Discover more from Victory Briefs
The Victory Briefs LD Newsletter: 8/30-9/6
Congratulations to Orange County School of the Arts’ Iva Liu for championing the 2023 Loyola Invitational. In semifinals, Iva defeated Troy’s Andrew Park on a 2-1 decision (Burke*, McLoughlin, Mirza). Additional congratulations to L.C. Anderson’s Nathaniel Watkins for being the top speaker.
Full pairings and results can be found here.
Victory Briefs Classroom Announcement
Victory Briefs Classroom is the only comprehensive education platform for Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum debate. Whether you’re a novice or expert, student or coach, we have everything you need to become a successful debater or to run a successful program.
Virtual Classroom – The platform includes an expansive and ever-growing collection of high-quality, curated debate lessons & lectures. As of today, we have more than 100 lessons & lectures, with over 250 supplemental activities designed by some of the best instructors in the nation. Virtual Classroom will be continuously growing the library through regular updates, with the aim of being the most expansive online debate curriculum available. We also have a dedicated Novice Core Curriculum and Effective Altruism Curriculum available for everyone at no cost.
Topic Briefs - Since 1991, Victory Briefs has produced the most trusted debate topic briefs in the country. Written by experienced coaches and VBI instructors, our briefs contain numerous topic analyses, and hundreds of pieces of evidence. New to the briefs subscriptions this year are Topic Previews. On the day topic voting opens, we’ll send a sneak peek of our full topic brief for each potential topic at no additional cost. Like the briefs, the preview will contain topic analyses and starter evidence. Our intent is to help teams make informed decisions when voting and to jumpstart topic preparation. As usual, the full brief for the chosen topic will be sent around ten days after the topic is officially announced.
Post-Loyola Topic Thoughts
by Lizzie Su, Amadea Datel, and Iris Chen
With the end of the Loyola Invitational, here are some initial thoughts and trends on the topic!
Common advantages. As expected, most advantages were some variation of "homelessness bad" – econ and structural violence were the most common scenarios, arguing that homelessness prevented job retention and exacerbated unequal living situations. Some affs also included a disease advantage that argued that homelessness contributes to disease spread through limited access to healthcare and crowded living conditions. Even though I would err away from econ impacts in (especially new) 1ACs due to the threat of dedev on a topic with otherwise scarce neg ground, most advantages that fell into this “homelessness bad” category were the “truer” – and thus better – ones on the topic.
The degrowth aff took a different approach – it argued that a rights-based conception of housing challenges prevailing views of housing as property that lead to unsustainable growth. Although I was skeptical that the right to housing could be the one measure that causes us to reverse course on economic growth, I would be interested to see more solvency evidence on the question.
Specification. Rural housing was the only aff that specified the right to housing for a particular people/area. It included a trust advantage about the lack of housing undermining institutional and governmental trust, and a rural jobs advantage about housing shortages preventing worker retention and harming economic development. Despite advantages specific to rural housing, the aff did not have a solvency advocate about the right to rural housing, which might explain the shortage of spec affs overall.
However, several teams specified a process or actor. For example, the Green New Deal aff defended Sanders’ and Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to create two grant programs to achieve carbon neutrality in public housing, producing a climate advantage. If this model of aff becomes more common at future tournaments, neg teams could start reading different mechanisms for guaranteeing a right to housing as counterplans.
Phil affs. Phil affs were not too common at Loyola, but both Kant and pragmatism made an appearance. Kant affs read offense about promise breaking, drawing on the U.S.’s promises to housing in international treaties, and the principle of independence constraining exclusionary zoning ordinances. Pragmatism affs argued that housing created a language of common humanity, encouraging participation and deliberation, but mostly functioned as tricks affs.
