Sunday, December 15, 2019

Understanding the Overton Window

The Overton Window – Mackinac Center:

"The Overton Window is a model for understanding how ideas in society change over time and influence politics. The core concept is that politicians are limited in what policy ideas they can support — they generally only pursue policies that are widely accepted throughout society as legitimate policy options. These policies lie inside the Overton Window. Other policy ideas exist, but politicians risk losing popular support if they champion these ideas. These policies lie outside the Overton Window.

"But the Overton Window can both shift and expand, either increasing or shrinking the number of ideas politicians can support without unduly risking their electoral support. Sometimes politicians can move the Overton Window themselves by courageously endorsing a policy lying outside the window, but this is rare. More often, the window moves based on a much more complex and dynamic phenomenon ... the slow evolution of societal values and norms."
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How the Politically Unthinkable Can Become Mainstream - The New York Times - Maggie Astor:

February 26, 2019 - "Joseph P. Overton introduced the concept in the 1990s as an executive at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank in Michigan. He never expected it to gain widespread recognition, said Joseph G. Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center, and it didn’t until after Mr. Overton died in 2003....

"'Public officials cannot enact any policy they please like they’re ordering dessert from a menu,' Mr. Lehman said in an interview. 'They have to choose from among policies that are politically acceptable at the time. And we believe the Overton window defines that range of ideas.'

"Grass-roots mobilization can shift the window. So can think tanks, which was Mr. Overton’s point. But despite a misconception driven by Glenn Beck’s novel The Overton Window, the window is a description, not a tactic: Shifting it doesn’t mean proposing extreme ideas to make somewhat less extreme ideas seem reasonable. 'It just explains how ideas come in and out of fashion, the same way that gravity explains why something falls to the earth,' Mr. Lehman said....

"The key is that shifts begin with the public. Mr. Overton argued that the role of organizations like his own was not to lobby politicians to support policies outside the window, but to convince voters that policies outside the window should be in it. If they are successful, an idea derided as unthinkable can become so inevitable that it’s hard to believe it was ever otherwise."
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'via Blog this'

See also: Libertarians have shifted the Overton Window

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