(Updated) LD Wording Committee Releases First Round of Topic Drafts, Seeks Input

Fort Lauderdale, FL — The LD wording committee has released an initial list of draft topic areas and is seeking constructive public input.  This is list consists of initial drafts of topics advanced through Monday Afternoon. These topics are extremely preliminary and largely based on the wordings submitted to the committee by NSDA members. These topics should be seen as starting points for conversations about the areas they represent. Commenters should free to suggest potential wordings and to make arguments for areas that they believe would generate the best debates.

The remaining topic categories (listed at the bottom of the document below) will be covered in Tuesday morning’s session.

Update 6/19 12:00 PM: This document has been updated with the remaining topic categories.


  • Tess Welch

    On elections topics:
    I believe that the second topic should stray away for the use “preferable”. Perhaps the word “more moral” or “more just”. I also believe that a better version of the topic would be one focusing on public funding or private funding. So it would go along the lines of “Public funding for elected office is just.” or “Public funding for elected office is moral”. Also, it could be something like, “Just governments ought to restrict private funding for elected office.” This would resolve implementation questions and also allow for the removal of the word preferable which, in my opinion, seems too subjective of a judgement. If saying just governments or making it an action statement doesn’t work or if the committee doesn’t agree, then I would suggest removing the term “funding for elected office” since that can be misconstrued to be funding elections as in the government that does them or funding democracy. I think it should say “Public funding for officials running for elected office” adding who the funding goes to solves those silly arguments.

    The last topic I think should specify who the right to vote should be guaranteed to by the constitution. That will exclude the debates about who constitutional protections apply too, because otherwise one could say that people who aren’t citizen and don’t live in the United States should get the right to vote in our election.

    On legal topics:
    I believe that the first topic should end in a period.

    I think the third topic should say the phrase “United States” as opposed to the “US”.

    On the right to die topics:
    The wording of “terminally ill patients” is problematic, especially when some are terminally ill due to disability. A preferable, non-oppressive term would be “patients who are terminally ill” or “patients who have a terminal prognosis”. This is a very easy fix to a big problem.

    The first topic, says FDA but does not talk about where the patients are, I think a better wording would be “In the United States, patients who are terminally ill should have access to non-FDA approved medical treatments.” Adding the phrase “in the united states,” ensures that the topic stays where FDA has jurisdiction and doesn’t have silly, ill-logical arguments that we know are likely to happen.

    The second topic says “to choose their own time to die.” I think a better wording would be one of “to choose how they die,” or “to choose when they die.” This also evades silly affirmatives where they specify that these patients can say 6:00 pm…

    On the indigenous peoples topics:
    I think the first topic should not be restricted to “morally obligated” I think the common trend of “ought” in resolutions allows for us to have that same discussion of morals but then also talk about other obligations that governments may have that conflict with moral obligations. I also think that the topic should add a qualifier to the reparations. A word like “sufficient” would be beneficial since it would exclude arguments saying the government could just pay everyone a penny.

    On the environmental topics:
    I believe the third topic should stray away from the phrase “developing nations.” Topics that have including that wording in the past, too often have criticisms of the phrase being condescending and imperialistic. Rather, the topic would benefit from talking about “nations they have harmed environmentally”. Also adding a word like sufficient before compensation will ensure that affirmatives do not defend a small amount that is not actually sufficient.

    Thank y’all very much for giving the community the opportunity to give their thoughts on the topics. We appreciate y’all taking the time to help write the topics that we spend the majority of our time thinking about, judging, coaching or debating.

  • Ishan

    Corporate personhood undermines democracy.

    I believe that this topic generalizes an issue that deserves more specificity. The topic literature on this issue covers a range of issues from lobbying, donations, independent advertising, super PACs, etc. I think the way that this is worded would lead to poor debates since it becomes reduced to whether these actions are good or bad. Controversy over the implementation over measures to STOP corporate influence provides better ground for either side. I would suggest:

    The United States ought to limit corporate personhood.

    Public funding for elected office is preferable to private funding.

    Again, I believe this resolution would be served better with a specific method of implementation – the current resolution would allow many debaters who seek to undermine the value of LD debate to run arguments circumventing the issue of the feasibility, validity, and political consequences of public funding. I believe this wording is better:

    The United States ought to institute a system of exclusive public funding for federal elections.

    Proportional representation is more democratic than territorial representation.

    This criticism also applies to the territories/proportionality topic because valuable questions that center on pragmatic concerns over implementation are circumvented. I additionally believe that LD debate teaches students so well because it encourages learning over the intricacies and specifics of various political issues. Vaguer, broader wordings, I believe, undermine this goal. A topic wording, I would prefer would look like:

    The United States ought to change its legislative election system to value proportional representation over territorial representation.

  • Jonathan Horowitz

    On Elections:

    I really like the proportional representation v. territorial representation topic area. Never really been researched in LD and has a lot of great evidence on both sides. However, the wording does need to eliminate or at least make the “We could do proportional representation through territories!” CP/NC much harder. Neither of the topic wordings do that. The debate will turn into a race for both the aff and neg to claim that middle ground instead of finding the core clash of the two ideals. Instead of that conflict, but having similar debates, it might be better to have a topic where the aff defends voting for a party where the neg defends voting for a person. I’m not quite sure the specific wording.

  • NelMen

    Hey everyone,

    I hope that we can come together as a community for a productive discussion to ensure good topics for next year instead of just flaming each other and topics we don’t like. Let’s work together to get a good list of well worded topics this year!!