Building upon the assumptions addressed in Part I, I think we should revisit the purpose of LD debate to make sure any proposals are consistent with the intent of the format. Citing from the ever disparaged Wikipedia (but sufficient for our discussion here): Lincoln Douglas debate (commonly abbreviated as LD Debate, or simply LD) is sometimes also called values debate because it traditionally places a heavy emphasis on logic, ethical values, and philosophy.
While LD claims to have that values and philosophy emphasis, my argument is that the current 32-minute format (not including prep) with speed/compression highly discouraged in many circuits does not allow for sufficient discovery in logic, ethical values and philosophy. Instead of advocating speed, which many would argue would further alienate the format from its audience (as well as leaving it little more than 1-person CX kritik debate), I propose a different direction: restructure the speech format and provide an appropriate amount of time for deeper discovery.
Before presenting my model, I should detail some observations I’ve made in judging rounds about how time is actually used so that we can seek optimization as well as expansion. Simply doubling speech times will not help us if the structure is inefficient. Some consistent findings include:
- First speeches: AC is canned as expected, and so is 50% to 70% of the NC. As introductory speeches, both need to state the debater’s position, major arguments and framework respective to the resolution and the debate.
- Cross-Ex: I’ve seen some make effective use but in almost every round judged, I feel as if at least a minute of time was unnecessary. Never have I felt time pressure in cross-ex.
- Rebuttals: The current format is problematic for the Aff, splitting its time as book-ends around a seven minute negative rebuttal. The aff has no capacity to provide any meaningful analysis and depth.
Given those dynamics, I’ve drafted out a model which I believe optimizes some of the inefficiencies while providing expansion in areas to encourage greater depth so that ethical analysis and the discussion of logic and philosophy can occur at a more substantial level.
Model: Values-60 Format (Lincoln Douglas Debate, 60 minute one-person debate)
AFF: 20 minutes
NEG: 20 minutes
CX: 10 minutes
PREP: 10 minutes (5 per team)
1. Shortened Initial Affirmatives: Canned constructive speeches can be done in a shorter duration in order to allow for depth and exploration in later speeches. The initial constructives are intended as opening speeches to state each speaker’s position.
2. Second Constructives: Provide both Aff and Neg constructive speech time to introduce arguments. In LD today, the Aff can never truly respond constructively to a Neg’s position with new, critical arguments against their position, seriously impairing debate. Indeed, how can LD support a values approach that declares no presumption to either side when the affirmative has no capacity to ever constructively address the Negative values? Second constructives are critical to viable LD.
3. Shortened initial CX: These initial blocks are for clarification on definitions and cases, as well as to ensure clash on the second affirmatives.
4. Extended rebuttals: With a single debater being given times in rebuttal greater than policy, the need for speed should be reduced. No longer a constructive round, spread should be contained by the extent of ground established in the constructives. Instead, extensive analysis of the values and underlying philosophical framework should be encouraged with this time.
1AC (5 min): Opening speech for the affirmative outlining their position in the round.
CX (2 min): Clarification of definitions, case, etc. on the Aff case.
1NC (5 min): Opening speech for the negative outlining their position in the round.
CX (2 min): Clarification for the Aff on the Neg case.
2AC (6 min): Aff constructive development and responses to Neg. Aff should begin framing the core issues for the round in their framework.
CX (3 min)
2NC (7 min): Neg constructive development and responses to Aff. Neg should be selecting its core issues within its framework to carry into rebuttals.
CX (3 min)
1AR (4 min): First affirmative rebuttal to provide rebuttal analysis.
NR (8 min): Negative rebuttal to provide analysis and then give judging rationale.
2AR (5 min): Second affirmative rebuttal to wrap up analysis vs. neg rebuttal and provide its judging rationale.
Total speaking time for each debater: 20 minutes (compared to 13 minutes per individual in CX).
Goal: Through the format outlined above, it would be intended that following the introduction of both debaters cases, second constructives allow each debater to take off the gloves and get into the debate round. The opponents case should be fully examined (given the time, a direct refutation is possible, leaving several minutes for analysis and comparison to their case). Those speeches alone should encourage clash and separate readers from debaters. In the 1AR, the affirmative has a short time to give their input on where the round is at following the second constructive exploration, giving the judge their perception on what major issues the debate is focused on. The negative has a single rebuttal, giving it both the analysis time of the 1AR and the round framework (“voters” but hopefully in a more developed format than many rounds tend to express in the current short-timeframe model) advanced by the negative. This leaves the final affirmative rebuttal, limited by the time budget to specifically advancing its framework and having brief differentiation between its model and that of the negative.