or severance permutation in their LOC criticism shell, typically including a definition of both types of permutations and a prescribed course of action for the judge in the event that the MGC attempts to advance one or both types of permutation. In this event, if the MGC reads an unfair permutation, the MOC/LOR can extend this argument, advocating for the judge to ignore PMR responses on the issue. Even though you are not “advocating” for a permutation, permutations should include net benefits. In most cases, the strongest net-benefit to a permutation is your case. The PMC spends seven minutes generating offense you should not allow your self to lose that offense because the LOC selected to advance a

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criticism-style argument. In addition, many of the arguments in favor of pragmatism will work as a net benefit to the permutation because your permutation text will include a pragmatic solution often not included in the alternative text. This net benefit works particularly well with link turns that demonstrate the solvency of pragmatic solutions for the impacts of the criticism. In addition, if your permutation does not advocate destroying the state or capitalism in their alternative, you can use impact turns as a netbenefit to your permutation. Another common net-benefit is the “fascism” turn—i.e. the alternative creates a single worldview, justifying violence against those who do not share the worldview of the alternative. The permutation solves this by allowing for multiple worldviews. In fact, there are a variety of substantive reasons why you would want to put the plan text next to, or in juxtaposition with, the alternative. As you develop your own style of answering permutations, you will craft an argument that makes sense for your team. THEORY Many people argue that criticisms are unfair and damaging for competitive debate. While this strategy is becoming increasingly infrequent, there are two main interpretations used to deploy this style of argument. First, “The opposition must advocate a fiated policy option or the status quo.” The advantage to this interpretation is that it can be a reason to reject the team outright or at least to reject the criticism, leaving many “one off” teams with few substantive arguments to advance in the debate. Alternatively, this interpretation allows the opposition to leverage any generic reasons why criticisms are generally good. Since critical teams commonly confront this type of procedural, they will typically demonstrate

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experienced answers. Additionally, many judges are reticent to vote for an argument that functionally excludes an entire genre of opposition argument unless it is wholly conceded. Should you choose to deploy this strategy, the interpretation can be read at the top of the PMC (with standards and an explanation of the “voter”). Another common violation is that, “All impacts generated from a criticism must be weighted on the same level as the plan.” This interpretation has the advantage is that it creates a race to the middle, which generally favors the government team. Even if the opposition provides reasons why critical impact framing is good, it does not matter if there are also reasons why traditional, net benefits impact framing (such as deference to pragmatic solutions) is also good. Opposed to the first example, this interpretation typically cannot win the round by itself (however, if you have a good case that the position was under-covered you might be able to obtain a strategic advantage in terms of impact framing). One other problem with this type of interpretation is that it is largely non-responsive to the claims made by most criticisms— if the criticism argues that your impacts are imaginary, if you cannot prove that your impacts are “real” and/or should not be subject to criticism, it makes little difference. When the government team calls for large, systemic change, this interpretation is very powerful because it highlights the criticism’s attempt to exclude the government. There are several good standards that can be used to justify both interpretations. The first is “government choice”—since the government speaks first they get to establish the framework for the round. Allowing the opposition to shift the framework of the round eliminates offense gained in the PMC—the government’s best

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chance for offense. This standard works well to argue that the government should be weighed against the criticism. It can also be a reason to reject all criticisms. If the opposition can generate offense through different rules than the ones the government sets, the opposition might possess a huge, unfair advantage since they would functionally play the game with different rules. Predictability is another commonly used standard when answering criticisms with theory objections. Critical offense is somewhat unpredictable. The resolution typically calls for a policy— i.e. debating about the costs and benefits of a policy are more predictable than a discussion of philosophical theory. A wide variety of critical theories exist, all with different methods of evaluation. Allowing the LOC to choose any framework would lead to an infinite number of different ways to evaluate the round, putting the government at a permanent preparation disadvantage. Constructing arguments about the inevitability and necessity of the state, mixed with deference to pragmatic action, gives the government team a reason why debating policy is preferable to debating the criticism. GENERAL TIPS FOR DEBATING THE K Your case is always the best offense that you have. Extending case against a criticism is different than in other rounds. Focusing on the quality of your warrants and internal links help to leverage your case against their specific criticism. Also, you should emphasize how you are saving real people who will die without plan and how that is more important than their critical arguments. Criticisms may use a lot of long, hard to pronounce words that may be unfamiliar to you. Critique-focused teams often use these terms to confuse their opponents. Do not let your self be confused. Listen closely to the impacts of the criticism. Listen to how your opponents talk about

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your impacts. Do they grant you the basic facts of the world? Are they taking exception to specific language? You might not understand their alternative, but does your case solve some of their impact? All of these things tell you what kind of arguments you need to make. Remember your case probably makes more sense to the judge than the criticism. Go for procedurals only as a last resort. Most judges prefer to evaluate a substantive debate instead of a theory debate. If you are debating a team who is reading the same criticism in all (or nearly all) of their rounds, write specific answers. Consider major weaknesses and omissions. Consider researching their foundational authors. Try to find academics that disagree with that author. Critical theory is full of disagreements. Understanding opposing theorists and deploying those arguments can devastate a critical team. Remember that most of the arguments used in a debate are not particularly meaningful. Judges watch a lot of rounds at every tournament. They also assist their teams in writing strategies against similar arguments. Assuming that a judge will change their mind in any meaningful way because of a criticism is likely silly—remind judges of this. The best debaters against criticisms treat it like any other argument— they listen closely and isolate obvious flaws. They do not panic and they especially do not allow their distaste for a certain style of argument to influence the way that they debate. It feels good to take what you perceive to be the “high ground”, but it is often the route with the lowest probability of victory. Finally, read criticisms yourself. Seeing the other side of the argument gives you a better understanding of its weakness.

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Keeping a Level Playing Field: The Necessity of Unconditional Approaches in NPDA Debate Brandon Merrell Southern Illinois University

INTRODUCTION Controversy surrounds the issue of conditionality in contemporary parliamentary debate. Disagreement is rampant between those who believe the opposition should be free to switch its advocacy at will and others who argue that the opposition ought defend a single advocacy for the duration of each round. Unfortunately, despite the increasing prevalence of conditional strategies among NPDA competitors, the bulk of current analysis of conditionality is grounded in its utilization in policy debate rather than parliamentary debate. Policy debate differs from parliamentary debate in several significant ways, including its incorporation of additional rebuttal speeches, expanded prep time, and greater overall length. An account of such differences and their impact on the nature of conditionality in parliamentary debate has not been undertaken. As such, this paper isolates various ways in which conditional strategies are uniquely abusive when used in the NPDA format and concludes that they should not be utilized. The remainder of this article proceeds in several stages. First, I define conditionality by explaining what “advocacies” and “statuses” are in the debate context and by explaining how switching

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advocacies differs from kicking most other arguments. Second, I detail a procedure for evaluating theory arguments in accordance with debate's oppositional format. Third, I assess why conditionality is abusive in general and highlight the various distinctions between policy debate and parliamentary debate that make it uniquely problematic in the latter event. Fourth, I consider the ways in which allowing advocacies to be read conditionally can decrease the quality of debate as a whole. Finally, I offer concluding thoughts about the use of conditionality and the future of the NPDA format. DEFENDING CONDITIONALITY What is an advocacy? In debate, the term “advocacy” has a specific meaning. A team's advocacy does not necessarily refer to the argument that the debaters most strongly emphasize in the round (in other words, the argument that they “advocate”). Rather, an advocacy is a proposal for action that can be adopted by an actor. During a parliamentary debate round, the government team's advocacy is their plan9 and the opposition’s advocacy is the status quo, a counterplan, or a kritik alternative. In function, opposition advocacies differ substantially from other arguments because they do not necessarily link directly to the government plan. When the round concludes, the burden of the judge is to decide whether to vote for or against the government’s plan;10 as such, most substantive arguments link directly or 9

It is increasingly common for “critical” government teams to specify an alternative advocacy distinct from the plan, but the legitimacy of doing so is debatable. 10 Although judges often describe their decisions using imprecise language, when evaluating substantive arguments the judge faces a choice of whether or not to endorse the government plan. Even if the judge explains that he or she is voting “for the counterplan,” in reality the

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indirectly to the plan such that they can support or refute the plan's desirability and/or legitimacy.11 Advantages, for example, demonstrate the desirability of the plan by cataloging a specific benefit or series of benefits that would be realized in the event of the plan's adoption. Disadvantages do the opposite and outline the various harms that would ensue if the plan were passed. Solvency arguments test the viability of the plan to accomplish the objectives outlined by the government case, while inherency and uniqueness arguments provide context for determining how the plan differs from the status quo and thus the necessity of implementing it. Even topicality is a procedural analysis of the plan's legitimacy; it test whether the government's plan is an acceptable example of the resolution and whether the judge has the jurisdiction to endorse the government plan within the confines of the topic. Opposition advocacies differ from all of the above examples in that they do not directly assess the implications of the plan. Instead, they introduce alternative avenues of action for the judge to consider apart from the plan. By introducing an advocacy, the opposition team argues that implementing a counterplan or kritik alternative would be desirable and that voting for the plan would prevent the positive benefits associated with the kritik or counterplan from being realized. If the opposition team can demonstrate that their advocacy is a preferable alternative to the government’s plan, then a rational judge will choose not to vote for the plan because the judge has chosen to vote against the government plan because the counterplan exists and demonstrates that the plan is either undesirable or unnecessary. 11 Select positions, including most theory arguments, do not relate specifically to the plan. Instead, such procedurals seek to determine the range of in-round behaviors that are permissible and how the judge should evaluate the round itself. Similarly, some kritiks indict the behavior of the debaters rather than the desirability of the plan.

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opportunity cost of the opposition advocacy is larger than the returns generated by the plan. Finally, if the opposition chooses not to propose a counterplan or kritik alternative in their first constructive, then the opposition’s advocacy defaults to the position that the actor of the plan should not alter its current policies and the plan is compared against the status quo.12 What is an advocacy's status? An advocacy's status describes the degree to which it is permissible for the opposition to unilaterally remove that advocacy from the debate. There are three types of status: unconditional, conditional, and dispositional. If the status of an advocacy is unconditional, the opposition team must continue to advocate the position for the entirety of the round. In other words, when making a decision at the end of the debate the judge may only assess the desirability of the plan relative to the advocacy proposed by the opposition. Just as the government team is bound to their plan for the entirety of the round, so too are opposition teams required to defend the adoption of unconditional advocacies for the duration of the debate. Alternatively, if an advocacy was read conditionally, the opposition team can remove the position from the round at their discretion. For example, the opposition might initially choose to introduce a 12

Precision is essential when discussing advocacies. Barring the introduction of a counterplan or kritik alternative, the opposition’s advocacy is not merely that the plan should not be adopted, but rather that the status quo should be maintained and the actor of the plan should not alter its policies at all. In order for the opposition to argue that some changes to the status quo are desirable, they must provide a stable account of the changes they advocate in the form of a counterplan text or kritik alternative.

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counterplan in their first constructive speech. However, after the government responds to the counterplan the opposition may determine that it is no longer strategically desirable for them to require the judge to compare between the plan and the counterplan. As such, they may “kick” the conditional counterplan and ask that the judge assess the desirability of the plan not relative to the counterplan, but against the status quo. Alternatively, the opposition may introduce multiple conditional advocacies and ask the judge to compare the plan against any or all of them at the end of the round. Finally, if an advocacy is dispositional, the opposition team can jettison the argument if certain conditions are met during the debate. However, the specific conditions often vary and are set by the opposition team, so it is useful for government teams to ask their opponents to provide a specific definition of “dispositionality” if they encounter a team that reads dispositional advocacies.13

How does conditionality differ from kicking other arguments? Whereas the opposition can unilaterally remove a conditional advocacy from the debate round, they cannot do the same for nonadvocacies. Instead, when opposition debaters “kick” out of most 13

Originally, “dispositional” meant that the opposition could only remove the advocacy from the round if the government team read a permutation that proved the counterplan or alternative was not competitive or if the government team read a theory argument against the position (apart from “dispositionality bad”) that proved the counterplan was theoretically illegitimate. However, in contemporary practice, teams define dispositionality in a variety of different ways. The only commonality across definitions is that they restrict the range of arguments at the government's disposal. In effect, the opposition seeks to deter the government from reading strategic arguments against the counterplan by stipulating that if the government does so the opposition will be free to shift their advocacy.

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arguments they are required the explain why those positions no longer have any meaningful impact or importance in the round and why the judge need not consider them when making a decision. The most common way for oppositions to accomplish this requirement is to strategically concede arguments that are made by their opponents. For example, when kicking topicality, the opposition team typically begins by extending the MGC’s “we meet” and conceding that the government plan is topical. By doing so, the opposition has explained that the position should no longer influence the judge's decision because the government burden of topicality has been satisfied. Similarly, when kicking out of a disadvantage the opposition team will often extend no-link or no-impact arguments made by their opponents, thereby demonstrating to the judge that the position is no longer relevant in the context of the round because it either does not interact with the plan or does not result in an impact. In each case, the opposition must be careful— although they have sought to explain why the issue is unimportant, the government is free to revisit the position and explain why it remains relevant. This is particularly true if the opposition mishandled or inadequately addressed a government response. For example, if the opposition dropped a series of government turns on the disadvantage or reverse voting issues on topicality, the government can revisit each of the positions and explain why those arguments still merit consideration from the judge.14 As such, the government can influence the opposition's behavior by making a large number of 14

Reverse voting issues should not generally be considered legitimate responses to topicality - I merely reference them as an illustrative example of an argument to which the opposition may need to respond.

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offensive arguments against a position and choosing not to make defensive claims that the opposition could extend in order to render the issue void and quickly kick out of it. Because the opposition must address the government's offensive arguments and cannot quickly extend government defense to kick the position, this MGC strategy can prevent the opposition from quickly collapsing in the block. This strategic tool is not available, however, against conditional advocacies. When the opposition kicks a conditional advocacy, they unilaterally declare that the position has been removed from the round along with all associated arguments and that it cannot be evaluated or revisited by their opponents. The opposition need not explain their rationale for kicking the advocacy, nor are they required to respond to their opponents' answers against the position prior to removing it from the round. Thus, the government lacks the capability to influence the opposition's strategy by relying on offensive answers. Conditionality, therefore, allows the opposition a unique method of collapsing quickly to specific arguments in the block and thereby gaining an unimpeachable time-tradeoff relative to the government. Additional ways in which conditionality provides a relative strategic advantage to the opposition are addressed in the following sections. EVALUATING THEORY DEBATES All debate theory is based on the premise that rounds are oppositional and that they have zero-sum outcomes such that any strategic benefits provided to one side necessarily incur reciprocal penalties against their opponents. Restrictions on behavior are therefore created in order to establish a level playing field for the

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government and opposition. If the structure of the activity changes such that a 50-50 government / opposition split was not expected and individual rounds did not substantially influence overall results, then ensuring equal standing between sides would be less important. However, given the current tournament structure, placing one team at a significant disadvantage merely for “losing the coin toss for sides� would be unfair.15 Because maintaining a level playing field between sides is the overriding goal of theory, teams cannot commonly justify their employment of a theoretically questionable argument merely by explaining that it is a useful tool for their side. Instead, they must explain why allowing that particular strategy is necessary for them to successfully compete in the round or why preventing them from using such an approach would place them at a significant competitive disadvantage. In the case at hand, the opposition must explain why precluding conditionality would put them at a disadvantage relative to the government and thus why conditionality is justified in order to re-level the playing field between sides. To paraphrase Strait and Wallace (2008, p. 20): “[U]nless the negative can show that [conditionality is] absolutely critical to preserve participation in debate (for example, if the affirmative would win almost every debate without [conditionality], claims that [it is] 'not that bad' does 15

Note that the goal of theory is not to create parity between teams, but to ensure that both sides have an equal opportunity to access the ballot. Different teams will possess inherent relative advantages in terms of knowledge, skill, strategic thinking, etc. However, the two sides when considered in the abstract should have access to a range of arguments that preserve competitive equity between the government and opposition, particularly at the upper echelons of competition.

