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Author Topic: Democracy Topic Paper  (Read 5193 times)
zanezor
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« on: April 23, 2013, 01:09:03 AM »

Many of these ideas are unpolished.  I wanted to get something submitted by the deadline.  I will be working on this paper continually over the course of the week and if there is interest I will put out a supplement as ideas for aff and neg ground evolve.  If you disagree with a single word in this paper, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know why, either shoot me an email at zaneclarkewaxman at gmail, or, post publicly as a response in this thread (your preference).  I have spent far less time in this community than most of you and recognize that this paper raises a lot of questions without adequately answering  many (or most) of them.  I don’t know if this will win as many ballots as other papers, but I will consider it a “win” if it spurs dialogue, dissensus, and positive recommendations for making a topic like this debateable.  If this paper can spur anything close to the conversation that Gabe’s facebook post about ‘personal experience’ did, I will be incredibly happy, and honored, and intellectually stimulated.  Also, I will make sure to incorporate your ideas into whatever future work gets put into this paper.   The resolutional wording part of the paper is the hardest because I couldn’t really predict the community’s reaction and I don’t have enough experience with past topic wordings to know what would be best.  If you are interested in the controversy area, then there is plenty of time to work on the wording of the resolution going forward.  We could experiment with different techniques for rez writing, too.  

Looking forward to seeing what you all think!

Respectfully,
Zor

PS (Sorry It's late, 12:09 AM on the 23rd Phoenix time)

« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 01:15:16 AM by zanezor » Logged
kevin kuswa
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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2013, 10:59:39 AM »

Wow, Zane!  Great work, really interesting evidence and comments about debate and the topic process.  This is such a wonderful piece of scholarship and advocacy.  I know it's centered on campaign finance in some ways, but it's also a radical call to act and create change where we know change is most needed.  A point that hit me while reading is that the topic paper itself performs the argument you are making and provides examples of affirmative and negative ground--that is mind-blowing to contemplate.  I'm looking forward to going back for a second read, but I just wanted to thank you for the time and reflection you put into this paper.  Fascinating stuff--we would be extremely lucky as a community to debate this controversy.  On one hand, you might be offering this before the community is quite ready for it, but on the other hand, the time is now and we might just surprise ourselves!  Thanks again, Kevin
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DanielleOGorman
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2013, 01:03:40 PM »

A concern: members of the military cannot engage in the type of political action required to be topical while they are acting in their capacity as military officers (aka, representing the institutions at which they compete, for instance USMA or USNA).  It violates the Hatch Act and subjects them to disciplinary action (which could result in getting kicked out of the military).  I don't know about Army, but Navy has interpreted it to mean that midshipmen cannot campaign in uniform, cannot intern in political campaigns or most offices on the Hill, cannot author or sign petitions (if they are signing them in their official capacity, as a military officer), and cannot attend political rallies in uniform.  Perhaps the answer would be to engage in those activities on their free time--however, midshipmen are only allowed to leave the Academy during official liberty times (generally Saturday and part of Sunday, when they are also traveling for debate), freshmen are never allowed to be out of uniform and sophomores must be over 45 miles away from the Academy before they can be out of uniform (DC is approximately 37 miles away).  This would make it extremely difficult for us to engage the topic.  I am guessing that our siblings in New York would have similar issues.  

Danielle Verney O'Gorman
Navy Debate
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zanezor
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2013, 07:03:09 PM »

Danielle,
Thanks for bringing up a totally legitimate concern that I had not considered.  I have been thinking about possible responses over the course of the day.  Also, on facebook Daniel Overbey raised a similar set of concerns.

Quick Question---do debaters in the military compete in uniform?  I have not had the pleasure of debating a team from Navy or West Point thus far in my career. 

So, I've spent some time trying to figure out the specific restrictions...I found the most useful resource right here: http://www.osc.gov/haFederalFurtherRestrisctionandActivities.htm --- if there is a better location, please let me know!

After reading through these restrictions, I had a couple Initial Thoughts...
1.  They seem to focus on partisan political activity---many advocates of campaign finance reform have flagged it as an explicitly non-partisan cause.  For example, dedicating energy/time/research to advocating for the 'grant and franklin voucher system' could be done without taking any partisan stances.  At the same time, I could conceivably see problems arising in relation to this set of restrictions: May not use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election. For example:

    May not use their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity.

    May not invite subordinate employees to political events or otherwise suggest to subordinates that they attend political events or undertake any partisan political activity.


However, with a little more research (http://www.osc.gov/haStateLocalfaq.htm), it looks like there is potential for engagement in "Non-Partisan Elections" (defined below).  Perhaps a possible affirmative could be designed to advocate for specifically non-partisan set of elections designed to encourage people who refuse to accept big dollar campaign financing.  I don't know if that necessarily makes sense because there would usually be a challenger or incumbent, but perhaps in new districts it would be possible.


"What is a nonpartisan election?

