[eDebate] Re-thinking the States Counterplan

Eric Morris ermocito
Fri Apr 3 10:36:19 CDT 2009

Seven comments about this State CP discussion.

   1. Bracketing out theories about the illuminati, at least one actor has
   the ability to directly choose between Federal and State action: the debate
   judge. This is roughly the same number of actors who have the ability to
   dictate Congressional/Presidential cooperation to get a particular law
   passed & signed, not to mention funded, implemented, and upheld in
   perpetuity. Although I like the 'no single actor' argument because negatives
   often answer it poorly, I don't see it as a silver bullet in the abstract.
   2. People would bank more of their 2nr?s on case defense if case defense
   were rewarded more, relative to CP?s. Instead, judges reconsider 1ac
   evidence that has been poorly extended or not extended at all, prefer that
   evidence over smart analytic arguments, etc., while having relatively lower
   standards for negative performance on counter agent CP?s. There are reasons
   for this, and perhaps even good reasons, but I think the solution lies more
   in privileging case debate than in banning classes of counterplans outright
   (not exactly sure such a ban has been proposed).
   3. Fritch used to judge in a way which made it very easy for affirmative
   to win that a CP wasn?t legitimate and very hard for the affirmative to
   elevate this objection to voting issue status. If the judging pool were
   filled with such judges, I think these concerns about state CP?s would be
   greatly lessened.
   4. ?Argument not the team? takes the bite out of theory objections to a
   CP. Thus, it should perhaps lower the threshold for what it takes to beat a
   CP on theory. Don?t get me wrong ? I think the 1ar should engage, line by
   line, the justifications proposed by the negative for their counterplans.
   But, when they do, judges should be willing to exclude a CP from the round,
   without prejudice toward the same type of CP in the next round (when perhaps
   the aff didn?t engage the theory debate as completely). It is possible to
   beat back the negative?s ?10 reasons why States CP?s are critical? in under
   1 minute provided that (a) some of them were terrible (b) the judge was
   willing to let this debate resolve fairly and (c) the debater was confident
   enough about (b) that they were comfortable going all in on the theory
   objection as their 1ar response to the CP, and then heading off to the next
   5. The solution in #3 is great, because it means negatives would feel
   less comfortable going into the 1nc with ?only? a state CP to refute the
   case (thus encouraging research) but also negatives could feel ?more?
   comfortable going into a 2nr with the state CP instead of the case debate
   (assuming the aff was good on the case and bad on the CP) instead of
   worrying that the judge would be there to lend the aff a hand.
   6. Fiat durability is part of the issue here as well. In time, the states
   could surely develop redundant nuclear safety expertise. But, given the
   inefficiencies of that approach, the system would probably gravitate back
   toward the federal government. Attitudinal inherency doesn?t have to lock in
   rollback (after all, some body of government did just vote for the
   plan/c-plan), but using fiat to bracket out discussions of what might happen
   next makes it hard for affirmatives to bank on many of the best solvency
   deficits. You never know how strongly the judge will be committed to durable
   7. I agree with Ricky that many debaters privilege certain types of
   impacts, but I disagree that the K is an effective solution to these
   problems. Although I think a lot of the K literature is very interesting and
   important, in actual K debates judges often encourage clash avoidance (side
   stepping through minimal distinctions), let people wiggle out of impact
   turns, encourage new and hidden alternatives, allow implicit framework
   arguments (like ?rep?s first?) to dramatically refocus the rounds, etc. The
   generalized ambiguity about how K rounds are to be resolved leads to
   considerable inconsistency from round to round. That inconsistency appears
   to favor certain teams over others (which ones? It depends on the point of
   view of the observer), and makes hyper specific strategies against
   particular K?s ineffective, while they should be extremely effective. A more
   positive spin on the same phenomenon would be ?when there are no rules, the
   better debater always wins.? (which sounds fine, but it?s nice when the
   weaker debater can sometimes win through hard work and preparation). In this
   way, the post structural orientation of some K?s and many K friendly critics
   tends to disincentivize K debating. (I would be happy to brainstorm friendly
   solutions to this problem with anyone who shares my assessment in broad
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