Debate is one of the oldest
activities of mankind. Calm, orderly debate, in which speakers argue for
the acceptance of various answers to a given question, is an obvious
feature of modern parliaments and congresses, but it also has its place
even in the deliberations of ancient kings, who maintained councils of
nobles to give them advice. When nobles disagreed, they were allowed to
debate their proposals before the king, who acted as a final judge in
choosing the plan of action.
In modern democratic societies, the
right to debate is a priceless asset. It enables any citizen to propose a
better plan of action than the one which the ruling power sets forth.
If the speaker can convince enough of his fellow citizens that he has
the better plan, he can literally change the policy of his city, county,
state or nation.
--The Debater’s Guide