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madmadmurrell

2009-10 NFHS Topic Selection Meeting, Live From Austin!

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no. i mean can you have three different people/teams of people write DIFFERENT papers on the same straw topic. you write one on cuba. i write one on cuba. we are not collaborating.

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i hope space and immigration make it...

 

i don't think healthcare is going to make it , if it does my head will also explode... nor do i think federal election reform will make it even though i would love to be judging some rounds on that... don't remember the other one so obviously not a big deal

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So, I decided to use the resources at my disposal and type up what's going on at the meeting because I think there's a lot of people in the community that either can't make the meeting or don't have any clue that there is a meeting.

And thanks for doing that. I've been in debate for 10 years and never knew what happened before the magic list of 5 topics come out. I imagine most debaters don't realize that NFHS exists, let alone serves this role. Certainly most people have no idea who represents their state. Now people can get involved, and beyond debating the merits of individual topics. Your efforts are extremely valuable.

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no. i mean can you have three different people/teams of people write DIFFERENT papers on the same straw topic. you write one on cuba. i write one on cuba. we are not collaborating.

 

Duane is again correct. I would take his answer a step further and say that they flat out probably wouldn't allow multiple papers on the same exact topic (two Iraq War papers, for example, with competing resolutions). In fact, they tend to not allow multiple resolutions on different areas of the same general topic. Beyond that, however, I would argue that it's not about "allowing" or "disallowing" multiple papers. It's just a bad idea.

 

For example, I'm writing a China paper for next year. China (Human Rights) got first in the straw voting, and China (Economics and Trade) got fourth in the straw voting. You won't see two different China papers at next year's convention, though. Two different papers, and two different resolutions, on China in the bigger picture would be political suicide. They would steal votes from each other, and if both were to make the ballot of five, the chances that one would make it to the ballot of two are slim.

 

In addition, typically only eight to ten papers make it to the convention (some are redundant, some end up being the college topic, some authors speak up for an area then don't write a paper, etc). If a person is actually going to take the hundred or more hours to research and write the paper, they would be MUCH better off both politically and as far as serving the community by writing a paper on a separate issue.

 

Also, topics that tend to be gobbled up by other topics on the same ballot don't do well. Two years ago I wrote an International Water Shortages paper that made the ballot of five with the eventual winner, Sub-Saharan Africa. There was a lot of discussion at the meeting about how a lot of my aff ground would become aff ground on the Africa topic, and ultimately Water lost favor because it was true - about a third of my aff case areas were 1AC's on the Africa topic.

 

These are all examples of why I think it's critical for a potential author to attend a meeting before they write and defend a paper. There is a lot of nuance that must be taken into consideration while writing and presenting a topic paper.

 

 

And thanks for doing that. I've been in debate for 10 years and never knew what happened before the magic list of 5 topics come out. I imagine most debaters don't realize that NFHS exists, let alone serves this role. Certainly most people have no idea who represents their state. Now people can get involved, and beyond debating the merits of individual topics. Your efforts are extremely valuable.

 

Thanks! I am thrilled that more people are becoming interested in the process. I only wish that we could have started this a year ago so that some of you could have come to Austin. I think I got three hours of sleep on Friday night and about three and a half on Saturday night. Love this town.

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Duane is again correct. I would take his answer a step further and say that they flat out probably wouldn't allow multiple papers on the same exact topic (two Iraq War papers, for example, with competing resolutions). In fact, they tend to not allow multiple resolutions on different areas of the same general topic. Beyond that, however, I would argue that it's not about "allowing" or "disallowing" multiple papers. It's just a bad idea.

 

For example, I'm writing a China paper for next year. China (Human Rights) got first in the straw voting, and China (Economics and Trade) got fourth in the straw voting. You won't see two different China papers at next year's convention, though. Two different papers, and two different resolutions, on China in the bigger picture would be political suicide. They would steal votes from each other, and if both were to make the ballot of five, the chances that one would make it to the ballot of two are slim.

 

Is there some conspiracy that forces us to follow the college topics 4 years behind them?

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I'm not sure though, given the expense, that attending before writing is needed. I say that because most of the authors, if not all, have written academic papers before. A topic paper is like a term paper for a college class - it means you have to do research, and craft a solidly grounded product - and the committee can be a bit like a thesis defense, although not quite as grueling - so my advice is, if you can research and then organize your thoughts, submit a paper and jump in the process - maybe start, as I did, as a co-author, and then submit your own work....Going first, and then submitting is certainly OK..I'm just not sure it's totally necessary.

