David Mainiero
Pine Crest School, Dartmouth College

I realize that you are reading my judge philosophy to get some idea of how I view debates and what arguments I prefer to hear, so I will acquiesce to those inquiries. However, I want to take the time to note that what I say below does not indicate an unwillingness to hear any particular argument. I’d prefer to hear what you are more comfortable reading and know better than something you try to throw together to try to adapt to my preferences because by knowing your arguments well and being able to explain them, you are closer to winning my ballot.

Four general things about how I view debates:

1. Debaters over authors. Evidence is a persuasive tool. If one team is making smart, reasoned analysis why a particular claim is wrong and the other team simply relies on “having a card” and can’t explain why I should prefer that evidence, I will default to the more warranted analysis. In many, if not all of these circumstances, evidence comparison (comparing qualifications, context, etc.) is extremely important. Also, I typically do not read many cards after a debate unless there is a debate over the content or meaning of a particular piece of evidence. I will not vote on an argument that I couldn’t explain to you after the round and I will certainly not read your evidence to figure out what you were trying to say except to give you feedback. Oh, and if you’re evidence is from somewhere like 16beavergroup.us or grouphug or some other unqualified internet source, don't bother trying to get me to even consider it.

2. I tend to think that there is a relatively high threshold for an argument to be dropped. If the other team has a direct response to something somewhere else on the flow, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt on that. That being said, I still bestow a fair degree of importance on technique. I’ll make a conscious effort to not do too much work for a team regarding applications of arguments. The concept of a dropped argument being answered by a meta-claim from the other team only goes so far though. There is certainly a difference between answering certain link arguments on a K at the bottom of the flow when others are answered where the neg unloaded their link wall at the top of the flow where the perm is and dropping a DA in the 2ac and then trying to spin something you said on the case flow as a link turn in the 1ar.

3. Clarity and efficiency are usually better than a degree speed that sacrifices those elements of delivery. Persuasiveness and emphasis on certain arguments can get you a long way. Speed is obviously important, just be conscious of the trade-off that can occur in a rebuttal or constructive between getting that last no link argument out rather than crystallizing your main answer to a position.

4. The offense/defense paradigm is a useful frame of reference, but tends to be used on a crutch that replaces and thus, diminishes the importance of reasoned analysis and critical thinking in debate. Just because you have a CP that probably solves most of the case, doesn’t necessarily mean that there is “always a risk of the DA.” Same applies to an advantage. Just because there is no offense on a certain flow, doesn’t mean I won’t vote on “no risk of the DA,” even without evidence. Granted, it’s difficult to minimize a DA to nothing, but with some of the DAs I’ve seen, it’s not the hardest thing in the world.

Specific Arguments:

Despite being a 2A, I’m biased toward the neg on most theory issues. Multiple conditional positions are almost always ok with me. A notable exception is the consult CP , but regardless, theory is still and uphill battle with me in the back of the room unless totally conceded, in which case, you will still have to prove why it’s a reason to reject the team. Nuanced, innovative theory arguments rather than hearing “search for the best policy option” in every block and responsiveness to individual arguments rather than just reading your conditionality bad and conditionality good blocks against each other is always good too. These are the types of small things I notice and will be reflected in your speaker points.

There is no such thing as a “risk of a we meet.” You meet or you don’t, and if the neg can’t make it clear that the aff doesn’t meet, they won’t win their violation. I am generally persuaded by the argument that the aff doesn’t need the best interpretation, but rather a workable one. I vote on T a lot, given that a lot of 2acs are not very responsive. Also, I prefer T debates to be couched in terms of a question of limits rather than ground loss arguments. The neg would have be extremely persuasive on why they have a right to certain ground, specific examples of ground they lose, AND why the aff interpretation makes them lose that ground to change my opinion on this.

Like most other things, I prefer specificity to a sweeping criticism of Western metaphysics or a bunch of overly generic links. Specific links and attention to phrases the affirmative uses (and by the same token, phrases the neg uses). I’m pretty open to aff inclusive alternatives theoretically because I think objections to such alternatives can be better expressed in terms of concrete arguments about why the alt, if it incorporates the plan, can’t solve the case or their own impacts. Go for your K, the more specific the better, on every level. A coherent explanation of the impact story rather than just tossing out phrases like “endless slaughter” or “no value to life” can go a long way.

Five or six minutes of case in the 1nc with a strong DA or two is probably my favorite strategy. It seems that most people can’t defend their case, and a little research will go a long way. Don’t be afraid to not have a CP in the 2nr. As I said above, there’s no such thing as there being “always being a risk of the adv.” Specific turns the case analysis on your DA is always good and something that can make a 1nr (or 2nc) really devastating. 1ar’s tend to drop these arguments, and if time is spent developing them early on in the debate, you’ll be rewarded.

As much as I like a well thought out PIC, I equally dislike tiny PICs with poor evidentiary support and an artificially inflated net benefit. I will hold such a net benefit to a much higher standard. I’m skeptical of most CPs that include ALL of the plan, but can be persuaded otherwise, particularly if such a debate is at the heart of the literature, like the conditional vs. unconditional debate in terms of engaging a particular country like Iran (example from college topic.)

Lastly, I am really frustrated when judges don’t put any thought into speaker points. Thus, I will place a particular emphasis on strategic and well thought out cross-examination, efficiency and packaging of arguments, labeling of flows in the 1nc, speaking style, and how well you can frame and crystallize the debate for me in the 2nr/2ar. Also, winning the debate does not mean you and your partner will automatically get the 1 and the 2; you’ll have to earn it. I am also frustrated by judges who take pride in giving low speaker points, if you do a good job, maybe make me laugh, your speaker points will reflect it.