My initial thoughts for TP are that B would be safe and interesting, C would be fascinating, but potentially messy from a topicality standpoint, and A would have far too great a proportion of cases on immigration and narcotics (which I don't want to debate all year long). So B>C>>A.
A. Central America and Mexico is interesting and current. The problem, in my mind, is that cases will tend to focus on immigration, narcotics policy, and (to a lesser extent) free trade. Topicality seems to be quite clear cut, though (the only difference I have seen is that some Central American definitions include Mexico and some don't, but that doesn't matter since the resolution includes Mexico anyway), and there are several countries in the resolution, which allows for a broad range of affirmatives. It wouldn't be an awful resolution, but it is my least favorite of the three.
B. Right now, this is my favorite choice. The topicality debate will occur, but in my opinion, having some topicality debating is good for the quality of debate. Besides, the lines of argumentation for topicality should be fairly clear, revolving mainly around Taiwan and Hong Kong. While it is limited to one country, the variety of topics that can be covered is huge (cybersecurity, trade, South China Sea, human rights abuses, to name a few). There will also be an interesting dynamic at play - China is both a needed partner, as well as a powerful competitor, and U.S. policy must reflect that reality. The literature seems to be deep, so I think the quality of research would be good. I don't really see any major downsides; B seems to be safe choice that would lead to high-quality debating. It doesn't make any difference (that I can see), but it is interesting to note that the NSDA will be debating a similar (but more narrow) resolution for the 2016-2017 season: "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China."
C. I love the idea, but am concerned about the implementation. It would be broad, for one, and have a high number of cases reused from Middle East year, for another. I am also wondering how "reform foreign military presence" is defined - for example, would a case to increase the size of the U.S. Navy (or replace ship classes, etc.) count as "foreign presence" since the Navy does operate abroad (as the overview suggests)? Or would it be limited to cases that change specific foreign commitments? What about cases to reform, not the amount or location of U.S. military presence, but to reform how the U.S. military is used in those areas (changing mission goals, degree of cooperation with allies, etc.)? I am still considering this as an option, but it seems it could get somewhat messy.
As for LD, I think C>A>B, but I really don't know enough about LD to say. B would have way too much judge bias (the option from last year, "judicial activism v. judicial restraint", would have been better), and I know that C is actually a very interesting topic for discussion (C.S. Lewis's essay "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment" would be worth consulting for NEG).
Connor T. Daniels | Hillsdale College '21
NCFCA Region VIII, UADC
"Yea, I am free, strong in the strength of truth." ~ Teiresias (in Oedipus Rex)