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not prove that [it] is necessary. It is the negative’s burden to justify its use of [conditionality], not the affirmative’s burden to de-justify [it].� Thus, in order to legitimize their use of conditionality, the opposition must demonstrate both that it is a necessary method of creating parity between the two sides and that it will not lead to an over-correction in which the opposition receives a strategic advantage relative to the government. Why is Conditionality Abusive? By definition, conditionality skews the strategic balance in favor of the opposition side in three ways. First and most generally, it allows the opposition to propose multiple advocacies and then selectively choose between those advocacies based on what the government team answers poorly.16 Second, it allows the opposition to jettison advocacies and associated arguments without answering their opponents' responses to those positions, which thereby provides a unique method of nullifying government speech time, circumventing offense, and decreasing clash. Finally, conditionality allows the opposition team to read inconsistent and contradictory arguments, thereby placing the government in a double bind: in order to answer one advocacy, the government must link themselves harder to the alternative advocacy.17

16

As explained previously, government teams have no capacity to counterbalance this by relying on offense as they would against most other positions that the opposition can kick. 17 Even though it is often possible to answer both advocacies consistently, conditionality encourages governments to eschew the most desirable answers to each position if those answers seem inconsistent with one another or if there is a high likelihood that they will be rendered void in the event that the counterplan is kicked.

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Even more importantly, the introduction of additional opposition advocacies changes the set of uniqueness against which the plan is compared. By default, the plan is evaluated relative to the status quo. However, when the opposition introduces an alternative advocacy the government is required to isolate the plan's advantages relative to the opposition's proposal. The status quo is no longer the necessary issue of comparison and, as such, all uniqueness arguments in the round must be reframed from an assessment of the plan-versus-status-quo to a comparison of the plan-versusopposition-advocacy. Thus, an MGC who is forced to answer multiple conditional advocacies is required to compare the plan against numerous inconsistent realms of uniqueness for each link, impact scenario, etc. This burden is wholly distinct from any the government would otherwise suffer. Why is conditionality more abusive in parliamentary debate than policy debate? Although conditionality remains a debatable issue in policy debate, the prevailing attitude is that its use can be justified. In policy debate, teams debate a single topic for an entire year, the breadth and stability of which encourages the development of unique and intricate affirmative strategies. Teams can also access an opensource catalogue of all arguments made previously by their opponents, have the ability to research and plan extensively in advance of competitions in order to predict likely affirmative strategies and prepare responses, and enjoy the use of evidence, prep time, cross-examination, and an additional set of rebuttal speeches during rounds relative to parliamentary debate. In other words, the structure of the event is such that the abuses incurred against the affirmative by conditionality are likely insufficient to

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merit the rejection of the negative team. The format in policy provides the affirmative with sufficient tools to ameliorate most of conditionality's detrimental effects to the extent that voting against the negative based on its use is difficult to justify.18 In contrast, various structural distinctions in parliamentary debate are more than enough to tip the balance of the issue against conditionality, including the current opposition side-bias in the event, a single set of rebuttal speeches, lack of clarity regarding advocacies, limited government preparation, and the shorter-length of each round. First, casual observation suggests that parliamentary debate is already an opposition-biased event, particularly at the highest levels of competition. For example, during elimination rounds at the 2013 NPTE, the government won 22 debates (and 73 ballots) to the opposition's 28 (and 87 ballots). From elimination round 5 onwards, when we would expect to see high quality teams competing against one another in front of a smaller group of highly-preferred judges (and therefore the teams most capable of exploiting their side's strategic advantages), the government won only two debates relative to the opposition's nine, with a respective ballot count of 11 to 32. Similarly, from quarters onward at the 2013 NPDA national tournament, the ballot count was 17 for the government and 34 for the opposition. Cursory analysis of results from previous tournaments suggests that the trend in favor of the opposition has 18

Although the opinion that conditionality's justifications outweigh its potential for abuse is widely held in policy, this should not be mistaken as evidence that the issue was not fiercely contested or that the debate has been entirely resolved. Conditionality remains a closelydebated issue and affirmative teams continue to win high-profile rounds arguing that conditionality is bad.

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increased over the last few seasons as pressure on the MGC and the diversity of opposition strategies continue to grow. Obviously, these numbers are not meant to be representative of the activity in general and genuine study of side bias at the margins of competition should be conducted, but the small sample size is nevertheless suggestive of a mild opposition bias. Second, the debate format in parliamentary debate is abbreviated relative to policy debate. Because parliamentary debate lacks a second set of rebuttals, the PMR is forced to answer the opposition block, complete argument comparison, and re-explain scenarios, thereby fulfilling the roles of both the 1AR and 2AR in policy debate. The time tradeoff is also worse in parliamentary debate than in policy debate. Although a five minute PMR responding to a 12 minute opposition block initially appears favorable given that the policy 1AR is six minutes and must respond to a 15-minute block, that is a faulty comparison because the strategic collapse in policy doesn't occur entirely until the 2NR, which is equal in length to the 2AR. Moreover, time tradeoffs are more difficult to contend with in parliamentary debate than policy debate. In particular, citing and extending arguments takes longer in the PMR than in the 1AR because parliamentary debaters lack cards to quickly reference. Finally, because of the abbreviated format in parliamentary debate, judges place more pressure on the MGC and PMR than they do on the parallel speeches in policy debate. In policy, a 1AR can extrapolate from or cross-apply 2AC arguments in new ways because the negative has another opportunity to address such comparisons. Contrastingly, parliamentary debate judges are often skeptical of new PMR comparisons or applications, so MGCs are under additional pressure to provide such analysis up-front. This is

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particularly relevant given that conditionality requires the MGC to compare between the plan and multiple alternatives. In policy debate, comparisons between the plan and each alternative advocacy (and their attendant net-benefits or impact scenarios) can occur in a multi-stage process throughout the 2AC, 1AR, and 2AR as the negative gradually settles on a preferred advocacy. In parliamentary debate, however, judges often expect such analysis to be front-loaded into the MGC, given that the opposition will be unable to respond to subsequent government speeches. Additional pressure on the MGC in the form of conditional arguments is therefore unwelcome. Third, arguments and advocacies in parliamentary debate often lack clarity. Points of information do not provide an opportunity for the continued dialogue and clarification that are possible in crossexamination, competitors are often unclear in explaining and labeling arguments, governments lack the opportunity to ask for copies of evidence, blocks and files cannot be exchanged electronically between teams, there is not a “caselist� to check before debates, advance disclosure of arguments is not a norm, teams lack prep time to seek clarification and pull blocks, sometimes teams do not offer copies of advocacy texts to their opponents, teams often do not specify how their solvency mechanism would function or which positions serve as net-benefits to which advocacies, etc. Given the confluence of factors that impede clarity, it is much harder for the MGC to understand and answer all of the opposition's positions than it is for the 2AC to answer the 1NC. As such, identifying how different conditional advocacies interact with case arguments, disadvantages, or other positions is inordinately more complex in parliamentary debate than policy debate, as is the

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task of responding to such positions once they are identified, given the lack of prep time or prepared blocks to select a coherent response. Fourth, parliamentary debate government teams lack familiarity with their plans and arguments. In policy debate, teams enjoy significant advance preparation prior to tournaments. Moreover, resolutions provide a wide range of government flexibility such that teams can strategically select a plan and advantages that are specifically designed to avoid or otherwise hedge against opposition arguments. In parliamentary debate, however, resolutions have grown increasingly narrow to the extent that it is common for only one topical plan available to be available for the government to defend. Restrictions on government flexibility mean that teams cannot tailor their plans to account for potential opposition strategies and are required to defend highly-specific advocacies, the implications and nuances of which they may not fully understand. Given limited preparation time, it is impossible to prepare diverse blocks or research answers to potential opposition strategies. Indeed, MGCs may not even know exactly how their own plans would operate due to restricted opportunities for pre-round research. Thus, it is much more difficult to deliver a strategic and coherent MGC against a variety of conditional advocacies that seek to disprove different components of the plan than it is to accomplish the same goal in policy debate. Along similar lines, counterplans and critical alternatives in parliamentary debate are more likely to be strategically viable than they are in policy debate. Government teams are given only twenty minutes to research solvency and advantages for their own plans,

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which leaves them with little time to prepare against potential opposition advocacies. Thus, opposition teams are likely to enjoy a near-perfect monopoly on familiarity with their own advocacies and the arguments they use to indict the government plan. Given this dynamic, although conditionality is useful in policy because it allows the negative to test and withdraw advocacies that prove strategically undesirable against well-prepared affirmative teams and carefullychosen affirmative cases, the same opportunity is far less important in parliamentary debate because counterplans and kritiks are already more likely to be successful and need not be jettisoned. Finally, in addition to current distinctions between parliamentary debate and policy debate that increase pressure on the MGC and exacerbate the abuses of conditionality, bias against governments is likely to increase even more in the future. First, oppositions will become increasingly skilled at reading generic kritiks derived from esoteric literature bases that governments will have difficulty answering. Second, oppositions will become more strategic at reading arguments conditionally such that governments are required to either make contradictory responses to each respective opposition advocacy or forego their preferred answers. Third, current trends in favor of taking only a few questions, speaking at increasingly high rates of delivery, and constructing narrow resolutions that provide the government with limited flexibility or opportunity to prepare will place additional pressure on MGCs and impede in-round clarity if they continue into the future. OPPOSITION RESPONSES Defenders of conditionality often offer two fairness-related responses. First, opposition teams may argue that conditionality is

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“key to opposition ground.” However, such a claim is without merit. The ground for each side is determined, first and foremost, by the resolution and thereafter by the government plan. The ability to change advocacies does not alter the amount of core ground that is available to the opposition and mandating that advocacies be presented unconditionally merely reinforces an already-existing requirement that the opposition should carefully select its LOC strategy. Determining which positions will be read in the LOC is an issue of strategic choice-making– as soon as one argument is introduced, other inconsistent arguments cannot be included as part of the strategy. For example, although the opposition could either argue that the plan would cause an overall increase in political capital for the President or that it would result in an overall decrease in political capital available to the President, the opposition cannot make both arguments as part of a single LOC strategy. At an even more fundamental level, time limits require that opposition teams make sacrifices regarding their strategy and the arguments they will include in the eight minutes available to the LOC. Requiring unconditionality is no different; the range of advocacies at the opposition's disposal remains constant, they must merely select a specific advocacy from among those options rather than present all of them simultaneously. Second, opposition teams often claim that conditionality is necessary to prevent them from being forced to defend an undesirable advocacy for the entire round. However, strategically presenting and then defending arguments is central to competitive debate. The complaint offered by the opposition would be nonsensical in all other debate contexts— if the opposition read a disadvantage or impact scenario that ultimately proved useful to

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their opponents, the opposition could not ask the judge to disregard the argument merely because it was no longer beneficial to their side. Rather, the judge would advise the opposition that they should have been more careful in selecting the argument prior to the LOC and ought to have considered, in advance, how the debate would play out. Similarly, opposition teams that commonly find themselves “trapped� defending counterplans or kritiks that the government has proven to be undesirable are often teams that exercise minimal discretion when choosing which advocacies to read. Strategic debaters will strive to predict the potential consequences of each of their arguments and will eschew arguments that are unlikely to be decided in their favor. As such, strategic teams do not need conditionality to protect them. Many debaters have enjoyed significant success in recent years despite their choice not to read conditional arguments, further disproving the necessity of conditionality. Indeed, the only reason to introduce a counterplan that is substantively unstrategic is to do so disingenuously with the intention of kicking it later in order to create a time-tradeoff or otherwise place additional pressure on the MGC. Such behavior, although useful for the opposition, is abusive against the government and therefore does not demonstrate that conditionality is necessary to level the playing field between sides. Rather, it actually serves to create a competitive imbalance in favor of the opposition. CONDITIONALITY AND THE QUALITY OF DEBATE Conditionality decreases the overall quality of debate for a variety of reasons. It serves as a distraction from substantive education, it decreases the overall depth of analysis in debates, and it minimizes opposition adaptation and strategic-thinking.

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First, conditionality decreases substantive education in debate rounds because it encourages government teams to read theory arguments against their opponents' advocacies. Substantive government offense against conditional opposition advocacies or their attendant net-benefits is liable to be removed from the round when the opposition switches to another advocacy. Thus, statusrelated theory is the only offense to which government teams will be guaranteed continued access throughout the debate. Moreover, because the opposition is likely to collapse to the argument that the government under-covered relative to other positions they are also more likely to be ahead on substantive issues than if they were tied to a single advocacy. As such, the PMR has a greater incentive to spend his or her final speech pursuing theory. This confluence of factors will result in a significant decrease in substantive education between teams when the opposition employs a well-selected conditional strategy. Second, conditionality decreases the depth of education in debate rounds. Whereas breadth of education is guaranteed in parliamentary debate because of topic rotation, depth on each specific topic is only possible if teams settle on a single LOC advocacy, present it in detail, and allows the government to be compared directly against it for the entirety of the round. However, oppositions that seek to maximize the strategic benefits of conditionality also have incentives to read inconsistent arguments in order to split government responses and yield increasingly desirable time-tradeoffs. To accomplish this goal, the opposition team must divide its own LOC speech time such that a significant component of what is read will be kicked in subsequent speeches, thereby

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negating any opportunity for continued analysis. Indeed, even Roger Solt (2003), an advocate of limited forms of conditionality in policy debate concedes that “[E]ven two policy alternatives can't be exhaustively evaluated [within the time limits of a debate round]… it is therefore best to force each team to do its own “scan” of the available policy options, select one and debate it to the maximum depth possible.” Collapsing to a single advocacy after introducing several actually impairs depth of analysis far more in parliamentary debate than in policy debate. Not only do policy rounds last longer overall, but also the existence of an additional set of rebuttal speeches allows the negative to expand its 1NC arguments in the 2NC and 1NR. In parliamentary debate, the opposition block cannot expand arguments very far beyond the initial presentation in the LOC because the PMR will label the expansions “new” and thus earn an opportunity to make “golden” responses. When conditionality spreads LOC analysis thin between a variety of positions, the opposition's overall depth of analysis suffers. Finally, conditionality also encourages MGCs to forego many of their best arguments against each opposition advocacy in order to spend time creating durable theory offense. This further decreases the depth of analysis against opposition arguments and suppresses overall education in the round. Third, conditionality allows oppositions to sidestep strategic adaptation and delay strategic thinking. Requiring opposition advocacies to be unconditional forces opposition teams to adapt to the PMC and act strategically rather than adopt a shotgun

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approach.19 Requiring the LOC to tailor its engagement with the government is unique to parliamentary debate because topics and government plans are continually changing. Opposition teams that read advocacies unconditionally must listen to the government, decide whether introducing a particular advocacy would make sense, would be consistent with the other arguments they plan to make, and ultimately prioritize between the various options at their disposal. These types of issue-selection and decision-making are at the heart of strategy. Requiring the opposition to be held accountable for their advocacy selection does not force them to sacrifice strategy, it merely promotes forward-thinking. On the other hand, conditionality encourages oppositions to run a large number of advocacies and kick them in subsequent speeches. It also reduces strategic decision-making to a simple matter of “going for what the government dropped.� This sacrifices depth of analysis and encourages cheap-shot debating where speaking as quickly as possible in order to prevent coverage by one's opponents are the best inroads to the judge's ballot. OPPOSITION RESPONSES Apart from fairness considerations, oppositions seek to justify the use of conditionality on a variety of different grounds. First, they claim that conditionality facilitates strategic thinking by both the government and the opposition. Second, they claim that conditionality is the most real world approach to policymaking. Third, they argue that conditionality provides access to a greater breadth of education. Finally, conditionality is said to prevent opposition teams from reading generic arguments by allowing them 19

In other words, to including a wide variety of disconnected arguments in the LOC in order to

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the flexibility to kick undesirable advocacies. In this section, I address each of the five claims. First, advocates of conditionality suggest that it encourages the government to think strategically. This is a standard claim that is trotted out whenever proponents seek to justify their use of theoretically questionable tactics. Paraphrased, the argument is, “Yes, our behavior makes debating more difficult for our opponents, but making the event more challenging for their side will only help them grow in the long run.” Ironically, few teams seek to make debate more difficult for themselves in order to reap similar benefits—many MOC’s will read arguments that indicate, “increasing the difficulty of the debate is good” and “you have made the debate too restricting/difficult for the opposition.” More importantly, this justification overlooks the obvious – debaters already have ample incentives to behave strategically, it is unlikely that additional pressure on the MGC will yield direct returns in the form of more strategic arguments, and the competitive disadvantage posed by an imbalance against the government would more than offset the potential increases in “strategic education” they would receive. In order for the argument to be persuasive, the government would need to currently enjoy so large of a competitive advantage, relative to the opposition, that government teams behave carelessly, confident are they that their side will prevail. Given the likely side bias in favor of the opposition and the myriad aforementioned factors that currently create pressure on MGCs, this scenario is unlikely to exist at present. Finally, conditionality actually decreases the strategic tools at the government's disposal by preventing teams “see what sticks.”

