[eDebate] For Topic Meeting Consideration: List Topics
Ryan Chorkey Burke
Fri Jun 3 00:21:10 CDT 2005
I would like to express my concern over the topics that have been posted
thus far and recommend some changes. Dallas made a post recently that
pleaded with the community to have several list topics as well as multiple
non-list options for voting. I would like to strongly echo that concern.
None of the options that have been presented thus far are list topics.
That sentence was its own paragraph to stress the importance of its message.
The ballot options that are being characterized as list topics are actually
what I would refer to as ?area topics? ? or subsets, if you will. They
say that the aff must change foreign policy toward china, and then specify
several distinct areas in which that may occur, allowing for many
affirmatives in that area. The number of affs available in something as
broad as ?increasing pressure? on ?trade? is enough to have made
even Matt Cormack concerned. This is quite distinct from what I consider to
be a list topic, which specifies plans that the aff must enact (dangerous
word?), but crafts the topic so as to ensure that those affs run deep in
That these area topics have taken the name ?list? is frustrating. We
will all be better off when both the list-fanatics and list-opponents alike
realize that nobody enjoyed having the Greece-Turkey section of Europe as
part of the topic. In a similar manner, it will not be any great victory for
list die-hards if any of these China ?area topics? are chosen.
Area topics are not a good compromise. They frustrate the broad-topic crowd
because they are too expansive as it is a trying task to find one good verb
to cover several areas of foreign policy. They also do not demand that the
affirmative make a large, or controversial, change to foreign policy which
frustrates the list topic crew.
Here are some important distinctions for me as to why I believe that we
should take the time to present several list items on the ballot instead of
1. Area topics are too broad, and lists are not. The Greece-Turkey subset of
Europe had approximately 20 plans that could all be construed as not being
intimately related to one another and possessed their own advantages. The
TNW?s list item had 1 plan and roughly 40 advantages. I have made this
argument before but I must again: true list topics present stable negative
ground in having a consistent plan while allowing aff flexibility in
advantage areas. This comes from selecting roughly 5 affirmatives that have
vast amounts of literature both in support and rejection of the policy the
***A point of clarification: providing the affirmative with a good plan is
not particularly difficult on this topic compared to other resolutions.
Changing strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan, changing the US stance (in a
very specific way) on China?s involvement in the multi-party talks in
regards to North Korea, increasing US military presence in the South China
Seas or the Taiwan Straits, establishing a No First Use pledge for nuclear
weapons toward China, etc would all be viable options for a list ballot.
Don?t be afraid of bi-directionality if that is the only cost to having
predictable debates. People will research both sides of the China relations
2. Generic ground provided by both area topics and broad topics is not good
enough. For these area topics which increase cooperation toward China in a
particular category of foreign policy, ?US-Sino Relations Bad? is not
not not going to be adequate. There are two reasons for this: (a) Small
affirmatives will easily dodge the link question on whether cooperation on
light issues spillover to the broader relationship and (b) US-Sino Bad is
the wrong side of the debate. It is counter-intuitive to believe that
cooperation between the most militarily powerful country in the world and
its most likely challenger is net-negative for global stability.
These reasons are why generic ground must be found elsewhere. Locating
generic ground in a stable plan mechanism allows for both plan-generic
counterplans that can solve some/most of the aff and plan-generic disads
that the aff must always deal with. There is no loss of aff creativity here;
affirmatives get to craft their arguments to remedy these more-specific
generics. An example: the CTBT affs at the end of the year were designed to
beat the permanent moratorium counterplan, which was a fundamentally
important alternative to consider rather than pursuing than the global
treaty. A second example: the TNW?s affs developed to be ready to beat the
deterrence disad. A third example: Kyoto teams ran their affs to beat the
domestic greenhouse cuts counterplans by including competitiveness and trade
advantages. Every good list item has a similar example.
This could be replicated on China as there is an intense debate over
changing strategic ambiguity vs. a counterplan which permanently extends the
This would be preferable to the alternative area topic. Instead of crafting
advantages to beat opponents to their argument before they get there and
truly out-debate other teams, affirmatives will race to the margins and
skirt the issue. When plans are changed instead of advantages, there is no
longer generic negative ground. The minute affs in the corner of a broad
topic or an area topic will not link to US-Sino Bad.
I also believe that the plan-specific generic ground is more educational. It
encourages more detailed and intricate work, where consultation counterplans
and US-Sino bad do not exactly rise to this level.
3. Please do not include the word ?pressure? in a resolution. This word
could be interpreted in so many ways. Our community has repeatedly shown
that the words ?substantial? and/or ?significant? are not good
enough checks; I am certain that ?pressure? affs in many cases will not
link to a serious US-Sino Good disad. If the idea behind this pressure topic
is to include a containment option for the voters, then including options to
deploy US military units, sanction China, sell arms to Taiwan, etc would all
be viable for a list.
Last year?s ballot options did not include a viable list topic. The
pro-ANWR topic was the closest resolution to a list, yet it was never going
to garner support because of this community?s thoughts on drilling. Please
let us at least have the option for voting for a list topic (or two) this
year. At the very least, we should learn from our mistakes. Europe had
serious flaws because the list form was abandoned in some places for area
affirmatives. If we take the time to craft a true-to-form list topic this
year I promise it could really be great. How nice it would be to have
debates about bold, controversial, and important policy changes most every
A final thought: Would it be more educationally valuable and/or more
appropriate for this research-intensive activity if the elimination rounds
of CEDA and the NDT were decided on an affirmative at the heart of the topic
or on ?substantial? topicality?
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