Resolved: In the United States, Public Policy decisions should be made via a Public Referendum
Round 1: Acceptence
Round 2: Opening
Round 3: Rebuttal
Round 4: Summary
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I would say that for the merits of debate, we shouldn't argue that every policy choice is made via referendum, only the major ones. With that, I will begin with the negative case.
Observation: For the educational merits of debate, we should look to the most likely form of a national referendum. The most likely form is similar to the one we saw with the recent "Brexit" referendum; a consecutive, one day, national referendum.
Contention One is Drowning out Minority Voices.
The fault with a national vote is that it suppresses minorities. Explanation: The Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 66% of Americans are white. This means that inherently, a Public Referendum will represent the voices of White Americans while shutting down the voices of minority voters. This is problematic, because 6 states, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada, have a racial composition where at least half of the population is non white. In this case, the status quo is better. These minority groups can elect candidates who represent their interests on a national scale, and because candidates are elected by district and/or state, the minorities voices aren't drowned out by the White Majority. This is not just a hypothetical impact either. When analyzing the results of the "Brexit" referendum, we can see that the Leave group won 51.9 to 48.1. However, the thinly populated Scotland voted 62% to remain, with the Remain group winning every single district in Scotland. As a result, NBC news reports that Scotland is now again seeking to politically break away from the UK. There is no reason to expect that this political fracturing won't happen in the United States as well.
Not only will racial minorities be ignored, but those who live in smaller states as well. US News explains that a national, one day vote, would have the smaller states mostly ignored while campaigning would center around the larger, more populous states. US News furthers that as a result of the sheer scale of one day voting, the role of money in politics is increased.
Contention 2 is that Referendums are irresponsible.
The Week explains quote:
The people of Britain voted to leave the European Union, but they should never have been given that power. Referendums are a manifestation of lazy government — a tool used by responsibility-shirking leaders who want to wriggle their way out of difficult decision-making.
Now, a newly severed, internally fractured U.K. Faces years of political and financial instability as it tries to find its feet. It's a spectacular mess, created entirely by British Prime Minister David Cameron. He called the referendum in 2013, not because he believed Britain's EU membership needed to be debated but to shore up his own power base. The prime minister thought he could placate the vocal Euroskeptic wing of his Conservative Party, and woo voters away from the anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party, by announcing a referendum he was confident he could win. But his political gamble backfired, costing Cameron — who headed the Remain campaign — his job and legacy. Britain will pay a much steeper price.
The affirmative makes a couple of fatal flaws in his last round. Let's start by addressing them all.
First, my oppenet only makes one argument for the affirmation. He says that referendums are needed for when the government does not have the courage to act. Recognize that this helps my side because of what I tell you in contention 2. Referendums to make policies are a sign of a government that doesn't want responsibility for its actions. Politicians can just say " The people decided this policy, so I have no accountability if it back fires", even if they where massive lobbyists for said policy. At that point, all offense goes to the neg.
Than my opponent misinterprets both of my arguments. First he says that "every vote counts equally". The problem with that is two fold. First, the evidence shows you that the will of the Scottish people was to remain a member of the EU. But because England is more populated, an entire country was forced into a policy against its will. But secondly, look to the argument I make about states. In national voting, only the big states get any attention, meaning the issues that pertain to the smaller states are more likely to be undermined or ignored.
Secondly he writes off my second contention by making a giant assumption that I disagreed with Brexit. I didn't ever state that. My advocacy is that referendums should never be used to make diocesans because of the reasons I outline. My stance on the result of Brexit doesn't matter, because my stance is against the existence of such referendums.
Thus, I negate.
My opponent says the evidence shows that the will of the Scottish people was to remain. But the evidence doesn't show that. The evidence shows that only 62% of Scots wanted to remain. He is not counting the other 38% that wanted to leave which combined with the other English, Irish, Welsh people that wanted to leave made up the majority. So you can't say the Scots voices were drowned out. They were heard just as much as everyone else's, just as much as the Scots who wanted to leave. It just so happened more voices wanted to leave.
Referendums are a valuble tool for democracy. Look at the current situation in congress. They are setting records for being some of the least productive years in the history of the congress. They can barely keep themselves from shutting down. Polls show a vast majority of Americans are in favor of certain laws. Like for example universal background checks. But too many of our elected officials lack the courage to stand up to the NRA. A referendum would put the power back in the people's hands when elected officials fail to do their jobs. A referendum is the purest form of democracy. A vote against referendum is a vote against democracy.