For an excellent analysis of what the heck is “the Overton window, see “The Overton window, illustrated.” Also, read the comments to see what fringe lunatics there are on the left. Heck, order one of the T-Shirts advertised there: “2L4O” “too liberal for Obama.” I like my nut cases to wear signs so I can see them sneaking up on me. And here is from the original think tank of which Mr. Overton was a member.
Let me start by pointing out that liberals consistently make up about twenty per cent of Americans. See most recent Gallup Poll on the issue. I know that is hard to believe, because liberals tend to dominate the blogosphere and the airwaves and the newspapers and academia well out of proportion to their percentage of society, but it is still true, thank God. And currently they dominate the leadership positions of the United States government, thank Satan and idiot Americans.
But for my purposes, understanding the Overton window and how it applies to average Americans (i.e., anybody who isn’t one of those freaky 20% liberals) is that we have to know what the liberals are up to in order to defeat them. They cannot get their agenda passed except in a few unfortunate (and close to bankrupt now, thanks to their agenda) states such as California and Michigan, and inner cities, because the sane majority of Americans know that they do not work. Oh, and in unions. But, as so often happens with the insane, they keep trying the same things over and over, expecting the next time that their policies really will work, after having not worked for decades.
The Overton window is basically the window that is currently “mainstream” on any given issue. And the liberals are always trying to pull that window to the left, to exert leftward pressure on the window, to pull American “mainstream” to the left. And one way that they do that is by taking extreme positions that Americans reject in vast numbers, in order to make less insane but still liberal positions seem “mainstream” by comparison.
[Illustration of the Overton window designed by Corrente and they do not approve or endorse this comment or this blog.]
They are doing it currently with healthcare. Americans by a healthy majority reject PelosiCare. Americans also reject single payer healthcare by a wide margin. But liberals and progressives keep screaming and clamoring for it, trying to pull Americans to the left far enough to accept it as the mainstream position.
Americans also reject the public option in any healthcare bill. But recently some of the most extreme leftist Senators have written a letter calling on Majority Leader Harry Reid to run the public option through the reconciliation process. You thought that the specter of running any healthcare bill through the reconciliation process had a stake through its heart? Silly you. You thought the thumpings in Virginia and New Jersey, and the election of Scott Brown defeated ObamaCare? Then you don’t understand liberals. They. Never. Quit. Hate ’em or despise ’em or just want them to go away, you can’t help but admire their tenacity.
Now, some see the letter written to Harry Reid as questionable politics, since a majority of Americans reject a healthcare bill with the public option in it. Why would the most liberal Senators write such a letter and revive a key issue that was soundly defeated because it was to the left and outside “the window of political possibilities”? Hmmmm. The Overton window. Because they are trying to make the less extreme positions look reasonable by comparison.
Republicans see healthcare as a dead issue, they won, see e.g., election of Scott Brown and public opinion polls. Liberal and progressive Democrats see this as just the beginning of having to finally negotiate with Republicans. Before Brown’s election they didn’t even have to bother negotiating, but now they do. To them it is no different than any other type of negotiations. “I’ll pay you $10,ooo for that brand new Maserati…[After further negotiations] What? I came up twenty thousand from my original offer! Whaddya mean I’m not negotiating?” They are taking a positition that they know will be rejected so that later they can say how much they “compromised” with the Republicans and the Republicans still won’t sell them that brand new Maserati for $30,000.