The AFF Case - Why Change?

Throughout my years of debate, I’ve seen many affirmative strategies. One case the entire year, many cases throughout the year, a set of cases for each round at state, solid, on-topic cases, squirrely (most likely non-topical) cases… The list goes on and on. There is one strategy I believe works the best and bolsters the spirit of the event.

I suggest all teams, new and veteran, narrow down to a few cases BEFORE the debate season. Use the pre-season to hold mock debates and narrow down to your best two, if not your final choice. Within the first couple of tournaments a decision should be made and one case selected. This one case should be what your team actually BELIEVES is the best option under the resolution. It should be an affirmative action that the team believes could affect REAL change if allowed to debate in front of congress. In addition, the case must be definitively, prima facie within the resolution based upon standard, legal definitions. There should be NO question as to your topicality – period.

Given the true belief in the case and its actions – a team can become more involved with the case and the topic. This connection with the case allows the team to present their case with TRUE passion. And true passion grants the desire to develop the case throughout the year.

As you may have already assumed, I believe that a team should select a case and devote full time and attention to it throughout the year. A team should NEVER change their case – barring the surfacing of evidence or political events that irreparably damage it. If a team sticks to one case, it will become the most polished and armored thing available by the time of the state tournament. But only if a team dedicates time and effort to plugging holes, adding evidence, and tweaking the case after each tournament (of which there should be MANY – AS MANY AS YOU CAN ATTEND).

My senior year in high school was the first year I attempted this strategy. We started with a five (5) page aff case – with no extensions. Before the first tournament, we developed about twenty (20) pages of extensions based upon our own negative evidence. By the time we entered the championship round at the state tournament – our case had grown into a five-hundred (500) page magnum opus. The compilation of evidence, notes, flows, argument strategies, and some humorous sketchings was the perfect weapon against any negative team. We never lost – the entire year.

Intentionally shifting from case to case detracts from the spirit of the debate. Constant shifting, especially to squirrely cases, in an attempt to “surprise” the negative only serves to lessen the clash between teams since most negatives will have little to no on-case evidence. This affirmative strategy can be seen as an effective means at gaining a win, but without the proper foundation and practice, a team will lose big to a good negative strategy.

So I hope all teams will grab onto a case, make it their own, and debate it with passion! And, as always, debate it or die trying!