The Overton Window And Changing In An Age of Decay

One of the biggest factors that President Obama and the US now face with regard to financial, healthcare and climate issues is the Overton Window:


The Overton Window is a means of visualizing which ideas define that range of acceptance by where they fall in it, and adding new ideas that can push the old ideas towards acceptance merely by making the limits more extreme.


Specifically, the rabid Reich- Right-wing lunacy over 8 of the preceding 9 years, increasingly shrill now that they've lost both the White House and majority control of Congress, has painted a very uninformed, intellectually dishonest picture of the causes, effects and cures for all the major issues we now face. In order to make lasting change, the President must first plug the major damages, then shift public & policy perspectives via the Overton Window in order to set the stage for making lasting changes.

Moving the Overton Window, named after the originator of the term, is essentially a method of changing the public's perception of acceptability:


Overton described a method for moving that window, thereby including previously excluded ideas, while excluding previously acceptable ideas. The technique relies on people promoting ideas even less acceptable than the previous "outer fringe" ideas. That makes those old fringe ideas look less extreme, and thereby acceptable. The idea is that priming the public with fringe ideas intended to be and remain unacceptable, will make the real target ideas seem more acceptable by comparison.


It takes a lot of time and effort to make major policy shifts even when not addressing the possible effects of public perception. Changing national policies has often been described as driving a very large bus or delivery truck, or attempting to turn a huge ship at sea: it starts changing direction slowly and is a bit unwieldy to steer. President Obama's words at the world climate talks at Copenhagen reminded me of this:

Action Needed: Senate to Vote to Save Hospitals!

Over the past several months, I have diaried attempts by the Bush administration to gut our public health safety net through a proposed set of arcane rules changes. If implemented May 25 as planned, the rules changes will limit federal subsidies to public hospitals, indigent hospital care, emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, school-based health care, graduate medical education, case management, rehabilitation services, and children'a Medicaid enrollment. I have also diaried the efforts of health care activists to prevent these rules from going into effect. It is coming down to the wire now. The moratorium on the rules goes before the full Senate this week, probably as an attachment to the Iraq spending bill. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and administration officials have vowed to kill the moratorium. Find out how you can help below the break.

ACTION - New 'Winter Soldiers', Stop the War, Help VFP Chapter 009

Back in our day, from January 31-February 2, 1971, an Extremely Important Event took place by a number of Extremely Brave Vietnam Vets, that challenged the morality and conduct of the war by showing the direct relationship between military policies and war crimes in Vietnam!

This event was organized by Vietnam Veterans Against The War and was called the Winter Soldier Investigation