Our elite Mastership Sourcebooks for NCFCA and Stoa will release soon! Check them out here!

Blah-blah-blah. Hot off the presses! New resolutions! We’ve published four of these bad boys in the past month so you know the drill. 😉  Check out our TP analysis here as well as our analysis for Stoa’s resolutions here and here!

Without further ado, here is our analysis of the 2017-2018 voting options for the NCFCA LD resolutions.

Devin Radford:

Resolved: Nationalism ought to be valued above Globalism

Discussion that Could Theoretically Happen:

  • The purpose of the international community
  • The benefits and consequences of nations adopting various economic doctrines
  • Assimilation of cultures within one country; multiculturalism and pluralism
  • Individual attitudes towards one’s own country in relation to others

What WILL Happen:

  • Repurposed Individualism/Collectivism and Isolationism/Interventionism cases from a myriad of years.
  • More policy analysis debates, fewer principle and value debates.
  • Arguing along pre-drawn partisan lines. This could very well be the most politically-charged resolution of the last ten years.
  • Incredibly biased judging. This resolution will hit very close to home for the vast majority of your judge pool — and impartial opinions on the political spectrum are incredibly rare (especially given the current American political climate). This resolution will put a heavy strain on current league objectivity measures for judging.
  • Lots of post-tournament frustration. Imagine getting a surly, Mom-and-Pop-shop Southern man as a community judge in a National Open break round…and you’re Negative.
  • Squirrel cases. You WOULDN’T want to put yourself in such a position. Therefore, many debaters will likely find squirrely ways of defining globalism so that they do not actually have to defend real globalism. In the same way, nationalism is often portrayed negatively, so this term may also be defined abusively. You like definition debates, right?

What Definitely Won’t Happen:

  • The Elephants and Donkeys won’t be friends in the end.

…The catch-22 is that this is a GOOD debate topic. Timely, too. However, it’s a terrible resolution for this particular format and style of debate. Depending on your region, you will have 13 minutes to alter your judge’s perception on one of the most crucial underpinnings of their political worldview. That is if you can even establish what “valuing globalism” entails. Also get ready for MAGA 2AR’s.

Resolved:  In the realm of higher education, liberal arts ought to be valued above practical skills training.

Discussion that Could Happen:

  • The economic utility of classical education vs trades/apprenticeships/technical schools
  • Whether it’s possible to accurately predict future socioeconomic conditions
  • Short term vs long term investments in human capital
  • Potential solutions to unemployment
  • Reconciling the rapid growth of technology and automation with “the human element”

What WILL Happen:

  • Warmed-over STOA scraps. For those that don’t know, Stoa debated nearly the exact same topic in the 2015-2016 season. Old content from veteran debaters, sourcebooks, and club leaders would resurface, which defeats the whole purpose of a fresh topic (new learning, new discussions, etc.). New angles and approaches are theoretically possible, but recent years of competition seem to suggest that if something CAN be repurposed, it will be. Not to mention the hundreds of cross-league competitors who have already debated this topic. Who would want to debate the same resolution twice?
  • Linear to a fault. The 2015-2016 STOA resolution was virtually identical, with the minor tweak of specifying “formal education” rather than “higher education”. This tweak is perplexing because on one hand, it does clarify the direction of the discussion to exclusively post-high-school academia, but on the other, doing so significantly limits an already-concise topic area. Indeed, most debaters I interacted with a couple years ago were burnt out and frustrated by the education rez well before NITOC — and it was only debated in competition for a couple months!

Once again, this is a relevant discussion to teenage debaters, since they will soon face the practical end of this question firsthand, but its past usage and stale content sway its capacity for growth and positive impact in the wrong direction. Simply debating about this topic without contemplating it on a personal level robs the topic of its value. Material of this sort is easily outweighed by academic advising, internships, apprenticeships, working a job, or personal development.

Resolved: In a just society, government ought to provide for the social welfare of its citizens.

Discussion that Could Happen:

  • What is implied by “justice”, informed by Plato, Aquinas, Hume, and the like
  • The success or failure of current immigration systems
  • 80+ years of domestic social policy
  • A more than skin-deep commentary on the Social Contract
  • The justification of federal taxation


What WILL Happen:

  • Greater potential than most for definition debates. My goodness, vague terminology galore! It’s refreshing to see a fact resolution up for grabs again (last time was Moral Obligation year), but this iteration contains a handful of oblique terms. There is a justice debate explicitly integrated, followed by questions about what’s implied by “provide for” and “social welfare”. That’s a lot of dominos to set up in order to have a debate about principles and values.
  • More political bias. If there was a competitor to option A’s flirtation with current political hardlines, this is it. All the same judging difficulties apply, though perhaps to a lesser extent; this resolution is easier to see both sides of.

