Friday, May 8, 2009


Too many times after asking my kids or others at tournaments how their round went I get an answer like, “We lost we didn’t have any offense on the da.” So??? Not having offense on a DA should not mean an auto aff lose. While with some (read most) judges controlling things like issue specific Uniqueness makes it easier to win a bigger risk of a DA, the lack of offense does not mean a negative victory.

Now before I explain how to effectively utilize defense to win debates I will say this, offense is good, its good to have link turns or an impact turn to a disad. An ideal situation is combining your offensive and defensive args together to beat a disad. Seldom should the 2ar straight turn the disad, straight turns should be utilized earlier in the debate to either make the debate smaller, or stick a team to an argument you have the goods on.

Defense and the meta-game.

Lots of different people discuss the “meta-game” and how it relates to debate (and I’m sure I will write more about the meta-game and other debate topics) but a safe way to define meta-game is big picture thinking. The debate is not multiple sheets of paper that function independently of each other but one big multi-headed hydra that needs to be addressed in conjunction with each other. If the 2nr goes for states cp and politics da, while those are 2 independent positions they make up ONE strategy and must be addressed as ONE strategy not TWO separate issues.

Lets face it, the negative is usually going to win some risk of the disad (assuming they don’t totally concede some arguments in which case you probably did not lose on no offense), so assuming they do win some risk of their disad the job is now to discredit the relative risk of the disad.

Disad vs Case

In this 2nr, the 2nr is almost always investing serious time going for reasons the disad turns the case along with some solvency takeouts or some impact defense. As a 2ar this 2nr strategy usually made me nice and cozy inside. Your aff is good (presumably) you’ve got some big beefy impacts with some solid internal links. Another benefit the affirmative has is that judges are usually aff leaning in the context of case arguments. This means that for the negative to mitigate the impact to the case they need to do significantly more work beating up the case then the aff does defending the case.

To contextualize this better lets assume the AFF is RPS with competitiveness (hege and econ impacts) and warming versus a health care politics disad with a bioterrorism (Steinbrenner) and economy impact.

Assuming I could not win a link turn to the disad (who are we kidding, of course I could) assuming YOU cannot win a link turn to the disad smart defensive arguments you can and should be making to mitigate the disad

1.) Non-Unique- AE being debated now / will be debating inevitably

2.) No Ev of a specific health care bill

3.) Obama has already spent PC on energy and didn’t lose

4.) Timeframe for bio terror is a joke

5.) How health care solves for bioterror is a bigger joke

6.) Steinbrenner assumes a huge new influenza being used as a weapon, swine flu proves an outbreak of new virus’s won’t be deadly

7.) No bio terror (no motivation, not feasible any thing in this arena)

8.) Aff’s I/L to the economy is significantly bigger then the disads.

If you had ZERO cards on the health care disad assuming you won a decent risk of your case these arguments if executed well could be enough to win your aff o/w the disad.

Its also particularly important to do this when a team reads a new politics da because its NEVER an issue at the top of the agenda and the negative is always going to tell you to default to issue specific U, which is basically always garbage. Obama saying he supports something does not mean its at the top of the agenda. You almost never hear a president say I don’t care about X issue. The vaguer the da the worse the ev and i/l ev for it is.

Its all about the packaging

Anyone who tells you otherwise is clueless. If you want to win big debates you need to be the one telling the more convincing story.

If I was giving the 2ar in this spot I would make sure to start off discussing how the risk of the Warming adv or competitiveness advantage was larger then the risk of a mitigated disad and why my internal links to the economy and hegemony were larger then that of the disad’s and EVEN IF they won that the plan was contentious in congress there was no guarantee the plan would derail a health care bill that may or may not exist and that things like bioterror were much more improbable then our warming impact and how that systemic impact out weighed the risk of a bioterror attack that hasn’t been proven feasible or even an extinction level impact.

This is obviously a rough rubric for what a 2ar should do in that spot, but the point is this, aggressively extending these defensive arguments in the context of discrediting the disad at the U, Link and Impact level raises a significant doubt to the disad vis a vis the aff. If you can prove to the judge that it is a bigger stretch for the negatives impact claim to be true then it is for your affs to be true, you will win.

Disad + CP vs Case

Now the existence of the CP obviously makes it harder for the aff to beat then the disad vs case alone. In this context the 2ar needs to focus on how the Magnitude of the Solvency deficit to the CP O/W the risk of the disad (explaining all the problems with the disad)

Tips for executing this in the 2ar

1.) use the 2nr prep time to write this stuff out, its free prep time for you, figure out what you think they are going to go for and explain how your aff’s i/ls access it better or why its mitigated

2.) DO NOT give the 2ar overview where the 2nr did their impact work, consider doing it on the adv flow you are winning. Have it separate and distinct, the only thing you should do at the top of the 2nr’s impact assessment is answer the disad turns the case arguments. The reason for this is that when you give it on the 2nr’s work you invariably spend too much time to trying to mitigate their work and not enough time selling the impacts your aff.

3.) Start off the 2ar with this work, too many times debaters wait till halfway through the 2ar or 2nr to do their impact assessment / work. Doing it at the top gives the judge the big picture story you are selling 20-30 seconds into the speech not 2:30 into it. It helps make your 2ar and 2nr sound better. You are a used car salesman in these 2 speeches and how you sell it will determine if the judge is buying or not

4.) Point out how dumb a strictly offense/defense based system is for evaluating disads- taken to its extreme if those were the only answers I made on the health care da the 2nc could group it say no offense in the 2ac on the da evaluate from offense defense perspective extinction boom. While an argument might not be an offensive reason the plan is good, if it discredits the thesis of the negative’s claim it should mean the judge should diminish the probability of their arg. Many times the aff loses because the 2nr makes an arg like evaluate it from offense defense if we control the direction of the link there’s only a risk the plan causes something bad. The phrase only a risk is usually code for we don’t have much here so hopefully this works.

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