Answer: The Hatch Act defines a nonpartisan election as “an election at which none of the candidates is to be nominated or elected as representing a political party any of whose candidates for Presidential elector received votes in the last preceding election at which Presidential electors were selected.” 5 C.F.R. § 151.101(g); see also 5 U.S.C. § 1503. Examples of political parties that received votes in the last Presidential election are the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green Parties. The Hatch Act does not prohibit covered employees from being candidates in nonpartisan elections."


I think a more feasible idea and affirmative could be designed to create a communications campaign that is focused on explaining why campaign finance is EXPLICITLY NON-PARTISAN, so, working to create a platform to communicate to people of all political persuasions the reasons why special interest corruption is good for nobody.  This could potentially avoid Hatch restrictions because it would be directed

Likewise, the entire "Debate about Debate" portion of the topic would be available to any military debaters, right?  Not to say that that would be the most enticing portion of the idea for you all, but if the point of the topic would be working together to improve the structure of our activity itself, then you probably wouldn't be alone in affirming improvements to the community.

Daniel raised the question of Novice and JV issues with this type of topic, which I don't have a great response to, as of yet.  It seems like there could be a novice-adapted version of the resolution which was explicitly USFG focused, although then the topic becomes a lot more onesided.



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C.J. Clevenger
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2013, 08:48:18 PM »

As someone who has dealt with this issue directly for the last 10 years in the military here are some of my insights that I have learned.

Danielle,
Thanks for bringing up a totally legitimate concern that I had not considered.  I have been thinking about possible responses over the course of the day.  Also, on facebook Daniel Overbey raised a similar set of concerns.

Quick Question---do debaters in the military compete in uniform?  I have not had the pleasure of debating a team from Navy or West Point thus far in my career. 

The issue is also not just uniform, but also using your position in the military OR also while representing the military in any official capacity. For example, if the military pays to send me somewhere, I cannot while at that location engage in ANY political activities outside my duties. If it is on the DOD dime, then it is on their time. So uniform is also not the only issue. And Danielle's concerns also deal with the aspect of the resolution that involves engaging in activities outside of debate tournaments, which is where the Academies run into problem. The Military day does not end. It is 24/7 365 and such regulations apply as such.



So, I've spent some time trying to figure out the specific restrictions...I found the most useful resource right here: http://www.osc.gov/haFederalFurtherRestrisctionandActivities.htm --- if there is a better location, please let me know!

After reading through these restrictions, I had a couple Initial Thoughts...
1.  They seem to focus on partisan political activity---many advocates of campaign finance reform have flagged it as an explicitly non-partisan cause.  For example, dedicating energy/time/research to advocating for the 'grant and franklin voucher system' could be done without taking any partisan stances.  At the same time, I could conceivably see problems arising in relation to this set of restrictions: May not use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election. For example:

    May not use their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity.

    May not invite subordinate employees to political events or otherwise suggest to subordinates that they attend political events or undertake any partisan political activity.

The term partisan has also been used against military service members not just as in republican or democrat but also in reference to issues that there is a divide on the issue regardless of party. Remember, the military is supposed to be a non-political entity. The military can not and would not take an official position. Anyone representing the military can be seen as giving an official position for it. That is where the problem lies.

Any good JAG lawyer worth their weight would immediately tell anyone thinking about being involved in anything potentially to be seen as "political" to stay away from it, sadly. This becomes a serious risk v reward issue played out in real life. As in, is this issue more important than my job, or in this instance more important than my education and the repercussions of being kicked out of school.

However, with a little more research (http://www.osc.gov/haStateLocalfaq.htm), it looks like there is potential for engagement in "Non-Partisan Elections" (defined below).  Perhaps a possible affirmative could be designed to advocate for specifically non-partisan set of elections designed to encourage people who refuse to accept big dollar campaign financing.  I don't know if that necessarily makes sense because there would usually be a challenger or incumbent, but perhaps in new districts it would be possible.


"What is a nonpartisan election?

Answer: The Hatch Act defines a nonpartisan election as “an election at which none of the candidates is to be nominated or elected as representing a political party any of whose candidates for Presidential elector received votes in the last preceding election at which Presidential electors were selected.” 5 C.F.R. § 151.101(g); see also 5 U.S.C. § 1503. Examples of political parties that received votes in the last Presidential election are the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green Parties. The Hatch Act does not prohibit covered employees from being candidates in nonpartisan elections."

New districts would all of a sudden not have Republicans or Democrats running for election? And even if the candidate were independent if a service member were to have the perception of endorsing that candidate they have then engaged in a partisan/political activity. Even school board elections are exempt.


I think a more feasible idea and affirmative could be designed to create a communications campaign that is focused on explaining why campaign finance is EXPLICITLY NON-PARTISAN, so, working to create a platform to communicate to people of all political persuasions the reasons why special interest corruption is good for nobody.  This could potentially avoid Hatch restrictions because it would be directed

Possible (I sent this example to my JAG rep, so I may find out soon), but my initial response from the 10 years of legal briefs on the issue is that you are now lobbying to reform the government, which creates a really grey area that I would not want any part of.