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Is there some conspiracy that forces us to follow the college topics 4 years behind them?

 

The overlap is kind of scary. We had an Ag paper that was withdrawn this year, and the straw vote list of potential topics for next year had at least four topics about the Middle East. I'm not sure some people understand there's a policy debate circuit on the collegiate level.

 

I'm not sure though, given the expense, that attending before writing is needed. I say that because most of the authors, if not all, have written academic papers before. A topic paper is like a term paper for a college class - it means you have to do research, and craft a solidly grounded product - and the committee can be a bit like a thesis defense, although not quite as grueling - so my advice is, if you can research and then organize your thoughts, submit a paper and jump in the process - maybe start, as I did, as a co-author, and then submit your own work....Going first, and then submitting is certainly OK..I'm just not sure it's totally necessary.

 

I'm on board with the co-authoring route as well. All that I'm saying is that working the politics of everyone there, including balancing all of the personalities in the room, with trying to write and divide a topic that represents ALL types of policy debate, not just yours, with having some of the greats in this activity ask you questions that screwing up the answers to could wreck high school debate for a year, is a lot to balance.

 

More than any other single thing during the process, I think my four years of experience have shown me that bad authors screw up the process the most. If an author is unprepared, or lies about what the literature says because they want their topic selected (which happens every year and is INCREDIBLY frustrating), or refuses to work with the committee and is contentious and defensive, things go to hell in a handbasket quickly. The authors that understand the process, are on top of their lit, and are willing to realize that they are going to have to make concessions, help the meetings tremendously. In my opinion, the best way to get into the second category is to attend a meeting before writing. Co-authoring would help if you were partnered with a veteran to the process, but I think to a lesser degree.

 

In my opinion, the proof is the pudding. The UIL here in Texas sponsors an author every single year, and as someone mentions every year at the meeting, Texas authors are a boon to the process. This year, Texas authors wrote five out of the original nine papers. The year before, when it was in San Diego, we wrote nearly half. Why does it work? Because the UIL selects an apprentice to attend the meeting the year before and work towards learning the process. This year, I had the privilege of working a little bit with the person who will author next year's paper for the UIL. I realize that this doesn't address the cost issue, but it seems to work.

Edited by madmadmurrell

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Federal Election Reform would be sweet. Judging rounds that don't lead to body count debates... I get all excited just thinking about it.

 

I'm not sure if it would be as fun for the debaters, but somehow I think getting away from traditional impact areas would be good for Policy; make it more outsider friendly or something along those lines.

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HI, I'm not saying you're wrong Matt...I'm just saying that people don't have to attend first and then come back and present..that's all. If that strategy works for UIL, then that's a good strategy....needless to say y'all have had a lot of success in getting papers written and into the final five.

 

As for the other stuff - the politics, the people - well that's why I compared the process to a thesis defense...

 

Overall, it's a good process - and no matter how you get involved, either by leaping right in or come and watch and then come back the following year - the key is to get involved!

 

And, I totally agree with you about making sure the paper represents ALL forms of debate. I've always written the ones I've submitted by writing as if I'm a coach with a 500.00 budget whose teams will never really debate anywhere but at some local and state tournaments..I don't write for the circuit, and never will.

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Federal Election Reform would be sweet. Judging rounds that don't lead to body count debates...

 

I wouldn't count on that. There is really no shortage of links and internals to traditional disad debate for this topic.

 

My biggest concern with this topic is that there are really only about six case areas. That's grouping them loosely, of course, but the literature base for this topic is generally congealing around a handful of options. I'm also concerned about the inclusion of the Constitutional Amendment option in the resolution and the implications that might have for traditionally negative ground. I'm not saying there is a divine right to a States CP, but a Constitutional Convention being topical seems like something that deserved to be addressed.

 

The short caselist, along with extreme boringness, is also the main objection I have to the health insurance topic.

Edited by dan.

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I wouldn't count on that. There is really no shortage of links and internals to traditional disad debate for this topic.

 

My biggest concern with this topic is that there are really only about six case areas. That's grouping them loosely, of course, but the literature base for this topic is generally congealing around a handful of options. I'm also concerned about the inclusion of the Constitutional Amendment option in the resolution and the implications that might have for traditionally negative ground. I'm not saying there is a divine right to a States CP, but a Constitutional Convention being topical seems like something that deserved to be addressed.

 

The short caselist, along with extreme boringness, is also the main objection I have to the health insurance topic.

