By Phil Williams, 1819 News
I have a confession to make: I’m a voice texter. Does that make me old? I don’t know. I do think that generations younger than me can bang out words on their cell phones like a spider monkey grabbing bananas off a tree.
And that whole swipe keyboard thing – I don’t get it. Just run your fingers around in zig-zag patterns and voila! – words appear. But I like voice text. It ain’t perfect though, and it’s gotten me into some jams, and has committed me to some follow-up text apologies because of one thing: spellcheck!
When spellcheck plays its evil little games and substitutes another real but very, very incorrect word for what you meant to say it can have a devastating effect.
So as long as I’m confessing let me give you three shocking examples from my personal inventory of why I have a love-hate relationship with spellcheck:
- A few years ago, while I was still in the State Senate, I had a position on a bill that the Teachers Union hated me for. But even when I got the usual vitriolic emails, I tried to respond as best I could. On one occasion I was responding to one of my usual haters who had unloaded her talking points and insults to which I initiated my response by starting off with “Hello Ms. Jones, thanks for the email.” But spellcheck didn’t quite get it and the email came together as “Hell Ms. Jones, thanks for the email.” One letter can change the whole tone!
- Another time I was hiring a new staff person for my law firm. She had just confirmed that she was taking the job and I chose to text her the details on when and how to report for her first day. I ended the voice text by saying “thanks comma Phil” only the text that went to her ended with “thanks, Phil the heat” … Phil the heat!! I have no idea where spellcheck got the notion to add “the heat” after my name! I had to immediately text my new employee to let her know that I was not crazy and do not refer to myself in the third person as “the heat.” Mortifying!
- But in what could have been the absolute worst ever; the one from which there would have been no recovery; the one which would have required turning in my man card forever. I was texting a guy about some business aspects of Rightside Radio and he was sharing his thoughts on growing the show. I voice texted back to him “I like your thinking!” which spellcheck changed to “I like your thong!” … I like your thong?! What fresh hell was this? What spellcheck deviousness! I just praise God in Heaven that I chose to learn from bad past experiences and to proof check that one before it was sent.
I hate spell check on several levels. Lesson learned: always proof your work. Spell check is a tool but spell check is not necessarily your friend.
Okay, so all of that is mildly amusing. But as always, I do have a point. Allow me to flip the script and turn that self-effacing story into a conservative viewpoint: we have got to start proof-checking our politicians, making corrections as needed. Too often these days there is a reasonable facsimile of political action that does not actually equate to what voters originally intended.
Case in point: Alabama is among the reddest of Red states and polling indicates that not only does Alabama vote largely Republican but that we intend for our votes to be largely conservative. Remember, there is a difference.
So many of our elected officials in this state ran for office with a message that said “I am this” but they actually did “that” … with “that” being something far less conservative than the red meat, MAGA hat-wearing, gun-toting, tax-cutting, limited government, tough on crime, fix our schools conservatives that they said they were in their campaign ads.
Every four years the people of Alabama vote for Governor, Lt. Governor, State Senators, and State Representatives. In 2018, one-third of the state legislature chose not to run again and since that time you’ve seen your gas taxes increased, record levels of government spending, no appreciable effort to cut taxes, and schools in Alabama have dropped to dead last in the nation. All of that happened in the legislature and was ratified by the Governor.
There are those in Montgomery who are solid conservatives and doing what they can but they’re getting run over by moderates and special interests because they don’t have a platform nor a team of conservatives to work with. That must change.
Last year for the first time the Alabama Policy Institute published a legislative scorecard. We started proof-checking our elected officials. Some of them did poorly but some scored truly conservative. Scorecards are important after-the-fact accountability.
But I’m going to suggest that it’s time for something else. It is time for the actual conservative members of the Alabama State House and Senate to form a conservative caucus and become a voting bloc. Right now, the leadership of the Alabama legislature does not want that to happen.
Alabama, as one of the reddest of the Red states, should be leading the way with that effort, but we’re not. This past week the Conservative Partnership Institute, in conjunction with the House Freedom Caucus in Congress, announced the first-ever state legislative Freedom Caucus in the Georgia State Legislature. The state that just elected Raphael Warnock to the US Senate should not be ahead of us in establishing a formal conservative caucus in its state legislature.
This is how we proof our work as voters. This is how we use “spell check” on politicians if you will. When we elect someone on the promises they made, we should know that we can rely on them to do the things they said they would. Will they join a conservative caucus to fight for what our citizens typically stand for? How did they fare on the scorecards from the Alabama Policy Institute? Let them know when they are on the mark and let them know if they are not measuring up.
Never assume that spellcheck is your friend. Likewise, never assume for a minute that a politician’s campaign ads are the only proof you need. Check your work and check your elected officials. You’ll be glad you did.
Phil Williams is a former State Senator, retired Army Colonel and combat veteran, and a practicing Attorney. He has served with the leadership of the Alabama Policy Institute and currently hosts Rightside Radio M-F 2-5 pm on WVNN.