I'm new to debate, so please correct me if I am wrong, but I have been told that a counterplan should not affirm the resolution. The judge is voting to either affirm or negate the resolution. If the judge is convinced that federal election law should be significantly reformed in the United States, he/she should vote affirmative, which means voting for the resolution--regardless of which team/plan convinced him/her. I would simply explain that to the judge.
Is it true that counterplans should not affirm the resolution?
When it comes to this issue, there are two camps. At risk of over-simplifying or misrepresenting, I'll try to explain them to you.Rez-centrism
is what you are describing. Under a rez-centrist framework, the affirmative team's role is to affirm the resolution, and the negative team needs to negate the resolution. If you subscribe to this theory, then topical counterplans are a no-no, for the reasons you described. This is the more traditional approach.Parametrics
holds that when the affirmative team chooses a case in the 1AC, they automatically shrink the resolution to encompass only their plan (for the purposes of that round). In other words, the negative team's job is to negate the affirmative team, but not necessarily the entire resolution (only the parts that the affirmative team upholds). Under this theory, the resolution serves less as a mechanism for selecting the winner of the round and more as a limiter on the case that the affirmative can choose. And obviously, topical counterplans can be legitimized with parametrics, as long as the CP is competitive. This is a newer approach.
The debate between these two camps is never-ending, and it happens every so often here on HSD. In fact, I think we're about due for another parametrics thread
(jk), but if you look in the theory section or theory archives, or search for "parametrics", you should find a thread (or several) discussing this in a very in-depth fashion.
Personally, I tend to agree with you, but I'd like to run a topical CP and argue for parametrics sometime this year, just for fun.
Maybe I'll run Halogen's CP!