On Tuesday March 17th, the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) is going to hold old fashioned debates on whether an Article V Convention of States would be good for our republic and whether a requirement of Term Limits for all elected offices would be a good or bad idea. Representatives Michael Speciale and Keith Kidwell, New Bern Mayor, Dana Outlaw, and past Craven County Commissioner and current candidate for the NC House, Steve Tyson, will be on the debate teams.
It has been noted that civility, facts, reasoned analysis, and constructive and informative public discourse has been in short supply recently. Having those things lacking makes it very hard for citizens to understand the issues and make informed decisions for themselves. It would be useful to create a venue in which there is logical, polite discussion, and there are not any shouting matches. CCTA wants to do exactly that.
The two topics have been chosen because they are of great current interest, but they do not tend to be conservative vs. liberal or Republican vs. Democrat issues. There are people who identify themselves in all four camps on each side of each question, so while people are passionate about them, they don’t seem to divide along typical lines. Therefore, they seem to be excellent choices for a “debate and learn” approach.
The Oxford-style debate format will be used. This allows the team on each side of the proposal to have an equal opportunity to share their view of the facts, their opinions, and their persuasive ideas. With any luck, this will lead to the audience’s becoming informed and exposed to opposing ideas without the anger, but with interesting intellectual energy, and the audience will have an opportunity to participate also.
Here’s how it will work. The moderator will make a statement (or “motion”). One team will be “for” the statement. The other team will be “against” it.
Before the debate begins, the audience will vote (by secret ballot) as to whether they are “for” or “against” the statement. After ballots have been turned in, but before results are announced, the debate begins. Representatives of teams “for” and “against” take turns speaking for the same amount of time for their “Opening Remarks” which are generally pre-prepared (at least as to sequence of facts and ideas).
After each person has made his or her opening remarks, there is an intra-panel discussion among the debaters. The debaters talk to each other directly about statements made in opening remarks. The moderator tosses questions to the debaters as well.
Next, there is a question and answer period in which the audience can question the debaters and get clarification on any points they don’t fully understand.
Following the Q&A session, each debater has two minutes to give a closing argument in which they typically summarize their key points and “sell” their view of things to the audience. After everyone on each side has finished giving his or her closing argument, the audience votes (by secret ballot) on whether he or she is “for” or “against” the statement again.
Whichever team has the most votes change in their favor from the first to the second round of votes is the winner of the debate.
Debates conducted with intellectual honesty and an interest in persuasion are fun, stimulating, and informative. We expect this to be such a debate. Please, join us on Tuesday, March 17, at Stanly Hall Ballroom in downtown New Bern at 7 p.m. Come early for “cookies and conversation.” The elevator entrance to the second floor ballroom is at 249 Craven Street.
Page Editor’s Note:
To learn more about Oxford-style debate, go to www.intellignecesquaredus.org or do an internet search for “debate styles.” RJ