[eDebate] South America?

Veronica Guevara veronica_m_barreto
Sat Apr 5 11:42:04 CDT 2008

I will join in on the call to open the resolutional wording.  I've always said that broadly written topics have distinct advantages.  I wanted a "change foreign policy to Africa" topic.  Instead we all saddled in for a year of "development assistance" is dirty word debates and more Escobar cards than you could shake a stick at. 
In these discusssions I often see the concern for creating limited unidirectional list ladden wordings usually coming from the straight up crowd.  This, I don't understand.  The K teams don't care what the topic is. They don't care if they're topical.  They're going to do what they're going to do regardless of what the words in the resolution say.  They may take one or two words like "China" or "engagement" into account but they don't have to, so the only teams hamstrung by the resolution are usually the parties who are most vocal about limiting the affirmative.  
Every year we impose arbitrary limits on the literature.  Folks patch together solvency contentions and don't fully enact their authors recommendations on one end and tack on other advocacies to round out their affs.  Every year we build in links into the resolution.  The best example perhaps was the Native Americans topic and the infamous "increase federal control" bit.  Even the most fascist among us didn't really wanted to defend the resolution so folks had the federal government increase federal control over states or sometimes over itself to limit its control....fantastic.
Why not let affs run willy nilly all over the place and see what happens?  I'll tell you what will happen.  There will be a core set of affs that are successful and once the resolutions settles in which is usually just before Wake we'll know what the big affs are and that will remain consistent (like demining on the SE Asia topic).  Despite our best efforts to pin affirmatives with resolutional wordings we still haven't seen very many well developed case debates, especially in the last eight years or so, which non uniques limiters' best offense.
Which means there's only a risk of my offense -- I make this impact turn argument year after year in vain, but I'll say it again...limited resolutional wordings mean that when researchers hit the literature base and they can't find something topical, folks (researchers AND judges) are more willing to push to their interpretations of the topic limits or disregard them altogether which makes more people unmappable than if we just had a bigger topic umbrella that was consistent with the lit base (see the Native Americans topic example above).  I think that's what made the sanctions topic (1999-00) so memorable -- the limits of the topic followed the contours of the literature base.  Admittedly the topic became repetitive at some points because it was small, but I still think that was the best balancing of these interests that I have seen and that can't be attributed to the size of the topic as much as the appropriateness of the limits.  
The topic ideas that have been thrown out would require a larger literature base than the sanctions topic, but I don't think that's problematic.  (1) Generics check back -- we'll never get over the USFG agent so there's always negative ground -- process CPs, PICs of all stripes, Ks, etc.  there's more than enough generic goodness for everyone's argumentative predispositions (2) the community consolidates the topic on its own (see above).  Even if generics are bad, they're inevitable.  Plus,  an open topic wording wouldn't kill topicality debates either in a world of competing interpretations where topicality debates are not about what is strictly denotationally true of the resolution but rather what provides for the best debates.
Why not make explicit that what we all want is a resolution with the flexibility for affs to do what they need to do to access good arguments with good solvency evidence and stop treating negative ground as if it were holy ground. Even a small squad with a good small tight generic strat could beat a titan who defends resolutional action on a small subset of the literature.
I will end by saying this...a Latin America topic would be so very sweet. I waited my whole life for that topic and I never got to debate it, but I would still love to see it debated.  I know folks are itching for domestic topics and that's understandable, but I would still love to see a topic that is all about things that make you go boom.  Ain't nothing wrong with some boom.  Straight up teams can't help but loving up the opportunity to talk about how many booms they can rack up and K teams love that they do :)

Veronica M. Guevara
Weber State University
Department of Communication
1605 University Circle
Ogden, UT 84408

