[eDebate] Politics Disads.
Mon Jun 23 09:30:41 CDT 2003
Cate & Nate:
Your difficulties with the theory of politics disads. seems to stem from a
shallow understanding of the nature of fiat. I don;t think we spend enough
time going into fiat theory with beginning debaters. It's hard to explain
in-depth (easier just to say, "fiat allows the affirmative to assume that
the plan happens"). And more nuanced interpretations of fiat usually derive
from losing to people who are more persuasive on it than you are and
adopting their strategies.
In any event, I think most judges have come to accept fiat as the least
necessary change in the status quo required for the action to happen. Now,
what "least necessary change" means is up for debate...and that's usually
what the link debate comes down to. The affirmative and negative get to
specify what will happen to the extent that it's the LEAST necessary change
(which is, as with all things, debatable).
For example, I had GW run a disad. once that said that in order for a
specific plan to get out of committee, the LEAST necessary change would be
for the most moderate of the swing votes (Barbara Boxer) to vote for the
plan (in committee)...at the time she was in a very tight race with a
Republican to keep her Senate seat. We argued that this particular issue
was important to a key constituency that Boxer needed to win the race. They
LIKED the plan a whole lot. So our disad. said the Republican guy was going
to win (by a smidgen) now and that Boxer switching her vote in committee
would give her an issue to win the core swing voters in her district and
keep her seat. The impact was the Boxer was the critical ONE VOTE
preventing the ban on partial-birth abortion. And partial-birth abortion is
murder. Very bad.
Now, it looks like overspecification. But it was really just good research.
We could make a persuasive case that the LEAST necessary change was for
Barbara Boxer to switch her vote in committee...but there are political
implications to that happening and we should discuss them.
Nate - You seem to want to view this theory as either/or...like there is a
right or wrong answer that will make politics acceptable or not. The big
EUREKA moment in debating theory is when you realize that there is no theory
(there is no spoon). Theory is your own creation. It's what is persuasive.
If you can make a persuasive case that your way of thinking about the
problem is "better" - then THAT'S the theory.
Cate - Your idea of thinking of the aff. as an excercise in persuasion is
not new. Why doesn't it just mean that we imagine that the debaters, or a
social movement, or lobbying effort, or whatever persuades the necessary
votes? But you're still back to square one; you still have to have a debate
about WHO is persuaded and what the political implications of that are. And
you still have to have a debate about WHAT persuades those people.
I was a lobbyist for several years before I switched to public/media
relations. My frustration with lobbying was that you could sit in a room
and persuade everyone that your idea is a good one. EVERYONE would agree
that your idea was right. AND IT MEANT BUMPKIS! No one cared that you were
right until you could tell them what it meant POLITICALLY. Sad, but true
(and also why I decided it was better for me to do media/public work and
create the constituencies that make my issues POLITICALLY important).
Anyway...point is not to try to determine what is or is not the last word on
politics debate theory (believe me, it's been going round and round for
decades). The answer is always the same: the RIGHT answer is the one that
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