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from using straight-turns to compensate for opposition timetradeoffs and protect against the strategic collapse in the block. Rather than a variety of options, MGCs have little choice but to resort to conditionality-bad theory as a guaranteed outlet for offense. Second, the claim is often made that conditionality promotes strategic thinking for the opposition. However, opposition debaters can consider various strategic options during preparation time or in the execution of unconditional strategies; any marginal increase in strategic thinking afforded to opposition teams by virtue of their ability to swap advocacies mid-round is difficult to quantify or evaluate in significance. Moreover, conditionality reduces strategic thinking for the opposition because teams are no longer required to answer arguments that they are losing. Conditionality therefore results in opposition decision-making that amounts to little more than consistently going for the argument that the government team mishandled, rather than having to weigh the benefits of pursuing an argument against the difficulty of kicking out of other positions in order to do so. Thus, the requirement to exhibit foresight and carefully consider the utility of arguments before presenting them in the round is substantially reduced. It is also ultimately more educational for opposition teams to be held to their mistaken advocacies such that they can learn to account for their opponents' responses with careful comparison and strategic impact calculus. Debaters that are held accountable for their arguments during debate rounds begin to understand the strengths and weaknesses inherent to their own positions and learn to defend their claims against opposing viewpoints. Conditionality allows debaters to discard entire arguments after only one round of opposing inquiry.

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Finally, unconditionality facilitates its own forms of strategic thinking. For example, it is often possible for the opposition to concede “no-solvency” arguments against their own counterplan or kritik alternative that would allow them to sidestep much of their opponents' offense against the advocacy; strategic teams will learn to do this without relying on conditionality as an artificial means of accomplishing the same goal. Third, proponents of conditionality claim that it is the most realworld approach to policymaking and that it facilitates a search for the best policy option. Regardless of the accuracy of such claims, they are not applicable to debate. The search for the best policy option is consistently set aside in order to preserve fairness. For example, allowing the government to shift advocacies mid-round would be highly abusive to the opposition, so government teams are tied to their plan throughout the debate despite the fact that various abusive permutations or intrinsicness arguments might allow them to identify a more desirable policy option. Indeed, even the resolution itself impedes the government's search for the “best policy” by limiting the plan to a narrow spectrum of acceptable proposals. Additionally, policymakers in the real world do not operate in an oppositional format where the preservation of competitive equity is paramount and do not face the same time constraints as participants in academic debate. Even if conditionality allows us to consider a larger number of alternative advocacies apart from the plan, within the time-compressed and research-deprived format of parliamentary debate a search for the most desirable policy option will ultimately end unfinished. Only a few potential policies can be explored within the context of a single round and none of those policies can be explored in exacting detail

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as is possible for policymakers. Conditionality also forces the discussion of each option to become shallower given that the same amount of speech time is divided across a larger number of advocacies, thereby impairing the quality of analysis regarding each proposal. Because allowing conditionality would attenuate debaters' depth of analysis while broadening their investigation of potential alternatives only by a very small amount, then the preservation of competitive equity should precede marginal improvements in the search for the best policy option. Finally, conditionality is said to increase argumentative diversity and to prevent opposition teams from relying on generic advocacies because it allows them the flexibility to test alternative options without being tied to them permanently. However, supporters of this view have the relationship backward; in any given round, the most strategic teams will read whichever arguments they believe are most likely to result in a win for their side. At present, generic counterplans and kritiks are useful because government teams continue to answer them poorly. As such, very little penalty is attached to generic opposition strategies that are read unconditionally. However, as governments become more adept at answering generic counterplans and kritiks, teams will be less apt to read them unconditionally lest their opponents respond successfully. Conditionality, on the other hand, would encourage the continued use of generic arguments because there would be no penalty attached to trying out a generic counterplan and kicking it if the government saddled it with offense. In his assessment of conditionality in policy debate, Aaron Hardy (2010) argued that giving the negative “carte blanche to introduce as many [advocacies] as time permits in each debate creates a number of

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drawbacks. It fosters a debate curriculum which discourages onpoint research in favor of generically applicable argumentation‌ It also discourages the development of in-round strategic thinking skills which require seeing interactions and synthesis between multiple different positions.� Thus, on balance conditionality results in a trend in favor of generic argumentation and impedes the development of strategic skills, thereby reducing the value of debate as an educational tool. CONCLUSION Various factors exacerbate the harms of conditionality in parliamentary debate relative to policy debate, both in terms of the abuse it engenders against the government and it’s potential to erode the overall quality of debate. The potential harms against the activity, if current trends in favor of conditionality continue, should not be overlooked. In the past, the perception that a particular debate format has strayed too far from its educational roots or has become increasingly unfair for competitors has often been met with an exodus of academic funding and student participation from the activity toward more promising alternatives. A similar result in NPDA would be unwelcome, as the activity still has much to offer as an educational and competitive platform. Unfortunately, given the competitive advantages to be gained via conditionality, competitors and coaches face significant incentives to pursue conditional approaches. Given these concerns, judges should consider setting aside prevailing attitudes against intervention and instead stipulate in their philosophies that they will not tolerate conditional arguments in the same way that they would reject appeals in favor of rules violations or harassing remarks. This is

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particularly necessary given that the debaters who are most well positioned to abuse their opponents with conditional strategies are also often the most adept at discussing debate theory and are therefore likely to successfully justify conditionality in rounds against their weaker opponents. As such, the refrain that “conditionality will stop being useful when teams begin to answer it successfully” is unlikely to prove true in the foreseeable future as the competitive utility of conditionality continues to increase and strong teams continue to prey upon weaker ones. Similarly, coaches and teams should also consider setting aside their pursuit of immediate competitive advantages by confining themselves and their teams to unconditional approaches in order to preserve the long-term health of the activity as a whole. Finally, regardless of their choice, all teams should recognize the necessity of teaching students at an early age to argue “conditionality bad.” Given that the vast majority of justifications for conditionality focus on its application in policy debate, debaters will likely be well served by this specific explanation of why it is uniquely abusive in parliamentary debate.

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References Hardy, Aaron T. “Conditionality, Cheating, Counterplans, and Critiques: Topic Construction and the Rise of the “Negative Case.” Contemporary Argumentation & Debate, 2010: 39-46. Solt, Roger. “The Disposition of Counterplans and Permutations: The Case for Logical, Limited Conditionality.” The University of Missouri-Kansas City - High School \ College Partnerships. http://www.umkc.edu/hscp/Faculty/Counterplans.asp, 2003. (retrieved 06/11/2013). Strait, L. Paul and Brett Wallace. “Academic Debate as a DecisionMaking Game: Inculcating the Virtue of Practical Wisdom,” Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, 29 (2008), 1-36.

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The Parli Debate Prepbook: A Community-Driven Guide To Modern Parliamentary Debate

Making the Case for American Hegemony: Defending Goliath in Academic Debate Kevin J. Calderwood Director of Debate, Concordia University Irvine

"The abdication by the United States of some or all of the responsibilities for international security that it had come to bear in the first decade of the twenty-first century would deprive the international system of one of its principal safety features, which keeps countries from smashing into each other, as they are historically prone to do. In this sense, a world without America would be the equivalent of a freeway full of cars without brakes.” ---Michael Mandelbaum, The Case for Goliath, p. 195 INTRODUCTION Hegemony is a theory of America’s role in the world that has been largely adhered to by both Republicans and Democrats since the start of the Cold War. Patrick Callahan (2003) defines hegemony as the ability for a nation—or group of nations—to dominate other nations through military, economic, and diplomatic means. America began the long road to reach the status of “Goliath” in the international system following its victory in the Spanish-American War. The United States began to establish overseas colonies and dominated the Western Hemisphere. Following a late entrance, the U.S. fought on the winning side in World War I, eventually deciding after WWI to reject the League of Nations, choosing to

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remain behind the walls of a geographically isolated Fortress America (Krauthammer, 2003). Had the U.S. maintained a forwardly deployed military after World War II, the world might look entirely different. By looking inward, the U.S. allowed another vacuum of power to develop in Western Europe, giving rise to fascism and one of the bloodiest conflicts in world history. Thankfully, at least according to hegemonists, the U.S. maintained its forward deployment as a way to deter the rise of potential adversaries following World War II. Currently, the U.S. maintains a large standing military based throughout the world. The current force structure of the U.S., even in an age of austerity, prevents nation-states from engaging in inter-state conflict (Mandelbaum, 2005; Brzezinski, 2012). Thus, by possessing the strongest military and largest economy in the world, the U.S. acts as the world hegemon, or put another way, “serves as the world government in the 21st Century� (Mandelbaum, 2005). The structure for this chapter is fairly straightforward. First, I will provide a short history of three major events in international relations, all of which can serve as examples to strengthen your arguments in parliamentary debate. Second, I will demonstrate the major utility of hegemony arguments in parliamentary debate. Finally, I will discuss how to answer these arguments. A BRIEF COURSE IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Global hegemony has only recently become a reality because of advances in transportation, military, and communication technology. However, there is nothing new about the use of military, economic, or diplomatic means between two or more nation-states to advance their own goals. Traditionally, nation-states

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have had one goal—the security of the state through the maximization of power. According to John J. Mearsheimer (2001), power is determined by a nation-state’s access to natural resources, economic might, and the strength of their military, specifically the size and quality of their land armies. This section will discuss three major events in the history of international relations: the Peloponnesian Wars, the rise of the modern nation-state at the Peace of Westphalia, and significant power transitions and diffusions of power in the 20th and 21st centuries. The Peloponnesian War Since international relations is widely discussed in parliamentary debate, debaters should read the Melian Dialogue, written by Thucydides, which is an excerpt from his description of the Peloponnesian Wars. This piece demonstrates the role of power and perception in international relations. The Athenians demand that the Melos should submit to their power or face destruction by military force. The Melos counter the Athenian argument by stating that they are a neutral party and that they are of no threat to the Athenians. The Athenians contend that they are not able to allow the Melos to remain neutral or the Athenians would look weak to the other warring parties. Thus, the Athenians believed they were left to choose between an unconditional surrender from the Melos or that they must destroy them in battle. This is the foundation for perception in international relations— power is zero sum in the sense that any decrease in strength of the Athenians would be a relative increase in strength for their enemy, the Spartans. Following the invasion, the Melos offer the Athenians peace, which they refuse, instead executing the men that fought against them and enslaving the women and children (Thucydides, 431 B.C.). Relating

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this ancient tale to academic debate, it demonstrates that, even 2,400 years ago, the city-states of Greece sought to maximize their own power. The history of international relations demonstrates that nation-states act in their own self-interest. These types of arguments are foundational in any debate against critical arguments based on the premise that violence is not inevitable or that nation-states will choose to behave in benevolent ways towards one another. It can also be used as a great example of the importance of perception. For example, despite the conclusion made by the Athenians, the U.S. does not need to invade North Korea to deter them from acting aggressively. However, the U.S. must maintain the perception that they will defend their allies against threats from their enemies. In international relations, what matters are how other nation-states perceive the U.S. and how willing the U.S. is perceived to defend its interests. The next historical event takes us nearly 2,000 years into the future at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 A.D. The Peace of Westphalia The Thirty Years War, fought for religious and territorial reasons between the major European powers at the time, concluded in a series of peace treaties. International relations theorists describe today’s world as a Westphalian system of sovereignty. The international system of nation-states, their boundaries, and the centrality of the nation-state in international relations are largely credited to these agreements. Before the Peace, the centrality of Christendom reigned in Europe, and the major focus of sovereignty was not based on historical territorial claims or collective groups of people. Instead, the notion of sovereignty was only reinforced through the divine right status of the royal families of Europe, and the Pope in Rome recognized this form of sovereignty as legitimate.

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Westphalian sovereignty is the beginning of the modern realist system, where the interests of each individual nation-state were the maximization of its power and preservation of the sovereignty and security of the nation-state. Westphalian sovereignty is strongly based on the idea of non-intervention in the affairs of other nationstates and it is easy to see how this rise of the nation-state fueled the nationalist sentiments that grew out of populist movements in the 19th century. The Peace of Westphalia is extraordinarily important to understanding international relations, hegemony, and its intersection with many arguments you will encounter in parliamentary debate. The rise of the centrality of the nation-state and the focus on the preservation of sovereignty explains why Mearsheimer argues, “the real world remains a realist world� (2001, p. 361). For example, most critique alternatives will argue that nation-states are not inherently self-interested, that they can work in a cooperative fashion, and that power does not operate in a vacuum. The story of the Peace of Westphalia should serve as a strong example to answer back these claims. First, it demonstrates that nation-states have behaved in a specific way for the last 360 years. Even before the rise of the Westphalian system, the city-states of Greece also behaved in a self-interested manner. It should be relatively easy to explain that, just because the U.S. decides to act in ways contrary to its self-interest, it does not mean that other countries will follow. When the U.S. offered to dismantle all of its nuclear weapons at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986, the Soviet Union would not agree because they were still suspicious of the intentions of the U.S. As a more recent example, the U.S. and China have been unable to agree on emissions reductions because both are

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worried about the economic impact these reductions would have on their respective economies. Second, despite the formation of the European Union and the United Nations, nation-states still care deeply about their sovereignty and their self-interest. The rejection of the League of Nations following World War I represented a traditional view of international relations, rejecting Wilsonian liberalism in favor of Westphalian realism. Following the end of World War II, world leaders were looking for a solution to prevent another outbreak of a great power war, so they returned to the ideas of Wilsonian liberalism and attempted to establish collective economic and security regimes. Yet, as the global economic recession deepened and more and more European countries came closer to default, this collective economic arrangement began to falter. Threats from Germany to withdraw from the E.U. or that the E.U. might kick countries like Greece out of the alliance, demonstrates the limits of this type of collective economic security. The United Kingdom, one of the strongest economies in Europe, refuses to adopt the Euro as its currency, opting instead for sovereignty. The continued inter and intrastate violence that occurs on a daily basis also indicates that collective security does not work, with great powers instead opting to intervene only when their national interests are at stake, generally respecting the sovereignty of other countries. Despite the best attempts of liberal internationalists, the Westphalian system is alive and well. Power Transitions And Diffusion Of Power I have already discussed the two most important power transitions that are related to competitive debate: the rise of U.S. regional

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hegemony following the Spanish American War and the dominance of the U.S. in a unipolar world following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. The U.S. currently leads the world in economic growth, defense spending, and despite recent setbacks in some parts of the world, a global network of security alliances that gives the U.S. unrivaled access to airspace and bases. Thus, it is unlikely, although not impossible, that any significant power transition will take place in the coming decades. This section will go into more detail about some of the major threats to American power, and also how the diffusion of power, specifically telecommunications, is reshaping international relations. At the end of the 1970’s, international relations experts in the U.S. were worried about the threat Japan posed to U.S. hegemony because of its rising economy. Today, many people are worried about the rise of China’s economy and their increased defense spending as a potential threat to American hegemony. Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (2011), however, is apt to point out that predictions about China’s economy are too long-term to make accurate assumptions about the future of American power. Nye does concede that relative U.S. power, that is to say its power in relation to other countries, will certainly decline as economic power continues to shift eastward. However, it is unlikely that China, or any group of countries, will surpass the U.S. as global hegemon. Even as China’s economy continues to grow, its per capita income continues to lag, recent slowdowns as a result of its overheated housing market, and inherent instability due to a politically repressed population are all question marks that make it very unlikely that China will challenge U.S. hegemony.

