For introductory purposes, I was not originally planning on submitting this article to be published here, on the Ethos site because I know I might develop a bad reputation of being an advocacy hater (but due to a push from my partner, it’s published). This article simply lays out several responses to the typical advocacy press if you happen to be an affirmative that lacks advocacy and has this argument run against you. [It also is some what of a response to Wolkie’s blog post about how vital plan advocates are.]
As Amy wrote in a previous post (and Ridenour, in a post of his own), debating with advocacy is just like debating with evidence. Is it absolutely necessary, in order to win? No. Is it a good idea? Yes. Can you survive with out it? Yes. For both my first and second year debating, the cases I ran (Kashmir Mediation and Carbon Tax) required extremely detailed advocacy. This year, though, Caroline and I ran a case that had zero advocacy. Sure, we had experts agreeing with harms, impacts, statements from Russian officials, et cetera, but no specific advocate. Did every (virtually) every team argue advocacy? Yes. Did we ever lose on it? Nope. Except once against Sadler/Sadler when I know we lost the round but I can’t remember if advocacy factored into the RFD. But here are some basic universal aff responses…
1. No Impact
As we hit the same advocacy argument round after round, I noticed that almost no one ever provided an impact. In fact, some where in the vicinity of only one out of ten teams ever provided and impact to no advocacy. Now even when they did provide an impact, it was usually something lame like “this means they won’t solve” (no duh…I was puzzled as to why you labeled it “Solvency”…thanks for clarifying). Still, if they don’t impact it, call them on it—especially for this argument.
2. No Solvency Barrier
Not only does the negative need to provide a half-decent impact to their advocacy press, but they also need to show how a lack of advocacy prevents the plan from succeeding. In all seriousness, simply because you or I do not quote and individual with fancy letters at the end of his name does not mean that our policy will fail, and the converse is just as true.
If an affirmative mandates sending a team of astronauts to Mars, we know that it will fail because of current technological limitations. If an affirmative mandates sending a team of astronauts to Mars and quotes an advocate saying it is a good idea, it is still going to fail. If an affirmative mandates re-shingling the White House roof to fix a leaky roof problem, this is going to work because is the logical solution to a leaky roof. If an affirmative mandates a new roof job for the White House and quotes a roofing expert as an advocate, the roof job will still work, even though they do have advocacy. Quoting a scholar is a magic fix for just about nothing.
3. Real-World Policy Making
Congressional policy makers don’t stand before the Speaker of the House with a piece of white printer paper that has a Ph.D who says, “this is a good idea”. So, how do they make and recommend policy changes? They conduct research, consult a wide variety of experts, compile and analyze the facts. After this has been done, they produce a bill. How does an advocacy-free affirmative make a case? Conduct research, pull articles from a wide variety of experts, compile and analyze the facts, then write a case. Nothing is different between the affirmative and Congress.
4. Turn Education
As affirmative, you can turn the impact of “education hurt” super fast. Teams may say that just because you/we don’t have an advocate, it reduces debate to the exchanging of ideas that come from high schooler’s brains. As dangerous as that sounds, it’s not true. Instead of being fed ideas by reading articles and copy+pasting portions of the law reviews as advocacy, what harm is there in using your brain, developing a logical policy, and debating about it. After all, if the advocacy-free case you are debating is super dumb, you’re negative—you can show how dumb it is easily win. (Everyone loves an easy win.)
Although most wouldn’t argue this inside a round, some would say, “if you’re policy is really a good idea, you should be able to find some sort of advocacy. If you can’t, then don’t run it.” There is definitely something to be said for learning from the experts; people who have spent their entire career researching and studying X topic. All the same, if you have a case that is logical, not too radical or unbelievable, don’t be afraid to run it just because you don’t have an advocate. As Amy mentioned, advocacy is good, but not vital.
I want to put a caveat on this whole article, though. Some cases give you no option but to ditch them if you cannot find advocacy. For example, if you create a policy or reform a policy in some way or initiate a complex international cooperative procedure, you must have advocacy for the small and important details of your plan. The mandates for the IPR case, for example, require detailed advocacy. But if you just abolish a law or something extremely simple, don’t ditch a good case because you don’t have advocacy (don’t kill yourself looking for advocacy, either).
Use your brain, Ph.D’s are not wizards, and debate, which is supposed to be an educationally rigorous activity, can be enjoyed with or without advocacy.
Cartoon Taken from: http://baloocartoons.wordpress.com/ [found via google images]