CX: Delay Advocating a Counterplan

One of the saddest ways for me to deliver an affirmative ballot in a CX round is when the negative tries to be clever without actually thinking through what they’re saying. This is why I have previously explained How To Negate, but sometimes you’ll be on the affirmative when the negative tried to be clever and fails. For example, consider this disadvantage/counterplan pairing:

“Plan costs political capital which derails legislation X; counter-plan: delay plan until after legislation X.”

Now the affirmative needs to respond.

First, political capital is nonsense that’s a decade out of date: it’s trying to apply hard economy to soft power in a way that cannot be consistently measured and is always suffering from multivariate complexities. Slate has an article on where political capital jumped the shark.

Second, at the point where the negative guarantees that legislation X will happen — which is dodgy if they’re not actively fiating legislation X (which probably would’ve been a better counterplan) — then they’ve also guaranteed that plan will happen, thus effectively affirming the resolution which did not specify a timeline (only a decision), especially if they don’t have any other offense against plan. There are a variety of ways to run conditioned, delayed, and conditionally delayed counterplans, but guaranteeing that the plan happens at some point in time is not one of them.

Third, when we put the first two together, we realize that what the counterplan really does — by the bullshit logic of the negative — is simply sacrifice some unknown piece of future legislation by spending political capital on plan. For example, let’s say that our plan is to colonize the moon. But the negative says we need to spend political capital on immigration reform before we colonize the moon and we can’t possibly do both. So “Counterplan: delay moon colonization until after immigration reform.” But what if we hit the debt ceiling again right after we pass immigration reform? Well, we’d start to colonize the moon but, having spent all that (BS) political capital on colonizing the moon, we’d fail to raise the debt ceiling and then we’d be bankrupt and — because this is CX — Extinct! Because Nuke War!!1!One!!

Beyond all that, when the negative claims that political capital should be a consideration, they’ve granted the affirmative de facto inherency regardless of the state of the plan vis-a-vis reality (because “not wanting to spend political capital is an inherent barrier”) but — worse — they’ve also made Those Assholes Over There the inherent barrier which promotes divisive politics, a winner-take-all privatization of public policy, and reinforces the message to young people that despotism is preferable to democracy for solving the world’s problems. (Suck it, “fairness and education.”)

But overall: if the judge accepts political capital (they shouldn’t) and accepts that the negative can affirm the resolution (they shouldn’t), then the negative counterplan should still lose the round because it’s got a logically guaranteed disadvantage at the bottom of it, the scope of which the negative team hasn’t even begun to consider when they tried to steal affirmative ground.

Probably the only way it gets worse is if the negative also claims that the affirmative plan is too vague to be passed, and then they couch it on a delayed counterplan. That goes on the flow as “We haven’t a clue what it does, but we’re totally doing it too!” which is the wrong thing to say at a Frat Party and a worse thing to say when developing Public Policy. So don’t say it.