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Despite these inherent advantages possessed by the U.S. as the world’s hegemon, the diffusion of telecommunications and other forms of technology creates new challenges for America’s leaders. This diffusion of power represents both economic and security risks to the U.S. as we attempt to maintain our position atop the international arena. Economically, with the adoption of free trade agreements, decreases in transportation time, and changes in the American economy, it is much easier for countries to compete. For example, in 2010, China overtook the U.S. in overall manufacturing output (Sims, 2013). Thomas Friedman (2008) explains how advances in information technology have allowed countries to expand their economies by several degrees. Now, it is much easier for farmers in Africa to connect to buyers in Europe due to the decrease in the price of telecommunications and the advent of the Internet. For our purposes in debate, this premise is important when you are presented with topics that deal with innovation, technology, and economic growth. I will discuss this aspect in more detail, but the strength of the U.S. economy is an important factor in our ability to maintain our hegemony. The security risks from the diffusion of power represent an even greater threat to American hegemony. Nye (2011) discusses how easy it was for Europeans to colonize Africa—the weapons possessed by those living in Africa were no match for the repeating rifles of the European colonizers. In the 21st century, asymmetric tactics, specifically the shifting of major conflict from the battlefield to the street, have neutralized many of the military advantages of the U.S. The guerrilla tactics used by the Taliban and its affiliates in Afghanistan have prevented the U.S. from pacifying the country despite over a decade of continuous military deployments. On a

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state to state level, the increase in use of cyber warfare, especially by China and Russia, is allowing those two countries to more quickly close the gap with the U.S. Nye argues that the risk of cyber warfare is quite good for two reasons. First, both Russia and China have already shown their willingness to use this type of warfare and Nye specifically discusses the Russian ability to undermine the Estonian banking system in 2007. Second, even though there are massive dangers posed by this type of warfare, Russia, China, and the U.S. have been unable to agree to a treaty against its use. Unlike the taboo amongst the great powers against the use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, this same ethic does not exist for cyber warfare. In terms of debate, the diffusion of power can either demonstrate the long-term instability of U.S. hegemony or can serve as an advantage scenario concerning the need to strengthen America’s defenses against cyber warfare. This section covered only three major events in the last 2,400 years of international relations history and thus is not meant to serve as an exhaustive list. Since parliamentary debate is often driven by knowledge of historical examples, the examples provided here, along with more you can discover in your own research, should serve as a strong framework for understanding international relations as a student and its utility in parliamentary debate. When defending hegemony or answering critiques of this traditional concept of power, it is important to remember the history of the Westphalian system because it demonstrates how nation-states have acted for several hundred years. The maximization of power and the perception that other countries have of one another remain the most important concepts in international relations. In the next section, I will discuss the utility of hegemony arguments in academic debate.

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APPLICATIONS FOR HEGEMONY IN DEBATE: INTERNAL LINKS Arguments about the benefits of American hegemony are prevalent in parliamentary debate. Accordingly, whether you decide to run these arguments or not, it is important for you to learn their many intricacies. The major utility of hegemony arguments in debate is the near universal application to a wide variety of potential topics. Given that the topic changes each round in debate, it is important to have a firm understanding of hegemony in your argumentative arsenal. This section will discuss many, although not all of, the different topics where hegemony arguments apply. Education Whether the topic deals with K-12 or college education, it is possible to connect the strength of America’s schools to its standing in the international arena. Many American politicians are beginning to use the phrase “STEM”, which is an acronym for “science, technology, engineering, and math.” STEM policies focus on strengthening America’s students in the “hard sciences”, which are areas where the U.S. is beginning to lag behind its competitors. Advances in science and technology have made the U.S. the world leader in both the economic and military spheres, and given that these qualities make a nation-state powerful, there is no doubt that this type of innovation will remain important for the hegemon of the 21st century. Economic Competitiveness

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Innovation, economic competitiveness, and an intelligent workforce are closely linked to the quality of education in the U.S., yet these concepts can also apply to nearly any topic about the state of the U.S. economy. Bill Gates, a major supporter of education initiatives that focus on innovation said, “For decades, innovation has been the engine of prosperity in this country. Now, economic progress depends more than ever on innovation… If we make the right choices, the United States can remain the global innovation leader that it is today.” I find the example of U.K.’s rise as leader of the international sphere useful when discussing the importance of innovation in determining the future of American power. Zalmay Khalilzad (1995), when discussing innovation, asks his readers to imagine a world where the U.K. did not lead the world in the transition from a wood-based fuel economy to one based on coal. As we approach the next technological innovation in how we fuel the planet’s energy needs, it is important for the U.S. to lead on this issue. Thus, on any topic that deals with renewable energy, it is easy to establish that the leader in renewable energy innovation will likely lead the international arena in the 21st century, just as the U.K. did in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Budget Budget issues are another economic area that is debated often. Mostly, these debates concern how the U.S. should best deal with reforming its entitlement programs, and thus the metaphor of “guns vs. butter” can apply to the debate. Although not necessarily a zero sum budget game, the rising costs of entitlement programs are likely to cause major cuts in defense spending. Despite what is commonly understood in debate circles, the largest contributor to the federal budget deficit in the next several years will not be defense spending,

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but rather entitlement spending. With sequestration exempting Social Security and Medicare, the defense budget faced another large cut after already seeing its budget cut by $450 billion over 10 years. The total cut to the defense budget will be over $1 trillion over the next decade, not counting the drawdown of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although Secretaries Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel both indicated that sequestration cuts are harmful to U.S. interests throughout the world, it is not likely that they will be enough to undermine America’s standing in the world. However, without fixes to entitlement programs in the U.S., there will be no hope for the U.S. to keep its system of forward deployment that keeps conflict from breaking out in numerous regions of the world. The Heritage Foundation predicts that by 2030, entitlement programs will make up 81% of all federal spending, massively crowding out defense spending, which is already at historical lows as a percentage of GDP (Eaglen, 2009). Immigration Reform By passing comprehensive immigration reform, the U.S. can strengthen its hegemony. If the U.S. adopted immigration reform, its standing in the world would increase for several reasons. First, if the U.S. were to turn inward and reject comprehensive immigration reform, it will begin to experience the types of demographic declines that are currently plaguing Europe and are likely to plague China in the near future due to its one-child policy. These demographic declines make budgeting more difficult, especially as more and more baby boomers reach retirement. However, if the U.S. can maintain its population growth through immigration, it is possible to maintain a stable entitlement system. Second, the correlation between H-1B visas and new technological innovations is significant (Nye, 2011).

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Soft Power The next several paragraphs will discuss the different types of power that are commonly associated with hegemony debates— many of these terms are misused, even in the highest-level debates, so I will take time here to carefully define the meaning of each term. I will begin with soft power, a term coined by Nye in the early 1990’s and refined in his 2004 book called Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. Nye (2004) defines soft power as “getting others to want the outcomes that you want—[it] co-opts people rather than coerces them. Soft power rests on the ability to shape the preferences of others” (p. 5). Thus, soft power has nothing to do with offering aid of any kind to other countries, which is often how it is deployed in parliamentary debate. Instead, soft power is about adopting policies that make the U.S. more attractive to other countries. For example, if the U.S. were to end the death penalty, this would greatly please our European allies. Although this type of policy probably will not reshape the international arena, it does demonstrate that soft power deals more with influencing countries to like us, rather than coercing them to like us through the use of foreign aid. For example, at the Whitman Classic tournament in February 2013, one of the topic areas dealt with increasing U.S. soft power in North Africa. Nearly every government case I judged (or heard about) dealt with giving North African countries some form of economic or military aid to get those countries to like the U.S. This is an example of a coercive policy, and thus has nothing to do with soft power. Common topics where you might be able to garner a true soft power advantage include: closing our prisons at Guantanamo Bay,

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withdrawing our military forces from several bases in the Middle East or Japan, ending our use of drone strikes in Pakistan, or adopting international treaties such as the Law of the Sea. These types of policy changes might make the U.S. look less hypocritical to our allies or might strengthen our resolve for democracy and human rights. In rare cases, the use of military force to prevent genocide or other human rights abuses could also strengthen American soft power by making our power look more attractive to others. One major benefit of soft power, outlined by Nye, is that it helped the U.S. defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Even though it was our military rivalry that eventually drove the Soviet Union into economic ruin, the attraction our form of democracy and our freedoms had on Eastern bloc countries also helped bring down the Soviet Union. Hard Power Soft power is not the only strategy the U.S. can adopt to maintain its hegemony. Although more popular with neoconservatives in the Bush administration, a strict adherence to hard power still has some support today. Hard power is a coercive tool of statecraft, generally associated with the use or threats of military force, the application of economic sanctions, or ending diplomatic ties (Nye, 2004). Hard power is most closely associated with the concept of deterrence theory, which aims to prevent challenges to American power by demonstrating that it is too costly to attempt to unseat the U.S. as global hegemon. For example, the United States’ “Asian Pivot” is an example of a hard power strategy, where the U.S. has increased its military presence in Asia in an attempt to deter the threatening rise of China. A strict adherence to hard power has many drawbacks. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, America’s popularity among its

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allies was quite strong. However, after its decision to deploy military force against Iraq, the United States’ standing with the rest of the world substantially decreased, demonstrating a drawback of hard power by ignoring the wishes of our long-standing allies. The use of military force alone not only distances us from our allies, but it also has the possibility to radicalize populations against U.S. power. For example, until the U.S. employed its “hearts and minds” strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, nation building in those two countries was an abysmal failure. Only when it is combined with soft power can its benefits truly be actualized. Nye (2004) defines this type of power as “smart power”, or the combination of hard and soft power. Nye explains that attracting people to our hegemony through soft power is essential to our hard power because countries are more likely to give us access to bases and overflight rights. Sticky Power “Sticky power” is a concept widely used in parliamentary debate. Sticky power, a term coined by Walter Russel Mead (2004), states that America’s economic power and associated economic institutions attract people to our power and then traps them inside it. Mead explains that sticky power makes it too costly for the U.S. and China to enter into armed conflict with one another because there is too much at stake for both countries. With trillions of dollars in goods traded between the two countries, breaking off economic ties would be disastrous for both countries. Essentially, “Sticky power, then, is important to U.S. hegemony for two reasons: It helps prevent war, and, if war comes, it helps the United States win” (Mead, 2004). Ensuring that countries enter the international economic system instead of isolating them through sanctions can help prevent conflict in the future.

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Unilateralism Vs. Multilateralism The final internal link scenarios I will discuss are the differences between unilateralism versus multilateralism. Unilateralism means acting on one’s own, without the approval of other countries. This is a difficult discussion to have because, even though the Iraq War represented a large “coalition of the willing”, many still considered it a unilateral military action by the U.S. For the purposes of discussing the concept through its application to competitive debate, I will focus on whether the U.S. should or should not act with multilateral institutions. Scholars like Nye (2001) typically believe that the U.S. should have a general preference for multilateralism, while reserving the right to act unilaterally if its national interests are at stake. On the other side of the spectrum, neoconservative unilateralists like Charles Krauthammer (2003), believe that international institutions seek to tie down U.S. power, preventing our freedom of action. Those that favor acting through international institutions typically believe that it strengthens our soft power, while those that believe in avoiding international institutions typically believe it hurts our hard power. I hope that this section accomplished two goals. First, it should demonstrate the versatility of hegemony in parliamentary debate. On nearly any topic, someone who knows the hegemony debate should be capable of garnering an internal link to either side of the resolution. Second, there are intense debates occurring in the literature over how best to maximize America’s power. There is no right answer to this question, which makes its versatility in debate even greater.

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APPLICATIONS FOR HEGEMONY IN DEBATE: IMPACTS The ability for the U.S. to maintain its hegemony in the 21st century is necessary to preserve “peace, democracy, and free markets” (Mandelbaum, 2002). Although hegemony is sometimes used as a bad word, mainly in liberal academic circles, it is tough to imagine a world in which another country sits atop the international arena. This section explores the many reasons why it is beneficial for the U.S. to maintain its hegemony, and although the list is not exhaustive, it is quite extensive. I will begin by discussing the economic, military, and social benefits of maintaining hegemony before ending with an explanation of why there is no alternative to U.S. power. Stable Economic System The U.S. should maintain its hegemony, foremost, to ensure a stable functioning of the international economy. Since the establishment of the Bretton Woods system, the U.S. dollar has served as the world’s reserve currency, with many commodities, such as oil, traded in dollars. This type of stability is necessary to prevent widespread inflation and price fluctuation in international markets. The U.S. has also been instrumental in formulating and sustaining the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization, three international organizations dedicated to economic growth and eradicating poverty in the developing world (Mandelbaum, 2004). A stable economic system also depends on the free flow of goods. Through the forward deployment of the Navy, the U.S. maintains the freedom of the seas, protecting trade from “plunderers and pirates”, which could easily disrupt global commerce at major chokepoints. Thus protecting sea lines of

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communication from shutdown is another important economic aspect of American hegemony (Fergusson, 2004). Preserving Peace Preventing conflict and maintaining peace among the major powers is another primary goal of American hegemony. Since the U.S. assumed its leadership role atop the international arena, there have been no “hot wars� fought between the great powers, and the world entered a relatively peaceful period for the first time since the establishment of the German state in 1870. U.S. hegemony provides reassurance to our allies that they will remain safe from attack, which prevents many countries, like Japan and Germany, from creating offensive militaries. By forwardly deploying our nuclear weapons arsenal and extending our nuclear umbrella, the U.S. erases any need for its allies to maintain nuclear weapons of their own. This benefit of U.S. hegemony plays a large part in preventing nuclear proliferation (Mandelbaum, 2005). Outside of security guarantees, the strength of the U.S. military also deters other countries from acting aggressively in their own regions. In 2012, Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined eight specific scenarios for conflict should American hegemony decline: Georgia, Taiwan, South Korea, Belarus, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Israel— you should familiarize yourself with the intricacies of each of these scenarios. Social Benefits of American Leadership American leadership also provides many additional benefits because of the values that the country espouses. The U.S. provides a large amount of humanitarian assistance to the rest of the world, and should the U.S. turn inward, this form of aid would substantially decline (Fergusson, 2004). The U.S. has provided development aid

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to countries to strengthen their infrastructure, democratic, and financial institutions in an attempt to bring Western values and lifestyles to the developing world. The World Bank predicts that the liberalization of markets in India and China has lifted a billion people out of poverty since the 1970’s, representing the greatest amount of poverty eradication in the history of the world (Bhagwati, 2007). America’s commitment to protecting the global environment, especially through international agreements is another area for consideration. Although the U.S. has recently abandoned its long history of working with international institutions to protect the environment, major successes in the past, such as the Montreal Protocol that solved the ozone layer crisis in the 1980s demonstrate that the U.S. does have the ability to solve major transnational environmental issues like climate change (Nye, 2003). If not the U.S., then who? The most important argument to win in any hegemony debate, however, is that there is no alternative to U.S. power. Of course, there are other countries that will rise up in their own regional sphere of influence, but this leaves the countries in those regions vulnerable to conquest. As noted previously, there are at least eight areas of the world that are threatened should U.S. hegemony decline. However, there is no country, or group of countries, that can replace the U.S. as the global hegemon. No one has the economic strength or global military reach that the U.S. possesses to maintain international order. In essence, a decline of U.S. hegemony would result in a “global vacuum of power” (Fergusson, 2004). The risk of a world without American power extends beyond the fact that no one can step in for the U.S. to maintain global peace. Robert Kagan (2012) explains that, despite what liberal internationalists

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will tell you about the ascent of capitalism and democracy throughout the world, this trend is not inevitable. The type of government and economic system that the hegemon of the time believes in sculpts the global landscape. During the height of the British Empire, free trade and capitalism spread rapidly throughout the world because the British government believed in these policies. However, should the U.S. decline, it is unlikely that any potential replacement would stand for democracy, peace, and free markets. China believes in a state-managed economic system with virtually no democratic rights for its citizens and Russia is an autocracy that is currently experiencing a democratic backslide. Thus, the importance of U.S. hegemony rests in its ability to shape the world’s security, economic, and political systems. This section briefly examined several advantages of maintaining U.S. hegemony. In any “impact level” debates about hegemony, it is important to stress that changes in the international arena generally are not peaceful. Although there are plenty of mistakes that the U.S. has made during our time as global hegemon, the benefits far outweigh the costs. It is important to remind the judges to ask themselves, “What does the world look like without U.S. hegemony?” Debates about hegemony are never about the little things—they are always about the big picture. There are very few areas, if any, where teams could convince the judge that a Chinese or Russian led system is more beneficial than one dominated by the U.S. Now that I have explained the benefits of hegemony, I will introduce a nuanced strategy for answering the argument.

