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The answers previously discussed will help you no matter what types of arguments you read. However, there are arguments that work best in certain situations. So these will be tips for clash of civilization debates. These are debates where a K goes against a traditional/policy style position. If you are the person on the policy side of things, there are a couple of things you need to master in your toolbox of responses:

a) The ROB must go

You cannot let them win their role of the ballot. If they do, you’re going to have a difficult time winning the debate. In these types of debates, your impacts will likely prioritize very different things compared to the impacts of the K. As a result, whoever wins the framing will have a much better chance of getting the ballot.

I mentioned some framework answering tips earlier, but what I’d like to add here is the argument that role of the ballots are self-serving. It’s a popular argument that can be made as a general argument or be blown up into a theory shell about what the role of the ballot should look like. The logic is that these role of the ballots are often incredibly specific—they focus on the scholarship that was read, and it almost always excludes offense that sees redeeming qualities in the state. A role of the ballot like that makes it almost impossible for the negative to read its positions and still matter in the framing set up by the affirmative. It also argues that it puts way too much arbitrary power in the judge and their use of the ballot. As a result, a Policy debater might introduce a counter role of the ballot, typically “to vote for the side that does the better debating.” Typically, they might say that this is a better measure for who wins and loses because it is more objective and allows for less judge intervention. One could also argue that it is more educational and allows for many arguments to exist in the debate round, not just a small range of arguments that focus on the scholarship they read. But how do we know who did the better debating? Through regular frameworks that focus on post-fiat impacts (refer back to Chapter 2, Lesson 2 if you forgot what this means). 

b) Topicality (T)

As I mentioned in Chapters 2 and 3, sometimes people might not debate the resolution. You don’t have to be okay with that. That’s why there is topicality! Topicality is a negative pre-fiat argument about whether or not the affirmative has affirmed the resolution. While there can be an entire course on topicality on its own, I will briefly explain the parts of a topicality shell and explain how each part should look against a K.

  1. This would be a definition (or definitions) from the resolution that you use as reference for what we should be talking about in a debate round. Against Ks, you can use definitions from the resolution that seem obvious and, as many do, you can use definitions or articles that show we must look at a government proposal.

This is when you talk about what the affirmative did to violate the interpretation you set up in part A. There is no real tip here other than try to be as specific as possible. Sometimes, debaters might even concede that they are not affirming the topic, and you can easily go from there.

Standards are warrants for why the violation is so harmful to debate. There are many standards, but there are a couple that I think are well-suited for these debates.

    • Limits: What arguments fall within the scope of the resolution.
    • Research Burdens: What each team is expected to research in order to be prepared for the debate.
    • Ground: What arguments each team has access to that gives them a fighting chance for the ballot.
    • Accessibility: What allows for the most diverse range of students to participate and succeed in debate.
    • Jurisdiction: What judges are allowed to vote on as an adjudicator in the round.

These are the ultimate reasons why we debate. Standards attempt to appeal to the voters. The two voters commonly used are fairness and education. If you want to go for fairness, I will warn you that is one of the first things a non-topical K debater will prep out. The best way to go for fairness against Ks is to go for it as an internal link to education. If things are not fair, we cannot properly learn. This works well against Ks because if you can prove that their disruption of fairness in the activity undermined the ability for us to learn, that undermines the epistemological and pedagogical value of the K. In other words, the K is not capable of changing our mindsets because we do not even know how to engage with it. 

Education is usually a good voter to use because of what I mentioned in Chapter 1 about pedagogy and epistemology. How we know what we know and how we teach centers heavily around education. If the affirmative harms education in a significant way by not being topical, it undermines the solvency of the affirmative. 

Finally, a slightly unconventional strategy for those of you who are more advanced would be using your opponent’s role of the ballot (or judge) as the voter. This is a really great strategy because it robs the affirmative of its main strategy against T: impact turns. If you relate every standard to combating capitalism or deconstructing the simulation or addressing anti-Blackness, that is a very different debate. It forces them to prove that their model of debate is actually ideologically sound based on their own scholarship.

    • Drop the Debater: If they lose the T shell, they should lose the debate. If you spend time reading topicality, it should be an avenue for you to reach the ballot. Additionally, logically if they are not topical, you cannot simply drop the argument if they lose. Their whole position is based on not being topical. If you prove that’s bad, that’s sufficient enough for them to lose.
    • Competing Interpretations: This argues that they must read a counter interpretation of what debate should look like if they disagree with yours. This is a huge time suck for 1ARs and also forces them to defend their world of debate not just criticize yours. 
    • No Reverse Voting Issues (RVIs): This means that if your opponent wins on the T shell, they should not be allowed to win the debate, and we just go back to substance. The logic here is that affirmatives at a bare minimum are supposed to be topical. You should not win for doing what you were supposed to be doing. If they prove they have been, we will now debate the merits of whether the affirmative is a good idea. This makes T a no risk issue for you (if you win this argument). You either win because they lose the T debate, or they waste a bunch of time winning the T debate only for you to go to substance.