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

Brad Hall hallbrad
Thu Apr 9 11:12:13 CDT 2009

I think JP's example of Iraq would have been a good topic before the war --
I'm not sure if he's advocating it being a topic now so much as an example
of why we need to debate about USFG policy (it is quite a powerful body and
implicates even non-citizens in its deliberation and actions).
But just to take on your climate example:
1. Many, many advocates exist for unilateral action -- not sure what
"literature" you're referring to, but it's certainly not the mainstream of
policymakers who all advocate domestic action that will then -- and only
then -- make possible a global agreement that includes China and India.
There is a strong debate within the non-US international community about the
difficulty of a deal at Copenhagen without a strong US commitment before. I
debated the energy resolution in 2004-5 and it was an awesome topic -- the
aff was not hamstrung by being forced into unilateral action.

2. There are a lot of non-climate advantages to revising energy policy --
for example: the economy (particularly competitiveness), natural security
implications of foreign energy dependence, trade, US relations with a litany
of countries, US environmental impacts from CO2 emissions, green military.

3. A topic could include the US as an actor but allow the option of
cooperative action with China, India, etc. (or pressure a la the China

I think you should reconsider writing a topic paper on this if you're
actually interested in the issue. The last energy topic was outstanding
despite some flaws in the wording (for example, forcing the aff into the
sadomasochism K was a real killer for us that year).


On Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 8:30 AM, <scottelliott at grandecom.net> wrote:

> 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
> 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.
> Scott
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Brad Hall
hallbrad at gmail.com
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