Debating the case in the 2AC

Many, many teams are having some 2AC trouble in the debates I am judging. Some of this relates to poorly written 1AC’s, some to poorly written 2AC blocks, and a lot to misunderstanding where cards need to be read. There are definitely other problems, but those are for another post, perhaps by Roy if he ever gets out of his coma.

In order to highlight some of the issues related to these problems, I am going to go through some simple examples that come up most frequently, but the general idea is applicable everywhere.

1. An argument consists of at least 10 words. That’s a rule. Saying “economic decline causes war, extend Mead” is not an argument. You can occasionally gamble and blow off arguments you think the neg isn’t going to extend by making such short, rapid fire arguments and not explaining them. For the most part, you should make sure that you are extending the claim and the warrant for whatever argument you are extending. This leads us to

2. Don’t make up arguments and claim they were in a piece of evidence where they were not. If you read a bad impact to bio terror in the 1AC, you can’t answer 3 or 4 impact defense cards by just extending that card and claiming it says all kinds of things that it doesn’t say. This is one of the problems with bad impact cards like Alexander or Ochs, they require you to read a lot of extension evidence if you are pressed on them. If I am judging you, (and having spoke to some other judges about this recently my view seems pretty mainstream) if you read one of these generic impact cards and the other team reads impact defense like “no motive” or “no capabilities” and you just extend your 1AC card, you get zero risk of your advantage. You do not have an internal link, because terrorists have no motive. I can’t stress this enough, you have to read a piece of evidence that responds to the negatives defense. Similarly, if the neg reads a piece of evidence that says hegemonic collapse doesn’t cause war because international institutions will fill in, if you did not read a piece of evidence that indicts the solvency of international institutions in the 1AC- thats a new card you have to read. If not-zero risk. This is a standard judges implicitly hold disads to, but don’t seem to be very diligent in holding aff arguments up to it.

3. People are spending way too much time on “terminal impact uniqueness”. I don’t really know where this style of argument came from or when it got so popular, but as far as I’m concerned these are a last line of defense, not a strategic focal point. Climate causing economic collapse 100 years from now is about as useful vs a short term econ DA as Roy. If the negative says time w/255 frame it is over. If you are winning substantial defense on the disad this can be a tie breaker, but teams are spending sooo much time on this in the 2AC and all following speeches that they aren’t winning any defense on the disad. “Hegemony contains all impacts” is another example- useful in a small set of instances, but you can’t just drop the politics disad and expect to win on hegemony solves the impact. This is ESPECIALLY TRUE when the neg has a counterplan, and double especially when the counterplan is entirely plan inclusive. There is just no rational justification for risking the DA based on the belief that hegemony might solve it, when there is an alternate policy that also solves the case (thus capturing the hegemony benefit) but doesn’t risk the disad.

4. Pick and chose case advantages- if the neg has an advantage counterplan that solves one of your advantages, and a mix of offense and defense vs that advantage that is a good time to kick that adv vs one of your other advantages. The neg has a CP and the possibility of generating offense on it. Even if the net number of answers to your other advantage is bigger, strategically your other advantage is more useful. Similarly if the neg has a CP that possibly solves some/all of your advantages, you should pick and chose based on which one you think has the strongest solvency deficit not which one had the worst neg answers.  Kicking advantages lets you spend more time conclusively winning one advantage, and winning that the CP doesn’t solve it well. This leads to

5. To win a solvency deficit, and this is especially true the more egregious theoretically the CP is, requires more and more framing work by the aff. This should start in the 2AC. It can start in the 1AR, but that is time consuming and most 1AR’s aren’t up to the challenge. If you are going to go for a “delay” argument for example, you need to start in the 2AC setting up

A. what specific advantage internal link is time sensitive

B. how does the judge quantify the impact of the solvency deficit

Most teams just say delay means the cp doesn’t solve “the whole case” (which is almost always false) or say “delay means they solve none of the case” (again, false). A more reasonable and well explained specific argument will win you 100X more debates than this hyperbole. To set this up in the 2AC you want to do the following

A. The CP doesn’t solve X internal link because

B. X internal link is crucial to Y impact because

C. Solving partially for Y is insufficient , we still get Z risk of this because

Part A- this should be more than explaining WHAT your internal link is, it needs to explain why you think the CP does’nt solve it

Part B- this is crucial when you have like 3 internal links to hegemony. You need to explain why the internal link the CP doesn’t solve is particularly meaningful/important. This can be hard if you have written your 1AC with over the top internal link cards to everything as distinguishing one as important becomes difficult. Sometimes you may need to read an add on impact for B/C, such as an impact external to hegemony for why overstretch is bad.

Part C- how do you quantify what the impact is to 60% greater solvency than the CP? Judges often have a hard time figuring this out, so they vote on the disad because it is more clear what the impact to the link differential is. This leads to

6. Conceptualize “cp links” arguments as the equivalent (strategically) to arguments that the CP solves the case. They serve the same function. If the CP links to the disad 90% the same as the plan does, then the impact should be just as hard to quantify as the 10% solvency deficit. Putting arguments into this frame and combining it with some meta level arguments about side bias or presumption will make judges see the round in a much more favorable light for the aff.

7 thoughts on “Debating the case in the 2AC

  1. CJ Clevenger

    Yes, Yes, and Yes. I think a lot of this speaks to the general neg bias that I seem to be seeing. Especially on this topic (which I think being Aff is not great) the 2AC needs to be making strategic and offensive decisions early. I see far too many 2ACs (even my own debaters) where I read their front-lines and have to say, Where's the Beef? 2AC early framing of arguments is critical to success. More is not better. Efficiency of arguments. I often times force debaters to explain to me why an argument/card is in their 1AC/2AC and to explain to me what it gets them in the debate and why it is important. This forces them to ensure that they are reading the best arguments and best evidence that they have. I think the best defense is a good offense.

  2. Harry

    What do you feel about when other teams leave an advantage untouched coming out of the 1NC. Is it good to put that advantage somewhere in the 2ac and and do a small overview on its significance. I feel when people do that i tend to move from a central debate about the advantage and i just might use cross apps from it to answer their other offense or i use it in the 2ar for impact calc.

  3. Ryan Galloway

    I agree with almost everything Scotty has to say. I think a big part of the reason why much of this is true is poor 1ac construction–or at least a new wave of 1ac construction I disagree with.

    I call this "run and gun" 1ac's. 1ac's that try to spew off eight to ten mini-advantages (frequently tucked away in other advantages) that leave the 2ac with almost nothing to extend against basic impact defense.

    I'll add one issue to Scotty's list. "Advantage uniqueness." Scotty talks about terminal impact uniqueness, but I mean actually having an argument that "heg is low now" or "US-Indian relations are poor now." AFF's have gotten sloppy on winning that their advantage will actually occur in the status quo, a seeming pre-requisite to having an advantage.

    Good article, Scotty. Lots of good advice in here not only for the 2ac, but in building a 1ac that helps the 2ac out.


  4. Srinidhi Muppalla

    Great Post!
    Embedded Clash? – to what extent do you think it should be used in the 2AC, if at all?

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