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Every year, teams face confusion over exactly what fiat power is and how it works. Many teams think that fiat power is the ability to “pass” the plan and put it in effect. This misunderstanding leads to some negative teams utilizing arguments to show the affirmative plan will be overturned (by Congress or by “unconstitutional”) or lobbied against which leads to some very shallow and uninteresting debate rounds. These arguments also go against the very fundamental debate reasoning of why fiat power exists.

So, if fiat power isn’t the ability to “pass” the plan, what is it exactly? Let’s start with the resolution. The resolution utilizes the word “should” which is a verb expressing what “ought to be” (not what could be or what might be, but what ought to be – look up deontic modality verbs if you want to know more). This idea is important to understand as we move through the next idea.

Inherency is why the plan “can’t be” and it is something the affirmative team must overcome. Inherency includes politics, lobbyists, etc. It is all the reasons a plan isn’t in existence now or couldn’t be put in existence. The word “should” in the resolution actually allows the affirmative team to overcome what “can’t be” to put in place what “ought to be.”

And here we get to the magic of fiat. It isn’t the ability to “pass” a plan. Fiat power actually brings a plan into immediate existence as defined by the affirmative team. One moment the plan doesn’t exist; the next moment it does exist in its full glory – “Let It Be Done”. This gives each side space to discuss what will happen next. The debate centers around the plan itself and not around the vagaries of congress, politicians, lobbyists, or constitutional interpretation. The affirmative has overcome that inherent barrier and it is no longer in play in the round. The entire idea is that we can focus on the clash within the plan. We can focus upon the discussion of what makes a good policy, not the making of a good policy. Debating about policy is not making policy. Focusing on that which fiat covers undermines good debate.

15 Second Theory Block – Fiat Power

Now, create your own 15 Second Theory block on the meaning and use of fiat power.

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