An Outline for Responding to a Counterplan

Not too long ago I was given the best advice I've ever heard received on how to respond to a Counterplan: See SPOT run.

S - Solvency Deficit
P - Permutations
O - Offense
T - Theory

A simple saying to remember the blanks you should fill in when approaching attacking a CP, regardless of the type.

Solvency Deficit - Here, it is advisable to weigh the affirmative plan against the Counterplan by demonstrating where it fails. You can do this in several different ways: from the ever basic "they fail to demonstrate how they capture the advantages of plan and here's why they don't" to Counterplan takes longer and the harms are a time-sensitive issue to the Counterplan is only a temporary fix and could be reversed back to the SQ (this is one of my favorite arguments to Executive Order CP) to the CP does not solve completely for whatever reason.

Permutations - For those of you who are only beginning your debate carriers, Perms are a wonderful tool to demonstrate to the judge that hypothetically the two plans could happen at the same time and the negative fails to prove why you as the aff should be rejected, but merely that they should be accepted. This can be as simple "do both" to "do one and then the other" or "parts of both" (of course worded more formally). A word to the more experienced be careful about how you phrase your permutations and (though it's a personal preference of mine and your welcome to do otherwise) precede any perm(s) you may make as "tests of advocacies" and not you change which plan text you want to go for in the 2AC.

Offense - Quite simply any turns/disadvantages you can put on the CP that the affirmative doesn't link back into. This can be difficult with counterplans like Plan-Inclusive Counterplans (or PICs) but that is where we come to the "T" which in this case refers to Theory rather than Topicality.

Theory - Any demonstration as to why the negative is cutting you out of education, prep time, arguments, real-world analysis you should throw out there. They can be simple like if it is a topical CP and you argue the basic (albeit mildly novi) "neg is affirming the resolution which means we're both saying the resolution is true so you minds well vote for the affirmative team". Or you can attack the status of the Counterplan ie Conditional (they can drop the CP at any point in the round without reason), Unconditional (it will stay in the round for its duration) or Dispositional (if you as the affirmative places any offensive or theoretical reason to reject the CP, the negative reserves the right to drop the argument).

In the mean time, good luck!