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Author Topic: 2013-14 Topic Process - Guidelines, Dates, Committee  (Read 13984 times)
stables
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« on: March 02, 2013, 03:10:35 AM »

This post includes the updated guidelines, dates and committee composition for the development of the 2013-14 topic.

The CEDA summer meetings are being hosted by Georgetown University. The CEDA business meeting is on Friday, May 31st and the topic meetings take place from Saturday (June 1) through Monday morning (June 3). Everyone is welcome to attend the meetings. We will also work to webcast and blog the meetings as much as possible.

Please let me know if there are any questions. I also encourage individuals working on specific proposals to post that information on this thread.

Host Site Information (Provided by Jonathan Paul)
Technology: All participants will have access to the Georgetown wireless network. The Georgetown network is reliable and easy to use.
Travel Arrangements: Numerous options for DC. I strongly recommend flying into the Reagan Airport (DCA).  The hotel and Georgetown campus can be reached from Reagan on the metro and a cab is only $15. Dulles (40 minutes to Georgetown) and BWI (one hour) are decent options if you find significantly cheaper airfare.

Hotel: The Key Bridge Marriott (in Rosslyn VA) will have a rate of $119/night. The Key Bridge Marriott is a 15-minute walk to campus and the University provides a shuttle service from the hotel to campus. We have used this hotel for all of the HS tournaments we’ve hosted on campus and it is the best option in the area. The hotel is a 5-minute walk to the Rosslyn metro, which will connect you to the rest of DC for those interested in exploring.

What controversies are being considered for 2013-14?
The amendment to the CEDA constitution passed in 2012 requires a rotation within every four years. The 2012-13 topic is considered a domestic topic and any topic may be considered for the 13-14 season.
“Within each four-year cycle the national topic should reflect a rotation of at least one of each of the following topic categories.
1)   Domestic – A topic that relates to issues within the United States.
2)   Legal – A topic that relates to a controversy within legal jurisprudence and where the topic wording emphasizes legal research.
3)   International – A topic of primarily international relations or policy.”

What is the current membership of the Topic Selection Committee?
The membership is determined by the CEDA constitution and it was amended for 2012-13.
“Section 1: The CEDA Topic Selection Committee will be responsible for choosing problem areas and writing debate topics. The CEDA Topic Selection Committee will consist of nine members: Two of the following (President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President) three at-large members, one undergraduate student representative, one graduate student representative, one representative appointed by the National Debate Tournament, and one representative appointed by the American Debate Association.”

The membership for this year is:
CEDA Organizational Representatives (as determined by the CEDA President): Paul Mabrey, 1st VP and Eric Morris, 2nd VP
CEDA Organizational Representative (honorary/non-voting ) Sarah Partlow-Lefevre, CEDA President, Kris Willis, 2nd VP (incoming)
Undergraduate student representative: To be elected
Graduate student representative: To be elected
NDT Representative: Heather Walters
ADA Representative: Patrick Waldinger
At large Members (serving three year terms):
Gordon Stables (third year of term)
Kevin Kuswa (second year of term)
Ryan Galloway (first year of term)

Schedule of Student (Undergraduate and Graduate)  Elections:
Open announcement of nominations: March 4th
Close of nominations: March 22nd (the beginning of CEDA Nationals).
Voting is open: March 23rd (during CEDA and the NDT, plus a few days after)
Voting closes: April 6th


Suggested Guidelines for Controversial Area Papers
By Gordon Stables
(Originally released June 2006, Modified March 2010, April 2012)

Introduction to Topic Paper Writing

Writing a topic paper can appear daunting, but is manageable if approached in several steps. The first part of the process takes place when someone decides that there is an issue that might make a valuable intercollegiate debate topic. The topic selection committee commissions a number of areas each year that might be valuable options, but these are designed to only ensure that some options exist. Each topic selection is improved by the addition of areas identified by the community.

In the last few years the writing process has been divided into two distinct papers: a controversy paper at the conclusion of the competition season and wording papers written after the first community ballot.  This process has helped lower the entry barrier for community development of papers and has reduced the burden on any single author. At the same time, the topic selection committee has also worked to produce wording options consistent with the topic area selected by community vote.

As much as these trends have improved the topic writing process, we are occasionally left with the problem of an area paper that is very conceptually broad, perhaps too broad to produce a range of expectations surrounding the upcoming topic. This may, in part, be due to the very nature of writing an ‘area’ paper. The general procedure has encouraged writing on a subject, such as a nation (like China) or a branch of government (the Supreme Court). In the interests of helping develop a process that is both accessible and predictable, beginning with the 2007-2008 process the chair of the topic selection committee would like to ask that the concept of ‘area’ papers be slightly adjusted toward individual controversies or controversial areas.

