Loose Nukes Because every debate can be improved with a little highly-enriched uranium.

30Mar/115

Democracy is bad

Or, at least, democracy disadvantages are.

Democracy disadvantages: The conventional approach

Essentially, the Negative reads some statistics indicating that the general public dislikes the plan, and says something like the following:

"This nation was built upon the principle of democracy - the principle of majority rule. By passing a plan that is against the will of the majority, the Affirmative is violating democracy. We must uphold our constitution! Vote Negative! Freedom! Democracy! Conservative defense tax cuts constitution balanced budget small business Reagan!"

Et cetera. I used to run this on occasion. This disadvantage has a lot of appeal - all it requires is a stack of survey results and the ability to wax eloquent about the blood of our forefathers. It's also a really bad argument.

Why this is a bad argument

Debate becomes useless.

Think about it this way. If the plan is unpopular, the Negative can run a democracy disadvantage. If the plan is popular, the Affirmative can run a democracy disadvantage against the Negative - the status quo doesn't uphold democracy, so it's a reason for reform. If democracy violation is a voter, then the popularity of the plan is suddenly the only thing that matters. If it's popular, Aff wins. If it's unpopular, Neg wins.

Obviously, spending the entire round trying to prove that your plan is popular is not very educational. You can also make a uniqueness argument - the status quo does not always uphold majority rule, so the impacts are clearly not large.

So when does popularity matter?

Simple: When it has situation-specific real-world impacts. Let's look at two arguments.

Argument 1: "The majority doesn't like this, which is inherently bad because of democracy."

Argument 2: "The majority doesn't like this, so they'll try to undermine it, killing your solvency."

The first is a no-go, but the second is entirely legitimate (provided you have the necessary evidence, of course.) Since it's a factual, real-world issue, you can have a reasonable debate about it. Such an argument expands the educational scope of debate, rather than impeding it.

There's a reason why I say situation-specific real-world impacts, by the way. Pure democracy violation is technically a real-world impact (undermining future majority rule, or something) but it isn't tied to any specific plan - anything unpopular links to it. Rejecting universally-applicable arguments keeps things sane.

Extend-o-tron 5000: Yet another theory block

Here's a sample theory block against democracy disadvantages. (You knew it was coming...)

"The Negative argued that, because our plan is not favored by the majority, it therefore violates the principles of democracy. We believe that you shouldn't vote on whether our plan is popular; you should vote on whether it's a good idea. Accepting the Negative's argument renders debate useless. Here's why.

"If the Affirmative plan is unpopular, then the Negative can say it violates democracy, and they win. On the other hand, if the Affirmative plan is popular, then the Affirmative can argue that voting Negative violates democracy, and they win. Debate literally becomes a popularity contest.

"The majority isn't always right. Vote on whether our plan is a good idea."

A brief note on the lack of a theoretical framework

Theory buffs may be a bit unsatisfied by this. Like so many other theory issues, this is essentially an abuse-limitation argument - it doesn't have a neat resolutional framework to explain it. Unfortunately, none of the possible frameworks make much sense, so it's just another reminder that abuse is an inherent limit.

Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Oh, and also democracy is evil.
    I have ran a DA before of the AFF spreading democracy. And won on it. Run it.

    • You can make a strong case that trying to impose democracy on countries that aren’t “ready” for it is merely destabilizing. It sounds kind of wrong, but it’s empirically sound.

  2. A friend of mine points out another argument, which may help provide a framework: “An alternative argument could be that the judge, as the judge, is the people. Since power is in the hands of the people, and the judge has the power, ergo the judge represents the entirety of the US population.”

    Looking at it in this light cleans up the issue significantly. It may cause some reduction issues, however – can the judge fiat solvency? etc.

  3. i think the statement that the democracy DA is useless/bad for debate because popularity is the deciding factor in who wins the round isn’t correct because anyyyy/everyyy disadvantage can be outweighed by a good debater.

    secondly, democracy (or voter disenfranchisement, which is more like what I think you are refering to) can be a very benefitial argument to put persepctive on the round. especially for a domestic resolution. because we are in the US, the population’s voice (should) matters/matter and just like any other disadvantage, its an unwanted side-effect of w/e the aff plan may be.

    even though the difference is slight, i believe you are refering to a voter disenfranchisement DA, not a democracy DA (which is more of a kritik, than a disadvantage, anyway.)

    • Ethos calls this a voter disenfranchisement DA (a name which I believe they invented); most people who aren’t familiar with the term just call it a democracy DA. Doesn’t matter.

      The problem with outweighing is that the impacts of a “pure” democracy DA are exclusively metaphysical and idealistic. Without an actual real-world “X will happen” impact, nobody can say “democracy matters more than the economy, but less than starving Africans”.

      Without real-world consequences, democracy only has two statuses: voter or non-voter. If it’s a voter, debate is destroyed. If it’s not a voter, we’re all happy.

      You say that democracy can be a “beneficial argument to put perspective into the round”, but I can think of exactly zero cases where this is true. The only ones that come to mind are arguments like politix, where public opinion has real-world impacts. That’s not a democracy DA, that’s just a DA with a popularity-based link.


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