I did policy debate at Grapevine High School in Texas for 4 years. I graduated from Grapevine in 2014. I am currently studying philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Basic Philosophy

I believe that debate should be an activity where we test the feasibility and merit of different ideas and how they interact or compare. This means that there are not any arguments which I consider off-limits, and that I will evaluate every argument. That being said, pulling out all your random backfiles is not likely to get you very far, as most likely these arguments are weak by nature, and likely won't stand up to some of the stronger arguments out there.

Disads

I prefer specific disads, but of course that's not always possible. I find that disad links can be pretty awful, and think that it can be a great place for an aff to gain some ground against the disad. However, I think that disads with strong and well-explained links can be extremely convincing. Politics disads can either be underwhelming if extremely generic, or very solid arguments if your link story is a bit more nuanced then "some people in congress hate the plan, so congress will suddenly decide they hate immigration reform.".

Counterplans

I am not a fan of conditions counterplans, or any other counterplan that causes a very small change in the process the aff goes through (consult counterplans also fall under this catagory). I tend to think that they form boring and repetitive debates. I will still vote on them if you are winning the argument, but I find the theoretical objections to them to be pretty convincing. I am a huge fan of specific pics. Any well-researched and well debated pic will likely give your speaker points a boost. I am not a fan of generic pics, or some of the old-fashioned word pics, such as the "the" pic. I think advantage counterplans can be extremely stratagic, especially when paired with a strong disad.

Kritiks

Kritiks are great, but I am not very familiar with a lot of the more complex kritikal literature. This means you have to make your explanation of the argument clear to me, or I'll have a hard time voting on it. I have no problem with affirmatives that don't defend government action as long as they are relevant to the topic or have a convincing reason not to be, but at the same time I have no problem voting for framework if the negative gives me convincing reasons why debates about government action are more useful than what the affirmative performance is trying to do. I would prefer negatives use well thought-out counter-advocacies over framework as those debates tend to be more interesting, but I do believe that framework has its place in debate.


Topicality

I'd generally prefer a DA or K, but I think that topicality debates can be interesting in their own way. I think that high school debaters tend to expand the topic a little bit too far, and get away with affs that might not necessarily be topical. Running topicality against a clearly topical aff will most likely not get you anywhere, and should probably be replaced with more viable arguments.

Theory

I find that there are certain arguments in debate that seem polarizing, as far as if they are beneficial arguments that should be used in debate or not. For these arguments that do seem to spur disagreement, I think that theory can be a fantastic argument against them, and would enjoy seeing an in-depth theory debate about them. On the other hand, theory arguments arguing that you shouldn't speed read, that counterplans are bad for debate, or that kritiks belong in LD, I do not find convincing. You're not likely to win on these arguments unless the other team severely mishandles them, so you might as well actually engage in their arguments instead of trying to just ignore them. A questionable argument that has been well-researched and has specific evidence is much more likely to look legitimate to me than a generic counterplan that just pushes the aff back a year and claims a politics net benefit. I think that clash is one of the most important parts of debate, and that if an argument disagrees with the actual content of the 1AC in a substantial matter, it should be permitted in debate. If an argument tries to avoid clash in unhealthy ways (mostly in ways that don't promote topic-specific research), then I am more likely to decide that these arguments are illegitimate.

Conditionality - I think that more than two conditional arguments is pushing it, but I do not think there is much merit to saying that the negative cannot get even 1 conditional argument. If there's one conditional argument your time is probably better spent on debating the substance of the debate. I also think that you should make your argument as nuanced as possible, for example instead of saying just conditionality is bad, say that multiple contradictory conditional worlds is bad.


Speaker Points

I haven't judged enough rounds to have a well though-out system of giving speaker points, but in general better arguments will get better speaker points, and more persuasive speakers will get better speaker points.