Sunday, June 13, 2010

Overton's opening...

And it's out this week: the long-awaited novel by Glenn Beck. It's an interesting title: 'The Overton Window'; this is the name given to a political theory, and I may be wrong but I think it is "of the left"; it's not a particularly startling nor complicated theory (as the in-depth diagram to the left shows you: click on image to get "An Introduction to the Overton Window of Political Possibility"). It describes a 'window', the limits of which are the range of reactions that the public may have to any particular policy idea. The theory being the window moves either left or right (despite being up and down in that diagram) and can grow or shrink depending on the influence of politicians, lawmakers, opinion formers, public etc.

The up/down refers to any policy or 'collection of public policies' that "can be arranged in order from more free to less free (or alternatively, from less government intervention to more). To avoid comparison with the left-right political spectrum, [Overton] arranged the policies from bottom (less free) to top (more free)."

"...politicians typically don't determine what is politically acceptable; more often they react to it and validate it. Generally speaking, policy change follows political change, which itself follows social change"

So the idea of moving the window is usually from 'the sides': ideas that maybe fringe or extreme will not usually be in the window because "[Politicians] will do what they feel they can do without risking electoral defeat, given the current political environment shaped by ideas, social movements and societal sensibilities." Knowing Glenn Beck there is no doubt what the book will really be about (not a well kept secret!): conspiracy theories galore involving a drastic shift to the left; Obama (thinly disguised) will be helping the spread of Socialism - and worse - in the U.S.A. I could be wrong.

Anyway, apart from discussing how fast this book will become a Bestseller isn't the only debate raging across North America, the other (no, not Soccerball World Series [with thanks to The Sun]) but whether the strangely alluring and attractive Sarah Palin has a had a boob job or not! I think not but I'd like her to let me examine them to make sure.

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Paul said...

It's funny but the Overton window seems so simple for what should be a set of complicated rules, or perhaps I mean simplistic.

Glenn Beck is the sort of person who, without the privilege of a T.V show, you would see sitting on a bench shouting at buses.

He has some bonkers ideas.

Span Ows said...

Not shouting at buses...on a wooden box with a small (growing!!!) crowd round him.

Paul said...

Doesn't the Overton window strike you as being something extremists would love but other people would find hard to agree with. When you try moving some of the ideas within the framework you get a set of conditions that don't offer any compromise, and yet we all compromise every day of our lives.

Span Ows said...

Not sure extremists would love it unless they felt sure of "a movement" in their direction, or do you mean they NEED to be outside the window to be able to act "extreme", i.e. if they had an idea and it was immediately accepted it would almost be a disappointment! ...but what you say chimes with what is happeneing in the UK now. The coalition is one massive compromise made up of dozens of mini compromises that many are having trouble accepting but many others are finding surprisingly agreeable!