Two members of the Hillsdale Debate Team traveled to California on a scouting trip of sorts with hopes of returning with information on the differences between Midwest and West Coast Lincoln Douglas debate.
Between the Midwest and the West Coast, there are not many Lincoln Douglas debate programs. The teams that Hillsdale College usually sees at competition hail from the Midwest and Eastern seaboard. This spring, however, the National Forensics Tournament is located in Los Angeles, CA. Coach Matthew Doggett and team members sophomore Jadon Buzzard and sophomore T.J. Wilson traveled to the Horton Cup Debate Tournament in Sacramento, CA. Both Buzzard and Wilson broke into the open rounds; Wilson made it to quarterfinals and Buzzard to semifinals.
“This tournament definitely lived up to Hillsdale students rejoice in the challenge,” Doggett said. “They had to get up early to catch a plane. We had a problem with the car tires. Then we flew out there — and there’s a three-hour difference — debated all day Saturday, and then flew back on Sunday. They got back at about 12 a.m. and hadn’t had any sleep since the previous morning.”
The trio found that Midwest Lincoln Douglas debate is much more policy-based.
“It’s more based upon the technicalities of policy and the impacts of the policy,” Buzzard said. “The West Coast is more based on the assumptions you’re making when you run your policy in the round. So you’re assuming some kind of bad mindset, and we should talk about that first.”
Doggett, Buzzard, and Wilson had some idea of the differences they would encounter on the West Coast. They tailored their research for the tournament so they might be better prepared to combat those arguments.
“We had some idea that they cared more about the mindsets of your policymaking,” Wilson said. “A lot of research went into trying to understand what they might be doing in that regard instead of trying to figure out all the different policy issues.”
While most Lincoln Douglas teams on the West Coast are concentrated in California, more teams are popping up in Oregon, Washington, and surrounding states. The teams are switching over from parliamentary debate.
“Parliamentary debate on the West Coast is super fast, and the argumentation is very shallow because there’s not a lot of evidence that’s used because it’s not policy,” Buzzard said. “Teams are thinking that the type of debate is not as educational as Lincoln Douglas policy since you get a while to prepare and can actually read evidence in a round.”
The first weekend of spring break, a handful of members will travel to John Carroll University for a tournament. After the break, the team will head to New York City for the Pi Kappa Delta national tournament.