It is thought that if you can get your 1AC in perfect running order, then you can (in theory) win 50% of your rounds, and this is true. So instead of telling ya’ll a specific case that I favor this year, I’m just going to list criteria for what I’ve found makes a defendable 1AC.
Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS)
I’ve always found that simplicity is key or as my grandfather use to say: you should adhere to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). This is true for the case, but more importantly the plan. If your mandates are long and confusing, then you will be left with a confused round and a confused judge; however, if you can present a mandate that is simplistic and short then you will have a overall clean debate round.
The strategy of writing confusing plans in order to confuse your opponent is shady and counterproductive. The end result is a lack of clash (because the negative team has no idea what you are doing) and a lost judge who, in the end, will vote for the better speakers (because he doesn’t understand the flow). However, if you are able to represent an easily understandable plan, then it will not matter if the negative team is disorganized and illogical because the judge will go with what’s easiest to understand. Overall, it is best to KISS at all times if you possible can.
A Supportable Goal/Value/Criterion
Some people say that values have no place in policy debate; that there should be no overlap between LD (Lincoln Douglas) and TP (Team Policy). I would have to disagree. In the five years that I debated, I never wrote a 1AC without either a goal or a value, and when people, in or out of the debate round, would say that policy debate has no place for values, then I would ask them to name one policy that was not motivated by a value or a goal. Every policy is valuing something i.e. national or economic security, human life, justice, environmental preservation etc. So the first thing to determine when writing a 1AC is what your goal is or what your policy is valuing. If you find that your policy is a lame-o policy and you are simply saving a few daisies, then you need to reevaluate. Once you’ve figured out what the point of your policy is, then you explain why that value matters.
In the debate round, values and criteria are ridiculously helpful in outweighing. For example, if in the 1AC you provide a value of the quality of life, and then you have the criterion of human health, and then, on top of all that, you can demonstrate that your policy will increase human health, then any of their disadvantages that don’t impact human health are a waste of the negative teams time. Honestly, you should find a good team that understands values and criteria and watch how they outweigh using these tools.
Carefully Worded Tags, Transitions, and Mandates
Hopefully, you all recognize the importance of tags. In a 1AC, there are no excuses for giving weak-sauce, sloppy tags; however, on the other hand, this is not the time to impress the judge with your large vocabulary and force them to write “Enhanced Environmental Degradation ” instead of “Increased Environmental Harm.” There is also something to be said in carefully wording your tag lines to not overstate your solvency. If my solvency tag was “Solve World Hunger” then I’m in a world of hurt; however, if I were to rewrite the tag to say “Reduce World Hunger,” then I should be able to prove solvency. You would think that this goes without saying, but you’d be surprised what an ill prepared tag can claim.
The transitions are the area in a 1AC that should be used to show off. If you have elegant sounding, educated statements between points then you will build your ethos. You want to sound like you put thought into the case instead of sounding robotic and choppy.
It’s also very important to carefully think though the wording of your mandates and the other planks of your plan. I remember losing a round based on the fact that we had excluded a needed government agency from our enforcement. The judge said we had won on every other argument, but the failure to think through the basics cost us. Careful wording of the mandates themselves are extremely crucial. I would go so far as to say that you should spend an equal amount of time working your mandates as you do building your case. Think through them, rewrite them, and then think through them again.