Topicality and theory. Since most affs defended the whole resolution, topicality was less common than on most topics, and debaters instead turned to spec shells about enforcement/implementation, the actor of the plan, and the recipients of a right to housing. However, one interpretation that most affs violated argued that guaranteeing a right to housing is distinct from taking concrete, specific actions to procure houses for the public, since a “right” is not the same as a remedy. While this argument should have been a solvency, not a topicality argument (since it did not argue that the aff was not defending the resolution, but that it did not solve its advantages), it did raise questions about whether affs had to fiat actions like the construction of houses or funding for housing vouchers to solve their advantages, which the neg could take advantage of through PICs out of the topic.
Against affirmatives that defended subsets of the resolution, negs prepared definitions of the words “right” and “guarantee” that implied a right to housing must be unconditional and granted to all people, which became widespread after teams broke the rural housing aff.
Topic disadvantages. Common "core of the topic" DAs detailed the negative impacts of affordable housing construction. Almost all teams read rent control, econ, and/or builder confidence DAs. One team also read the biodiversity DA about the environmental effects of housing, yet this argument was more of an internal link turn since it depended on the aff increasing housing construction (forcing the neg to argue “homelessness good” absent specific links about how the “right to housing” increased construction while counterplans did not). All these DAs also ran into issues with regards to what a right to housing entails and whether the aff defends the construction of new homes.
There was an almost surprising number of DAs concerning the legal implications of a right to housing – for example, several teams read DAs about how a right to housing eviscerates property rights, judicial independence, and federalism. The court clog DA was also popular and strategic since it was a net benefit to many counterplans (the states CP and rights PIC come to mind), although DAs of this nature do not have the strongest internal links to an existential impact and therefore seem contrived.
Politics and elections. As expected, there were a few different agenda politics disadvantages read throughout the tournament, with the two most prominent being the farm bill and Ukraine aid DAs. As Congress returns from recess, we can expect to see updates on each of these bills, as well as new pieces of legislation that a right to housing could interfere with! Negatives that wish to read politics DAs will have to find some way to grapple with affs that don’t defend Congressional action (along with other issues concerning politics DAs in general), whether that entails a court politics DA, reverse agenda politics DA, or something else!
The 2024 elections disadvantage was also quite common (and even made an appearance as an aff advantage!). There was a good bit of variety in how teams read this DA – teams read links both to the content and economic effects of the plan, and impacts about both Biden and Trump wins causing extinction. It could be strategic for affs to straight turn this DA, although most evidence on the bipartisan nature of the plan claims that affordable housing, not a *right* to housing, is popular (with the latter entailing larger amounts of government spending). With that said, affs should leverage the fact that the 2024 elections are over a year away, which should significantly reduce the credibility of polls that negative uniqueness evidence cites.
Impact turns. Impact turn-heavy 1NCs were quite common at Loyola, given that it was the season's first tournament, but I expect these strategies to remain popular throughout the topic given the lack of topic DAs. In particular, dedev and “slow growth good” link to many affs (as explained above).
Advantage CPs. Against affirmatives with econ or inequality advantages, neg teams read various counterplans that defended policies such as a federal jobs guarantee or universal basic income and avoided disadvantages like the court clog or elections DAs, and we can expect to continue seeing such counterplan innovation given the number of proposals that can address both homelessness and its impacts.
Agent CPs. Agent counterplans were one of the most common kinds of counterplans read this past weekend. Most teams read the states CP alongside a disadvantage to the federal government implementing a right to housing (usually a 2024 elections or agenda politics disadvantage). However, aff teams could define “United States” to include state governments since the resolution does not include the term “United States federal government,” causing the states CP to lose to “perm do the counterplan.”
Process CPs. Teams also read courts counterplans with a few different internal net benefits. One popular version of this counterplan was the customary international law counterplan, which had the federal judiciary rule that failure to implement a right to housing violates customary international law. Another version of the courts counterplan had the Supreme Court rule over the international right to housing with a net benefit of modeling and commitment to international human rights.
The uncooperative federalism counterplan also made a few appearances to trip up aff teams unfamiliar with this generic. While the counterplan fiats state action, the federal government ultimately still implements a right to housing, which makes solvency deficits harder to generate (“states fail to implement the plan,” for example, does not apply).