Each year the specific dates are adjusted to reflect the end of the competition season and the dates of the summer topic meetings.

The 2013 schedule:

•   Controversy Papers must be submitted by Monday, April 22nd.

•   The topic selection committee will review these papers and submit a ballot to the community. The ballot will be open for a minimum of 14 days. Our current target is a release of the ballot on Saturday April 27th and an a voting period that extends through Saturday, May 11th.

•   A community vote will determine the winning controversy paper. Any member of the community is then invited to submit wording papers. All wording papers must be submitted by Monday, May 27th.

•   The topic meetings run from Saturday (June 1st) through Monday (morning) June 3rd and are open to the public. We will also make efforts to provide regular information to the community not joining us in D.C.

•   The wording ballot will be released after the meetings and be open for a minimum of 14 days. As per the CEDA Constitution, the winning wording will be announced on the 3rd Friday in July (Friday July 20th).

Why select controversies?

There is a tremendous amount of information discussion about the ‘best’ topics. It may be impossible to develop a consensus on such criteria, but it is not uncommon for some of the discussion about better topics to describe their coherence and the presence of a rich body of literature. It may be understood that some of the ‘better’ topics possess a vibrant dispute among interested parties. These ‘controversies’ may be understood as the specific theme of a topic. Anyone who has explained the topic to someone from outside the debate community may also recognize these themes as those brief summaries of the debate topic.

Asking for a central controversy in each ‘area’ paper can allow the community to vote on each area with a greater confidence. The last two topics, which featured extensive work by individual authors, provide some clear examples. Instead of listing the ‘China’ topic on the area ballot, we might have instead listed the controversy of trying to produce economic policy changes by the Chinese government. Alternately, the ‘court’ topic could have been listed as ‘reverse major Supreme Court cases.’ In both cases the precision of the specific wording is not a necessity. The next stage of the process will be tasked with that specific responsibility. The primary challenge for each author of a controversial area paper is to identify that policy concern.

This also keeps our process consistent with the mandate of the CEDA constitution (Article 2), which describes the goals of debate including to “promote the value of argumentative discourse as a means of producing reasoned, measured, cooperative solutions to contemporary problems of social and political significance.”

The Elements of a Controversial Area Paper

A fully developed paper should include:

Mainstream options for policy change - The central task of these papers is to identify the most mainstream or central proposals for change within a given controversial area. This is often understood as identifying the few "middle of the road" affirmatives with evidence and cites for solvency advocates. These are the central issues at work in the larger controversy. The identification and citation of important authors can help guide the development of the topic wording and allow a common subject of community debate. The paper may also identify the central literature based arguments available to the negative, i.e., what are the major argumentative assets for opponents of change? For both sides, authors should consider traditional policy and critical literature that is relevant to this controversy. Solid work in this element is essential to ensuring that later wording options reflect the central argumentative controversies.

Unique educational opportunities - There are obviously argumentative strategies for both sides common to most topics, these papers should be primarily concerned with the unique opportunities provided by this controversy. The job of the topic selection process is not to produce a single type of arguments, but rather to help provide the playing field for arguments developed by each squad and team. These considerations may include the last time such areas were debated and how earlier topics overlapped (if at all) with these areas.

Papers should also consider the potential public benefits of potential topics. Does your controversy provide a way to access significant public policy debates? Are there ways that your paper could involve local communities? Remember that the winning controversy will govern how 100 universities and almost 3000 students research for an entire season. You may identify specific events that will help draw attention to this topic (such as debating the Arab Spring topic during the democratic revolutions or the Nuclear Posture Review during the 2009-10 season) that help to explain why this controversy is specifically valuable to debate during this specific season.

Potential directions for wording papers - These controversial area papers are not required to include specific wording recommendations, although authors may include these as suggestions. It is very important that authors provide suggestions for approaching the next phase of the process. The greatest value that authors can provide is preliminary analysis of the specific elements of this controversy.  Is there a debate about the best level of governmental response? Is there a general direction that new policies should follow? Are there certain agencies or interested parties that define the terms in specific and meaningful ways?