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STRATEGIES FOR ANSWERING HEGEMONY There are many approaches to answering a debate argument premised on a defense of U.S. hegemony. Hopefully, now that you have an understanding of some of the important concepts, you might develop your own method for defeating this argument. Although I will not spend time in this section discussing link turn strategies (arguing that the government plan would actually hurt hegemony), these are often the most formidable. Instead, I will focus my attention on my preferred, often under utilized strategy— a defense of traditional power politics in the form of defensive realism. Note on Critical Strategies I am not an expert on critical literature, and since my knowledge is not substantive on this topic, I will leave it up to the other authors in this project to provide their insights on the matter. However, I will provide a brief description of three different critical strategies you might deploy. The first critical strategy, and my favorite of the critical approaches to the hegemony debate, is a feminist critique of international relations. J. Ann Tickner (1992, 2001) is the foremost academic expert on incorporating a gendered lens in scholarship on international relations. The basic thesis of this argument is that realist theories of international relations are inherently masculine, focusing on “high security” issues like nuclear weapons, instead of “social security” issues like poverty. This traditional masculine approach to international relations makes war inevitable, and thus, the only chance to maintain international peace is through a new, feminist way of thinking about security. David Campbell (1998) writes about identity politics involved in U.S. foreign policy decisions. Campbell explains reasons why realism is not an

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inevitable part of human thinking and also introduces the concept of threat construction. This is a very easy criticism to learn and can link in any debate where the other team defends that their plan strengthens America’s security. Campbell’s argument says that American discourse about how the world is unsafe actually creates enemies out of countries that pose very little risk to the U.S. or our allies. The final criticism I will discuss is about the artificial construction of borders by nation-states. Michael J. Shapiro (1997) explains that this artificial construction, borne out of centuries of colonization and violent expansionism, makes conflict inevitable. Although this is only a brief explanation of critical strategies, reading the four books referenced in this section will put you well on your way to constructing a strong critique in any hegemony debate. Defending “Offshore Balancing” As An Alternative To American Hegemony More times than not in parliamentary debate, competitors will conflate the use of the terms hegemony and realism. Even though these two concepts share some similarities, and hegemony is an offshoot of traditional realist thinking, they are in fact criticisms of each other. If someone is defending U.S. hegemony, you can argue that offshore balancing is a preferable strategy for the U.S. to engage in. If the U.S. were to adopt an offshore balancing strategy, we would no longer forwardly deploy our military assets, instead keeping them “over the horizon”, giving us the flexibility to intervene only if our national interests are at stake (Mearsheimer, 2001). This section will begin with a brief explanation of the differences between hegemony and realism and discuss the three

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arguments you must win to prove offshore balancing is preferable to forward deployment. Callahan (2003) explains that a nation-state’s conception of power and what constitutes the national interest are the main differences between hegemonism and realism. Realists believe a nation-state only possesses enough power to defend its territorial integrity, thus upholding its sovereignty as the core national interest of a nationstate. However, a hegemonist has an expanded view of both of these concepts. Due to America’s military and economic strength, hegemonists believe that the U.S. possesses near limitless power, and that it can exercise it freely to achieve its national interest. Since a hegemonist believes in an expanded view of power, they also typically believe that advancing freedom, democracy, peace, and free markets are part of the national interest of the nation-state. Although this distinction might seem miniscule to some, it is an important one as I continue to discuss this as a strategy to answering hegemony. The crux of this strategy serves as an internal link turn to leadership impacts. The point is not to say that U.S. hegemony is bad because it is militaristic or colonialist, but simply that hegemony is an overreach of American power. There are three main arguments you must win to make this an effective strategy. First, American hegemony creates resentment among our allies and adversaries. Second, this resentment will collapse American hegemony. Finally, that the forward deployment of American forces makes conflict inevitable.

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I have briefly discussed the ways that hard military power makes others resentful of American hegemony, and I will go more in-depth now. If you wish to excel at the execution of this argument, I suggest reading Stephen M. Walt’s (2006) Taming American Power, which is cited in the reference section of this chapter. There are several reasons why too much power creates resentment among other countries. First, this is a natural reaction by other countries that fear either losing their own influence or their sovereignty as a result of American dominance. Second, it is likely that U.S. security guarantees have created conflicting interests. For example, what would happen if Taiwan and Japan were engaged in a territorial dispute? Since we have a mutual defense treaty with both countries, it is impossible for us to pick sides if conflict would break out. Third, the U.S. engages in many hypocritical actions that anger other countries. The U.S. attempts to advance non-proliferation accords while maintaining a significant number of nuclear weapons in its own arsenal. We condemn non-state actors for their indiscriminate use of force, but continue to use drone strikes, landmines, and other military actions that create significant civilian casualties. This is just a brief list of America’s hypocritical actions, but they have a significant negative impact on our international reputation. Fourth, the U.S. will fall victim to imperial overstretch like every other country that attempted global hegemony. We simply have too many global obligations to maintain them all. The U.S. does have an extensive global network of bases, alliances, and air and naval forces that are forwardly deployed, but all of these are in jeopardy as a result of recent defense budget cuts. Finally, U.S. policy creates resentment among terrorist organizations—from our military footprint in the Middle East, our liberal values, to our

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support for Israel. All of these factors diminish America’s ability to maintain its standing in the world (Walt, 2006). The resentment created by American policy results in strategies of opposition that makes the collapse of U.S. hegemony likely. This form of opposition begins with a concept called “balancing”, meaning that other countries form coalitions to resist American power. For example, in the summer of 2012, Russia and China held their first-ever joint naval war games (“China”). This type of balancing, where countries attempt to create military alliances against the hegemon, is known as “hard balancing”. On the other hand, “soft balancing” occurs when countries form diplomatic coalitions to counteract the power of the hegemon. The best example of “soft balancing” occurred during the run-up to the Iraq War when France demanded that the U.S. seek U.N. authorization through the Security Council where they had veto power. The final type of balancing is known as “internal balancing”. This occurs when countries utilize their own strengths to counter the hegemon. For example, Chinese leaders have emphasized the need for cyberwarfare capabilities and have developed anti-carrier cruise missiles to challenge U.S. dominance in Asia. The final strategy I will discuss is the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Many argue that the only reason a country like North Korea or Iran seeks nuclear weapons is because they fear an invasion from the U.S. This not only undermines U.S. efforts at non-proliferation, but also limits our freedom to pursue our objectives in the region. If U.S. forces are constantly the targets of nuclear weapons from rogue states, it is unlikely that the U.S. will maintain the flexibility to remain the global hegemon. This type of behavior is empirically proven during the Cold War, when Egyptian leaders threatened to switch their

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allegiance to the U.S. unless they received more military aid from the Soviet Union. An over reliance on allies, especially for access to bases, sea lines of communication, and air space, significantly limits American power (Walt, 2006). This amount of resentment assures an inevitable decline in U.S. standing in the international arena. Thus, if the opposing team claims any type of leadership impact (whether cultural, military, or economic), you can argue that the preservation of hegemony is impossible. Winning that American hegemony is unsustainable is an important uniqueness argument because it demonstrates that America will eventually decline. Thus, if you can win an argument that says transitioning from American hegemony sooner is better than later, you have made a complete, round-winning argument. There are impacts beyond resentment that make a transition from U.S. forward deployment to offshore balancing even more compelling. Forward deployment of U.S. military forces causes other countries to pursue weapons that balance U.S. power, which serves as an example to answer any of your opponent’s arguments about allied re-armament. This type of forward deployment also increases the chances for miscalculation because it is impossible for nation-states to know the exact intentions of one another. For example, because China views access to energy resources as a national security threat, they might preemptively strike American forces in the Malacca Straits to ensure that the U.S. Navy does not shut down the Straits, siphoning off China’s access to oil (Glain, 2004). Power transition theory indicates that when a rising challenger approaches power parity with the dominant state, war is increasingly likely. This occurs at the point of power parity because

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a rising power has little incentive to attack the dominant state because they will lose that battle. Likewise, a declining dominant state, once it loses its status, has very little reason to challenge the newly dominant state (Organski, 1958). In our example, where the U.S. inevitably declines and China rises as the next dominant state, the U.S. much choose whether to smoothly transition to a new Chinese dominated system or decide to fight as the two countries reach power parity. A world of offshore balancing attempts to avoid these conflicts because the main goal of any nation-state should not be global dominance, but rather the security of the state. Nothing within the grand strategy of offshore balancing would mean that the U.S. could not engage in military conflict to defend its national interests. In a world of offshore balancing, the U.S. maintains a massive amount of economic and military power, remains one of many leaders in the international arena, but would substantially reduce its military footprint throughout the world. This means less resentment, less risk for great power conflict, and a more reasoned approach to the decision to use military force. This section explored three strategies you can deploy when encountering hegemony arguments in parliamentary debate. A debater can decide to use a traditional link turn approach, explaining how the team defending U.S. hegemony will actually cause the standing of the U.S. in the international arena to decline. The next approach is to criticize the opposing team for defending American hegemony through a critical lens, arguing that they make conflict between nation-states inevitable. The final strategy, and my preferred one, is to defend offshore balancing as an alternative grand strategy to forward deployment. No matter what strategy you

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choose to deploy, hopefully these options demonstrate the versatility in approaches to answering this specific argument. CONCLUSION Learning how to deploy a robust defense of American hegemony can pay major dividends in your competitive debate career. It is important to remember that whether you personally agree that the U.S. should remain as the global hegemon or not should be irrelevant when deciding whether to deploy these arguments in debate. A major benefit of academic debate is that it should serve as a testing ground for new ideas. Additionally, learning to defend arguments you do not personally believe in can be incredibly helpful in becoming a better advocate for your own beliefs in the real world. This chapter began with a brief explanation of how international relations have evolved over the last 2,500 years. It is important to remember that history is all about perspective, and I have composed much of this work from the perspective that maintaining American hegemony ought be the primary goal of U.S. policymakers. Next, I discussed the versatility of deploying hegemony arguments in your own parliamentary debate rounds. It is tough to find another argument that can apply to as many different topics, especially ones that are so frequently debated. Whether the topic is about the military or domestic social programs, it should not be difficult for you to tie it back to strengthening American hegemony. Finally, I explored three different strategies for defeating these arguments in parliamentary debate. Any of the proposed strategies, from link turns to critical strategies, should give you a chance to win the debate. However, I believe that it would be beneficial if debates about American hegemony became more nuanced, and debaters more persuasively argued about America’s grand strategy. In the

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end, it is important to remember that there are many uncertainties when dealing with international relations, and this level of uncertainty is a compelling reason to maintain American hegemony. As Michael Mandelbaum writes, “Grudgingly, tacitly, silently, other countries support the American role as the world’s government out of the well-grounded fear that while the conduct of the United States may be clumsy, overbearing, and even occasionally insufferable, the alternative would be even worse, perhaps much worse� (2005, p. 195).

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References Bhagwati, J. (2004). In defense of globalization. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Brzezinski, Z. (2012). Strategic vision: America and the crisis of global power. New York, NY: Basic Books. Campbell, D. (1998). Writing security: United States foreign policy and the politics of identity. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Callahan, P. (2003). Logics of American foreign policy: Theories of America’s world role. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. “China, Russia begin naval war games”. (2012, April 22). NBC News. Retrieved June 16, 2013 from http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/04/22/11332542china-russia-begin-naval-war-games?lite Eaglen, M. (2009, December 7). “Entitlements crowd out defense spending, and it’s only getting worse. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved June 16, 2013 from http://blog.heritage.org/2009/12/07/entitlements-crowd-outdefense-spending-and-it’s-only-getting-worse/ Ferguson, N. (2004, July 1). “A world without power”. Foreign Policy. Retrieved June 16, 2013 from http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2004/07/01/a_world_wit hout_power Friedman, T. (2008). Hot, flat, and crowded: Why we need a green revolution—and how it can renew America. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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Glain, S. (2004, December 22). “Yet another great game”. Newsweek International. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2004/12/19/yetanother-great-game.html Kagan, R. (2012). The world America made. New York, NY: Vintage Books. Khalilzad, Z. (1995). “Losing the moment? The United States and the world after the Cold War”. The Washington Quarterly, 18(2). Krauthammer, C. (2003). “The unipolar moment revisited”. The National Interest. Retrieved June 16, 2013 from http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/krauthammer.pdf Mandelbaum, M. (2002). The ideas that conquered the world: peace, democracy, and free markets in the twenty-first century. New York, NY: Public Affairs. Mandelbaum, M. (2005). The case for Goliath: How America acts as the world’s government in the 21st century. New York, NY: Public Affairs. Mead, W.R. (2004, March 1). “America’s sticky power”. Foreign Policy. Retrieved June 16, 2013 from http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2004/03/01/americas_sti cky_power Mearsheimer, J. J. (2001). The tragedy of great power politics. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. Nye Jr., J. S. (2002). The paradox of American power: Why the world’s only superpower can’t go it alone. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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Nye Jr., J. S. (2004).Soft power: The means to success in world politics. New York, NY: Public Affairs. Nye Jr., J. S. (2011). The future of power. New York, NY: Public Affairs. Organski, A.F.K. (1958). World politics. New York, NY: Knopf. Shapiro, M. J. (1997). Violent cartographies: Mapping cultures of war. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Sims, D. (2013, March 14). “China widens lead as world’ largest manufacturer”. Industry Market Trends. Retrieved June 16, 2013 from http://news.thomasnet.com/IMT/2013/03/14/chinawidens-lead-as-worlds-largest-manufacturer/ Thucydides. (431 B.C.). History of the Peloponnesian War. Retrieved June 16, 2013 from https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/melian.htm Tickner, J.A. (1992). Gender in international relations: Feminist perspectives on achieving global security. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Tickner, J.A. (2001). Gendering world politics: Issues and approaches in the post-Cold War era. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Walt, S.M. (2006). Taming American power: The global response to U.S. primacy. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.

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Student-Run Programs: Lessons from the CU Bou1lder Experience Rachelle Harris, Nathan Jeffries, and William Van Treuren

INTRODUCTION Institutional support for debate programs can be hard to come by. There are many reasons for this, not limited to scarce financial resources, demanding time commitments required for participation, and a general lack of understanding of the benefits of the activity. Even when the lack of a debate program is not explicitly purposeful, there can be substantial hurdles to overcome when trying to debate at a school that lacks a program. In starting a debate program at Colorado University-Boulder, beginning in 2005, we encountered a slew of these hurdles. In this chapter, we intend to outline some of the basic strategies you may find useful in facing these challenges, and elaborate on how you can turn them into opportunities. STARTING AND MAINTAINING A TEAM WITH LIMITED INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT There are two different goals that you may have going into this process. They are by no means mutually exclusive, but they do require different kinds of focus and direction of energy. The first goal is to travel and participate at debate tournaments, pure and simple. Presumably this is your primary goal, so the focus of this

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discussion will be on making that happen most effectively. The second goal of obtaining long-term institutional support is, nevertheless, an important one. Thus, we will also include the insights we have into making inroads in this regard as well. Several “steps” are required to get off the ground to begin debating: Recruit other interested debaters – This is an obvious first step, given that parliamentary debate is a partnered event; you will need at least one other individual to debate with. Finding other likeminded individuals to help you navigate the waters of creating a debate program can be invaluable, not to mention critical to building a competitive base, including having people to practice with. This can be a tricky process for a variety of reasons. First, depending on the size and culture of your school, reaching out to people who may be interested could be very easy or very difficult. CU Boulder, as a very large school, was a blessing and a curse in this regard. Having a large school means you have a very large audience and potentially a very deep pool of individuals with a debate background who may be interested in continuing with or initiating their debate experience. However, such a large audience can also be difficult to access in a meaningful or impactful way. If your school is small, you may have fewer potential recruits to work with, but can probably get their attention more easily. Whatever your situation, take advantage of the resources your school has in place for dissemination of information: listservs, posting boards in public areas, chalking on the sidewalks, Greek-life parties, and the old fashion meet-n-greet. Put up posters and talk to people. Set up an informational meeting to both generate and gauge interest. Find out what recently graduated high-school debaters attend your school. Collect and maintain student’s contact information. Start an

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email chain or a Facebook group to keep in communication and have a common space for exchange of ideas and information. You may get an overwhelming response from a lot of people—that would be great. More than likely, however, you will find a few moderately interested people who are unwilling to really dive into something so unsure. While it would be great to have a large numbers of interested parties in some regards, too many people can rapidly get extremely unwieldy to manage. So, focus on generating genuine interest in the people who express it, rather than trying to launch a huge program right off the bat. Find some coaching help – Having the insights and input of someone familiar with the activity and the community is absolutely invaluable, unsurprisingly. Since you are likely working with limited financial resources, you are probably not going to convince anyone to work for you full time. However, if there are experienced college debaters in your area, you might be surprised how many of them would be willing to help out in ways that seem small, but can have a huge and meaningful impact on your success as a small program. Ask them to do what they can, and let them. Whether this means watching a couple of practice rounds or helping you understand how to structure your latest kritik idea, you should seek and take advantage of any help available. Even better, find someone who is willing to travel with you to tournaments to act as a judge and prep coach. If you are able, you should pay this person for their time and effort, and certainly cover their travel expenses. Research your school’s funding design – If you want to not pay out of pocket for all your competition and travel expenses, obtaining

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funding from your school should be of top priority. That said, it could be rather arduous to do so, depending on the structure of how your school allocates funding to student groups and how generous or restrictive they are with such allocations. It is more difficult for us to speak in generalities here, since every school is different, but here are some funding lessons learned (and being learned!) from the CU Boulder experience: Be persistent – We made our first attempt at garnering school funding in the fall of 2005. It took a full two years for the team to get a meaningful sum of money from the school. For better or worse, universities and colleges, big or small, are really good at maintaining their bureaucracies. While this can be incredibly frustrating, it is almost always something you will have to deal with. Figure out how your school allocates money for student groups, and build a good case for your own need as soon as possible. Prepare yourself to defend the merits of debate as a productive intellectual, academic, and social endeavor (if you need help with this, ask anyone in the debate community – they will likely overwhelm you with reasons that debate can provide meaningful academic experiences). If you get rejected, or do not receive the money you have requested, carry on. Keep pushing the relevant people in the right direction, and search for new avenues of funding. You might find that there is allocable money in the student government, individual colleges within your school, specific departments, or any number of other places. Do not be afraid to cobble together a patchwork of funding sources if you can – you should take advantage of any opportunities you have available.