 

What are the six case areas that you see for federal elections? I see far more than that with absolutely zero debate-related reading on the topic. We can go with a litany of campaign finance reform cases (which could be a resolution in and of itself), expanding the voting age, allowing non-citizens to vote, changing recount laws, putting more of the federal election system under federal control, allowing felons to vote, reauthorizing the equal access media laws, voting technology, the primary scheduling... this is bigger than you think. And the advantage areas can be pretty sweet.

 

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea. I wish it had been up for discussion during this presidential cycle. In fact, I think domestic cases should correspond with presidential election cycles. Makes a lot of sense to me.

 

As for a Constitutional Amendment, that's such a small part of the Negative strategy that I think it's impact is negligible.

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My biggest concern with this topic is that there are really only about six case areas.

 

For what it's worth, there was agreement at the meeting that the number of cases would be limited. As I've highlighted before, we voted to replace the word "presidential" in the resolution with "federal" because it was agreed that an entire resolution about only "presidential election reform" would be tiny (like smaller than college-topic tiny). The author argued that there are lots of ways to change the electoral college, but there was general consensus that "electoral college" is still just one case area.

 

Even with the ability to alter vice presidential and house/senate elections, the states counterplan still checks back state stuff like the primary system, which should be a huge case area. The balance is weird though; if you run a Constitutional Amendment 1AC, where the hell is my CP ground? Besides the PIC or some trick Lopez-type CP like "Alaska Doesn't Ratify" or "All 50 Ratify" I'm not sure what I can do. There's few agent or actor CPs, if any at all.

 

In the end, I agree with you; there's just not a lot of aff ground that's not small nuances inside the same proposal.

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For what it's worth, there was agreement at the meeting that the number of cases would be limited. As I've highlighted before, we voted to replace the word "presidential" in the resolution with "federal" because it was agreed that an entire resolution about only "presidential election reform" would be tiny (like smaller than college-topic tiny). The author argued that there are lots of ways to change the electoral college, but there was general consensus that "electoral college" is still just one case area.

 

Even with the ability to alter vice presidential and house/senate elections, the states counterplan still checks back state stuff like the primary system, which should be a huge case area. The balance is weird though; if you run a Constitutional Amendment 1AC, where the hell is my CP ground? Besides the PIC or some trick Lopez-type CP like "Alaska Doesn't Ratify" or "All 50 Ratify" I'm not sure what I can do. There's few agent or actor CPs, if any at all.

 

In the end, I agree with you; there's just not a lot of aff ground that's not small nuances inside the same proposal.

 

Matt,

 

What are the six case areas you see? Because I see far more. Maybe the literature isn't there, but I have to believe it is. Maybe there would have been more lit post Bush v. Gore, but I have to think that the lit should be pretty sweet after the 529 uproar, the Arnold for president movement, the primary debacles in the Democratic Party, the immigration debate, the myriad lawsuits and investigations over voter fraud etc. etc. I put a quick list in the post above yours. Take a look and let me know if I'm wrong.

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Matt,

 

What are the six case areas you see? Because I see far more. Maybe the literature isn't there, but I have to believe it is. Maybe there would have been more lit post Bush v. Gore, but I have to think that the lit should be pretty sweet after the 529 uproar, the Arnold for president movement, the primary debacles in the Democratic Party, the immigration debate, the myriad lawsuits and investigations over voter fraud etc. etc. I put a quick list in the post above yours. Take a look and let me know if I'm wrong.

 

Let me first say that I haven't read the literature; I'm only operating off of what others have said about the literature. This is what I can remember after rereading the topic paper and looking at my notes from the meeting. The topic paper only speaks in depth to three areas: Electoral College, Campaign Finance, and Term Limits. It's hard to know what's up beyond that without reading a lot of lit, which will not be happening on this end unless this becomes the topic. I've got cards to cut and some H3 to catch up on.

 

If memory serves correctly, the case areas were:

1) Change who can run (natural born citizens, age limits, the topical version of term limits would fall here, etc).

2) Change who can vote (felons, age, etc).

3) Change or ban the Electoral College (lots of proposals, or so the author says).

4) Campaign Finance Reform (part of the 527 debate goes here as well)

5) Media Coverage/Influence (the other part of 527s, Equal Time Law, etc)

6) Change the way the Vice President is selected (apparently some political scientists hate the fact that the candidate gets to pick their VP but I think this is at best a squirrel or an out-round-at-a-big-tourney case)

 

Cases that aren't T:

1) Rearrange/change/alter the House and/or Senate.

2) Tear down Representative Democracy.

3) Term Limits (if the plan text is anything other than a "who is eligible to run in X election" issue)

 

Other case areas that have a very hard time dealing with States CP:

1) Change how we vote.

