I went to Cardinal Spellman high school in the Bronx. In addition to being the alma matter of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor among other things it had a forensics team that competed nationwide. My senior year I was proud to say I was President of that forensics team. For 4 years I competed on the forensics team’s cross-ex debate team. To this day I credited my experience on that team as being a major part in the development of who I am today. The rules of cross-ex debate were simple enough if you were on the affirmative side of a debate you needed to show:
Significance of both the problem and that the benefit must be substantial enough to merit changing state or national policies affecting millions of people.
Inherency of the the problems cited must be inextricably connected to elements of the status quo are relatively enduring or are unique to the status quo or cannot be eliminated without reform to the status quo.
Plan that includes a concrete description of actions that will be taken to solve the problems cited in enough detail that the negative can understand and, potentially, criticize it. And finally
Solvency – present claims and ground to prove the benefits of the plan and that is it solves the problems cited.
If you were on the negative side of the debate you could win by proving through evidence that just one of the above was not true.
This I learned as a teenager. Sadly in today’s highest chamber of debate, Congress, none of this is practiced. Instead the debates have devolved into a I want, you can’t have, battle based not on facts and evidence and most importantly what’s good for the country but rather special interest and if you have a (D) or a (R) after your name. Adults elected by the populous acting more like children and having temper tantrums when they can’t get their way.
I’m thankful for the life lessons debate taught me I just wished the majority in Congress would share in those lessons.