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Be creative – If you have a knack for fundraising, use it (or develop one). One possible way to raise money for your squad, if your area has a viable high-school circuit, is to host a high-school tournament. This process is a vast undertaking unto itself, but if you have some support from local high-school coaches, or at least a their willingness to pay for/come to a tournament at a university (high school debaters typically enjoy this type of opportunity), you can generate some revenue for yourselves. If you are successful in hosting a high school tournament, use this as another argument for funding— you are hosting potential students on campus, an opportunity that school administrators typically embrace. Also consider other traditional fundraising mechanisms – bake sales, concession stands, tutoring services, or even car washes. Be resourceful – For a period of time in CU Boulder’s competitive history, we were paying our own way to tournaments. Since for most of us this was in addition to paying our way through school, life and working full time, as it may be for many people, this is generally not a sustainable option. However, the community is full of people and resources that are more than capable and willing to help you spread your money as far as possible. Reach out to tournament directors and explain your circumstances; they are often willing to help. We will discuss effective use of community resources in detail later. Be strategic – One of the best ways to stretch your available resources is to be strategic in the competitions you choose to attend. Figure out what the circuit in your area looks like, and which competitions will give you the most value. If you are just starting out, this may not mean attending the most competitive tournaments. It may mean attending the tournaments that are nearby, or the ones

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where you have a family member with whom you can stay, or the ones that will waive your entry or judging fees. Whatever your decision calculus, recognize that you cannot attend all the tournaments each year, so you need to maximize the utility of the ones you can. STRATEGY ON A SMALL TEAM Operating a small team, likely with a volunteer coach or no coach at all, means you have constraints (and freedoms) other teams do not have. In the CU Boulder experience, the most serious constraints are institutional indifference/hostility, a research disadvantage and a practice disadvantage. Here we will attempt to relate how we addressed each of these constraints and the shortcomings of each of the strategies. Institutional Indifference Disadvantage Among the most frustrating challenges we encountered were the lack of institutional support or acknowledgement and the impact it had on classwork. Ultimately, programs that lack large amounts of institutional support will run into conflicts between each participant’s obligations to her own coursework and her work for the debate program. Traditionally, debate programs with institutional backing are able to resolve these problems in a few ways. First, coaches are often faculty members who can lobby other members of the faculty to excuse absences that are the result of debate or to extend deadlines for students with prior debate obligations. Second, institutionally backed programs will often allow students to actually receive course credit for their participation in debate. This reduces each student’s class workload outside of debate, and, thus, reduces the risk of conflict. Finally, programs

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with institutional backing often consider participation in intercollegiate debate tournaments as “university or college sponsored events,” explicitly creating a policy that excuses student absences. Sadly, programs that do not have large amounts of institutional support, like Boulder’s, cannot rely on faculty support in resolving these conflicts. As such, it is important for student directors to make sure that coursework and debate do not become mutually antagonistic activities. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways. First, we felt that it was important that every member of our program know that coursework always took priority over debate work. While we still expected each member to carry her fair share of the research burden, we never expected teammates to sacrifice their education in the name of debate. Any other attitude will likely foster resentment and ultimately be ineffective. Secondly, we found that it was best to try and synergize the work we did for our classes with the work that needed to be done for debate. What this really meant was taking a step back from every project, test, or paper and seeing if this material could be used in a debate round. In doing so, we were often amazed to find that a Lit Theory paper would function equally well, if not better, as a Kritik, or that a Poli Sci course’s required reading on North Korea created a wonderful impact and uniqueness arguments for a US-Sino relations disadvantage. Even hard sciences can be useful in this regard. Will and Than won the NPTE in 2010 as Math and Science majors. Shifting debates into this arena proved extremely important to that achievement. In this way, that you are not confined or encouraged to perform coursework in a certain department actually is a strength to student-run programs.

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While this strategy of synergizing course work and debate work seems obvious, the number of teams that failed to rely on it always amazed us. We found the strategy extremely advantageous for small team like ours for a few reasons. First, it allowed us to shift debates into areas that where we had a greater depth of knowledge than our opponents. By shifting debates to areas we actually studied, it provided us with an advantage over other teams because we simply had a better understanding of the literature surrounding our arguments. This allowed us to make more nuanced and sophisticated arguments as a whole. This was a huge advantage when debating teams that lacked the same foothold of information. This strategy was also more efficient because it meant that we were “wasting� fewer hours on non-debate work. As discussed in more detail below, the biggest advantage that large teams have over a small team is in research volume. While this gap can never truly be eliminated, in working to do so, it often meant that each member of our team would have to put in more hours to stay competitive. Thus, finding ways to pull more hours out of the day was always important. Generally, this meant finding ways to have course work for class simultaneously benefit our debate goals. Research Disadvantage Critical to success in parliamentary debate is having a wide knowledge and file base in a variety of topics. Policy debate offers a certain transparency in evidence production and file sharing that is absent from parliamentary debate. Operating with a smaller team means that you will not have the ability to cut the same evidence and arguments that other squads have, both in quantity of evidence and breadth of topics; nor will you have the same ability to scout

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other teams at tournaments. Luckily these problems are much less detrimental to a parliamentary debate team than they would be to a policy team because interpolation from limited known information is often more valuable (in the Leader of Opposition Constructive/Member of Government Constructive) than knowing every last fact about your politics disadvantage. In other words, the disadvantage you may be placed in by having a smaller, student-run program can be overcome with hard work and creativity. To overcome our evidence/argument disadvantage we ended up lucky rather than good; we had two former policy debaters on the team (and later Scott Weaver as a coach) who had extensive knowledge of the basic arguments frequently used in policy debate. This came from familiarity with the evidence (back-files) used in recent years. Having core back-file knowledge is essential because although topics in parliamentary debate shift, that does not mean that the underlying links, internal links, or impacts change all that much. If you have an understanding of recent high school or college back-files, you are able to know and understand every internal link you are likely to hear in any parliamentary debate, or need to generate yourself for your LOC or PMC. Even if you have not debated or coached the high school or college policy topics, a huge amount of evidence is available for free from sources like the open evidence project, the cross-x evidence trading forums, random scribd files online, the college wikis, blogs (the3nr) and on torrent sites. If members of your squad pursue all these avenues to acquire and read files, you will have the background knowledge required to answer most arguments outright, and interpolate between known facts in the cases where you do not know.

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If the notion of interpolation is unclear, we mean that you are often forced to answer a scenario about which you have no in-depth knowledge, particularly in the LOC/MGC. In those situations, you can often construct answers from knowing two unrelated pieces of information that are common back-file knowledge. For example, the PMC may read a plan banning CAFOs with an advantage concerning antibiotic resistance. While you might have no direct information on the relative rates of antibiotic resistance pre and post-CAFO introduction, if you had read back-files for the last four years you would know that antibiotic resistant strains of various common human pathogens are spreading throughout southern prison systems (as well as returning with US armed forces from Afghanistan). You could read alternative cause arguments (admittedly, not round winning), solvency arguments, etc., which, coupled with your prepared economy disadvantage, might be sufficient to win the round. This research strategy is effective because the best internal link/impact scenarios have already been identified and used in other debate rounds; most PMCs/LOCs are really just finding new ways to generate a link in the context of the resolution. Again, this means that if you know and understand the underlying logic and basic background information about these arguments, you are well positioned to engage them. It is important to note that for back-files to be effective, you have to read back-files correctly. Just having the files available before a tournament is not sufficient. You cannot integrate enough information (even with the prodigious short term memory debate develops) in twenty minutes on an unfamiliar subject. You need to read back-files prior to competition and you need to analyze how you can use the arguments contained in your rounds. For example,

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having simply read the “Orstein ‘93” evidence will not be good enough to explain why “winners win” outweighs an issue-specific link on a Politics Disadvantage. You need to know the nonunderlined warrants for the argument. Using these files and arguments in practice debates, team strategy discussions, and even speed/speaking drills can help you begin to truly dissect the arguments’ utility, and be able to deploy them effectively. Another strategy, which CU used effectively to close the research gap, was to have an excellent command of domain specific knowledge in a particular discipline or argumentative area. For Nathan and Rachelle, this was critical arguments and uniqueness tricks; for Dan and Dara, this was the criticism; for Will and Than, this was science/ecology. This is effective because it gives you the ability to bring many debates into your area(s) of strength, even if it would not be the debate’s natural trajectory. Additionally, it forces other teams to avoid some positions because they might give you links to talk about your area of expertise. As a note of caution, developing such a specific strength or becoming a “one trick pony” can become more detrimental than helpful if you depend on it too much. If your specific focus is too necessary to your success, you will have difficulty succeeding at the high levels; every top-level team will be able engage you on your area of expertise even if their knowledge is not as advanced. Teams will learn your favorite tricks and adapt to them. Peerless domain specific knowledge is no substitute for being generally well read (and knowing your backfiles). So, in reality, this strategy is best for developing a strong competitive foothold, but should not be relied upon at the expense of developing other knowledge and skills.

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Additionally, our program found that creativity was one of the most effective ways to overcome the research gap. In particular, we would endeavor to have at least one new generic position for every tournament with the understanding that we may never run the argument beyond that weekend. Usually, this argument would be a new politics disadvantage, but they could also be new criticisms or simply interesting disadvantage with broad, generic links. We found that this accomplished two goals. First, it provided us with a position that was unique and for which other teams were ill prepared. As a result, we would have a tactical advantage in that we would have a much deeper knowledge of the literature surrounding the position. Second, it prevented us from becoming too onedimensional, because the pet position for the team would shift for every tournament. Thus, even if teams knew that we were running a new politics disadvantage, they would have to cobble together new answers on the spot. This provided us an advantage because we had the luxury of preparing and practicing the argument in the weeks leading up to a tournament while our opponents would have (at most) an evening to develop answers. Ultimately, for a start-up program it is important that you force your opponents to come to your debate. You will never be able to have the breadth of research that larger programs have. As a result, you must focus on having a depth of understanding in key areas that is able to overwhelm your opponents. One smart, well-constructed argument will defeat a swath of under warranted arguments. We found that the most effective use of our research was to focus on quality and depth over anything else. Practice Disadvantage

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Another disadvantage of having a small squad is the inability to practice against varied opponents and strategies. This is probably a much smaller disadvantage than the research difference, but it is still significant. In the case where you have two teams of comparable skill, the disadvantage reduces to training each of your teams in all forms of argument that they will encounter. This can be tricky, however. As an example, if you have two teams that never read “projects”, learning how to debate a well prepared “project team” is going to be difficult because neither of your teams is going to be able to read the argument effectively. If you have just a single team (or two teams of radically different skill) the problem is even more acute because it can be impossible to practice entire debates that are useful for both teams. Do not despair, however, there are still plenty of speaking and debating drills you can do to get practice at diverse argumentative strategies. Some of the easiest are just to pair partners of comparable skill level and have them debate single pieces of paper (e.g. engage in a full debate over only the soft power disadvantage, or topicality, or a critical advantage, etc.). Force yourself to go deeper into second and third line arguments on the position, and take the time to discuss and understand its pieces and parts while completing rebuttal re-dos. While this does not necessarily build the round vision provided by a full debate, you could do everything with this approach that you can do with full debate drills (ladders, time differentials between sides, stop and goes, etc.). Another extremely useful activity is to judge debates in your local high-school community. If you live somewhere that is home to a well-developed high school circuit, go judge as many debates as you

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can. Judging good rounds is second only to actual practice in terms of generating round vision (being a judge makes you realize how few of the things that are discussed in a debate are relevant to the decision calculus), and has external benefits like giving back to the community we love. Community participation can also help you recruit team members— giving you another argument for funding that can be made to your administration. Writing Front-lines A final method for improving when practice partners/teams are not available is a drill/activity that Will estimates to be the most critical component of his success throughout eight years of debate. The idea behind the drill is to write a frontline to whatever argument you just heard in round, read about in a file, or came up with in your sleep. A frontline is often understood to be a general outline of the strategies and arguments you could use for answering generic disadvantages/criticisms/theory arguments. Instead, if you think of ‘front-lining’ against any position regardless of size/generalness/role in the debate, the following discussion will make more sense. Four general steps to doing this will be discussed here. There is some fuzziness in the steps (you might go between 1 and 3 or 2 and 3 over and over) but the general model is good for two reasons. First, it forces you to write arguments and ideas out which helps your retention of the information, your word economy, and your understanding of what is and is not relevant. Second, It shows you where you need to do more research. Steps for writing a frontline to a given position:

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(In the following example, assume that you are debating on the opposition and that you are writing answers to a PMC that includes a biodiversity advantage that claims to solve overfishing.) 1. Research the position so you have a basic familiarity with the argument you need to answer. In our example this means you need to know what their advantage argues; you’ll need to know what their basic claims for uniqueness, links, internal links, and impacts are, and some basic idea of how they might deploy these throughout the round. 2. Write out the arguments you would use to answer the position. Keep time constraints in mind (how much of your speech can/should this take?). Also consider the necessity to create offense (is their position something you can easily generate offense against, like hegemony, or something where good defense is a better option – racism?), how it might function with other strategies (e.g. if you write wipeout as an answer to the position, that likely will not be compatible with other strategies), and the relevance/truth of your answers (12 bad answers -- "global warming solves the coming ice age" are always inferior to 2 good answers -- "ocean acidification is locked in because of the H2CO3 equilibrium even if we keep CO2 at 400 ppm"). In this example, you would probably write some alternative causes to the IL like "plan doesn't solve alternate causalities for bio-d collapse." 3. Edit the arguments you wrote in Step 2 so that you could read them like you were in a policy round (literally reading them as written). This means eliminating extraneous arguments, words,

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concepts, examples while adding relevant concepts, examples, data, and structure. This step is essential to the training value of this activity because it forces you to eliminate the unnecessary arguments and words, develop a mechanistic understanding of the internal links, and requires multiple iterations so that you remember for the future. In our example we might take "plan doesn't solve alternate causalities for bio-d collapse" and turn it into: “#1 – No solvency for alt causalities of bio d collapse because: a. Bottom trawling: China, Europe, and Africa will continue to bottom trawl regardless of US action because it is critical to their economies. If their overfishing internal links are true then collapse will just start in one of these countries and spread. b. Ocean Acidification: ocean acidification is guaranteed for several hundred years because of the H2CO3 equilibrium even if we keep CO2 at 400 ppm. This will independently collapse fish species worldwide regardless of conservation efforts because fish have a narrow physiological pH range. c. If their internal link is 'biodiversity collapse spreads worldwide' then any of the collapses caused by these alternate causalities guarantees that the government solves none of their advantage." This example could probably be edited to be more word economical, but notice that we have loaded in warrants (why will China keep fishing regardless of US action) that answer what the government will likely say (they model the US).

