Optics Distract from What We Don’t See

Optics implies there is more to the story

Interpretation of what we see is often referred to as, “Optics.” Optics implies that what we see is what we get. It is what it is. And, if there’s, “Nothing to see here!” is the message going out, well, we believe it, don’t we?

The truth is that “Optics” becomes a code for “Cover up.” There really is more to see. There really is more to investigate.

The National Guard stymied by optics

The January 6th insurrection is a historical moment of many stories, which are now, painfully, unfolding. What we saw is just the beginning.

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Rebecca Shabad, reporting for NBC News, covered the testimony given to the U.S. Senate. Her article, D.C. National Guard chief: Pentagon took 3 hours to greenlight troops during Capitol assault, tells us:

The commander, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, added that military leaders — including the brother of ex-Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn — advised at one point during the afternoon that deploying troops would not be “good optics.”

The Army senior leaders said that it did not look good and would not be good optics. … They further stated that it could incite the crowd.

State leadership needs better optics

I, like anyone who loves our country and respects our national capitol, disagree. Better optics would be for our military leaders to provide a better and more timely response to the attack on our government – our seat of power.

Another set of scenarios is playing out across the nation that beg for the stories behind the optics. The Brennan Center reports that state lawmakers have:

… carried over, prefiled, or introduced 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access in 43 states, and 704 bills with provisions that expand voting access in a different set of 43 states. Note that, in some cases, a single bill can have provisions with both restrictive and expansive effects.

A common goal of a true democracy should be an inclusive governance. One that encourages citizen participation (such as voting), limiting voter suppression. Yet, the 957 bills noted above strive to either expand voting access and or restrict it.

Even to the casual observer with an eye on the optics, it’s obvious that there is a significant tug-of-war going on here. One side wants less voter inclusion and the other wants greater access for voters.

Federal governance invites better optics

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives recently responded. As Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times reports in his article: Targeting State Restrictions, House Passes Landmark Voting Rights Expansion.

House Democrats pushed through a sweeping expansion of federal voting rights on Wednesday over unified Republican opposition, opening a new front in a raging national debate about elections aimed at countering G.O.P. attempts to clamp down on ballot access.

The bill, adopted 220 to 210 mostly along party lines, would constitute the most significant enhancement of federal voting protections since the 1960s if it became law. It aims to impose new national requirements weakening restrictive state voter ID laws, mandate automatic voter registration, expand early and mail-in voting, make it harder to purge voter rolls and restore voting rights to former felons — changes that studies suggest would increase voter participation, especially by racial minorities.

The optics can be foretold: Republicans fearing a true democracy, will oppose the bill and it will die in the U.S. Senate before President Biden can sign it into law.

Here is another set of optics that I suggest for my Republican friends: Endorse the bill (tell your legislators to support it) and then work like crazy to entice voters to support the Republican platform and candidates. If success cannot be attained that way, rethink what is offered rather than attempt to change the rules.

Before my offended Republican friends take leave of this blog, consider this: Over 38 million Republican voters were disenfranchised from the 2020 presidential race because of the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach used by every state (yes, every state – even Maine and Nebraska). While I call that “Bad Optics” it also must be said that it goes unseen, so it’s not really optics at all. It’s just bad governance, it is bad democracy exercised by all political parties.

Of course, to be fair, the 2020 presidential election also “saw” over 27 million voters for Biden disenfranchised because of WTA. Further, the story isn’t just about who was disenfranchised. It’s also about voters who did not participate because they felt disengaged from the democratic process. The optics here simply says, “There’s more to the story!”

Equal Voice Voting reveals story behind the optics

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) seeks to remedy the situation by removing WTA from the mix and allowing a true democracy to unfold in our presidential elections. EVV, a non-partisan approach, respects the U.S. Constitution, the Republic (sovereignty of states), and the sacredness of the individual citizen’s ballot. No other presidential election approach can make this claim!

My recent book, All Votes Matter! (available at online bookstores) explains how this can become a reality requiring neither a U.S. Constitutional Amendment nor an interstate compact agreement among states.

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But there is a cost! It means that our legislative leaders need to stop bickering over how to suppress voters and, instead, put governing first before political party allegiances. It would demand greater listening to constituents by those same leaders. Leadership would include such things as governing vision, respect, and decency to better serve this nation we all love.

EVV can, in short, promise better optics in our presidential elections.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team