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Voting on Bills and the Chicago Manual of Style

I’m an editor for a living, a freelance editor, so I need to occasionally contract for work with new employers. In order to determine whether my editing skills and viewpoints meet their expectations we come to certain agreements. I have to agree to edit their materials according to their house styles/standard. Once agreed, they hire me and pay me to do the work to the agreed standards. We have a contract.

If we reach an agreement, my employer and I, that all materials will be edited according to the Chicago Manual of Style and two weeks into the engagement I decide that I’m going to end every sentence with a question mark instead of a period it really doesn’t matter what my reasons are. I’ve broken the contract.

I could have a “personal preference” reason and say that questions marks are more quirky, more visually interesting, it could be an artistic decision, geared to produce materials that are fresher, jazzier, more avant-garde.

Or I could have a “philosophical” reason and tell my employer that the world would be a better place if we all asked questions in discussions, thus showing our interest in what our fellow man had to say rather than just relying on our own experiences. That questions rather than declarative statements are less threatening, and serve to build bridges and relationships. Contract still broken, I would lose the benefits of the contract (would not be paid), and I’d be fired.

When a politician runs for office as a Republican, the contract they have with voters is that they agree to vote in accordance with the Republican Platform. The voters “hire” that politician by voting for them, and that politician’s job is to perform in accordance with the contract … the Republican Platform.

There is some leeway. As I edit for my employer, I can decide which words best fit a certain situation; I can use “messy” or “unkempt” or disheveled”. Some decisions are up to the discretion of the employee and are not contract obligations.

For instance a politician can decide to vote for excess funds to be invested in infrastructure or set aside in rainy day fund, or used to bolster an existing program. We voted for them partially based on our assessment of their reasoning skills and judgment to make decisions on discretionary issues.

But not on issues that are a bedrock of the Republican Platform. In that, there is no discretion. It does not matter what an individual’s preference or personal conviction on a Platform issue is. That is the deal they made with voters when they decided to run as a Republican.

The Spartanburg Six (Rita Allison, Doug Brannon, Derham Cole, Mike Forrester, Steve Parker, and Eddie Tallon) broke their contract with Republican voters in their districts when they voted to table the School Choice bill and not allow any debate on it. The Republican Platform states:

“Parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child. We support choice in education for all families, especially those with children trapped in dangerous and failing schools, whether through charter schools, vouchers or tax credits for attending faith-based or other non-public schools, or the option of home schooling.”

As an employer of your Representative, you had the expectation that the Republican Platform would be upheld. In this case, not only did they not uphold their portion of your contract, they hid their defiance behind a tabling motion … they would not even allow discussion on the House floor for other Representatives who wanted to be heard on the issue.

If I turned all the punctuation to question marks in my editing work, then bypassed my employer’s review of my work and published it under their name without giving anyone the opportunity to see/comment/object to my work … I’d likely have some consequences to face. And rightly so, I did agree to the contract.

Cross Post from Spartanburg Tea Party

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