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

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Thu Apr 9 08:30:27 CDT 2009

I was never good at the line by line, so I will just cut to the chase.

JP's example of the U.S. war in Iraq proves my point. I just do not think the
pleathora of arguments he makes are indeed arguments in favor of the current
topic selection/drafting process. I AGREE that we should have debated that the
USFG should have changed its policy toward Iraq. Yep, you are right. You win
this minor point. But, in the end, this is nothing more than a red herring at
best, and an argument for changing how we debate at worst.

The Pepsi Challenge: Frame the "Get the U.S. out of Iraq" issue as a year long
policy topic that would make it through a community vote.

It will not happen for the following reasons:

1) it is no longer timely. At best, the only way to debate this now would be as
a counter-factual/alternative format resolution (i.e. a proposition of fact as
in "we should have not invaded Iraq, etc.)

2) It would not stand up under a year long topic debate (old school CEDA
semester long topic...it would have been a great series of debates and would
have made for a great Nationals Final round five years ago)

My original examples of absolutely fundamental global problems still stand. I
will narrow the discussion down to just one--global climate change.

Yep, Barak Obama is now proposing that we shoot more pollution into the
atmosphere to stop global warming. There are many USFG proposals out there.
But, you and I, and I think the rest of the coaches out there, know that it is
a waste of time to try to frame a climate change topic under the current USFG
agent of action resolution format. Why? because you can never actually debate
the root issue with a topical plan that solves. China and India  will negate
solvency if you focus on an USFG single shot plan. The literature does not
support U.S. unilateral action. The way in which the game of policy debate is
played means that the Affirmative is at a strategic disadvantage from the jump.

Consequently, I do not bother writing a topic paper on the issue. So many
problems in the world that need more in depth discussion by our students.
However, the focus on single shot policy prescriptions by a government that
represents only 300 million out of 6.5 Billion people, reduces these
discussions to mere peripheral issues. We end up debating shitty politics
debates, stupid PIC's and state counter-plans.

For what purpose? So, coaches and judges are "comfortable" shining the turd that
is policy debate? Why not be uncomfortable? Why not debate the "whole rez?" Why
not have our students focus on depth of arguments and issues rather than focus
on technique and strategy?

Your point about Iraq is nice. But, even it does not fit within the current
model of policy debate resolutions. If you can turn your talents toward finding
ways in which USFG single agent/single shot plans can address the issues like
climate change, postmodernity, science and technology development, I would love
to see it. As it stands now, we end up debating the same stuff every year--we
just insert a different jumping off point.

Really folks, how is Russia going to be any different from  the Mid-East Topic
from two years ago or the China topic? Would it be that much different if we
inserted Latin America? I think not. I think we are collectively stuck in a rut
and it is time we allow ourselves to enter into a state of theoretical chaos.

They only loss I can see is that 20 years of PICs and framework files end up
being left at the squadroom door.


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