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4. Add extensions and alternate ways of framing some of your arguments so that they are compatible with multiple strategies. For example: "Extend 1a – the government plan doesn't solve bottom trawling by other countries. These other countries will continue to trawl because it’s a key sector of their economy. In fact, China brings in XXX billion dollars from bottom trawling a year which means they will never model the US – it would be too expensive." If you apply this strategy to a wide range of arguments that you encounter, you will become well positioned to engage in any level of debate. USING EXISTING COMMUNITY RESOURCES For CU Boulder, networking and tapping into community resources was one of the most important things we did, especially at the beginning of our program. We found the parliamentary debate community to be incredibly accessible and overwhelmingly helpful, and hope that you will find the same. Here is a non-exhaustive list of ideas of how to tap into these resources: Proactively Talk To Directors Of Other Programs—Send emails, make phone calls, and arrange visits with the directors and coaches of programs near you and nationally. Ask them for ideas, insights, and assistance with your team. In our case, this came in many forms, ranging from guidance about how to register for and find tournaments to suggestions and recommendations for how to

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structure team practices and management. Most directors have chosen a profession in this activity because they love it, which means that most are more than willing to help in whatever ways they can to expand the activity to new arenas, including your modest school, and they are not as intimidating to approach as they may seem. Also, do not stop engaging with these people once you are off the ground and running. Creating and maintaining good relationships with coaches and directors is in your interest, not only as a decent human being but also competitively, socially, and perhaps even professionally. Do Not Be Afraid To Ask For Assistance—This stems somewhat naturally from the last suggestion, but is important to dedicate a specific mention. Especially in terms of the financial challenges of being a small student-run team, asking for help can be extremely useful. Ask tournament directors if they can waive or reduce your entry fees; ask other teams if they are able and willing to share their hotel room floors for you to sleep on; see what transportation sharing options might be available to you. All of these things can save you money and help you get to know people. It should go without saying, but do remember to be gracious about this; most programs have tight budgets, and though many people will help you when they can, it is important to remember to ask nicely and accept rejection with grace. Get Online—Online exchange of information is more the norm than not these days, and you should make sure you are involved and informed. Here is a brief list of some Parli-specific outlets that may be of use to you: Net-Benefits (www.net-benefits.net), Parli

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Listserv (https://lists.bethel.edu/mailman/listinfo/parli) and The Debate Blog (http://thedebateblog.com/) Get Active In The Social Scene—Debate is an inherently social activity, as it draws together somewhat like-minded individuals from all over the country to coalesce in a single space for extended periods of time throughout a school year. Getting to know the people with whom you will compete and the people who will judge you is invaluable. This can be somewhat intimidating initially, but if you take a little initiative to say hello to people in the halls at tournaments, talk to your judges after rounds, and establish yourself as an engaged member of the community, you will be well received. The social aspect of debate makes your time competing more enjoyable (and in fact, will probably be the part you remember most fondly)— it will expand your network of resources that will support your success and continued participation in the activity and beyond. One important way to socialize is staying at the tournament hotel. While developing relationships at the tournament is a good starting ground, it is hard to really get to know people at the tournament itself. The tournament is a fundamentally competitive environment. While people are generally polite and personable, they are still most concerned with their performance. At the tournament hotel the stress is reduced and people are more outgoing. There will often be hotel get-togethers around the pool or in the hotel bar. For us, these provided a great opportunity to not only meet people, but also show others we were worth meeting. However immodest it may sound, it is undoubtedly true that one of the most important aspects of the success of our program was the

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fact that people generally liked us. Debaters often pretend that debate is an objective activity in which there is a definite winner and loser, but the truth is that judging a debate is much closer to judging figure skating than most are willing to admit. There are objective criteria by which rounds are judged, but these criteria are ultimately employed based on the judge’s subjective viewpoint. As a result, if a judge views one team more credibly, she will often give that team the benefit of the doubt on an argument. The same can be said when it comes to whether or not the judge likes a particular team. While you will likely not encounter any judges would make a decision based wholly on liking one team over the other, judges do have implicit biases in favor of competitors they particularly enjoy. As such, we felt it was important to put ourselves in the social scene. It is a lot more fun to make friends at the hotel bar than sit and watch the third repeat of Sportscenter. THE TOURNAMENT One aspect that start-up teams often overlook is the actual tournament. There are many tricks of the trade that can drastically improve your odds of success if you follow them. The following is an outline of a few of those tips. Get A Prep Room—One of the biggest early mistakes we made as a team was failing to secure a prep room at tournaments. Though it is increasingly common in some regions, many tournaments do not assign prep rooms. Due to this you will need to arrive at the tournament early enough the first morning to lay claim to a classroom for your team and your team only. For the first year of our existence, CU never bothered to find a prep room and, in retrospect, it made us far less competitive at tournaments. First,

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when you prep in common areas that lack privacy, you risk having your argument inadvertently exposed to people listening in on your conversations. Second, it is important to have a space where you and your team can be yourselves. Having a prep room gave us a place to joke around or vent or have conversations that we could not have if we were in common areas. In effect, your prep room very much becomes your team’s safe zone. It is far more valuable than you would expect Use Prep Time Effectively—Much of what goes into using prep time effectively will actually occur prior to the round and tournament. With only twenty to thirty minutes of prep time, it is important that the team not spend a lot of time going over questions that could have been answered before the round even starts. This means that, prior to the tournament, all members of the team should have read all the files that could be used that weekend. In fact, the team should have a meeting before the tournament starts where every member explains the new positions they have authored and provide all other members an opportunity to ask questions about the position. This guarantees that every member of the team is familiar with all the team’s positions and no prep time will be wasted on understanding the basics of any strategy. Before the topic gets released, you should organize your prep space. This process might ultimately differ from team to team— but it is important that you have a defined, agreed upon plan. We would divide our squad into Government and Opposition factions. Once the topic is out, each side would discuss strategy. We would devote between five to ten minutes to this process. This discussion would revolve around which of our pre-prepped positions linked to the

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resolution, what potential theory arguments were available (or if government, we were likely to see), and to do any quick internet research to gain background information on the issue. By the end of this time each team will have decided on a strategy and would begin to prep it. While it is not required that the whole team utilize the same strategy, we generally found that it was most effective. It was easier to have everyone working on the same positions, considering the limited amount of coaching support we received. As we prepped the positions, each team would break into two groups. On the government side, one partner would write the PMC while the other prepped answers to likely theory arguments, solvency extensions, and answers to any off case positions that we were likely to see. On the opposition side, one partner would prep all the theory front-lines while the other would write the off case strategy and case arguments for the plan that we were most likely to see. If we had two teams on the same side, these two teams would work together. The role of the coach (or, if you are really lucky, coaches) in this process was to be available to prep whatever position or side that they were most needed. Since we wrote most of our own positions, our team felt fairly comfortable prepping without coach assistance if need be. Due to this, our coaches rarely drove prep in our prep rooms. Instead, the coach’s role was to act as a resource for the team as needed. Typically this would take the form of directing the initial strategy discussion, helping draft positions that he or she came up with, and, most importantly, playing devil’s advocate for any position we were drafting. Often the coach was responsible for trying to predict what answers we could expect from the other team.

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In doing so, this would give us a leg up in having answers and extensions prepared before the round. While the structure we outlined above was very effective for us, it is only a general outline. In reality, prep time is a very fluid process throughout which there will quite a bit of give and take between the whole team. Ultimately, teammates in student-run programs must rely on each other quite a bit in preparation time, because there is often not a consistent coaching staff. In the end, all that matters is finding a system that works best for your team’s unique structure. The most important thing is to remember that the more work you do outside the room, the easier prep will be. Scout Your Opponents Always know your opponent. This will make your prep easier and more effective. This goes beyond simply knowing their name and school. You should familiarize yourself with the types of arguments that they run. Are they a critical team? Are they a disadvantage/counterplan team? Do they have a particular pet position? The answers to all these questions will be crucial to the strategic decisions you make in prep time. The easiest way to get this information is to ask people. Generally, we would look at the posting and then ask around to see if anyone knew the team and what kind of arguments they ran. Once you have this information you can tailor your prep to the positions that your opponent is most likely to run. Of course, indepth familiarity with opponents is also a function of experience and time, so work at it, and it will pay off.

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Scout Your Judge This is at least as important as scouting your opponent. Your judge will ultimately decide whether or not you get the ballot. Every judge has their own set of stylistic preferences, and the better you are at complying with those preferences the more likely you are to win. Once again, the best way to get information on a judge is to simply ask other competitors. Generally, other people will have experience with the critic and will be able to give insight into how they decide a round. Another excellent resource is the judge philosophy books provided by the tournament. If you’re at a tournament without judging philosophies, this is another good time to get resourceful— there are internet archives on net-benefits and from previous NPTE/NPDA national tournaments. Use them! Most critics on the national circuit have at some point posted their personal philosophy in one of these. These will give a detailed description of how your judge approaches rounds and what they prefer to see. Come Prepared! This likely goes without saying, but we were amazed by how often one of things listed below would not make it to the tournament site. At a minimum, you will always want to make sure that you have, water (be environmentally friendly, and use a reusable water bottle), snacks (using your brain at such high levels for such extended periods uses a ton of energy. You will perform substantially better if you keep up your blood sugar), pens, at least two reams of paper, a computer with internet access, one timer for each team member, and all your files in an easily accessible form.

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Watch Elimination Rounds Even when you are not competing in them, watching elimination rounds is extremely valuable. Watch and learn from as many as you can. Doing this consistently was crucial to our development at CU. In many ways, success in debate is an exercise in repetition. The more you expose yourself to it, the more capable you become. One of the best ways to learn how to debate is to watch teams that are better than you. Watching elimination rounds will allow you to see what strategic decisions high-level teams make. It also lets you see a round impartially so that you can get a sense for what wins and loses a round (similar to judging high school rounds). Elimination rounds will also expose you to the judging tendencies of more critics and allow you to see positions from teams you may debate in the future. We know that often, after a long day debating and not advancing, the last thing you will want to do is watch more rounds. But take our word for it—if you can drag yourself to do it, the longterm benefits outweigh the short-term inconvenience. Another thing we would recommend is to offer to help your friends prep for their elimination rounds or ask for permission to watch them prepare. Teams tend to be very inviting when it comes to prep help— this is one free way that teams may be willing to assist your team. The experience can be very enlightening. Even if you do not say a word, being present in the room to watch successful teams prep can give you surprising insight into what your team can do better. Again, remember to do this with deference to the coaches and competitors – if they do not want you around, get out of there. Have Fun

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This is the most important bit of advice in this chapter. You will likely give up holidays, weekends, and most of your free time debating. If you are doing it only to get a taste of that hardware, you invariably will be disappointed. Also, you are going to lose at some point. Probably a lot, actually. It is impossible for anyone to win them all, and even if you do, someday your competitive career will come to a close. As such, it is important to remember that debate is about far more than just winning. For us, it introduced us to people that, to this day, continue to be some of our best friends. It also brought each of us memories that we will always cherish. It developed skills that remain applicable in the ‘real world’ in ways none of us would have predicted. It is definitely not easy, and it will try the patience of even the best of us. Yet, it is worth it if you are having fun. In the end, if you love debate, there is no better place to be. Go CU.

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Winning With Permutations and Permutation Theory Joe Allen INTRODUCTION A permutation is an argument typically introduced by the Member of Government Constructive (MGC) designed to challenge the competitiveness of a counterplan or criticism introduced by the Leader of Opposition Constructive (LOC). The notion of “competitiveness” refers to whether or not a counterplan or kritik alternative is an opportunity cost to the plan presented by the Prime Minister Constructive (PMC)—a kritik alternative and/or counterplan text must be mutually exclusive. Put simply, it should not be possible or desirable for the alternative or counterplan and the plan to occur in tandem. In the event that a counterplan text or kritik alternative is not incompatible with the plan, permutations “test” compatibility. This certainly seems like a simple concept to initiated debaters, but there are many different types of permutations and necessary theoretical concepts which must be understood as a foundation for understanding the appropriate application of different permutations. PERMUTATION: A TEST OF COMPETITION A permutation is not an advocacy, but a test of competition. This may start to feel confusing when you start to think about how frequently the desirability of the permutation becomes the central question of the debate. It is also confusing because permutations often have an exact text that is exchanged between debaters.

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Understand, though, that this is not suggestive of the permutation being an “advocacy” in the debate in the same way that a plan, counterplan or alternative text is advocated. Permutations are arguments that determine whether or not a counterplan or alternative competes with the plan, so it is useful to think of them as a test of the link to the net benefit that derives from a counterplan or alternative rather than thinking of them as an advocacy. Almost universally, the only theoretically unobjectionable permutation is constituted by all parts of the plan text and all or part of the counterplan text or alternative text. If the plan text calls for the United States to militarily intervene in the recent turmoil in Iraq, and the counterplan calls for Chinese military intervention, the appropriate and legitimate permutation would call for both the United States and China to intervene. The risk of this type of counterplan makes it desirable and necessary to qualify and substantiate the actor that you have chosen to use in your PMC plan text. SEVERANCE AND INTRINSIC PERMUTATIONS All deviations from the “do both” permutation described above are either intrinsic permutations or severance permutations. An intrinsic permutation is a permutation that goes beyond the scope of the plan text, counterplan text, or alternative text— i.e., there is an element contained in the MGC permutation language that does not exist in a previously introduced text. Using the previous example, an intrinsic permutation of the China Counterplan may be instructive. Imagine the permutation, “The United States Federal Government should militarily intervene in Iraq in genuine prior-binding consultation with China.” In this case, the element of consultation contained in the permutation renders it intrinsic by virtue of the fact that

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consultation is not present in either the PMC plan text or LOC counterplan text. A severance permutation is a permutation that does not include the entire plan. It is referred to as such because it “severs” part of the PMC plan. Imagine the permutation, “The United States Federal government should intervene in Iraq in genuine prior-binding consultation with China.” In this case, the element of consultation has been added (intrinsic) and the “military” element has been severed (severance). Additional situational applications of intrinsic or severance permutations will be discussed in more detail below. NET BENEFITS TO A PERMUTATION A permutation ought to have a net benefit. In other terms, there ought to be a reason why the permutation is net desirable to the counterplan or alternative alone. By way of example, if the plan includes United States action and the counterplan includes Russian action, one might say that the net benefit to the permutation is the greater totality of resources which the permutation would offer by comparison (sometimes it will be suggested that the counterplan has “double solvency” for precisely this reason), or perhaps some additional benefit could be offered by cooperation between the United States and Russia, such as “improved relations.” Conversely, the Member of Opposition Constructive (MOC) will often enumerate disadvantages to the permutation. This is distinctive from typical disadvantages to the plan because a disadvantage to the permutation, ideally, demonstrates why the permutation is less desirable than the plan itself. Impact turning the net benefit to the permutation (arguing that the impact to the disadvantage is actually good) is one simple way—although assuredly

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not the only way—of accomplishing this objective. Taking the previous example, if the net benefit to the permutation is improved relations with Russia, an explanation of why poor relations with Russia are actually desirable could be a very useful starting point for a disadvantage to the permutation. It should be noted, however, that the ideal disadvantage to the plan (when avoided by the counterplan) should also protect the opposition from the permutation by virtue of having a link argument that is premised precisely on the plan text (all of which will be included in the permutation if it is a theoretically legitimate permutation). For example, if the plan does something politically unpopular and the counterplan accomplishes the same objectives of the plan in an apolitical fashion, a politics disadvantage could be sufficient to demonstrate why the permutation is less desirable of an option than the counterplan. Again, the ideal circumstances for the opposition will convey why the permutation is even less desirable than the plan itself, but this is not an absolute necessity. If we think about the permutation debate as a comparison between the net benefit offered by the permutation and the disadvantages carried by the permutation, we have a good starting point for ascertaining whether or not the plan is a preferable option when contrasted to the counterplan or alternative. It is difficult to win permutation debates without a good government case/plan, and a great government strategy will situate you favorably against counterplans and kritiks. A great case should make for a great permutation because the inclusion of your plan/case is often the most obvious and contestable net benefit to the permutation.

