A Message to my Fellow Conservatives: The Overton Window and Our Responsibility

Anyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy talking about politics, social issues, history and law. There aren't many people in my close circle of friends who enjoy these subjects to the extent I do and even fewer who care to talk about them at length. I do, however, have one dear friend who also enjoys these subjects almost as much as I do. Our conversations are lively to say the least, mostly because he happens to be a liberal.

Like many of the misguided individuals I've talked politics with, my friend (who shall remain nameless) is a very well intention-ed liberal. His motivations and positions are, I believe, rooted in what he truly believes to be right. He keeps up with the news, has opinions on various issues and feels passionate about certain things. Whether he realizes it or not, our conversations over the years have helped me further cultivate my beliefs and also better understand the left, specifically the largely misguided left. From my perspective, this includes the rank and file Democrats who happen to be a part of various unions, or who hold government jobs within the bureaucracy or those who rely on government for their income/security, etc.. Which brings me to the concept of the Overton Window. 

The Overton Window

For those who aren't familiar, the Overton Window was named after its creator Joseph P Overton who was at one time the vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Overton's Window refers to the specific, narrow 'window' of political ideas that the American public will accept as viable. He concluded that there are really only a small number of policies that the public will consider as acceptable. He points to the viability of a political idea within the 'window' versus the actual ideas or preferences of a politician. 

The 'window' is defined using a scale ranging from unthinkable, radical, acceptable, sensible, popular and policy. The scale is used to figure out whether a political idea is viable and where it falls on the scale (which moves) based on the thoughts/beliefs of society. The'window' reflects what society believes and does not take into account whether that belief is true or false. 

Using it against us

Most average Americans would agree that personal freedom is always better than mass control. The left has done an exceptional job over the last 100 years of selling their brand of mass control to the general public and labeling it as a means to guarantee freedom. What a lie that is.

They've used the concept of the Overton Window against the people to impose and further their agenda. Whether it be through confiscatory "benefit programs" such as Welfare and Social Security, mass regulation which seeks to shut down targeted industries and businesses through the power of un-elected bureaucratic entities like the EPA, supporting the strong-arming of taxpayers via local schools through relationships with thug-like teachers unions who have largely broken the bank for many towns and cities in this country, or by empowering agencies such as the IRS which arbitrarily enforce tax laws that punish and reward groups of people. 

You may recall that after Obama won the 2008 election, a lot of discussion took place around the reasons for his victory. When the Obama team was asked how they won, they basically answered that they "controlled the message" Hence, the Overton Window. 

The ability to manipulate the masses using the insight provided via the lens of the Overton Window will continue to be used against people like my dear liberal friend and others if we as conservatives don't make some changes to our messaging and our focus.  

Our focus

It is easy to focus on the lies, deception and wrong-doing of the opposition. I often find myself so worked up over what the left is doing wrong that I don't take the time to promote the alternative. (I'm working on this) I believe what we, as conservatives, Constitutionalists, Tea Party members and liberty-loving Americans, need to do is focus on our agenda, not the left's. 

Our focus must be to remain active and diligent in leading this conversation. We must continue to cultivate strong grass roots efforts to get our message across. This means getting involved with groups like FreedomWorks and others who promote our values. We need to talk about the Constitution, the rule of law and our history. We need to put our money where our heart is by supporting individuals and organizations that seek to promote the benefits of less government, lower taxes, and more freedom. We need to have conversations with our friends, family and neighbors. We need to continue to find new ways promote individual liberty, free enterprise, and entrepreneurship. We need to be aggressively involved in volunteering in our communities and actively display what it means to make government irrelevant when it comes to serving our fellow man.  

Our responsibility

Speaking as a member of the Tea Party movement and a registered Republican, I know that change will not come about because of the establishment Republican Party. In fact, the Republican Party will likely continue to be dragged into this fight by the Tea Party. As of yet, they haven't come willingly but GOD WILLING, I believe that the Tea Party will continue to use the Republican Party as a vessel to carry liberty forward and influence the message that will shift the tide in this country.

It is our responsibility to dismantle the Overton Window. not only on the left but within the Republican party. The establishment Republicans also listen to the Overton Window but, for many reasons, without the success that the Democrats have had. The Republicans have been busy playing defense while the Democrats control the message. It is our responsibility to change that trend and articulate our message and truth to the American people.