Patrick Waldinger ParadigmLast changed 9/29 11:48A EDT
Assistant Director of Debate at the University of Miami
Assistant Debate Coach at the Pine Crest School
10+ years judging
Yes, please put me on the speech doc: dinger AT gmail
Here are the two things you care about when you are looking to do the prefs so I’ll get right to them:
1. Conditionality: I think rampant conditionality is destroying the educational aspects of debate slowly but surely. You should not run more than one conditional argument in front of me.
Reading a K without an alternative and claiming it is a “gateway” issue doesn’t count. First, it likely contradicts with your CP, which is a reason that conditionality is both not educational and unfair. Second, there are no arbitrary “gateway” issues – there are the stock issues but methodology, for example, is not one of them the last time I read Steinberg’s book.
I also think there is a big difference between saying the CP is “conditional” versus “the status quo is always an option for the judge”. Conditional implies you can kick it at any time, however, if you choose not to kick it in the 2NR then that was your choice. You are stuck with that world. If the “status quo is always an option” for me, then the negative is saying that I, as the judge, have the option to kick the CP for them. You may think this is a mere semantic difference. That’s fine – but I DON’T. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
The notion that I (or any judge) can just kick the CP for the negative team seems absurd in the vein of extreme judge intervention. Can I make permutation arguments for the aff too? That being said, if the affirmative lets the negative have their cake and eat it too, then I’ll kick CPs left and right. However, it seems extremely silly to let the negative argue that the judge has the ability to kick the CP. In addition, if the negative never explicitly states that I can kick the CP in the 2NR then don’t be surprised when I do not kick it post-round (3NR?).
Finally, I want to note the sad irony when I read judge philosophies of some young coaches. Phrases similar to “conditionality is probably getting out of hand”, while true, show the sad state of affairs where the same people who benefited from the terrible practice of rampant conditionality are the same ones who realize how bad it is when they are on the other side.
2. Kritiks: In many respects going for a kritik is an uphill battle with me as the judge. I don’t read the literature and I’m not well versed in it. I view myself as a policymaker and thus I am interested in pragmatics. That being said, I think it is silly to dismiss entirely philosophical underpinnings of any policy.
Sometimes I really enjoy topic specific kritiks, for example, on the immigration topic I found the idea about whether or not the US should have any limits on migration a fascinating debate. However, kritiks that are not specific to the topic I will view with much more skepticism. In particular, kritiks that have no relation to pragmatic policymaking will have slim chance when I am judging (think Baudrillard).
If you are going for a K, you need to explain why the PLAN is bad. It’s good that you talk about the impact of your kritik but you need to explain why the plan’s assumptions justify that impact. Framing the debate is important and the frame that I am evaluating is surrounding the plan.
I am not a fan of kritiks that are based off of advantages rather than the plan, however, if you run them please don’t contradict yourself. If you say rhetoric is important and then use that same bad rhetoric, it will almost be impossible for you to win. If the 1AC is a speech act then the 1NC is one too.
I believe that the affirmative should defend a plan that is an example of the current high school or CEDA debate resolution. I believe that the affirmative should defend the consequences of their plan as if the United States or United States federal government were to actually enact your proposal.
“Truth over tech”? I mull this over a lot. This issue is probably the area that most judges grapple with, even if they seem confident on which side they take. I err of the side of "truth over tech" but that being said, debate is a game and how you perform matter for the outcome. While it is obviously true that in debate an argument that goes unanswered is considered “true”, that doesn’t mean there doesn’t have to be a logical reason behind the argument to begin with. That being said, I will be sensitive to new 2AR arguments as I think the argument, if logical, should have been in the debate earlier.
Topicality: Topicality is always a voting issue and never a reverse voting issue. I default to reasonability on topicality. It makes no sense to me that I should vote for the best interpretation, when the affirmative’s burden is only to be good. The affirmative would never lose if the negative said there is better solvency evidence the affirmative should have read. That being said, I understand that what “good’ means differs for people but that’s also true for what “better” is: both are subjective. I will vote on competing interpretations if the negative wins that is the best way to frame the debate (usually because the affirmative doesn’t defend reasonability).
The affirmative side has huge presumption on topicality if they can produce contextual evidence to prove their plan is topical. Specific examples of what cases would be/won’t be allowed under an interpretation are important.
People think “topical version of the aff” is the be all end all of topicality, however, it begs the question: is the aff topical? If the aff is topical then just saying “topical version of the aff” means nothing – you have presented A topical version of the aff in which the affirmative plan is also one.
Basically I look at the debate from the perspective of a policy debate coach from a medium sized school: is this something my team should be prepared to debate?
As a side note – often times the shell for topicality is read so quickly that it is very unclear exactly what your interpretation of the topic is. Given that, there are many times going into the block (and sometimes afterwards) that I don’t understand what argument you are making as to why the affirmative is not topical. It will be hard for me to embrace your argument if I don’t know what it is.
Counterplans: It is a lot easier to win that your counterplan is theoretically legitimate if you have a piece of evidence that is specific to the plan. And I mean SPECIFIC to the plan, not “NATO likes to talk about energy stuff” or the “50 states did this thing about energy one time”. Counterplans that include all of the plan are the most theoretically dubious. If your counterplan competes based on fiat, such as certainty or timeframe, that is also theoretically dubious. Agent counterplans and PICS (yes, I believe they are distinct) are in a grey area. The bottom line: the counterplan should not be treated as some throw away argument – if you are going to read one then you should defend it.
Theory: I already talked a lot about it above but I wanted to mention that the only theoretical arguments that I believe are “voting issues” are conditionality and topicality. The rest are just reasons to reject the argument and/or allow the other side to advocate similar shenanigans. This is true even if the other side drops the argument in a speech.
Other stuff you may care about if you are still reading:
Aspec: If you don’t ask then cross-examination then I’ll assume that it wasn’t critical to your strategy. I understand “pre-round prep” and all but I’m not sure that’s enough of a reason to vote the affirmative down. If the affirmative fails to specify in cross-examination then you may have an argument. I'm not a huge fan of Agent CPs so if this is your reasong to vote against the aff, then you're probably barking up the wrong tree.
**Addendum to ASPEC for "United States"**: I do think it is important for the aff to specify in cross-ex what "United States" means on the college topic. The nature of disads and solvency arguments (and potentially topicality) depend on what the aff means by "United States". I understand these are similiar arguments made by teams reading ASPEC on USFG but I feel that "United States" is so unique and can mean so many different things that a negative team should be able to know what the affirmative is advocating for.
Evidence: I put a large emphasis on evidence quality. I read a lot of evidence at the end of the debate. I believe that you have to have evidence that actually says what you claim it says. Not just hint at it. Not just imply it. Not just infer it. You should just read good evidence. Also, you should default to reading more of the evidence in a debate. Not more evidence. More OF THE evidence. Don't give me a fortune cookie and expect me to give the full credit for the card's warrants. Bad, one sentence evidence is a symptom of rampant conditionality and antithetical to good policy making.
Paperless: I only ask that you don’t take too much time and have integrity with the process, e.g., don’t steal prep, don’t give the other team egregious amounts of evidence you don’t intend to read, maintain your computers and jump drives so they are easy to use and don’t have viruses, etc.
Integrity: Read good arguments, make honest arguments, be nice and don’t cheat. Win because you are better and not because you resort to cheap tricks.
Civility: Be nice. Debate is supposed to be fun. You should be someone that people enjoy debating with and against – win or lose. Bad language is not necessary to convey an argument.