Finally most of the examples don't address the issue that ALL of these must be done out of uniform. Which there are major restrictions to being able to do for Cadets.


Likewise, the entire "Debate about Debate" portion of the topic would be available to any military debaters, right?  Not to say that that would be the most enticing portion of the idea for you all, but if the point of the topic would be working together to improve the structure of our activity itself, then you probably wouldn't be alone in affirming improvements to the community.

Daniel raised the question of Novice and JV issues with this type of topic, which I don't have a great response to, as of yet.  It seems like there could be a novice-adapted version of the resolution which was explicitly USFG focused, although then the topic becomes a lot more onesided.


To say "well atleast you have the debate about debate" seems to run counter to the entire intended purpose of your proposal.

I will let you know what my JAG rep says about the other issues, as it might help inform future ideas.

cjc

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CJC
Trond Jacobsen
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2013, 09:34:28 PM »

"but also in reference to issues that there is a divide on the issue regardless of party"

Would that not be true of literally any policy issue?

I knew many debaters from West Point and and some from Navy when I coached at Cornell who were able to debate the CTBT, ICC, not to mention innumerable scenarios, like the then looming war in Iraq, part 2. I debated a one-time coach at West Point when he and I were younger and he and his partner advocated a new counter-terrorism policy for the United States, (implicitly indicting existing security policy and advocating for a new policy), something which my partner and I argued in our way was not a good idea. I realize you can't speak to advocacy you have not heard, but I cannot imagine that their advocacy or their responses to our advocacy could be viewed as non-partisan if we take your standard here of any issue with a divide regardless of party.

I can certainly see that members of the academies cannot advocate insurrection or bring the United States government or its military into disrepute, but surely if we agree that debate strengthens the mind, and I am sure we do, and we want soldiers with the strongest possible minds, and I am sure we do, some flexibility is provided to participants in sanctioned debate activities, no?
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jregnier
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2013, 10:26:46 PM »

I think the question is whether one treats debate as disputation or debate as activism.  They can make arguments that are partisan as part of an educational exercise, but not as advocacy.  The problem for them is that this topic paper pushes explicitly for the latter.
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DanielleOGorman
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Posts: 58


« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2013, 05:43:48 AM »

I think the question is whether one treats debate as disputation or debate as activism.  They can make arguments that are partisan as part of an educational exercise, but not as advocacy.  The problem for them is that this topic paper pushes explicitly for the latter.

Correct.  We can make partisan arguments, such as a politics disad or an aff that advocates for specific changes, as an explicitly academic exercise, which is what debate has been for us--an academic safe space where we can say things that otherwise might get us in trouble.  (And don't think that we didn't have to fight for the ability to do that too.)  We cannot engage in the underlying political activism this topic area requires.  My debaters cannot host bake sales or start petitions or go to political rallies, because to do so is quite frankly illegal.  I think it is likely that many of them would also not be willing to engage in the "gray areas" you outline--a concern you might share if a different interpretation of your affirmative, by a person who doesn't know anything or care about debate, could get you kicked out of school and your job. 

Clint--thank you for sending to your JAG.  I did not want to unnecessarily pick a fight with alarm mine before voting has even occurred.  I will say that I've received training on the Hatch Act from a JAG (with regard to internships, political science research projects, and faculty sponsored activities) and their explicit advice was to steer midshipmen away from all political involvement to avoid getting into sticky situations in the first place. 

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C.J. Clevenger
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2013, 10:09:45 AM »

Danielle - sent it to mine since mine is not involved in debate in any way, shape or form. So I am able to propose "hypothetical" questions without raising red flags on my end.
He emailed me back and his basic response was that even the caveats, if done in uniform or done during an "official duty day" (which is anytime that the Military is paying for something) which he explained to me that for us on Active Duty includes anytime while on TDY (which I assume would be the samething for the acadamies in terms of when they are at a debate tournament). That those events would be prohibited.
And you are spot on ANY event besides elections can not be done in any official capacity. For instance, there are a group of riders who escort military funerals and create a wall around the funeral to try and keep away people protesting those funerals. While no one in the military would probably disagree with what those motorcycle riders do, if someone is in the service and chooses to ride with that group (which I have before), they are not allowed to wear their uniform and can not conduct that activty while on official duty. So I had to take a day of leave from work and rode without any indication that I was in the military to avoid the perception of partisanship to any particular issue. Best example I can think of off the top of my head, but the perception is often more important than the act.
Short version - if there is a risk that it can be "percieved" as offical representation in ANY partisan issue, NOT just elections, stay away from it.
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CJC
zanezor
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2013, 02:17:58 PM »

Alright, thanks for getting in contact with the right people.  I'm back to the drawing board, and Gordon and I are discussing how best to accommodate your concern in a revised version of the idea.
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