At the top, let me just say that the outpouring of congratulations means so much to me. I am pretty hit-or-miss when it comes to in-person interactions at tournaments. But I have great respect for so many of the people that put so much time into the activity. I wish I was better at sharing my admiration in the moment, but it is there. Hopefully, engagements like this, after I have a moment to gather my thoughts, can compensate.
I have so many things swirling through my mind that I want to share. We are going to unpack the NDT experience in several parts. Today, I am going to talk about policy prep.
To do so we have to rewind and reveal where we were at by the end of Northwestern. First, the only team who would read an old Aff against us was Georgia. UGA and us were both going to ADA and there were two of them so CEA Neg could never be put to rest.
Second, the trade area was a giant swamp of nonsense. The debate we had against Harvard at Dartmouth shaped a lot of our thinking. I do not think there was an example of us having less residual stuff to say. Treaties/nukes/surveillance all reasonably got to the same thematic presidential powers arguments. Not so much for trade. It led us to think more about topicality, more about trade and to prepare in a way where we focused on having more stuff of substance to say in a similar new Aff situation.
Third, a lot of assignments were going to be advantage area, impact answer and impact turned based. We didn’t know much about what the export control Kazakhstan wheat Aff was going to be about, but one would imagine it would be about Central Asia stability. Is there an energy DA that could use that as the link? People seem to think Indo-Pak war is a reasonable impact to read. Can we make it unreasonable? If given more time I would have cared way more about saying breaking up with every trade partner is good for whatever country. But alas.
Here is a thing about Kentucky in the previous five topics: we never really answered people’s advantages. Some of this was necessitated by the topic. Military presence and war powers just had huge link turn debates. Climate topic got to like 4 impact areas so the Aff would read some, the Neg would read what was leftover and then you just link turn. Similar on health care. Given my previous feelings on impact defense, it was also a personal/stylistic choice to an extent. That approach proved untenable on this nine topics in one resolution.
Fourth, CP’ing in DA’s. States nullify tariffs. The necessary and proper CP read in the finals. Anticipatory overrule with state secrets. My personal contribution against court Affs was to strike down the plan because judicial supremacy is unconstitutional and read Supreme Court bad modules.
So that’s how we were going to insulate ourselves from new Affs: topicality, CP’s that generate DA’s that you can combo with other CP’s, impact turns (with our main premise looking into more war good and energy type DA’s, but also doing random ones as we worked through things (like we read China IP theft good at ADA)).
I have not mentioned anything about Aff prep at this point. That’s because having Truf on your team is really unfair. We put this dude out on an island and he just makes Affs happen. Pretty sure he wrote the most NFU advantages in the country (I knew this about single payer, but I am just guessing here. If I am wrong, let me know). At the beginning of ADA he had: new version of China adv (got read), BMD adv (got read), RevCon adv (got read), Russia adv (got read), Iran adv (got read) and new CMR stuff for Rule of 2 (didn’t get read). The only NFU policy debate BT lost was one in which they dropped a DA.
In the finals of Gonzaga, we disclosed new against Emory. That Aff was the PCA surveillance Aff read in semi’s of the NDT. We then convinced ourselves we may not come up with better ideas and we should save it for the NDT. As demonstrated by kicking the Aff and impact turning food prices in the 1AR, we were obviously very astute in our quality judgements.
The other Aff that was floating around since the summer was 337. This Aff was like 60 to 70% done most of the year, but whenever it was brought up Truf just said it was garbage. Not garbage enough to scrap, but not good enough to read against a first round team. Then the week before ADA Truf says he had been doing the searches all wrong and 337 went from garbage to really good. How things change! So 337 got hoisted back onto the slate.
The other idea that stuck was “The United States federal government should compel executive exit from treaties and congressional-executive agreements underlying leases in perpetuity of land to the United States of America, including the lease of land in Guantánamo, on the basis that such leases are illegal.”