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Government teams often say that the permutation “shields the link” to the disadvantage. This can be a useful way of eliminating offense against the permutation. The counterplan often avoids the disadvantage so convincingly that this fact can work in favor of the permutation. Perhaps a world of the plan would link to the disadvantage, but a situation in which the plan and counterplan occurred in tandem would necessarily avoid the fallout described by the disadvantage. It could also be the case that the permutation might reflect more political unanimity or cohesion which the plan alone does not result in, or that the permutation would result in the focus manifesting in the form of the policy rather than the content of the policy (that is to say, the permutation might be an unusual course of action which would divert focus away from the plan). For example, a politics disadvantage links to the plan by virtue of the plan being politically unpopular. The disadvantage might be avoided by a counterplan that includes action of courts instead of congress and the president. For example, if congress and the courts take a particular action at virtually the same time, it might cease to be an unpopular action, or at the very least, the uncharacteristic nature of such a permutation might shift the focus away from the unpopularity of the plan action. Advancing a previous example, the PMC plan may compel the United States take a particular stance. The LOC may advance a disadvantage to the plan that indicates that the plan would have a negative impact on relations with China and a China counterplan. The permutation may not possess the same disadvantage as the plan alone if the U.S. and China were to take such action at the same time. In this way, a permutation may have the utility of “shielding the link” to the disadvantage to the plan, which can minimize the utility of disadvantages presented by the opposition. This fact alone should not cause the counterplan to

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lose its value. Ideally, the opposition team ought have case arguments avoided by the counterplan. It is also useful to consider that the opposition may “kick” the counterplan (to dispose of in the MOC through strategic concessions) and the disadvantage remains as potent as it was before the counterplan was introduced. In summary, a permutation should include all of the plan text and all or parts of the alternative, or counterplan text. A permutation should have a net benefit rendering it a more desirable option than the counterplan or alternative. Permutations that do not include all of the plan are considered severance permutations. Permutations that include elements not originally included in the plan text and counterplan or alternative text are commonly considered “intrinsic” permutations. The permutation can sometimes “shield the link” to the disadvantage, and winning permutations are heavily contingent on the quality of the government case. TEXTUAL VERSUS FUNCTIONAL COMPETITION One good way to understand the intricacies and varieties of counterplan options available to you is to consider the theory arguments designed for particular types of counterplans. For example, understanding the common theoretical objections to consultation counterplans illuminates the strength of the argument when presented in the LOC and the strength of many arguments available to the MGC. Below, I will discuss the common notion that counterplans compete on “textual” and/or “functional” levels. Proponents of textual competition would typically argue that a counterplan or alternative text must directly compete with the words used in the PMC plan text. In the SDI Encyclopedia, Dr. Eric Morris (Missouri State University) indicates that, in a textual view, the PMC would only be obligated to, “… defend their plan

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against arguments (particularly counterplans) which link to the plan as written, and are not liable for arguments which read between the lines to "find" things in the plan which are not textually present, or are at best implied,” thus, “only the explicit words selected for the plan can create the basis for a counterplan to compete.” Proponents of “functional competition” argue that counterplans or alternatives compete throughout he function of the counterplan versus the function of the PMC plan text— since words represent and imply actions. Once again, in the SDI Encyclopedia, Morris elaborates: “The functional view says that the plan is merely a series of words representing a series of actions, and that the plan should actually be viewed as those actions which are a function of the plan, not merely as the words themselves. From this perspective, a counterplan that involves a difference, competitive series of actions could be viewed as competitive - even if it did not appear so at first glance from viewing the plan text. Two examples may help: 1. Consultation. The traditional "consultation" counterplan is an example. Most plans do not explicitly claim to consult with another country, but also do not explicitly refuse to do so. Thus, it requires some reading between the lines and perhaps even cross examination to establish that the plan occurs immediately and without regard for the input of others. The opposition thus establishes this, by CX or argument, and now has a reason why the actions which would be a

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function of the plan are competitive with the actions that would be a function of the counterplan. 2. Agent of Action. Some plan texts indicate the United State federal government will take an action, but not which branch(es) will do what. Based on traditional roles, and perhaps some CX questions, the opposition is able to establish that the plan takes the form of legislation passed by the Congress, and then counterplans to have the president instead sign an executive order to the same effect. The opposition’s argument is that the counterplan competes with the actions that are a function of the plan (Congressional passage of legislation), even if those functions are not explicit in the plan text itself. The reason that negatives often prefer functional competition is that it expands the range of possible counterplans. Counterplans such as consultation, executive order, etc. may be viewed as competitive (though not necessarily legitimate - that may be a separate issue) within the functional view.” (This text has since been removed from http://sdiencyclopedia.wikispaces.com)

Arguing, “the LOC counterplan is not textually competitive” is an increasingly common reason presented by the MGC for the critic to reject the opposition ream, reject the counterplan on face, or to give the MGC leeway on intrinsic or severance permutations. PERMUTATION: “DO THE COUNTERPLAN” Additionally, as a basis of your understanding, one cannot debate permutations effectively if they do not understand the instances in

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which the permutation text ought to be: “do the counterplan.” This is the appropriate permutation when the counterplan includes the entire plan text, a concern that results in the tension between textual and functional competition. As mentioned above, for proponents of textual competition, counterplans, which contain all of the plan text, are illegitimate because the competition for these counterplans does not derive from what is textually included in the plan text. By way of example, this would render all consultation counterplans, conditioning counterplans, and delay counterplans decisively illegitimate. Such counterplans, by their very nature, include all of the plan text. An appropriately phrased states counterplan is textually competitive if the plan text contains the words “Federal Government”— ultimately, the argument would advance the claim that a “States “ counterplan is, at it’s core, an agent counterplan. Proponents of textual competition often focus on topic specific education and having a link argument, which is intrinsic to the plan text as a basis for their opposition to counterplans that do not textually compete. Functional competition, by itself, would enable many of the counterplans which textual competition is designed to eliminate. Consultation, delay, and conditioning counterplans are all acceptable if functional competition alone is the paradigm for competition. For example, we cannot do the plan and consult over the plan simultaneously, an advocate of the consult counterplan would likely say. Though proponents of textual competition may argue that they should not be responsible to textually include every element in the plan text— as an example, they may argue that “normal means would include consultation” against a consultation counterplan. Using the example of a delay counterplan, “it makes no

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sense to pass the plan now and after midterm elections” would be an argument made by a proponent of delay counterplans and/or a functional approach to competition. There are major differences in what would constitute a competitive counterplan in either world. BAN THE PLAN COUNTERPLANS In addition to examples mentioned above, a theoretical disagreement exists in the debate community at large over the role of “ban the plan” counterplans. Ban the plan counterplans are designed to guarantee uniqueness to case turns and topic-specific disadvantages because the opposition would advocate a world where the plan is not an option, rather than advocating an alternative solution to the harms isolated by the PMC. “Ban the plan” is often considered theoretically illegitimate for a variety of reasons. For many of its strict proponents, eliminating “ban the plan” is precisely the basis for privileging textual competition— strict adherence to textual competition would prevent the opposition from adding the word “not” after the word “should” in the plan. Not all “ban the plan” counterplans (in fact, very few of them) simply add the word “not” after the word “should.” For example, a kritik alternative might say “Reject the government plan AND do X, Y, or Z” or a counterplan text may change a law so that it would legally preclude the plan presented in the PMC. What do we make of instances in which a textually competitive version of the counterplan or alternative text that could reasonably be read in the LOC? Additionally, the idea of textual competition does not necessarily eliminate advantage counterplans (a counterplan that solves the internal link or impact to one or both advantages while potentially leaving room for the LOC to provide straight-turns to the other advantages)— the wide

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scale of possible advantage counterplans is sufficiently large enough that textual competition does not eliminate all of them. SINGLE LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS One problem, unique to parliamentary debate, often arises in instances in which the resolution obligates the government team to pass a particular legislative proposal. In policy debate, the year long resolution will typically not restrict the government team to a one topical plan text, while this is relatively common in the parliamentary format with changing, often specific resolutions. More often than not, these topics heighten the chances that the LOC will propose a plan inclusive counterplan (a counterplan that includes some, typically not all, of the PMC’s plan). Textual competition advocates would likely argue that a textually competitive version of a plan inclusive counterplan, in this example, would include all of the legislation that the plan passes except the small portion that the counterplan excludes. Since the LOC is 8minutes in length, the intuitive answer in these cases is to carve out an exception to textual competition in cases where a textually competitive version of the counterplan would exist if the PMC plan text were to include every single word in the piece of legislation. If you have a counterplan for which there is a textually competitive version, your counter-interpretation ought to say something closely resembling, “prefer textual competition in all instances except in which there is a textually competitive version of the counterplan adjusted for time constraints,” or perhaps this could be an argument why there is no violation (a we-meet argument). PERMUTATION: THEORY SHELLS

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These nuanced distinctions necessitate that government debaters defending textual competition have an interpretation suggesting that the opposition strategy should be both functionally and textually competitive. This prevents the opposition from defending the notion that functional competition is good, putting them in a position of defending why their interpretation might be over limiting or too restrictive to the opposition team (something those defending textual competition are used to hearing and should be prepared to engage). The last argument in any “theory shell” defending textual competition is that, “Functional competition justifies the permutation: do the counterplan,” because the counterplan is simply an additional element which has been added to the original plan. You might impulsively think that permutation text would be a severance permutation. More often than not the permutation “do the counterplan” is a severance permutation. This is precisely what is notable about its use in this instance. If the counterplan includes all of the plan, how can the permutation that does the counterplan be considered severance? If the plan is already contained in the counterplan, then it follows that the above permutation is not a severance permutation. Of course, functional competition would dispute this as a legitimate source of competition. For example, an opposition team defending a consultation counterplan would argue that because the plan passes immediately (it includes the word “should”) the permutation “do the counterplan” is a severance of this immediacy. The same severance claim is made by those defending a delay counterplan. Defenders of textual competition should be prepared to dispute this claim. Identifying severance as a question of what is contained in the plan text, demonstrating that the counterplan is artificially competitive (another way of saying that the counterplan does not contest the desirability of the plan).

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Again, a more specific interpretation that obligates counterplans to be both functionally and textually competitive can be a useful way of engaging proponents of functional competition. Most of the exceptions to textual competition by itself (frequently referred to by those who support functional competition) are actually resolved by this interpretation. There are some who would argue this interpretation is too limiting and insist on the inclusion of consult, delay, conditioning, and other counterplans that may fall into this category. Again, vigorous debates exist over the limits imposed by each school of thought— ultimately, you will resolve this by being able to convey a thorough understanding of this issue in the debate. It should also be noted that by-passing this discussion of different philosophies of competition and having a theoretical objection to a counterplan which does not take a stance on textual versus functional competition by simply indicting the particular type of counterplan that the opposition has chosen is a perfectly acceptable option as well. There are many reasons, unique to parliamentary debate format, that judges might want to reject consultation, delay and condition counterplans. Many teams are willing to develop incredibly specific interpretations that may have nothing to do with textual or functional competition. For example, you may read a theory argument that says, “When the topic asks the government team to intervene in Africa, the opposition should not read a Consult China Counterplan” or “When the topic asks the government team to defend a specific bill, the opposition team should not have access to a PIC.” The Africa/China example does not necessarily take a stance on the status all other consultation counterplans in all other debates. Similarly, the second example does not necessarily take a stance on whether or not opposition teams should have a PIC in all other debates. The MGC might want to

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isolate reasons why consultation counterplans are abusive to the government team for reasons far beyond how the judge may evaluate a permutation or the competitive standing of the counterplan. PERMUTING AN LOC CRITICISM The utility of an alternative to a criticism is to present a different vision of social organization (or disorganization, as the case may be) which would solve the impact of the criticism (and hopefully also that of the government case). It ought to be competitive with the plan, much in the same way that we determine that a counterplan ought to be competitive. As such, there is a certain degree of theoretical overlap between the two; both invite potential discussions of intrinsic and/or severance permutations, disadvantages to the permutation and the net benefits to the permutation. There are also major theoretical debates about their limits (textual v. functional competition, floating PIK’s, notions of utopian fiat, antipolitics, roleplaying, and so on). Learning about how to debate counterplans effectively will intuitively also make you a better kritik debater. The degree of theoretical overlap between these two strategies is considerable. In the same way that there are vigorous debates about the limits imposed by different philosophies of counterplan competition, an analogous theoretical debate exists in the world of the criticism. We know that counterplans can sometimes include all of the plan text. Similarly, kritik alternatives may include some version of the plan. “Floating PIK’s” are closely analogous to counterplans that are not textually competitive by virtue of affirming the plan. For example, when critiquing capitalism, “Alternative: Do the plan in a

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non-capitalist frame” or “Alternative: Do the plan through the lens of X Y or Z.” While not all floating PIK’s actually include the entire plan, they all (by definition) would affirm the plan, in addition to critiquing an element not specifically mentioned in the PMC text. The theoretical reasons why these kinds of alternatives are objectionable are rather similar to the reasons why certain types of plan inclusive counterplans are problematic. Their strategic utility is to eliminate the PMC as a potential net benefit to the permutation, and prevent the MGC from potentially outweighing the impact of the kritik irrespective of the question of the permutation. Government teams should be prepared to rely on the permutation: “do the alternative” in these extreme instances, in addition to outlining theoretical reasons why these kinds of alternatives are unfair and/or damaging to the educational benefits derived from competitive debate. Crafting a net benefit to the permutation (an argument why the permutation is more desirable than the alternative alone) can be a bit different in instances of kritiks than with counterplans. A wide range of possible reasons why the permutation is preferable can be deployed. Perhaps the permutation is desirable because juxtaposing divergent ideologies is the best starting point for understanding the dissonance that sometimes forecloses social change. Or, maybe the permutation reflects the possibilities of coalition building and openness to difference in a way that is more valuable than the outright rejection of a particular perspective. The particularities of your net benefit to the permutation will be contingent on the arguments made in your PMC. For example, a PMC plan that takes action to prevent climate change might be better positioned for a permutation of an environmentally oriented kritik than a PMC plan

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that does something to enable economic growth. Sometimes your PMC situates you to make qualified arguments that the government plan is a necessary prerequisite to the kritik (more frequently the case with critically oriented PMC’s). In other instances, where the link debate is more decisive in favor of the opposition team, a permutation that is built around the need to have opposing views simultaneously examined would be more sensible. In other words, the way that your PMC is crafted should dictate your permutation strategy. When you start to think of your own unique and innovative net benefits to permutations of the kritik, it is useful to consider the ways in which rejection of the PMC, or elements of the PMC (an element present in virtually all alternatives), might be problematic. DEFENDING SEVERANCE AND INTRINSIC PERMUTATIONS You might be wondering why severance or intrinsic permutations have a place at the table if the only theoretically legitimate permutation is neither. Some people might tell you that they are always illegitimate. While severance and intrinsic permutations are difficult to effectively execute and justify (they almost always produce a theoretical discussion that must be answered) they can have value in different instances. Parliamentary debate is, once again, unique in this aspect. Since permutations are typically read in the MGC, the MOC is unlikely to be able to win that “the MGC permutation was severance and/or intrinsic and severance and/or intrinsic permutations are bad” because the PMR would have unanswered second-line responses to argue, “severance/intrinsic permutations are good/legitimate.” Increasingly, forward thinking LOCs include the opposition team’s definition of a “legitimate

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permutation” and describe that the permutation should be treated in a particular way if read by the MGC (i.e. reject the argument, reject the team, etc.). This strategy is designed to give MOCs the flexibility to collapse to “the MGC’s inclusion of a severance/intrinsic permutation is a reason to vote against the government team” or win a time tradeoff against MGC permutation arguments when the MGC has advanced multiple permutations. In order to justify such permutations, the government team should be prepared to indicate why their application could offer a useful test of the counterplan or alternative. For example, against the consult counterplan a popular permutation is to do the plan and consult over a different issue. While the element of a different issue is something which is not in the plan or counterplan (rendering it intrinsic) there can be little question of whether or not this permutation would test the necessity of consulting over the plan in particular. A similar case can be made in favor of the severance permutation in some instances. For example, if the opposition team has read multiple, conditional strategies. This is fine in the abstract, but if one of those positions is a kritik, and another position is something that links to the kritik, it is likely not unreasonable for the MGC to attempt to “sever” the element of their PMC that forms the basis of the link to the kritik. If the opposition can link to the kritik, why should we have any particular interest in whether or not the government team links? If the opposition can just kick the argument that links to their kritik, why can’t the government do the same? Putting aside how central reciprocity is to competitive equity, there can also be critical reasons why severance or intrinsic permutations are justified. For example, it could be said that a severance permutation is analogous to an apology or admission of

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guilt, and that efforts to prevent this recognition do more harm than good. An analogy could be made that when a professor finds something objectionable in a paper, they do not usually insist that you re-write the entire paper, but instead offer suggestions for revision of whatever element they feel falls short of what is expected. There are, of course, very reasonable answers to these sorts of permutation arguments, but nonetheless, simply foregoing all intrinsic and severance permutations substantially limits options for MGC arguments. It is possible to defend these kinds of permutations and they can sometimes represent even better tests of the counterplan or kritik than what I have defined as the only theoretically unobjectionable permutation. It is important to acknowledge, however, that one must be a competent theory debater in order to have the capacity to justify these permutations. It is worth noting that most judges will reject the permutation itself, rather than the government team, if the opposition effectively indicts such a permutation (unless argued very persuasively otherwise or, as in the circumstance described above, if the LOC includes a reason to vote against the government team for an abusive permutation that is conceded by the MGC using that permutation). CONCLUSION Counterplans and kritiks are very useful strategies when deployed by the opposition. Doing so will necessarily invite permutation debates. Hopefully this foundation of understanding will help you develop more innovative and sophisticated permutation strategies. The unique structure of parliamentary debate necessitates that, while many of the back files available from the policy debate format are useful, parliamentary debate’s lack of typed and printed text

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that are prepared long before the start of each debate, lack of backside rebuttals, and rotating topics make the development of permutation theory an ever evolving process. Government teams must understand permutation theory in order to be successful against most opposition teams, and opposition teams will have limited flexibility to forego the status quo without a matching understanding. As such, permutations are an essential element of parliamentary debate strategy.

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