Keep in mind that the controversy paper is a starting point for the next phase of committee work. You may suggest a range of approaches or even a specific strategy for how to divide your proposal into 3-4 working groups to advance your work into a series of wording options. Author should not feel compelled to only provide one approach or one mechanism in their proposal. The best controversy paper identifies the general task that the committee and community will explore, not one that defines only a singular wording.

Recommendation of the author – It is of tremendous importance that each author treats their task as part of a due diligence on behalf of the larger community. It is important that interested parties work on these papers, but each author should also consider that there may be specific historical moments where some topics are better or worse suited for the intercollegiate community. This concern was voiced in the fall of 2001, when there was tremendous interest in selecting a topic that dealt with terrorism for 2002-2003. At that time, however, it was felt that the necessary literature might be ‘too ripe,’ that is not sufficiently explored in scholarly detail, to allow for the best possible topic. This concern was also raised in this last topic cycle, when some argued that there should be additional time to let the congressional debate on immigration policy settle before it was considered. An author of a paper develops additional insight into a controversy and the community would benefit from this moment of evaluation. Accordingly, we would ask that authors provide their recommendation of the topic’s inclusion on the upcoming ballot. Options for this recommendation include: strongly support, support with reservations, no opinion, oppose with reservation, strongly oppose.

Research Resources – We encourage authors to identify and share important research resources. Authors should specifically consider identifying and building bundles of RSS feeds that could be used by the entire community. In our new media environment, it is very important to identify important research materials that will allow the topic to develop over the course of the season.

Final Thoughts

Writing topic papers at any stage is a process fraught with a tremendous amount of hard work and little thanks. The nature of the process ensures that every topic but one will be rejected each year. That seemingly cold fact should not dissuade potential authors. It is the process of identifying, comparing and ultimately voting for a specific area that helps to keep this process valuable. I mention this only to encourage people to work on these papers, but not to invest so much of themselves that it is difficult to handle the selection of another paper. For this process to work at its best, we need a number of committed community members to write these papers each year. They need not be longer than 10-15 pages if they follow these guidelines. Even if they are not selected, each author can share in the comfort that they are providing a valuable service to the community and that each controversial area may be considered in following years. In the previous threads on the forum you will find all full archive of recent papers to help you become comfortable with the writing process.

Thanks and please let me know if you have questions or suggestions.

Gordon Stables - Chair, CEDA Topic Selection Committee
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
stables
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 04:38:13 PM »

After feedback from a number of individuals, we wanted to extend the deadline for nominations for both student seats on the topic committee (the undergraduate and graduate positions).

Nominations (including self-nominations) can just be sent to me at stables@usc.edu

The updated schedule follows.

Schedule of Student (Undergraduate and Graduate)  Elections:
Open announcement of nominations: March 4th
Close of nominations: March 26th
Voting is open: March 27th
Voting closes: April 10th
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
stables
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 01:26:10 PM »

Lots of great nominations for the Grad Student position - although we are still very interested in any new nominations.

I wanted to really emphasize the need for undergraduate student nominations. This is a great opportunity for a current student to play an important role in the topic process. The undergrad rep has the same voting rights as any committee member and is funded to attend the meetings.

Please email me with any nominations at stables@usc.edy by tomorrow.

Gordon
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
stables
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Posts: 334


« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2013, 09:57:30 AM »

The CEDA topic selection committee has received seven controversy paper proposals from the community.

Arms Sales
Definitions
Democracy
Intellectual Property
Presidential War Powers
Treaties
War on Poverty

We want to thank each author for their time and effort. We always need active engagement and we appreciate all of your work. The committee will now spend a few days reviewing each proposal and determining the final slate. We would like to release the slate this weekend, but that is a tentative deadline. Once the ballot is released it follows all CEDA guidelines for voting.

There are threads on the forums for each of the seven proposals. We invite community feedback both before and after the ballot is released.

The previous thread also contains the full list of deadlines and procedures. I also wanted to update the committee's membership after the most recent elections.

CEDA Organizational Representatives (as determined by the CEDA President): Paul Mabrey, 1st VP and Eric Morris, 2nd VP
CEDA Organizational Representative (honorary/non-voting ) Sarah Partlow-Lefevre, CEDA President, Kris Willis, 2nd VP (incoming)
Undergraduate student representative: Jeff Min
Graduate student representative:  Will Mosley-Jensen
NDT Representative: Heather Walters
ADA Representative: Patrick Waldinger
At large Members (serving three year terms):
Gordon Stables (third year of term)
Kevin Kuswa (second year of term)
Ryan Galloway (first year of term)

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Gordon
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
jishane
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2013, 10:20:09 AM »

When are we announcing the topic area?
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stables
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2013, 04:43:19 PM »

Based on the results of the community vote, the CEDA topic selection committee is now working to develop working options for the Presidential War Powers controversy. We would like to thank Dr. Kelly Young, John Koch, Bruce Najor, Al Hiland, Jacob Justice, Brad Meloche, and Talya Slaw for their authorship of this great paper. We appreciate their contributions and it provides us with a very strong foundation. I have already begun discussions with Kelly about how the paper will be edited for inclusion in a future issue of Contemporary Argumentation and Debate (CAD).

