introducing clarity into the round

If you’ve done any level of analysis on this resolution, you’ll have realized that it is a giant trainwreck. Add to that, there are an infinite number of ways to make a round confusing and only several to make it clear. However, this year’s topic presents us with the unique opportunity to debate the topic with analysis instead of examples. A giant trainwreck with loads of potential. In the interest of keeping this topic savory, here are three salient tips.

Before the Round — Know the Resolution.

All it takes is one or two sources of befuddlement in a round to make it a waking nightmare, which is why it is imperative that you make it a point to thoroughly understand the resolution, if, and especially if your opponent does not know the resolution. You must not only know the resolution for yourself, but also for your opponent. You must be well-versed enough in the resolution to bring clarity into the round.

This, the pre-debate preparation, is the part of the debate that Dominate LD is the most relevant to. While each debater should create their own unique view of the resolution from their specific experiences and individual areas of expertise, Dominate LD assists debaters in that effort with detailed analysis and research on resolutional topics. Dominate was created to help people understand the resolution better and increase the quality of debates.

In round — Before your opponent messes things up, establish the parameters of the resolution.

On either aff or neg, if your opponent provides no resolutional analysis, lay out a simple, one line rephrasing of the resolution to show what the resolution is asking. “The resolution asks us, If we had to pick one or the other, which situation would be more moral, aff or neg?” Next, lay out what the affirmative and negative sides must prove under that interpretation. “The affirmative must prove that a situation with only popular sovereignty and no rights is preferable to the opposite. The negative simply has to show that that is not the case.”

In round — If your opponent messes things up:

1. Acknowledge it’s a mess

The judge will appreciate it, because chances are, if you were confused, he or she was confused as well.

“The way the word ‘legitimacy’ is used throughout the past speech has just been confusing and has created nothing short of a mess.”

2. Say what they haven’t explained or why their explanation is inadequate

Why else are you bringing this up?

“See, defining ‘legitimate’ as ‘in accordance with standards’ doesn’t tell us anything beyond, there’s a random arbitrary standard that your side agrees with. And my opponent hasn’t even stated what that standard is.”

3. Talk about why its crucial to the round

It doesn’t matter if they failed to explain the quadratic equation. In fact, it’s better if they left it for boring places.

“Legitimacy is the lynchpin of the round. The resolution asks what leads to legitimacy.”

4. Present your resolutional analysis

It’s your turn now. What’s your take? Don’t screw this up.

“I’d argue that legitimacy is not so much accordance with standards but legitimacy is a justifiable government. This means that we are debating about what form of government Is the most morally justified.”

5. Challenge unwarranted analysis

Your opponent may have presented a rudimentary defense. Challenge it.

“Dictionaries are unreliable because they don’t understand the context of our debate, they never keep up with current usage, they aren’t comprehensive, and encourage us to rely on the fallacy of an appeal to authority instead of examining the qualifications of the definition itself.”

6. Talk about how it affects the round

Don’t make the judge come up with what to do with your piece of clarification herself/himself.

“This means several things for this debate. One, we know what I think the resolution means, but we still don’t know what [opponent] thinks the resolution means. That means [opponent’s] case is missing a critical piece of explanation. Absent that, I’d urge you to vote for the only side of the debate that offers any semblance of an explanation. Second, even if [opponent] comes back with an explanation in the next speech, don’t accept it because it’s too late in the debate for that. It should’ve been in the first speech. Defining terms this late makes it impossible for a debate to progress.”