Barack Obama Climbs through the Overton Window

Have you ever heard of the Overton Window?  It was named after its creator, Joseph P. Overton, a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who developed it in the mid-1990s.  The "Window" is simply the defining of a narrow "window" of political ideas that the public will find acceptable.

Overton observed that in a well-defined public policy area, a relatively small number of potential policies will be considered politically acceptable (or tolerable).  "The Overton Window" states that the political viability of an idea is defined by the window of acceptable policy ideas rather than by politicians' preferences.  The "window" comprises several political policies considered acceptable in the current climate of public opinion.  It also defines what policies a politician can recommend without being considered too extreme.

It is defined not by what politicians would prefer, but what they believe they can support and still win re-election.  The Overton Window shifts to include different political policy options when ideas change (by truth or lies) in the society that elects them, rather than when politicians' ideas change.

The Window is defined in terms of societal freedoms by utilizing the following scale:

  • Unthinkable
  • Radical
  • Acceptable
  • Sensible
  • Popular
  • Policy

It is a way to visualize political ideas by where they fall on the scale.  Freedoms are forfeited as society's perceptions change, as political policies shift or "move down" the scale.

One problem with the Window is that the policy concepts can be easily manipulated, easily shifted, easily moved from one scale point to another by lies, distortions, or misconceptions.  The shifts occur so that political policies can more easily and/or quickly be implemented.  The Overton Window reflects what society believes, which makes a large number of "low-information voters" quite dangerous.  As Rush Limbaugh often says, "How can we fool 'em today?"

Glenn Beck wrote a 2010 thriller, entitled The Overton Window, about how the strategy will be used to destroy America.  A similar concept was presented in the novel Phineas Finn, by Anthony Trollope, in 1868.

The Overton Window explains why Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals -- particularly rule 10: "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition" -- have been so successful.  John Hawkins wrote, in April 2012, an article entitled "12 Ways To Use Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals Against Liberals."  It's a good read.  Perhaps we should ask Hawkins to duplicate his efforts with respect to the Overton Window.

The Overton Window explains quite a lot about what is currently happening to this country.  It also explains a lot about both Democrats' and Republicans' thinking and actions.  And it explains why the "alternative" or internet news sites, such as American Thinker, as well as talk radio, are so popular, and why liberals/progressives/Democrats want to shut them down.  Opponents of current policies seek to educate people, to convince them that the current policies should be considered unacceptable, by disseminating the whole, complete truth, not just what Democrats and/or the MSM want the public to know.

What is perhaps most upsetting is that Dear Leader Barack Hussein Obama is practicing the Overton Window strategy, particularly through executive orders, and the Democrat Party and MSM are letting him get away with it.  They have his back.

Dr. Warren Beatty (not the liberal actor) earned a Ph.D. in quantitative management and statistics from Florida State University.  He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making.  He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired.  Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years.  He blogs at

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