Before we turn our full attention to war powers we need to also thank the remarkable group of folks who contributed to the entire slate of controversy papers. We had a fantastic collection of papers and we owe each of the following individuals a great deal of thanks. I sincerely hope that many of these papers are revisited in future years because there are some fantastic potential topics. Thanks to Jackie Poapst, Bill Newnam, Rashad Evans, Justin Green, Clara Purk, Dylan Quigley, Jonah Feldman, Zane Clarke-Waxman,  Colin Dailey, Erica Jalbuena, Luke Melton, Alex McVey, Raj Nijjar, DM Woodward, Lincoln Garrett, Tom Pacheco, and Kevin Kuswa.

The earlier posts on this thread include all of the specific details about the meetings at Georgetown.  The highlights:

Any member of the community is then invited to submit wording  papers. All wording papers must be submitted by Monday, May 27th.

The topic meetings run from Saturday (June 1st) through Monday (morning) June 3rd and are open to the public. We will also make efforts to provide regular information to the community not joining us in D.C.

The wording ballot will be released after the meetings and be open for a minimum of 14 days. As per the CEDA Constitution, the winning wording will be announced on the 3rd Friday in July (Friday July 20th).

Let me reinforce that these meetings are fully open to the community. The best meetings are those with robust participation and we sincerely hope that you choose to attend. We will also be making video content of the meetings available as well as sharing notes from the meeting.  Of course all of the documents provided the committee will also be available to the entire community.

This year will also be experimenting with use of Google Hangouts both before and during the meetings as a way to engage the community in the topic construction process.

We also have one substantive change to the way the committee is organizing our pre-meetings research.  Based on feedback from the community we have decided to embrace a model that allows for greater advocacy among differing possible topic wordings. In the past we primarily organized ourselves by vetting specific terms and key concepts. Based on some tremendous suggestions by Dr. Michael Hester of West Georgia, we will be creating several distinct working groups.

Each group is charged with generating wording options with noticeably different perspectives. Each group will produce at least one and hopefully 2-3 wordings that represent each perspective on the controversy paper. We still have the traditional requirements that any wording suggestion needs five votes to get on the ballot and that the slate of topics must include at least 3 wordings.  Right now we are looking at the following groups:

Group 1 - Topics that include a passive voice actor or some other agent approach

Group 2 - Topics that include enumerated lists of which war powers would be restricted.

Group 3 - Topics that include thematic phrases (and not lists) to describe the powers.

Assignment / Mini-Group 4 - A review of the restriction phrase. This is more similar to our historical process, but we do need some effort ensure that the restriction and its object (statutes) are best aligned.
I will update this post in a day or so with specific committee members assigned to each group. I will also welcome any community member who either wants to work with a group or who would like to submit their own wording paper.

I look forward to discussing the topic with you in a variety of forums in the coming days. Please do let us know if you have any questions.

Gordon
« Last Edit: May 14, 2013, 04:52:34 PM by stables » Logged

Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
Malgor
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2013, 05:39:30 PM »

I'd like to put an early request in for more than 5 affs.  On another thread it was asserted that what makes topics so great is they have narrow mechanisms and narrow areas.  Um....no thanks.  a whole year, over 200 teams, over 20 tournaments.....all about 5 affs?

When topics go down like that it's not only horrible, but also embarrassing.  Yeah we had fun debating CTBT 1000000 times bc only 3 of the 5 affs on the topic were commonly run, but I have a newsflash for you: debate is fun no matter what.  We are actually here to do other stuff, too, like train students about a variety of content and argumentative styles.  Preferences are slowly eliminating the diversity in argumentative style (for all sides of the spectrum), so let's at least keep the content a little diverse.

