NCFCA 2022 TP Resolution Analysis by: Logan Hickman and Anna Macklem

Since the year of EU immigration policy is sadly coming to a close, NCFCA has released its three resolution options for next year’s season! Voting is already open, NCFCA has released papers, videos and webinars, and sometimes amidst all the discussion of who likes which resolution more, it can get overwhelming. This is especially true of this year, where all three resolutions are intriguing, educational, and exciting in different ways. Because of this, we’ve boiled down the resolutions to a quick list of pros and cons to help you come to a decision without too much headache. That said, please feel free to take a look at NCFCA’s resources before voting! 

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should significantly reform its policies regarding convicted prisoners under federal jurisdiction.

This resolution could spark fascinating ethical debates, the likes of which TPers rarely are able to see. Many rounds will most likely boil down to the intriguing question of how we should treat our prisoners. This could be very educational, teaching us how to think about things from more of a philosophical standpoint along with our normal analysis. There are a few things we consider when it comes to prisons – the human rights of the prisoners, deterring others from committing crimes, keeping the public safe, and achieving justice.

Pros:

  • Philosophy. Oftentimes in Team Policy debate, we get so caught up in the plan and the implementation we lose sight of the underlying principles of why we consider a plan good or bad. This resolution will encourage students to dive into the philosophy and values behind plans more than the other resolutions will.
  • Useful General Briefs. This resolution harbors the collecting of general evidence and research, and will allow for the widespread use of general briefs. We’ve seen an increase in general briefs over the past year, and they’re incredibly useful. This will encourage students to research broad instead of exclusively researching deep, and facilitate better learning.
  • Relevant Topic Area. With the recent Covid-19 pandemic, along with the rise of police brutality, the question of how we should handle prisons has again come to light. This question will always be relevant, and having a good base of knowledge for it will serve us well in life.

Cons:

  • Narrow Scope. The biggest issue we see with this resolution is its specificity. Granted, that means we’ll have very focused debates, but we think ‘federally convicted’ prisoners narrows the scope a bit too much and doesn’t leave much wiggle room for cases. In 2020, only 129,102 convicted prisoners were under Federal jurisdiction. That’s not a lot, especially considering many plans under this year’s EU immigration resolution affect millions of people. While we’re aware of quantitative vs qualitative significance, the plans that do uphold significance will likely be extra-topical, and the case selection will still be narrow, so there’s not much wiggle room in regards to how you can reform such a specific area of policy. 
  • Sensitive Research. The boundary between a moving rhetorical story and misusing content purely for shock value is a line that can sometimes get fuzzy. Considering the potential for gruesome and horrifying emotional appeals, this resolution is definitely the most mature and least suited for younger audiences.

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should significantly reform its policies regarding federally recognized tribes in the United States.

We definitely think that this resolution has a lot of potential, and find it similar to what happened a couple years ago with energy policy. Nobody seemed thrilled at the beginning of the year, but once we got into it, we all loved it!

Pros:

  • Good Scope. There is a breadth of policy areas to explore here, but they’ll likely remain tied. This resolution isn’t as friendly to general briefs as the previous resolution, and is more limited in scope than the following resolution, but that means that it remains manageable and not overwhelming without being restrictive on debaters.
  • Neutral Judging Opinions. There likely won’t be many issues with judge bias, who do you know that has such strong convictions on tribe treatment that they’re unwilling to hear opposing viewpoints?
  • Great educational value. When else is it going to be necessary in your life to really explore a topic like this deeply? Researching this will likely be very interesting, and expose students to new ideas, and worldviews, and cultures.

Cons:

  • Judges Lack Background. The judges won’t have much base knowledge. Just like this year with most judges not knowing a ton about the EU, judges likely won’t understand a lot of central principles that will become common to debaters and will need to be explained.
  • Lacks Relevance. The education gleaned from this resolution is unlikely to apply widely to most students’ futures. Questions about energy policy? Useful your entire life. Immigration policy? Maybe not daily, but it is important for us to understand, and it impacts everybody somehow. The pertinence of this resolution to student’s lives isn’t immediately obvious.

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its policies regarding affordable housing.

This resolution would by far be our favorite if it weren’t for one crucial issue: overcoming existing judge positions. The subject matter is relevant and necessary, it affects us all deeply, and people have a very wide range of strong positions on the matter. While all three resolutions have a lot to do with race, as pointed out in the webinar, the ability for teams to exploit this fact is much greater in this resolution than the previous two. We also acknowledge every year there are competitors that are concerned with judge bias and it rarely manifests, but the possibility to exploit this fact is where our concern lies.

Pros:

  • Very educational. This is pretty universal throughout all of the resolutions, but this one has the most relevance to students’ and judges’ lives, will likely hold the most weight, and the knowledge will serve those involved better than the other two resolutions. It will also expose students to very interesting economic principles regarding governmental intervention.
  • Broadest resolution proposed. We see this as an advantage because it really allows you to branch out and grow as a debater, instead of getting stuck in the same debate over and over again throughout the year.
  • Judges Possess Background. Judges are already predisposed to a lot of foundational principles with this resolution. You’ll likely be able to jump right into the heart of your plan and not need to waste too much time on background and definitions of the entire resolution.

Cons:

  • Judge bias. Now while judge bias can exist in any resolution, this topic is very hot-button and often emotionally charged. The affirmative team will have the option to run a case that would quickly win or lose a judge in the 1AC before the negative team even gets a chance to speak. This is a problem that seems to be much more extreme in this resolution compared to the others.
  • Easy to Exploit. This resolution is very sensitive, especially when it comes to certain factors of what drives socio-economic status, namely to what degree race plays a factor. Debaters are going to have the opportunity to frame their opponents as inherently racist people, and have the chance to argue that since their opponent is racist/is defending something that the other team has deemed racist, they should lose the round. The possibility for this conduct detracts from the appeal of this resolution.

As two current competitors who see firsthand every year how much we all warm up to our resolution a few months after it’s chosen, regardless of how we felt during voting, we know that whichever one wins will make for a fascinating and educational year. Between a refreshing year of philosophy added into TP, a year of learning about how native tribes are affected by US policy, and a year of pressing everyday issues, it’s a tough call. We’re personally voting 1. Tribes, 2. Housing, 3. Prisoners, but you can’t lose in this win-win-win situation, and we can’t wait to hear what the final decision is!

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