In panic, I spent three entire minutes elaborating an argument of how the government would create reforms in education if the adjudicator supported my side.
The opposing speaker struck my case down by simply saying, “No, the government will not do that. The government is only interested in getting re-elected. There are millions of externalities that make the world suck.”
I thought back to the last time such a refutation was delivered. Ah, WUDC 2016. I remembered Bo Seo’s Marxist revolution proposal and how it got attacked by saying the government would never listen to such demand. Fanele demolished that point by explaining how the government does repair past injustices and refocused to debate on their principle-based case.
…a movement for the requirement and the request of higher education. To which the government said, “We simply do not have the money”. What they did is they stormed parliament and said “You will make it a mandatory requirement because our parents fought for the liberty that we were denied by the Apartheid regime”.
He used the #FeesMustFall movement as an example. What got that point across was his confident use of evidence, making us think it was probable that the government would indeed listen*.
Cool, right? Here, I’ve collected 6 proofs that the government has listened to issues most commonly discussed in the century. May all of us be able to make succinct pro-government points in our speeches.
Welfare (education): #FeesMustFall
#FeesMustFall was a student-led protest movement that began in mid-October 2015 in South Africa. The goals of the movement were to stop increases in student fees as well as to increase government funding of universities.
The 2015 protest ended when it was announced by the South African government that there would be no tuition fee increases for 2016. The protest in 2016 began when the South African Minister of Higher Education announced that there would be fee increases capped at 8% for 2017; however, each institution was given the freedom to decide by how much their tuition would increase.
By October 2016, the Department of Education estimated that the total cost in property damage due to the protest since 2015 had amounted to R600 million (equivalent to US$44.25 million).
In response to the protests, the South African government increased the amount budgeted for higher education by R17-billion over 3 years and stated that government subsidies to universities would increase by 10.9% a year1.
Welfare (economy): Yellow Vests strikes
The yellow vests movement is a grassroots movement for economic justice that started in France in October 2018. It continues to mobilize much of France’s population until now. Yellow vests are worn by the protesters to represent the working class, protesting for rising living costs and fuel prices. What progress has this movement seen?
President Emmanuel Macron’s government will offer French taxpayers new tax cuts on Friday in its 2020 budget, as he seeks to quell any future unrest that could derail his economic reforms. The budget will contain more than 10 billion euros ($11 billion) of new tax cuts, benefiting households in particular, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday2.
Environment: Turkey power plant termination
It was indeed tempting to use Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate as an example, but I’ve seen that example defeated simply because it existed in a developed country context, where environmental friendliness was more affordable. Here’s an example that’s harder to take down.
France’s state-run Engie has canceled its thermal power plant project in the southern Turkish district of İskenderun after protests both from local and global environmentalists.
Around 35 environmental groups, including WWF France, Greenpeace Turkey, and Climate Action Network Europe, said the project threatens citrus fruit production in the area and new coal plants put the livelihoods of 500,000 people at risk3.
Feminism: Equal Pay Day rally
What I’m going to show you here is a proof that the feminist movement is still making tangible change, to counter opponents that might say #MeToo has lost its direction and is now just a group of mad women. No, the feminist movement is not so obnoxious that the government is no longer willing to listen.
The truth is, we are still seeing legislative progress on feminism. On Equal Pay Day in 2017, thousands of women in the UK rallied for a legislation called gender pay gap reporting.
From that year on, any organization that has 250 or more employees must publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap4. This incentivizes companies to give the fairest wages possible, makes room for check and balance, and gives people a better idea of their prospects in a company.
Minority Movements: My Brother’s Keeper
The police are racist! Black people are giving up on school! …Well, that’s probably because you’ve got Donald Trump and a headstrong Republican government.
You see, when we had Obama as president, we’d gone so far as to make the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to supplement the education system for black people.
President Obama launched the initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
They accompany the journey of black kids from pre-school to their first time entering the workforce. Two of the six milestones the initiative ensures are that black kids graduate from high school ready for college and career and that they complete post-secondary education or training5.
We’re talking about the education that black people were denied in the Apartheid times, that made them get lower-paying jobs and more likely to commit crime. How is this not progress made by the government?
Peace and Democracy: Abiy Ahmed
Ethiopia was in war with Eritrea, and human rights were at an all-time low, sparking civil unrest. Following three years of protest, on 15 February 2018 the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, announced his resignation.
The figure who rose after that was Abiy Ahmed, who soon after won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Eritrean-Ethiopian war. Abiy Ahmed has also taken groups off the terror list, released political prisoners and journalists, and lifted bans on several websites.
He received astounding acclaim from the people.
Tom Gardner, a British journalist who lives in Addis Ababa, says there is an almost religious fervor to what has been dubbed “Abiymania.” “People talk quite openly about seeing him as the son of God or a prophet,” he says6.
So how do I use these cases in debates?
Lots of ways.
The above cases can be used in debates to say “the status quo is enough”—saying that the government has listened and that it’s possible to make change through available mechanisms.
For the ones where the protests are rather violent, you could use it to justify a radical move for a certain cause.
The environment one could be useful to say that people have awareness about environmental issues and are willing to stand up for it.
You’ll find more uses of these cases in other debates. What I’ve mentioned are only very few examples that could get you thinking. Debaters are meant to be able to take in their knowledge and make it their weapon in any kind of situation, so I expect you to be creative.
For now, though, maybe you can sit down and think of a few motions you could use these examples for.
*This doesn’t mean that you can always replace contextualization with examples. Sometimes, examples are not enough, depending on what point you want to get across. Most of the time, though, examples are a great way to explain an idea in a short amount of time, making your speeches sound plausible and compact.
1 Wikipedia contributors (2 June 2020). FeesMustFall. Wikipedia. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
2Leigh Thomas (25 September 2019). France’s Macron to offer new tax cuts in 2020 budget. Reuters. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
3Merve Erdil (21 October 2015). French company cancels energy project in Turkey after local, global protests. Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
4UK Government (22 February 2017). Gender pay gap reporting: overview. UK Government. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
5MBK Alliance. Our Work. MBK Alliance. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
6CNN. Why Ethiopians believe their new prime minister is a prophet. CNN. Retrieved 4 July 2020.