Force exit from treaties is the ultimate mutilation of this topic based on the operational changes/force sanctions/power is discretion logic. That and the fact that this guy Michael J. Strauss obsessively wrote about this area for at least 10 years.
There were two groupings as far as Affs go. The first was Harvard/Northwestern/Emory. Weren’t really going to read NFU against them. ESR and politics type DA’s are a concern, but less so. Harvard obviously goes for the Zivitosky DA a lot. Northwestern really likes being Neg against NFU and less so other stuff. Emory bit of a mixed bag. Did ESR a good chunk with midterms, but less after the election, but could still do ESR and war powers. They also could do an area DA or maybe a tricky CP.
The second grouping was Berkeley/UGA’s/UNLV. These teams like ESR/Treaties and politics/2020 (or oversight type DA’s). This is where Truf gets some help. We call in Kenny McCaffrey and tell him to start an Aff that can beat ESR, treaties, politics and 2020 and has something to say if a new process CP gets read. We told him we could probably make any idea T. He came back with the Unmasking Aff that was read during round 7 against UGA RS. One ballot on case and no politics. Two ballots on no case, but politics straight turn. Mission accomplished. Thanks Kenny, you are incredible!
We decided Gitmo vs Harvard for Zivitosky reasons. We said 337 against NU because it is pretty far removed from the Congress trade and sanctions files you would write first. We slated PCA vs Emory because of a debate they had in doubles of Wake where their biz didn’t look too hot. The nature of this topic meant that some areas just never really got figured out and we were hoping surveillance was that one for Emory.
The other two policy first rounds, Michigan and Kansas, we weren’t sure what to do. Could debate them early and just read NFU. Could debate them in elims when one of our Affs is freed up to break.
Given the way things had played out to that point it was interesting trying to figure out how much we should say NFU. Our record with it was very good. The innovation to date in that part of the topic was anemic. And now we are at the point where people are crunched, they are assuming new Affs in a lot of debates and they probably have one or two areas that have not gotten a lot of attention. That is a recipe for not producing fancy NFU Neg for the NDT. So we were ready and willing to read NFU with new advantages against UGA/Berkeley/UNLV/Michigan/Kansas. Depending on the pairing we were probably willing to do it twice, but only had to do it once against Berkeley in round 5. If we debated one of them in round 3 or 4 too we probably would have said NFU.
It was very very nice having such a tight plan of action on the Aff. Final Truf tally: NFU, Rule of 2, INF, PCA, Unmasking, Gitmo, 337. Just fucking incredible.
I had cards for a deference Aff that had Congress change the rules for when a regulation could get deference if it attempted to preempt the states. Standard Kentucky federalism business for advantage one, but advantage two was about preemption trading off with state torts for consumer protection which got to another set of domestic impacts. I really thought a Congress deference Aff would wreck people since most did not demonstrate any ability to go for like an agency flexibility DA. Alas.
Where did we leave off with the Neg? Oh right, debating new Affs EXCEPT for those pesky UGA folks. Two top ten UGA teams. ADA and the NDT. So that is a total of four chances to be Neg against CEA’s. I wish I could say we had four different Neg’s, but we did not. The first was impact turning nonprolif which happened in ADA semifinals. The second was what happened in the finals which was the brainchild of Seth Gannon. Here is my relation to this argument: I trust Seth completely, I never opened it, I do not recall the origin story and the only thing I do remember is it seeming like he tinkered with that file every Sunday and Monday of a tournament since after Gonzaga I think? I think we were sitting on ex ante CEA’s for a while.
I wanted to write more sophisticated turns based on arms control/emerging tech being bad, but ran out of time. If we had to have more debates with them, we would have focused on CP’ing DA’s or sparking them or something.
We have reached the end of part 1, what we were thinking about and working on for policy debates going into the NDT. In future parts: prepping vs critiques, thoughts on files I worked on, the ADA, the NDT itself and an ode to seniors.
I am Lincoln, retired debate coach . This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.