Despite being Mach 12.0 of the “individual vs govt” debate, this resolution is viable. It has sufficient room for healthy debate and is underpinned by plenty of material to study and absorb. The handful of definable terms may pave the way for diverse (and potentially squirrely) interpretations, but this is a comparatively small price to pay, when compared to the other options.

Joel Erickson:

Resolved: Nationalism ought to be valued above Globalism

While this resolution proposal is refreshingly innovative compared to previous NCFCA LD resolutions and portends a unique and intriguing meta-ideological conflict, it remains marred by a couple factors. As terms with nebulous and disputed meanings, nationalism and globalism presage definition-dominated rounds. Furthermore, both overarching philosophies carry substantially negative connotations. Picture every dictator you dream up + the purview of Middle Eastern history for nationalism and corrupt and inept international organizations and coalitions for globalism. This strands debaters in fairly nihilistic straits as they adjudicate between invariably corrupt political institutions which are, in essence, merely different configurations of inherently depraved people. This is all notwithstanding the (practically irresistible for many) temptation to stigmatize the other side w/ negative examples. If this debate was confined to the economic sphere and non “democide” domains, it could be decent. Don’t count on it. Save this rez for NPDA however. It would generate a meltdown among debaters used to springing a kritik upon detecting the slightest inkling of nationalism or globalism now forced to debate both.

Resolved:  In the realm of higher education, liberal arts ought to be valued above practical skills training.

Not only does this resolution have an excellent literature base, robust philosophical depth, and thought-provoking argument but it is also pertinent for any high-schooler contemplating his or her vocation. Affording you 2500+ years of philosophical history, this rez encourages you to explore Aristotelian arguments for human flourishing and soul shaping alongside Deweyian paradigms of practicality. Detractions include deeply entrenched biases for judges and potential debate rounds devoid of clear clash (tautological Affs that subsume Neg benefits vs. balanced Negs). Moreover, as Stoa debated an incarnation of this resolution in the 2015-2016 season, the best way to determine the merits of this resolution would be to consult those who have experienced it.

Resolved: In a just society, government ought to provide for the social welfare of its citizens.

Captivating conflict here, with a rich philosophical heritage that would be more interesting had NCFCA not repackaged the role of government debate yet again. On the flipside, the phraseology invites a more adequate philosophical investigation than debaters have conducted in years past. Although it foreshadows another year of quibbling over resolutional interpretation for entire rounds and engenders significant bias due to the AFF/NEG divergence along political faultlines, this resolution offers you the opportunity to stage the freedom vs. equity debate the right way. Reassess economic thinking from Hayek to Keynes and Smith to Marx. Survey global economic systems from Denmark to Australia and Sweden to Hong Kong. Discuss deontological justifications for the government’s jurisdiction in economics from Locke, Hobbes, Hume, and Mill.

Noah Farley:

Resolved: Nationalism ought to be valued above Globalism

Pro: Critical Topic

This resolution covers an extremely important topic area.  The entire society has some stake in this matter.  Entire elections are being fought over this one issue, such as the French election only a few days ago.  Understanding this conflict will expose debaters to a civilization-shaping issue and allow them to better engage in the many contemporary discussions about it.

Con 1: Connotation

The issue here is that these words are not nice words.  Nationalism has many negative connotations to it- a belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own nation, an association with fascist regimes, and a blind rejection of the virtues of other countries.  Globalism has many similar negative connotations, such as one-world governments, a loss of national sovereignty, and blame for the decline of American manufacturing.  This means that many will seek to escape these associations with abusive definitions and many debate rounds will devolve into arguments about whose unfair interpretation is more appropriate.  While the negatives aren’t as serious with globalism, they are more likely to be widely held in this audience, which is actually my second point.  

Con 2: Hot Topic 

NCFCA admits as much in their own discussion of the resolution options: “This is a politically charged topic,” There’s a big consequence to using political hot topics as debate resolutions: charged topics mean charged opinions.  I for example, believe that Brexit was the UK’s worst move since the Suez Crisis, and fiercely oppose many of Trump’s more nationalistic actions.  But much of the judge pool will see the EU as a terrible thing and Trump as the best president since Reagan.  And these opinions will be tightly held.  Choosing such a hot topic inevitably leads to frustration with attempting to persuade judges.