PICs. One particularly strategic counterplan read by a few different teams in various ways is the PIC out of a *right* to housing. Counterplans that defended “guaranteeing housing” or “social housing” tested “rights key” warrants in the aff, with various net benefits. These net benefits were usually disadvantages to using the courts as an actor or the plan reinforcing “rights discourse” (questionably a consequence of the plan).
Other PICs included the Hawaii PIC and Puerto Rico PIC, both of which included softer left net benefits about sovereignty. Throughout the topic, we can expect to see a broader range of counterplans that PIC out of various locations (and perhaps even groups of people), potentially with hard-right net benefits.
This weekend saw the usual afropessimism, capitalism, and settler colonialism kritiks, each with links to both a right to housing and housing in the abstract. Other Ks with rights links included the anarchism K and Agamben biopolitics K.
Interestingly enough, teams broke a few Ks with links to specific affs, including a kritik of sustainable development goals (against the SDGs aff) and development rhetoric (against the urban resilience aff).
The most common NCs were libertarianism, Kant, and Hobbes. Although debaters read similar offense under libertarianism and Kant (about the right to housing being a “positive” rather than a “negative” right and requiring taxation), libertarianism struck me as a more strategic option given that it was far more difficult for the aff to read offense under that framework.
Despite the difficulties in defending such a far-right position, the libertarianism NC does appear to be the more plausible neg arguments given the shortage of disads on the topic, and I was surprised that it did not make an appearance in more rounds (perhaps a result of Loyola being a west coast tournament that gravitated towards policy and K debates).
We hope these topic thoughts have been helpful in informing your prep for the rest of September/October – feel free to reach out to any of us if you have questions!
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Su debated for Mountain House High School. During her senior year, she broke at the Tournament of Champions and reached late elimination rounds at several national tournaments. She taught at both sessions of VBI this past summer and is currently coaching the DebateDrills Club Team.
Amadea Datel is a senior at Dartmouth College who debated college policy at both Columbia and Dartmouth. She reached the quarterfinals at the Gonzaga Jesuit Debates and won the University of Minnesota College Invitational, the Crowe Warken Debates at USNA, and the Mid America Championship, ranking as the 25th team nationally her sophomore year. In high school, she built and coached her school’s LD debate team, won several tournaments in Massachusetts, and was the top speaker and a semifinalist at the MSDL State Championship and the first student from her school to qualify for NSDA and NCFL Nationals, clearing at the former. She is currently the Co-Director of LD at the Victory Briefs Institute and an Assistant Coach at Apple Valley High School.
Iris Chen debated at Harvard-Westlake for four years. Iris qualified to the Tournament of Champions twice, reached late elimination rounds at the Heritage and St. Marks Invitationals, and received invitations to the Berkeley and Presentation Round Robins. Iris’s favorite arguments in debate are impact turns, IR-based arguments and topicality. Iris taught at both sessions of VBI this summer and is currently coaching the DebateDrills Club Team.
Eva Lamberson competed in Lincoln Douglas for four years at Canfield High School in Ohio. Eva was a two time NCFL Grand National Tournament qualifier, a tournament which they championed in 2018. Eva was also a two time NSDA National qualifier, where they advanced to round 12 both years, placing 15th in 2017 and 11th in 2018. They have been coaching for four years, and are currently the LD coach for the Hawken School. Eva has coached students to qualify to all three major national tournaments - NSDA, NCFL, and TOC. Students Eva has coached have reached late outrounds or finals at tournaments like the UK season opener, Yale, Durham, the OH State Tournament, NCFLS, and NSDAs, and have championed tournaments like Pennsbury, the OH State Tournament, and the NCFL Grand National Tournament. Eva was on the 2023-24 NSDA LD Topic Wording Committee. They studied philosophy, English, and religion at Youngstown State University, where they championed the 2020 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Competition and the 2023 NEDA National Competition in Policy. Eva has worked with VBI for six years and is the Director of Social Media.