The Overton Window and the Republican Convention.

According to Wikipedia, the “Overton window is the range of ideas the public will accept.  It is used by media pundits.” (1) The idea of the Overton window comes from a think tank called the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.  Joseph P. Overton (1960-2003), an engineer and lawyer by training, was the Vice President of the Mackinac Center.  He wrote about the Overton window as a “model of public policy change” (2) and it has gained attention since his untimely death in an ultralight plane crash at 41 years.  Joseph Overton believed in free market neoliberal principles.

I became interested in the Overton window because Donald Trump’s bombastic approach to politics moved it.  And I have wanted it to move.  When I wrote Political Catsup with Economy Fries, I also was trying to move the Overton window.  I tried to move the Overton window through non-partison and reasoned analysis.  I had hoped that my stories and analysis from history would bear witness to political changes and show how Americans can change for the better when changes are needed in the face of difficult political and economic problems.  I respect Donald Trump’s ability to change political discourse by moving the Overton window.

When I consider the points that are being discussed because of Donald Trump I would include at least the following:

Trade policy has an affect on the U.S. economy, including a loss of American jobs.  Bad trade deals have hurt Americans.

Immigration policy including the influx of more muslims into the U.S. is a security risk.  Mass immigration can become a risk to the nation’s sovereignty.

There’s another important topic that I would be delighted to hear about: banking re-regulation.  I was glad to hear that the Republican Party has now voiced an interest in adding a renewed Glass-Steagall provision to our banking policy regulating system.  Renewing Glass Steagall could rein in our unregulated banks.  Allowing them to do whatever they want has led to harms that need to be rectified.  Harms such as bubbles in the economy, banking insolvency and malinvestments.

I’m sure that a more polite approach by Donald Trump would have failed to move the Overton window.  And I don’t blame Mr. Trump for doing what was politically necessary to bring attention to problems that confront our nation.  Being polite isn’t more important than bringing attention to harms that have been hurting Americans.  I have to say that I admire Mr. Trump’s ability to make the press respond to issues in this new way–by discussing topics that the press would otherwise have ignored.  When the press makes fun of the Republican convention, as I have noticed that they are doing these days, I think they do so because Donald Trump has made them pay attention to what they would have preferred to ignore.  Many Americans have supported Donald Trump’s candidacy because at least he has recognized that certain harms need to be addressed through policy reform.  The early press coverage of the Republican Convention has been like commentary by court jesters instead of by reporters, in my opinion.


“Overton Window”,, accessed 19 July 2016.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy,, accessed 19 July 2016.

If you would like to explore topics regarding American history, globalization, financialization, as well as political ideologies and how they affect the nation’s economy, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.