Resolved:  In the realm of higher education, liberal arts ought to be valued above practical skills training.

Pro 1: New Ground

At least for NCFCA this is new ground (Stoa already has debated a superior version of this resolution).  NCFCA has mostly stuck to government-centric topics in the past, but this is a topic where the purpose of education and what’s best for individuals rather than nations is at stake.  

Pro 2: Research-heavy

After having debated a similar resolution for half a season last year, I can say for certain that this topic will involve lots of statistics and discussion about what is the best outcome.  There is plenty of data to study about the outcomes of this very choice, which means that debaters will be looking at it.  Now this could be either a pro or a con depending on how you look at it, but I tend to think that LDers need to do more research so I’ve listed it as a pro here.  

Con: Unrealistic Conflict

As I’ve mentioned before, Stoa has covered this resolution in the past, only with the term “formal education” instead of higher education.  What the NCFCA resolution does is cut out the majority of education from consideration.  Negatives can argue that grade school is the place for liberal arts, and people going to college are getting ready for jobs.  Now the resolution is about whether a liberal arts degree or a professional degree is better, and that calculus tips strongly toward the negative, especially given the new emphasis on STEM education.

Resolved: In a just society, government ought to provide for the social welfare of its citizens.

Pro: Lots of Material

This is a question that has been asked and answered by the world’s greatest philosophers for centuries on end.  Since governments have existed for thousands of years as well, there are plenty of applications to draw from as well.

Con 1: Absolute Burden

This resolution only requires that Affirmative prove one thing- that governments have any obligation to provide for social welfare.  This similarly means that Negatives must prove that the government has no obligation whatsoever to provide for social welfare.  Gone are discussions about the virtues of a Scandinavian-style welfare state vs. Locke’s social contract.  My prediction is that Negatives will have a hard time proving that governments have no obligation to provide for social welfare, since most people, however libertarian they are, think that the government has some business in welfare.

Con 2: Bias

Any liberal judges are going to be convinced the resolution is true already, especially anyone who believes that health insurance or welfare programs are a right.  Moderates will most likely have a strong implicit bias toward Affirmative.  Similarly, even conservatives are likely to believe that the government ought to provide for the poor in some way.  Even many libertarians support, however minimal, some form of a safety net.  Due to the burden presented in this resolution, most Affirmatives, I predict, will choose to focus on programs like Medicaid and WIC which target the most vulnerable members of society and which most people support in some form, which again, makes Negative an uphill battle.

Isaiah McPeak’s Quick Thoughts:

Resolved: Nationalism ought to be valued above Globalism

Nationalism vs. Globalism is a lot like “individualism vs. collectivism” except USA vs. UN. I think I know where it’s going: DEFINITION DEBATE. All the NEGs defining globalism as something wonky so they don’t have to defend what the rez says. Gnarly (in a bad way).

Resolved:  In the realm of higher education, liberal arts ought to be valued above practical skills training.

Lol @Stoa. Anyhow. “Since students are considered to have received a comprehensive liberal arts education at grammar schools,” (thank you Wikipedia for backing me up) higher education in the rez makes the topic a wee bit silly. If you did liberal arts education right, high school debate is the capstone of your “rhetoric-stage” learning. cough cough That thing we’re doing is an expression of NEG side of the rez, along with enlightenment thinkers, Aristotle, Plato, uh… history. You know.

Resolved: In a just society, government ought to provide for the social welfare of its citizens.

I’m happy to see a fact rez reappear in LD and them not calling this “LD Value Debate” but just Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Correct! But when writing a topic, the fewer terms the better. This resolution is X (govt) ought to provide (Y) for the social welfare (Z) of its citizens (A)… because it’s JUST?!?! (B). Based on how conservative demographics tend to feel about justice as an eternal principle, the contrapositive of the statement is: UNLESS a government provides for the social welfare of its citizens, that government is UNJUST. Good luck!

Final Thoughts?

Devin: Vote C–also, have you considered TP??

Joel: Vote C… But do TP. 🙂

Noah: With great reluctance I say that the best choice is B, followed by A and C in that order.  Look forward to a year of debate absent discussions of the purpose of government and a healthy focus on the philosophy of education.

Isaiah: Do TP.

%d bloggers like this: