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If I’ve learned anything from Joseph, it’s the fact that any and every affirmative case needs to have something called “advocacy”. Having advocacy for your plan means that somebody – hopefully an expert – says that your plan should be passed. The first question I will usually see Joseph ask when confronted with an odd affirmative is “Advocacy, plz?” or “You canz have advocacy?” This question never gets too old. Its existence is the reason Ethos always works to provide affirmative cases with strong advocacy – we don’t want to leave you without a good response to this question.

That being said, I want to emphasize two things:

Firstly, most of you are hopefully looking for an affirmative case right now. If you’re like me, you don’t want to run the most common case out there – you want to pick something a little unique, and hopefully something that will throw negatives off a little. There’s nothing wrong with having a surprise element to your case, and I’ll have you know that there are quite a few of those cases out there, but as you’re looking for one, make sure that you don’t neglect advocacy.

Some debaters, and to be fair I’ll only speak for myself here, can sometimes have an air about themselves which makes them prone to think that their ideas are always right. I want to let you guys in on a secret: “WE’RE NOT EXPERTS!!! …..Yet.” As much as we don’t want to realize it, we’re just high-school students. Some of you are really, really smart – but that doesn’t mean that you can read a few articles, put two-and-two together, make up a case and be an expert on the issue (okay, maybe some of you can, lol). The fact of the matter is that in the real world, the opinion of a teenager in politics doesn’t usually mean much… unless it’s backed up by expert opinion.

That’s why the affirmative cases you will find in most sourcebooks come with a section on advocacy, or at least evidence mixed in the backup that will double for advocacy. You’re going to want to convince the judge that experts recommend your plan, that experts examined/studied the harm in the status quo and recommended your plan to solve for it. Otherwise, your arguments hold no water.

This leads me to my next exhortation:

With a resolution as broad and vague as this one, you’re going to hit squirrelly cases. It’s inevitable. As much as most people hate these little furry devils, some people tend to find them… attractive : You’ll be lucky if you don’t hit any this year.

Knowing this, you need to keep the advocacy question in your back pocket. When you hit a new case, the first question to pop into your head should be: “You canz have advocacy?!” Okay, maybe you don’t need to use that exact wording, but you get my point. Keep in mind as well that this isn’t some last resort question, but one of the best arguments you can bring into a round. At nationals last year, my partner and I hit a case in the third round that had no direct advocacy. The debaters we really smart, and they had a pretty nifty affirmative – but they didn’t have any evidence saying specifically that their plan should be done. Needless to say, we argued the point throughout the whole round, and won largely because of it. As a result, we went 4-2 and were able to break and place 11th overall. Thank goodness for the advocacy question 🙂

Given the fact that this is a really good weapon to keep in your arsenal, I’d like to leave with a little more than an “order”. Some of you may be thinking: “Gee, thanks. You’ve told me to argue advocacy… But how do I do it?” For those of you who would like an outline on how to run a successful advocacy-press, here’s one that Joseph “Sammy” Samelson wrote last year:


A. Interpretation – Need Advocate

            The Case needs an advocate

The Affirmative team need’s a plan advocate, or someone saying the plan will work. We’ll explain why in the impacts and voters. For now, just know that the aff needs an advocate.

B. Violation – No Advocate

            You saw this one coming

The Affirmative team has provided no advocacy for their plan. They are basing the solvency of their case off of their own assumptions.

C. Impacts and Voters – Not having an Advocate = bad

            Fairness 1

No one writes articles saying “wow, it would be a really bad idea to do ZYX (the affirmative team’s plan)” because there aren’t any advocates for doing it. There’s no argument in the literature over this subject, which means there’s no way to research it. That kills neg ground and education in the round since we aren’t discussing real policy issues.

            Fairness 2

The case is entirely unpredictable – doing neg prep becomes pointless if affs can pull ideas out of their heads that have no grounding in the literature.

            Literature Check

Demanding advocacy is a literature check. It makes sure that hair-brained cases aren’t just thrown together because it was just some random idea. Advocacy is an experts opinion that gives credence to a case. Without advocacy, we have no idea if it will actually work. 


Please keep in mind that there are a gazillion more ways to impact the advocacy argument. Joseph put this together specifically to be argued against the “Cut Environmental Foreign Aid” case last year. There are nice impacts in there, but be sure to innovate and create your own : ) Just remember, whether you’re writing an affirmative case, or putting together a quick 1NC against a case you’ve never heard before, be sure to ask the question: “You canz have advocacy?”

 Thanks for your time. Peace out 😛

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