I'd love to assist with a wording paper, despite the crushing of my ideas in years' past.  I'd also really like it if we could have more than 5 affirmatives to debate about next year!
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Hester
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2013, 10:10:47 AM »

Six AFFs it is, then. thanks for your input, we aim to please!
- Mgt

I'd like to put an early request in for more than 5 affs.  On another thread it was asserted that what makes topics so great is they have narrow mechanisms and narrow areas.  Um....no thanks.  a whole year, over 200 teams, over 20 tournaments.....all about 5 affs?

When topics go down like that it's not only horrible, but also embarrassing.  Yeah we had fun debating CTBT 1000000 times bc only 3 of the 5 affs on the topic were commonly run, but I have a newsflash for you: debate is fun no matter what.  We are actually here to do other stuff, too, like train students about a variety of content and argumentative styles.  Preferences are slowly eliminating the diversity in argumentative style (for all sides of the spectrum), so let's at least keep the content a little diverse.

I'd love to assist with a wording paper, despite the crushing of my ideas in years' past.  I'd also really like it if we could have more than 5 affirmatives to debate about next year!
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jzhawk
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2013, 10:53:00 AM »

As an outsider, MalGor's plea makes sense.  I think what made the CinC topic fun to debate in 94 was that the wording was relatively open but the need for a nexus to a reduction in powers of the President provided a fairly predictable set of CPs and Disads.  People could experiment with different cases, but it took more than a few good cards to have a case because the generic ground was fairly strong.  The result was a decently large topic that allowed odd teams to be odd but did not make it impossible to be negative.
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kevin kuswa
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« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2013, 11:09:28 AM »

good point, zive, although I think it may be a bit more difficult to be negative this time around...that's just a feeling from having jumped into it all very recently.  keep up your posts, that perspective is valuable.  kevin
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stables
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2013, 11:25:39 AM »

Very quickly - I am personally very sympathetic to Malcolm's perspective. My experience is that what makes the topic contain more or less topical affirmatives is the result of the best possible wording compromise that reflects the community's interests. With the working groups you can see that we are trying to make sure we provide differing agent, list topics, and non-list topics. I don't think any of those pre-judge how many cases would topical. What they do rely on is some sense of their ability to effectively capture what folks feel should be part of the topic. More frankly, if you believe the topics tend to be too limited it is probably because the more limiting term or phrase was the optimal compromise, not the ideal wording.

Malcolm and others - we welcome help remotely and and the meetings. Wording papers are great, but folks can contribute in lots of ways. For example, if anyone wanted to spark a conversation here about which genres of affirmative should be considered the core of potential topics that would be great. It might help us move beyond the polemic of counting affs and into how we can best craft some workable wordings.
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
jzhawk
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2013, 12:34:12 PM »

Keep up the posts?  I think I'll be dropping by topic deliberations to listen.  Throwbacks to the CnC topic make be nostalgic and warm. Having spent the last 20 years redoing my final 2AR I think this might be the sort of therapy I need to move on.
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kevin kuswa
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2013, 12:45:04 PM »

if only 2ARs were 15 minutes Smiley
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joe
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« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2013, 07:21:12 AM »

good point, zive, although I think it may be a bit more difficult to be negative this time around...that's just a feeling from having jumped into it all very recently.  keep up your posts, that perspective is valuable.  kevin

will going negative really be harder this time?  seems like neg fiat is anything goes these days, plus you have way more critical stuff to say.  i cant imagine what it was like to negate back then...so few options...

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kevin kuswa
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2013, 09:01:50 AM »

good point, zive, although I think it may be a bit more difficult to be negative this time around...that's just a feeling from having jumped into it all very recently.  keep up your posts, that perspective is valuable.  kevin

will going negative really be harder this time?  seems like neg fiat is anything goes these days, plus you have way more critical stuff to say.  i cant imagine what it was like to negate back then...so few options...



the neg is still forced to defend unchecked executive authority on some level...if you do not want to fight "terrorism" or improve "security," your base arguments are somewhat limited.  "dictatorship good" only goes so far, even when running critical positions.  yes, there are some CPs and there will always be options, I just think it's going to be a bit rough and a bit generic--as well as uphill against most perms.  keep in mind that the platform for many critiques is govt/state bad--that's the same position the aff will be taking (even including a criticism of governmental "fiat" in some ways).  yes, i talked on this forum about the XO swallowing up the air in the room--that is more because of a lack of other solid options than it is an endorsement of the XO.  It will work out and the neg will survive, it's just that in the early 90s the positions on both sides were a bit more varied.  9-11 brought about a more rapid shift toward the executive, but for reasons that I think are harder to defend when you really examine them.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 09:04:12 AM by kevin kuswa » Logged
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