2) Change the primary system.

3) Redistricting (this apparently would encompass a litany of cases but States beats the hell out of almost every one).

4) Polling place changes.

5) Party changes.

 

 

I'm willing to be educated and listen with an open ear. If there's more stuff out there, by all means, tell me about it. I'm not opposed to it as a topic at all. I just think this is one of those topics that by the end of the year is down to around three or four viable cases. I think it's all moot anyway.... it didn't win much favor at the meeting among the state delegates, but hey, fiat is just as important in talking about topics as it is in talking about the 1AC. So let's pretend we're debating Election Reform. Thoughts?

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Let me first say that I haven't read the literature; I'm only operating off of what others have said about the literature. This is what I can remember after rereading the topic paper and looking at my notes from the meeting. The topic paper only speaks in depth to three areas: Electoral College, Campaign Finance, and Term Limits. It's hard to know what's up beyond that without reading a lot of lit, which will not be happening on this end unless this becomes the topic. I've got cards to cut and some H3 to catch up on.

 

If memory serves correctly, the case areas were:

1) Change who can run (natural born citizens, age limits, the topical version of term limits would fall here, etc).

2) Change who can vote (felons, age, etc).

3) Change or ban the Electoral College (lots of proposals, or so the author says).

4) Campaign Finance Reform (part of the 527 debate goes here as well)

5) Media Coverage/Influence (the other part of 527s, Equal Time Law, etc)

6) Change the way the Vice President is selected (apparently some political scientists hate the fact that the candidate gets to pick their VP but I think this is at best a squirrel or an out-round-at-a-big-tourney case)

 

Cases that aren't T:

1) Rearrange/change/alter the House and/or Senate.

2) Tear down Representative Democracy.

3) Term Limits (if the plan text is anything other than a "who is eligible to run in X election" issue)

 

Other case areas that have a very hard time dealing with States CP:

1) Change how we vote.

2) Change the primary system.

3) Redistricting (this apparently would encompass a litany of cases but States beats the hell out of almost every one).

4) Polling place changes.

5) Party changes.

 

 

I'm willing to be educated and listen with an open ear. If there's more stuff out there, by all means, tell me about it. I'm not opposed to it as a topic at all. I just think this is one of those topics that by the end of the year is down to around three or four viable cases. I think it's all moot anyway.... it didn't win much favor at the meeting among the state delegates, but hey, fiat is just as important in talking about topics as it is in talking about the 1AC. So let's pretend we're debating Election Reform. Thoughts?

 

I guess I'd say I'd add a couple of more "areas":

 

1. Campaign rules (like length of campaigns, strengthening the divide between campaign staff and legislative staff, use of government privileges)

 

2. Redistricting (This is a court decision waiting to happen and I think that the equal access laws answer back the States CP. )

 

3. Voting process (This is also a very prime area for litigation, which probably answers back the States CP. Case areas: technology, language, disabled access, absentee voting, overseas ballots, military voting, internet voting, weekend voting)

 

4. Third party encouragement (a variety of suggestions have been made, but I can't remember the sources.)

 

Add those to your list and we have 10 areas. BTW, I think your concern about the limited number of cases is a) non-unique. Every year the topic narrows itself down to a few strong, popular cases. and B) I think that you have several strong cases.

 

As for the States CP, I think the resolution, the way it's worded, allows for the states, acting together, to change the federal election system. Is this fair? Sure, I run 50 states, you CP with federal government. Smart? Not sure yet. I don't know how much of the lit say "the states should do X" vs. "(insert specific state here) should do X."

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Cases that aren't T:

1) Rearrange/change/alter the House and/or Senate.

Why not? Reapportioning the seats of the House amongst states could be a good aff.

 

3) Term Limits (if the plan text is anything other than a "who is eligible to run in X election" issue)

Why not?

 

Other case areas that have a very hard time dealing with States CP:

1) Change how we vote.

While there's no unique reason why the States CP doesn't solve, I think Jim Crow laws and other more recent examples of state incompetence would be persuasive aff answers to the CP.

 

2) Change the primary system.

I'm not sure how an aff could run this case. I guess mandate that federal elections take public financing?

 

3) Redistricting (this apparently would encompass a litany of cases but States beats the hell out of almost every one).

Section 5 preclearance is the perm and a total answer to the States CP. States can't act without federal involvement. The only States CP that could work would be 50 State Constitutional Amendments...but constitutional amendments either can't re-district or solve substantially worse than the the feds.

 

4) Polling place changes.

