Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Through the Window ala Looking Glass

Let us go through the Looking Glass not darkly but with a spring in our step as we embrace the freedom we want back.

In the grand scheme of things ideas help guide our actions through the labyrinth of decisions we make every day. In the political realm, basic ideas as to how to react are important if you wish to achieve results.

A combination of those two thoughts; ideas and results, are best found in think tanks. I have the Mackinaw Center in mind. The Mac Center is a free market think tank located in Midland Mi. They have been of interest to me for a long time, as a resource in my political blogging and learning.

Recently they put out a piece in their blog about the Overton Window.


This was a recap of the work of a person who had a major influence on the Mac Center and the course it has led in its career – on think tanks in general. The ideas behind the “Overton Window” defined how an idea can turn into a workable policy that can get enacted into law.

The article explains how public policy can be made only if a political will exists in the public at large to make it happen. Overton explained that the role of the think tank was to change that public opinion.

Although one would think that the legislators who write and vote on the bill are the ones important to public policy, Overton showed that they are all too human and desire to be reelected and like to be liked. Therefore it is through the shifting focus of public awareness and opinion the viability of public policy must be viewed.

A politician will seldom vote against his or her best interest. Overton then posited that the only way to do that was to shift public opinion to the point that it would not be against the politician’s best interest to vote differently. Public opinion can be changed; then the politician needs to be made aware of it. Those are the jobs of the Think Tanks.

The only thing positive for the Republican party out of all this is that the Democrat Party in now leading the charge for Big Everything at the expense of Individual Rights. If they can get behind majority opinion then they can rebound all the more.

Politicians know this intuitively, at least the good ones. The first thing Newt Gingrich did when he saw the coming 2008 election losses coming was to take private polls of the mood of the country of public opinion. He came up with what he called tri-majorities in favor of certain public policy issues. When the majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents were all found on one issue he called it a tri-majority. He then shaped a platform around them. They included such things as English as the official language, strengthen our borders, and finding domestic oil. He gave these to the leaders of the party and they went to work around something they previously didn’t recognize as important. Newt and his American Solutions served as a think tank in this case. Through his Drill here, Drill now petition he focused the shifting lens of public opinion and then made Congress aware of it.

For the Tea Party folks, this Window opens and closes as the public awareness does. They seem to be aware of this and are themselves doing what Overton suggests a think tank should. They are trying to shift public awareness and educate candidates. Will the Republican Party adapt?

The parameters of the Overton Window are shifting in a kaleidoscopic fashion. As a mixed metaphor of sorts, we need to stop the kaleidoscope, throw open the sash and jump through the looking glass. The other side may be strange indeed, but the joy and wonder will be in the newness and the doing. In other words in the freedom of it all.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative

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