[eDebate] Mmm Lentils, Chikpeas, and Mohair

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Fri Jul 11 09:38:11 CDT 2008

So when i woke up this morning and my phone was dead and i was 15 minutes
late getting to my car and it had been towed and then after a 2 plus mile
walk home i found out it was going to cost me $250 to get it out of the
impound lot, i was thinking...well it can only become a better day from
here...then i read about chickpeas and lentils and mohair...and while it
made me hungry and dedicated(even if i have to walk) to go to the
afro Caribbean vegetarian place for lunch..it also made me sad for the
debate community...like why are a bunch of really smart people, many of whom
have a decent amount of public money to spend on taking other smart people
around to discuss stuff with more smart people, making the stuff they spend
public resources discussing the finer points of chickpea and mohair policy.
This is not a plea for a specific topic any more than it is a discussion of
who was better in caberet joel grey or johnny depp(for the record it matters
more if johnny depp was never in caberet than it does if chick peas are
included or excluded from the topic) this is a question about how the debate
community utilizes the often public resources it receives to craft an
increasingly  meaningless kind of political agency which offers very little
opportunity for meaningful real world application.

It is not a question of whether we should engage in debate about policy, but
at what level we define policy and to what ends the definition is best
suited. We have chosen a random point of specificity on the policy making
spectrum and decided that things that are broader than that point are not
policy making, and we will inevitably create a discursive regime which
assigns that random point as the line for meaningful democratic
discourse...We could get more specific...we all should know that from any
real policy work we have done...but we could also craft what we discuss as
policy in a way which provides more meaningful space for political agency
that connects to the real world..stuff people care about, and is a pressing
social question of our times, but instead we shy away from those debates,
and use the finer points of mohair and chickpea policy to rob the soul from
meaningful questions like how do we use our political agency to change the
structure in which government and big agro business have colluded in order
to create a global food crisis.

Here is a framework question for choosing what you debate about. Is what you
debate about worth the investment that society puts into it. Like if the
state of kansas spent 500,000 training 30 people to know both sides of the
chickpea debate without expecting any application of that knowledge to
actual chickpea policy, would this be a expenditure of funds you thought
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