Section 5 preclearance answers the States CP back.

 

5) Party changes.

I don't know how the aff would run this either, but there are more clever people than me.

 

As for the States CP, I think the resolution, the way it's worded, allows for the states, acting together, to change the federal election system. Is this fair? Sure, I run 50 states, you CP with federal government. Smart? Not sure yet. I don't know how much of the lit say "the states should do X" vs. "(insert specific state here) should do X."

The more strategic counterplan will probably be: Have 49 states do the plan, but have a particular state do something else.

 

Also, other potential topical areas include:

1) Voter education- holding mandatory seminars about the importance of voting

2) Mandatory voting

3) Legalizing the ability to sell a vote

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OK What is Section 5 preclearance? I'm too lazy to Google it right now. But I knew that a simple states cp won't be all that effective in voting cases, especially when there is any accusation of discrimination.

 

And wow! Is there lit on making selling votes legal?

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OK What is Section 5 preclearance? I'm too lazy to Google it right now. But I knew that a simple states cp won't be all that effective in voting cases, especially when there is any accusation of discrimination.

"Section 5 preclearance" is election law jargon for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act that requires certain local jurisdictions to "get permission" (preclearing) to change election standards before putting them into effect.

 

From the DOJ website:

Section 5 freezes election practices or procedures in certain states until the new procedures have been subjected to review, either after an administrative review by the United States Attorney General, or after a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. This means that voting changes in covered jurisdictions may not be used until that review has been obtained.

 

And wow! Is there lit on making selling votes legal?

I don't know how deep it is, but there is lit. It's a popular topic for behavioral economists. Most do it under the guise of "how much is a vote worth" but there is a literature base advocating free transferability. It makes sense for the radical "free marketer" types.

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My biggest concern with this topic is that there are really only about six case areas. That's grouping them loosely, of course, but the literature base for this topic is generally congealing around a handful of options.

The short caselist, along with extreme boringness, is also the main objection I have to the health insurance topic.

 

Ironically, this is exactly what happened the last time we debated an outer space topic, which is an area everyone always says is HUGE in its Aff case possibilities. The problem was that we were in an era of huge budget deficits (the Reagan/Bush ones) and all of the really juicy case time frames were decades or more in length. The budget/bond market DAs had really short time frames. The topic very quickly narrowed down to less than ten cases where the cost was manageable. By the end of the year, I judged 6 rounds at the TOC and heard the same 2 Affs in all 6 rounds, and then heard those 2 plus one more in my 8 rounds at NFL Nationals. Given the huge deficits that Bush Junior has given us, I see the same thing happening on any topic like outer space that we might try today.

 

And I've been hoping for an elections topic since I started coaching in the mid-70s. I just missed the last one in the early 70s, though I did work a summer camp on it.

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I find federal elections to be quite boring. Should it be the topic, I will sit out the year as I have in previous years... only because... well... I can.

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Ankur,

 

You wimp. ;) Since you hate federal election reform so much. Go start the fantasy football league.

 

Seriously, I think elections means that all of the politics scenarios actually make sense! We can run politics in front of ma and pa. Elections bring every other topic into play. Plan privileges one party or another so that means abortion, deficits, stem cells, religion, national security, NASA funding, farm subsidies, STEM education etc. etc. etc. Election reform has a DIRECT effect on who gets elected. Wow. No more popularity links or (insert party) likes plan or olive branches. Serious, plan helps (insert party) get elected. They will do (insert action). This is good or bad.

 

These changes could give one party or another a supermajority in the Senate. Redistricting creates safe seats so that party is in power until the demographics of the area changes.

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The scenarios are okay. Not great... just okay. But the plan areas are so boring. At least my plans on other topics are entertaining. Its fun trying to explain how prostitutes are needed to boost military readiness. Not as much fun trying to explain why we need to cap campaign financing.

 

 

As for FF... any chance you want to try contacting Shuman to agree to play? I think the game just wont be as much fun without him....

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If they pick healthcare my brain will explode in anger.

 

Is there even that many plans that could be made to support universal health care? What if our next President does it?

 

I personally find the health care resolution really upsetting because it gives an extreme amount of ground to the neg. I mean the neg is always prepared for the aff and there are barely any differences.

 

Am I wrong? I could be pretty dumb...

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I find federal elections to be quite boring. Should it be the topic, I will sit out the year as I have in previous years... only because... well... I can.

 

I actually would agree with you. It's not just boredom- there's probably little literature on specific constitutional ammendments that the aff can conjure up. =/

 

Sorry for the double post.

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