The Resolutions are out! Our expert coaches look forward to breaking down their thoughts to help you make a decision as to what to vote for…
The new topic options have been presented for STOA team policy and there is incredible potential for an extremely engaging an competitive year of debate across all three topics. I’ll be going over the pros and cons of each option and then offering my opinion on which I believe is the best resolution. I’ll be rating each category in two topics. First will be educational and engagement potential. Here I’ll basically be judging each topic on their ability to prevent the year from going stale. Secondly, each topic will be graded on its ability to facilitate competitive debate rounds, basically which topic will generate the greatest quantity of fair, even debates. I’ll look at balance, breadth of aff and neg arguments, and the available research on the topic here. Each category will be rated on a scale of 1-3, with 1 being the best topic for that category and 3 being the worst
1) Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its banking, finance, and/or monetary policy.
I think this topic has the most educational potential due primarily to the last topic. Monetary policy is an incredibly broad term. Depending on how that term is defined, AFF cases could include anything from foreign aid to military research funding to the farm bill. Essentially, if federal money is involved in some way, there is a potential argument for the case being a topical aff. Now obviously there is some element of reasonability which every judge will possess. So teams couldn’t quite literally pass any aff they want with a funding mandate and call it topical. However, there may be cheeky, technical aff’s that allow for conditional funding to resolve policy issues that are mostly non-financial in nature. For example, states will not receive federal grants unless they remove common core curriculum. Even if that term isn’t too changed or restricted in some way, money is always important and interesting in politics, meaning you’ll have no shortage of new and engaging articles to research and cases to debate. So while the idea of talking about banks all year may initially seem very dull, there is an vast array of topics under resolution.
This resolution is very, very AFF sided. The broadness of the resolution means negative teams could have a ridiculous number of cases to prepare against. Being a negative debater trying to prep for a round the could be reforming our foreign policy in regards to foreign aid and then turning to a detailed, technical domestic date about banking regulation and Dodd-Frank would be extremely frustrating. That being said, the breadth of affirmative cases would be replicated by a breadth of negative arguments for core topic cases. However, with such a broad resolution, there will be affirmative teams that inevitably find “invincible” super cases that are borderline significant yet compelling in their obvious appeal. Debating T would also be a nightmare for negative teams if the current topic wording isn’t changed. Overall, this resolution, while being very fun in terms of having a great degree of variety in terms of possible cases, would put the negative team at a disadvantage in many rounds. Furthermore, a resolution that has the potential for obscure, technical cases such as this one, puts negative in the hole even in regards to cases they know people will be reading, because finding articles refuting boring monetary policy that doesn’t sell will be difficult to find.
2) Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform one or more of the laws administered by the Department of Labor.
There is an immense practical element to this topic. Labor stands implicate the US economy substantially on both micro and macro levels, meaning 1) you will learn important information that you will need to know as a current or future employee, 2) your judge will more heavily relate to your argumentation as they probably would be impacted it directly to a certain extent. The breadth of cases here is also pretty diverse. Cases could have to do with federal hiring policy and security background checks, racial hiring quotas and policies, and the ever-present discussion of unionization. While the topic may not be as stunning as one dealing with nuclear weapons, criminal punishment, or international relations, the personal, practical element easily compensates and will probably be far more interesting than you could initially guess.
I believe this topic, due to its constant debate amongst lawmakers and economists, has great competitive potential. While there is potential for technical, obscure AFF cases to a degree, the wording of the resolution is limiting in this regard. The current phrasing would seem to indicate that the AFF team can’t create new labor policies out of the blue, they must reform currently existing laws on the books. That means if you are the negative team you know that the AFF will have to operate quite closely within the Dept. of Labor’s general procedure, minimizing the change of wildly irregular squirrel cases. Additionally, the politicization of labor policies mean that the political bias of particular judging pools won’t be overly one sided. Even within the two ends of the political spectrum, there is a great degree of debate on this issues. There are conservatives and liberals who support unions, and members of those same parties who don’t. Expect debates that allow for broad, general economic arguments to be applied commonly, yet reward teams who do the next level of intricate analysis.
3) Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its policy regarding veterans.
The Veteran’s Administration (VA) is an absolute mess and literally everyone knows it. While this is an incredibly important topic for veterans and everyone should learn as much as they possibly can about how to improve the lives of the braves men and women America has to offer, debate may not be the best medium to garner that knowledge. Debate necessitates refutation and defending the opposite side. It requires you to dig into the weeds to find loopholes and technicalities. When there is such a broad consensus that the current system is broken across the board, debating negative can be taxing and affirmative, monotonous. The stakes are high when it comes to VA policy, yet unfortunately for the policy debater, the content doesn’t quite fit the mold for an educational, diverse topic area.
Winning inherency for the neg will be dicey at best, especially if the judge is or knows a vet who has been on the wrong end of a less than ideal VA policy (of which there are plenty). Aside from the issue of inherency, the resolution doesn’t appear to be particularly one sided in anyway. In fact, solvency on the part of the affirmative will also be very difficult to demonstrate. With a system as broken and overly complicated as the VA can be at times, it doesn’t take much for a neg team to say that the aff is more of the same broken policy, or even a worse form of it.