Saturday, February 24, 2018

This Guy Nails It - Overton Window And How Trump Recalibrates "Normal"

Here's what I realized back in the early 70s: the Vietnam war protestors who were burning draft cards and pouring blood over Selective Service files, were making conservatives crazy, but they were making my quieter protests seem much more rational and reasonable.  And this phenomenon seemed true for all sorts of issues.  The crazies on the extreme push the conversation.  My ideas, that seemed extreme before, now seemed moderate.

I've been saying that that's what's happened in this country in the last 20 years - but now to the right.  Ronald Reagan, then Fox News, and talk radio have redefined normal.  My best example of this is Richard Nixon - the 'evil president' under whom we got the Clean Water Act, The Environmental Protection Act, The Freedom of Information Act, The Privacy Act, the opening to China, and on and on.  But the right has pushed the scale so far to the right that all those things now seem far left.

So Carlos Maza explains all that in this video.  I'd had no name for this phenomenon.  Carlos calls it  the Overton Window and explains it in terms of Trump.  But of course, the US political debate had shifted way to the right way before that.*  Here's Wikipedia's description.

*I'd note that people on the right would say things have been shifted way to the left, and on a few issues they're right - gay rights and legalization of marijuana for example.  But I would argue that in part this has to do with the fact that there are plenty of gay Republicans and pot smokers, so they've been infiltrated from inside on these issues.  But on guns, climate change, consumer rights, tax fairness, deregulation, the money of the very rich who have a vested interest in these issues has helped push things way to the right, compared to where we had been going.


  1. Steve, I had worked on a reply for about a half-hour. Then, while doing a bit of poking about for quotes, I came across this:

    The Overton Window
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    For the political science term, see Overton Window.
    The Overton Window Cover for the Overton Window.JPG

    Author Glenn Beck
    Country United States of America
    Language English
    Subject Fiction about the U.S. under attack
    Genre Political thriller novel
    Publisher Threshold Editions
    Publication June 15, 2010
    Pages 336
    ISBN 978-1-4391-8430-1

    The Overton Window is a political thriller by political commentator Glenn Beck. The book, written with the assistance of contributing writers,[1] was first released on June 15, 2010.[2]


    Now, this: It went to No. 1 on the NYT Best Seller list and stayed on the list through September.

    1. But given Trump's constant pushing to the extreme (including abandoning any value on truth) it's clear he got the message. Another reminder why liberals should be reading what the right is writing. Or at least have monitors doing that and giving short synopses. It makes Trump's strategy clear. I wonder if the book talks about how to counter Overton Window.

    2. Perhaps no need. I would think the standard protagonist-antagnonist character plot would allow that. In the few reader reviews in Amazon, one writes:

      Franklin J
      5.0 out of 5 stars
      A sober reminder of how things could turn out to be
      28 May 2016
      Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
      This thought provoking faction is a very good read and describes the Overton Window as a device for political manipulation by the hinting of un palatable options slipped into the public domane with the intention of becoming adopted as real strategy for powerful influences.

  2. As far as protestors driving conservatives crazy, it seems some of them are even pushing further right(or further crazy) because, as of last year, six states have proposed bills designed to protect drivers who strike protesters.


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