Date: Sat, 5 Apr 2008 11:42:14 -0400From: uwgdebate at gmail.comTo: antonucci23 at yahoo.com; edebate at ndtceda.comSubject: Re: [eDebate] South America?I'll echo Antonucci's comments, while also defending a potential South America topic:1) yes, the Latin America Political Stability (LAPS) topic was amazing mostly b/c: a) the Commies were still overt (Soviet Union just sounds tasty) which made not only Red Spread but it's oppositional argument - Encirclement- a viable debate in every round, b) Gorbachev had recently come to power and there were some rumblings about something called glasnost and perestroika, c) ABC Prolif (yes, publishers actually printed books detailing the possibilities of nuclear proliferation in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, d) the Shining Path (great euphemism for 'crazy-ass Maoist professor-led revolutionary movement that likes to blow up powergrids in Peru') gave us terrorism without the guilt of hating Muslims, and e) Liberation Theology (even before their predilection for young boys was made public, the Catholic Church was scaring rich people) gave us a movement DA that actually had uniqueness cards written somewhere other than in the leaflets handed out at the movement's rallies. Each of these areas had large impacts on their own, and frequently they intersected to create even larger impacts. China doesn't (yet) have the kind of influence in LA that the Soviets did, Brazil is known more for making bikini pictures look appealing than for making nuclear weapons, Peru's Japanese leader took care of the Shining Path with a good ol' fashioned police crackdown, and Lib Theo has devolved into debates about whether the right reverend Creflo Dollar should get away with driving a Rolls. 2) BUT, i'd also argue that even if these wonderfully delicious impact areas still existed today, the Current Resolution Assembly Process (CRAP) would still choke the life out of the LAPS. Rather than the parsimonious (yet admittedly large) Resolved: That the United States government should adopt a policy to substantially increase political stability in Latin America, we'd end up with something like this:Resolved: The United States federal government should enact, through legislation, a policy of political stabilization, including one or more of the following:- a free trade pact with Belize and Uruguay, but not Paraguay;- trade tariffs on non-petroleum products imported from Venezuela;- a substantial increase in environmental protection assistance to Brazil, except for anything that might actually solve deforestation;- a substantial increase in security assistance to Guyana;- rescission of all or nearly all agriculture subsidy increases in the 1982 Farm Bill. In our (misguided, imo) attempts to create viable, predictable, NEG ground, we end up destroying viable, SOLVENT affirmative ground. if the AFF is given topical ground that can actually address big problems (poverty, disease, discrimination, war, environmental degradation), there's not a region of the Earth that can't make for a great topic full of not only ELIs, but other cool impacts. but if we tread down the same path of distorting resolutions to make sure the 1AC starts out as a flawed position, we can take even the most grand areas of discussion and reduce them to dreadful debates. even without kritiks and PICs, negatives managed to debate the LAPS topic. sure, they could always fall back on domino theory to give themselves a DA, but even then they didn't have half of the NEG ground we do today. complex CP theory and Ks have provided NEGs with a toolbox larger than ever before, definitely enough to deal with the Bats and Guinea worm AFFs that haunted the dreams of 2Ns in days gone by. c'mon folks, let's take the shackles off of the AFF. this year was a decent first step. we used the broad term of "foreign assistance" and STILL most teams were flipping NEG in elims. the last topic to have a decidedly affirmative tilt (Security Assistance to the Mid-East) was the result of a writing a terminally non-unique resolution (in my best Chandler voice, "could the USfg GIVE any more military aid to Israel and Egypt?!"), and not due to expansive wording. South America. BioTech. Labor Relations. Immigration Reform. They could all be perfectly fine topics. It's not the Subject (problem area) we should worry about, it's the Object (we who formulate the resolution). hesterhester
On Sat, Apr 5, 2008 at 10:31 AM, Michael Antonucci <antonucci23 at yahoo.com> wrote:
The Latin America high school topic was before mytime.I have heard stories, though.  Red Spread was acrucial advantage/DA.  I think that matters.During the Cold War, Latin America constituted acrucial front in a major geopolitical struggle with aplausible claim to world-shattering consequences.  Itwas a *fast* route to *big* impacts.  The "domino"internal links surely rocked.That isn't true anymore (discounting Red Chinaconspiracy theorists.)Executive summary: topics with big impacts workbetter.  They're remembered fondly.  Topics withoutbig impacts end up with contrived and stale arguments.Long version: The ability to access extinction impactswith relatively short internal link chains drasticallyaffects the quality of debates.  Most debaters seem tobelieve that the constructive engagement topic wassuperior to the "grab bag of Supreme Court cases"topic.  The topics' differing scope and some designbugs may have affected that - but the ability tologically access impacts mattered as well.Teams will claim extinction-level impacts.  That'sinevitable, because it's a winning formula in the gameas currently constituted.  (If you don't like thisaspect of debate, don't shoot the messenger.  Yourtopic won't change the culture - the culture willchange your topic.)If ELIs are a logical outgrowth of the literature,arguments will remain logical.  If  not, debaters willcontrive increasingly counterintuitive and absurd linkchains in order to access the fast big magnitudeimpacts they need to succeed.I've seen this played out this year, as I've coachedon both constructive engagement and sub-SaharanAfrica.  I prefer listening to a debater defend afleshed-out Iran strikes or Syrian-Israeli war impactthan hearing...right.  The Rabid Tiger.  Again.  Thisdifference didn't occur because high school debatersare dumb and you're all really smart.  It happenedbecause you can construct a brilliant proposal forimproving the delivery of pharmaceuticals in Botswana,and no one will care because it only really impactssome Botswanans.  No offense, Botswanans andEcuadorans - you're important, but it's tough to weighthe Galapagos against politics.Latin American countries affect issues of trade andnarcoterrorism and some neat biomes - but none of themhave nukes (I know there's a prolif risk, but it's apretty low-probability one.)  "Brazilian growth" and"Chilean trade" won't get it done against big DAsabsent some real contortions.I'm sure a Latin America topic could be reallyinteresting, but intelligence reform would sustain abetter year of debates with fewer silly contrivances.
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