[eDebate] Is it time to get away from Policy debate?

JP Lacy lacyjp
Tue Apr 7 20:00:39 CDT 2009

Is the US government really irrelevant to current problems?

There are some recent blunders by the federal government that could have 
been avoided by full discussion & debate. Namely, the war in Iraq & 
deregulation of financial institutions.

More debate about those decisions would have made them better.

I'm not willing to give up focus on the USFG when it makes mistakes that 
are very relevant to our daily lives. 

I tend to think that our collective inability to really debate the Iraq 
war in public was an important "cause" of the current problem.

Why run from the USFG given that failure?


scottelliott at grandecom.net wrote:
> Before the backlashing begins, read it through. I am not complaining about
> CEDA/NDT or even calling for the abolition of organizations in this post. I can
> do that any time.
> Rather, I propose that we get away fromt he concept of "policy debate," and
> shift over to "evidenced based" or "research based" debate. This would 1) more
> accurately describe what we do and 2) it opens up the possibility for
> alternative resolutions.
> 1) I have been observing and participating in 21st Century college "policy
> debate" for the
> past two years. Like most of you, I believe we are seeing dramatic changes in
> the activity. Having watched elmination rounds at CEDA nationals, I swear that
> I only saw one affirmative case that would meet the traditional S.H.I.T.S.
> stock issues...especially in terms of traditional Topicality. The movement
> toward critical affirmatives and the use of impact turns to topicality (and
> yes, people do win these debates) makes a mockery of the term "policy debate."
> (Maybe it should be mocked,however, it is not an issue I want to address
> here.)What we now see in at least half of the debate rounds are nothing more
> that Framework debates. Half of the community is wanting to present evidence and
> arguments on whatever they want, even openly rejecting the requirement that the
> USFG should be the agent of action, and the other half fighting a losing battle
> to maintain old style standards for policy debate.
> If you do not believe me, I suggest looking to the two teams that were finals at
> CEDA Nationals this year. (I cannot speak about the NDT. I was not there). In a
> nutshell, telling people that we engage in policy debate is a misnomer at best.
> I think explaining what we do as research and evidence intensive debate is more
> representative of what we do.
> 2) This, to me, is the more important point. If we describe CEDA/NDT debate as
> it is, rather than harkening back to the good old days of NDT, circa 1976, we
> may very well open ourselves up to new possibilities for debate resolutions
> that are more substative. As it stands now (sorry to pee pee on parades), we
> are going to be pretty much stuck with a Russia topic this year. Having been in
> Russia during grad school, I think I can figure out a case or two. But, I really
> do not want to research it, coach it, or (JEEZUS!!!) have to judge 200 rounds of
> Russia--world going boom--for the next 8 months.
> The problem with policy debate, as it is currently framed, requires us to use
> the USFG as an agent of action. On international topics, we end up doing some
> sort of engagement with a set of countries. We have exhausted China, the middle
> East, Europe, Native Americans. Now we are left with Russia and Latin America. A
> lot of Latin America was covered on the Ag topic. Central Asia was covered (at
> least by my squad) on both the Middle East topic and the Ag topic. So, almost
> by default, we are left with fricking Russia.
> I look at all of the international problems facing the planet, and I would love
> to work on another topic paper. However, each topic area I come up with becomes
> an automatic "fail" because the current way of framing policy debate, and policy
> debate resolutions, becomes a non-starter.
> Let me give you a list and any coach worth her salt can explain why a USFG agent
> of action is always going to be a non-starter.
> 1) Proliferation (uh, Iran and North Korea are just two examples, CBW's etc.)
> 2) Global Climate Change (anything the USFG does will always be a failure unless
> China and India get on board)
> 3) Sexuality (most of these issues are really within the purview of the
> States--sometimes state counterplans do have value)
> 4) Global poverty/overpopulation (Can the USFG really do anything?)
> 5) Postmodernism;
> 6) Science and Technology and the status of humanity in a post-human world.
> (Again, what can the USFG do unilaterally?)
> 7. Mass species extinctions;
> 8. The collapse of the global capitalist economy.
> None of these topics can be covered in depth under the current method of framing
> college policy debate. However, I posit that these are the exact issues our
> students should be debating. trying to squeeze these topics with in Russia (or
> Latin America, or China) does not provide for the depth of research, analysis
> and argument that we should be striving for. Our students are facing a world in
> which the United States Federal Government enacting a one shot policy just is
> not realistic. I think it would be more realistic, and be of more service to
> our students, if we choose topics that really addressed these global issues
> full force, without trying to shoehorn them into the dead format of USFG
> policymaking.
> Switching away from policy debate to evidence based debate opens up the space to
> actually engage in debates that are timely and more in depth than what we can
> accomplish under the standard "Resolved: the USFG should...." model.
> As it stands now, we are pretty much going to be stuck with Russia, blah, blah
> blah....China gets pissed, blah blah blah, nuke war, Fem IR, blah, blah blah.
> In my alternative world, what would resolutions look like:
> Resolved: the anthropogenic causes of climate change should be substanitally
> curtailed.
> Resolved: humans, through their institutions, should substantially reduce
> anthropogenically caused global warming.
> Resolved: international non-proliferation or antiproliferation regimes should be
> substantially enhanced and/or enforced,
> Resolved: global capitalism should be allowed to collapse.
> Resolved: continued scientific and technological advancement is desirable.
> Just a few concrete examples to start the discussion.
> Scott
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