Assignment 3

Responsibilities of the Second Affirmative
in a Policy Debate

Tasks of Your Constructive Speech

Tasks of Your Cross-Examination

Second Affirmative Evaluation Form

Tasks of Your Constructive Speech

Build Upon the Affirmative's Foundation

Your responsibilities are fewer than those of the first affirmative but no less critical. They are to refute the first negative's arguments, to bolster the affirmative's first issue, and to add second and third issues. You build upon the foundation laid by your partner.

Refute the Negative's Arguments

Before the debate begins, your team can prepare for the refutation by making a pro's and con's list. Such a list will supply you with most of your arguments and at the same time will help you anticipate most of your opponents' arguments. It is extra work but will pay off handsomely during the debate.

In the debate, you must knock down objections to your case raised by the first negative. If your partner showed a need for the change specified in the proposition, then your opponents probably showed no need. You set things aright by rebutting each of the negative's charges and questions. But, before you can refute them, you must remember them and have already formed a reply. How can you manage all the arguments and counter-arguments? You can track the debate with a flow chart. On a large sheet of paper sectioned for each portion of the debate, you record arguments by both sides. And, you draw arrows between the arguments and rebuttals. When you speak, you know at a glance what the negative argued and what you can argue in reply.

Reiterate and Extend Need Issue

In addition to refuting the preceding arguments, you reiterate the need for change of policy specified in the proposition, and you summarize the reasons given by your partner. You also add reasons for change not given earlier. In other words, you extend the need issue. For example, "Another reason to reduce the deficit and thus strengthen the dollar is to curb the transfer of our national assets to foreign buyers." Do not refute and extend the first issue so much, however, that you neglect your second and third issues. Be nimble, be quick.

Outline a Plan

When debating a question of changing policy, you must present a plan to effect the change. Say outright that you have such a plan and that it is practical. You then outline the major steps of the plan. Certainly, a well conceived plan devised by you or another is itself persuasive, but it needs the reinforcement of evidence. How does the audience know the plan will work? Perhaps the best evidence is that it, or something like it, has been used elsewhere and has proven practical. For example, "In recent years, European countries including Italy and Sweden have used excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco to reduce their national deficits. " Then, show how much it has reduced their deficits and how little it has burdened taxpayers. Your evidence shows that your plan is practical.

Moreover, you must show that the change resulting from carrying out your plan will be significant. Would these new revenues from excise taxes reduce the deficit significantly? Or, would they simply be a nuisance, or worse yet an excuse for not taking sterner measures that would reduce the deficit? Just as your partner shows that the need for change is significant, you show that the change resulting from your plan is significant.

Show Benefits

After presenting your plan, you show benefits from it. For example, "By reducing the national debt just 10% and by reducing interest rates by 1%, we will create jobs for 100,000 Americans. We will save an estimated 2 billion tax dollars in unemployment and welfare payments alone." Obviously, evidence of such benefits must be accurate and authenticated, not pulled out of the air as above. Be sure to give its sources.

Also, vary the benefits. Even as you talk about reducing the huge debt that hobbles our economy, talk also about reducing the suffering of unemployed workers and their families- victims of the deficit. "Has anyone in the room tried to support a family of five on $200 a week? Our plan will create jobs paying three and four times that amount."

As with the change itself, your case must show that the benefits will be significant. Moreover, it must show that these benefits will be meaningful to your audience. In the example above, the federal deficit to most Americans is an unreal number. Its presence has been far less discomforting to us than nuclear weapons. On the other hand, taxes are real; they squeeze and rub like new shoes. If you would raise our taxes to reduce the deficit, then you better prove to us that the benefits from reducing it would be so significant as to outweigh our discomfort from higher taxes. Good luck. Many a politician--most spectacularly Mondale--have gone down in flames because voters did not see gains large enough to justify the squeeze. Nevertheless, your job as second affirmative is to show that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Summarize Your Arguments

Though the first affirmative closes the debate with a summary of the affirmative case, you close your own constructive speech with a summary of your arguments for practicality and efficacy of the plan and the significance of its benefits. Yet another instance of tell 'em what you told 'em. By repeating your main points, you strengthen them in the minds of your listeners. After your summary, you repeat the affirmative's whole position on the proposition, reaffirming your conviction of its rightness.

End with an Appeal

In the final moments, you appeal to the audience to adopt the proposition: "For the sake of those 3 million Americans who desperately need jobs, we ask you to support these modest increase in taxes."

Tasks of Your Cross-Examination

Coordinate Your Cross-Examinations

To prepare for your respective cross examinations, your partner and you exchange lists of questions before the debate. In other words, you supply your partner questions to be asked the negative just before your constructive speech; your partner supplies you with questions to be asked before the affirmative's final refutation. These lists form the nuclei of your cross-examinations, supplemented by impromptu questions during the debate. Regardless of when the question is formulated, know the precise answer before you ask it. Otherwise, your examinee will beat you about the head and shoulders with your own question.

Prepare Short, Logical Questions

The questions themselves should be brief, to be answered with a "yes" or "no," or a simple fact. They should not be "what" or "why" questions that invite your examinee to extend the negative's case. Though the examinee can explain answers briefly, you cut off lengthy explanations with a firm "Thank you, you've answered my question." If you want to ask a lengthy question with several parts, then you break it into a series of short questions, some rhetorical and some substantial. For example, the long question, "Given that the U.S. is slipping as a manufacturing nation and that its economic rivals in Europe and Asia grow stronger, should it not restrict imports of countries who subsidize their manufacturers?", becomes a series of short questions:

"Is the U.S. slipping as a manufacturing country?"
"Does its economic rivals in Europe and Asia grow stronger?"
"Do some of those countries subsidize their manufacturers?"
"Do their subsidized products harm our manufacturers?"
"Have workers lost jobs because of subsidized products?"
These five questions are premises of an informal syllogism. By answering yes to them, an examinee helps you--and the audience--conclude that such subsidized products should be banned. Based on solid evidence and thus undeniable, these questions should make the examinee most uncomfortable. If they are denied, the negative will later look foolish when refuted with your evidence, and if they are affirmed, the negative weakens its own position which is against the banning of imports.

Control the Examination

You control the interrogation with short questions requiring short answers, but you must also be assertive. A savvy examinee who knows where your questioning is leading will not agree with one or more of the premise questions and will try to explain why. Of course, you cut off any lengthy explanation. In a sense, it does not matter what the examinee answers. Your partner will later answer with the damning evidence. If your examinee agrees with you, you may be tempted to moralize. If your examinee does not agree, you may be tempted to argue. Do neither. Simply ask the questions with authority.

Listen Carefully and Answer Positively

When you are examined, you listen carefully to see whether you can answer to the advantage of your case. Then, if possible, you assert each answer definitely and positively for the proposition. If your examiner gives you an opening with a "what," "how," or "why" question, you continue to hammer away at the need, plan, and benefits issues. Even if a "yes-no" answer, you might slip in a short fact that bolsters your case or weakens their' case. Finally, be enthused about the proposition. Answer with vigor.