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Debate begins with the first affirmative speaker presenting a prima facie case. The case usually consists of a discussion on why it is needed, how it will work, why it works, and what good it will do. It stands “on its face” when complete with evidence. It is ready to be rebutted. The first affirmative speaker is basically presenting the affirmative advocacy for the round. These are the arguments and the positions that the affirmative team will carry throughout the round.

I am writing because of a noticeable trend lately for affirmative teams to “advocacy shift.” This means that after the 1NC gives his speech, the affirmative team actually “shifts” their position, often accomplished through calling up the terms “clarifying the position” or “expanding the position.” Some teams might refer back to a definition and explain that their definition only allows for positive reforms. Negative teams need to be aware of this trend and prepare for defending against it.

1. Spike It: If you suspect a team is preparing to shift their advocacy, the easiest way to combat this is in the 1NC. Have your intro to your speech give a simple one liner such as “now that the affirmative has presented their advocacy for the round…”

2. CX of 2AC: If the team shifts their advocacy, call them out on it in the CX. Hopefully, you have already put advocacy in the judge’s mind with the simple intro to the 1NC. Now, point out the advocacy shift. Point out the differences between their plan after the 1AC and the plan after the 2AC and ask them if they are changing their case.

3. 2NC: Depending upon the CX answer, you have a few ways you can go about the issue. If they say they aren’t changing their advocacy, then in this speech show the judge exactly what arguments in the 2AC don’t apply and extend your arguments on that point. If they do say they are shifting their advocacy, explain why advocacy shifting should not be allowed – it destroys 8 minutes of negative argumentation. When the 1AC is read, that is what you are expecting to debate for the rest of the round, not constantly shifting ground that could change again in the 1AR. I’m sure you are all clever enough to come up with some good impacts and reasons.

Remember, friends don’t let friends debate shiftily.

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