How to Answer a Politics Disadvantage


The Basic Politics Disadvantage

The most common Politics disadvantage is a “Political Capital” disadvantage that says that Biden is pushing a particular agenda in Congress (for example, he was pushing Ukraine aid), that Biden will succeed in the status quo due to his possession and use of political capital and that if Biden pushes the plan that will burn up his political capital, burning it at least enough that he will not have enough left to get the other agenda item (example: Ukraine aid) through and that particular agenda item is good for a number of reasons.

This is the most common version of the disadvantage. Some versions have different internal links – need “bipartisan support” or “GOP unity” – to get to the impact (instead of the political capital internal link) but the argument is basically the same.

Answering Politics Disadvantages

All disadvantages must have uniqueness, internal links, and impacts, so you really attack the Politics disadvantage the same way you attack any other disadvantage, but I will identify some arguments that are specific to Politics here.

Attacking the uniqueness

There are a number of different types of uniqueness that should be attacked when going after the politics DA.

Item passage. If the Negative wants to win that Obama needs capital to get X agenda item passed, they have to win that the agenda item will pass now. The most common way to attack the Politics DA is to argue that the agenda item won’t pass now.

Political capital expenditure. The Negative also needs to win that Biden is currently spending political capital on the agenda item and that he wants it to pass. ‘Just because Biden wants something to pass doesn’t mean that he is spending capital on it.

Item on the “docket.” The agenda item may not have a formal place in the docket, but the Negative needs to win that the agenda item/issue is under active consideration by Congress.

Thumpers. Thumpers are a fourth type of uniqueness attack that the Affirmative can make on the DA. Thumpers are simply other things on the agenda that Biden is spending political capital on or represent issues that are causing a lot of political infighting in Congress (since the Negative will often read link cards just about “fighting” or people being upset by the plan.

This is an example of a  “thumpers” card.

Amber Phillip 9-14, 15, DOA: 9-19-15, Amber Phillips writes about politics for The Fix. She was previously the one-woman D.C. bureau for the Las Vegas Sun and has reported from Boston and Taiwan

To recap, we have the Planned Parenthood debate, the Export-Import Bank, debates over military vs. domestic spending, the Iran nuclear deal and the debt limit all threatening to play a part in at least a temporary government shutdown. Oh yeah, and Congress still has to okay a fund by Oct. 29 to help pay for highways and bridges (known as the Highway Trust Fund). Put that all together, and it’s 75 percent likely the government will shut down for at least a day or two, Jim Manley, a former high-ranking Senate Democratic aide to then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), told The Fix. There’s simply too much to get done and too many pressure points. Manley’s original prediction was 70 percent, but he said in an e-mail to The Fix on Monday that Republicans’ failure to derail the Iran nuclear deal and the White House’s apparent unwillingness to negotiate on Planned Parenthood has upped the odds.

It is good to look for thumpers before the tournament, because when you research for thumpers you will learn what the current relevant issues in Congress actually are. This means you will (hopefully) not lose to something that is currently not even under consideration in Congress.

If the Aff has some different thumpers to choose from and can read one that is specific to the link, that is best. So for example, if the Negative’s link is that “Republicans oppose autonomous medical decision-making for adolescents,” the Affirmative is best off reading a thumper that says that Republicans are already mad about something else (examples: Biden’s “open border”) then this thumper non-uniques the link, which is really what a thumper does.

Attack the internal link uniqueness. If the internal link is that Obama needs political capital to get an agenda item passed, argue that he has no political capital. If the internal link is that bipartisan support is key to getting an agenda item passed, argue there is partisanship now. If the internal link is general infighting, argue there is infighting now.

Attack the impact uniqueness. Although more difficult, you can attack the impact uniqueness to the disadvantage. For example, if the impact is economic growth good you can say there is an economic decline now.

Attacking the link

There are two ways that you can attack the link. You can say that there is no link — no political opposition to the plan and you can argue a link turn – that the plan is popular in Congress for some particular reason. You can also argue that it is popular with some specific group or political party (moderate Democrats, Democrats) or with some particularly important Senator or Representative.

Since most judges will grant the Negative some risk of the disadvantage if you do not have offense (a link turn or an impact turn).

You can also attack the link in terms of the agent of action in the plan. For example, if your plan uses the courts, you can argue the courts don’t link to politics (there are arguments that the courts do link to politics).

Attacking the internal link

There are a couple ways the internal link cam be attacked. First, you can argue that concepts such as “political capital” are not that important to the agenda.

Second, you can argue that if Obama is strong and pushes through something that is not particularly popular that he will be seen as a “winner” and “winners-win.”

Sometimes the internal link is completely missing.  I’ve seen politics disadvantages like this —

A. Government Shutdown will be averted Now

B. GOP doesn’t like the plan

C. Government shutdown destroys the economy

In this instance, the Negative never read an internal link that claimed that alienating the GOP would lead to a shut-down of the government.  Unfortunately for the Aff, they never even pointed that out.

Attacking the impact

There are two types of arguments that can be made against the impact – impact take-outs and impact turns

Impact takes outs just deny the impact – economic decline doesn’t cause war, there won’t be wars in Asia. It’s hard to have answers to every single impact, but if you have a some general impact defense arguments (coming soon on this site!) you can at least make some impact defense arguments.   If you don’t, the negative will argue that even a small risk of the end of the world means you should vote Neg.

Impact turns say that opposite of the impact is true – for example, “government shut-down is good.”

Other “theoretical” arguments

There are a number of other theory arguments that you can make against the DA. These are hard to win in most instances, but making them is quick, sucks up 2NC time, and sometimes teams don’t know how to answer them.

  • Biden won’t push the plan
  • Plan would come up after the agenda item resolved (plan is the bottom of the docket)


There are two important things to know –

  • Some of these arguments are better in some situations than others, which is why it is important to know at least some about what is going on in terms of the Congressional docket.
  • All of the arguments are not consistent – link turns and impact turns can be double turns