The 2AC

The first speech in the debate is a “canned speech.”  The second speech (1NC) is largely canned — coaches will prepare novice debaters with a few staple off-case negative arguments that they should be able to use in almost any debate for their first tournament — spending, federalism, maybe the states counterplan, maybe the environmental managerialism kritik.

Novices that have a basic understanding of these arguments will fill-up a good portion of their 1NC with these arguments, using any remaining time to do the best job they can attacking the affirmative case.

The 2AC gets more difficult, however, because there will be a less predictable set of arguments. Of course, novices should prepare in advance to answer those arguments by writing briefs/getting briefs from varsity debaters, but they may have to both answer arguments on the fly and also figure out what is important.

In this essay, I will identify some critical things novices should do to give a strong 2AC —

Answer topicality.  An astronomical number of novice debates are determined by whether or not the affirmative team answers the negative’s topicality argument(s) in the 2AC.  If affirmative teams do not answer topicality in the 2AC and the negative extends it then the affirmative will lose, regardless as to how well they debate and answer all of the other arguments in the debate.  Answering topicality in the 1AR is not sufficient – it MUST be answered in the 2AC.  This also applies to procedural arguments such as ASPEC and vagueness.

Answer all off-case positions.  While you HAVE to answer topicality, answering topicality alone is not sufficient; you must answer the other off-case positions.  Unlike topicality, you may still be able to win if you drop other off-case arguments by outweighing disadvantages and kritiks with your own affirmative case, but it will be very difficult for you to win if you do not answer them at all.

Allocate your time.  When you are a beginner, the best thing to do is to keep it simple.  You want to divide your 2AC time by the total number of off-case positions, leaving yourself two minutes to answer any case arguments that they may make. If they presented three off-case arguments, you need to spend two minutes on each off-case argument and then spend two minutes on the case.  If your 2AC block against one of the off-case arguments takes more than two minutes to read, simply stop reading it after two minutes; otherwise, you’ll risk dropping another one of the off-case arguments.

Flow. Novices are usually able to get through the first couple tournaments without flowing because there are very few arguments in the debates. After a couple of tournaments, however, there are more arguments in the debate and negatives need to learn how to flow to answer them.

Maintain argument diversity. In the 2AC, you need to present a series of *different* arguments against 1NC arguments.  Last weekend, for example, one of my novices read 10 CARDS that said that health care will not pass. This over-allocation of time on the health care disadvantage (and with only one argument) meant that he ended-up dropping some other arguments and lost the debate.

Write your own speech. Novices often need to help each other prepare their own speeches, but novices cannot become dependent on their partners. 2ACs need to prepare and deliver their own speeches.

Organize your refutation. As with all speeches, you do not want to skip around from argument to argument. If the 1NC presents a disadvantage, a counterplan, and a kritik, answer them in order; do not jump around from one argument to another argument.

Give an “order.” If the negative runs “substantial” topicality, a spending disadvantage, a politics disadvantage, and an environmental managerialism kritik, when you stand up to do the 2AC, you need to tell the judge what order you will be answering the arguments in.  This is referred to as a “road map.”

This is just a general overview; we will discuss how to answer these arguments in the next section.