But what about those of you who are K debaters but you keep losing debates against other K debaters? I got you! I really encourage you to use the general guidelines sections to literally write out, card, and block popular positions. However, I also have tips on how to strategically think about these rounds.
a) Framing matters a lot
This is a bit different than the advice I have given about framing in the previous sections. Yes, you should try to win your framework. However, I’d also encourage you to think of ways you can uphold their framework as well. This is a lot easier to do in K v K debates because usually both of you will be talking about some power structure and how it drastically affects our world. Show how your arguments and your impacts can address the concerns of their framework. This gives you many avenues to the ballot and helps show the flexibility and strength of your position.
b) You probably need to win a root cause claim
Let me start by saying you do not always need to do this, but life is much easier if you can. In K v K debates, you are making two different arguments about how the world works if you are reading different Ks. You need to prove that your account of the world is much more credible than theirs. You can use history, you can use methodological arguments, you can use anything that helps you prove you know more about the world and how it works compared to your opponent.
However, let’s say you are reading a K on the affirmative. You might not feel the need to win your root cause claim. Maybe your scholarship already takes into account other criticisms. This is where permutations become your best friend. Permutations allow for you to take some or all of the affirmative and mix it with some or all of the negative. In K debates, especially if your opponent is not careful, you will find that there is little competition between your alternative and their alternative. If you notice this, make a permutation! The one I strongly recommend is permutation do both (especially if there is no textual competition). This is because you can make some compelling arguments for why we should do both, including but not limited to:
- Promoting solidarity – creating intersections between movements allow for us to better resist power structures that overwhelm vulnerable groups.
- Intersectionality – having an analysis that looks at multiple causes of oppression best allows for us to help those at the intersections of violence (i.e., the experiences of a Latinx queer woman versus the experience of a low income white woman).
- Denouncing oppression olympics – when there is not a permutation, people are encouraged to choose between types of oppression. This causes infighting and creates an arbitrary battle between the marginalized.
There are many other ways you can defend and actively show why the permutation is a good idea. If you go this route, just make sure to take out the link level of the debate. If you don’t, your opponent will most definitely use the links as a disadvantage to the permutation—which I will discuss now.
d) Answering permutations
This is debate, and everything is debatable—including the permutations I praised above! If you hear a permutation, you must stop it at all costs. There are a couple ways to do this.
- Use the links as disadvantages to the permutation – here you’re essentially saying that even if both methods can happen at the same time, it does not mean it is desirable to do so. For example, if you win a link that their Afropessimism K is anti-queer, even if they try to combine their alternative and yours, you can argue that doing both is not desirable for queer resistance.
- Make a cooption argument – this is a nice layer of argumentation you can put here. Most Ks will already agree that harmful forces try to coopt their strategies. A Cooption DA argues that the permutation tries to steal and silence the radical stance of the alternative. It attempts to water it down to something it is not in order to shift focus away from the main issue. This argument is valid on its own, and it can also function as yet another link argument proving your point on your K.
- Severance – You can make a severance argument regarding permutations. Chances are the K read by your opponent did not start with the same starting point as yours. They made a conscious choice in what scholarship they read and how they decided to go about it. A permutation allows for them to shift away from the representations they had in their 1AC (the way they spoke, the root cause arguments they made, the scholars they included) in favor of taking part of your advocacy. This makes the affirmative a moving target and also removes any mechanism of accountability. Essentially, if we allow for affirmatives to sever out of their positions, this creates a model of debate where anyone could say anything and change their mind after the 1AC. Instead of impacting this to something like fairness, you can impact this argument out as a performative indict or a disadvantage to their performance. Their shifty actions only uphold the power structures both of you are critiquing.