Are Voters Ideas Changing Faster than Politicians Can Adapt?

By Wayne McLaughlin:

Post-election street demonstrations with some serious money behind them?  What’s that all about?  It’s over – time to get with the program.  What are you thinking? Logic dictates that the Democrat Party should move to the center where the votes are.  Instead, they are moving further left with Keith Ellison of Minnesota gaining momentum to be the next DNC chair.  A member of the black caucus, Mr. Ellison is the first Muslim elected to congress.

It doesn’t make sense until you consider the “Overton Window”, a creation of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy vice president, the late Joseph Overton.  Policies change when voters’ ideas change more so than when politicians change. For example, the concept of gay marriage was so unacceptable to the mainstream that less than 20 years ago, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the Defense of Marriage Act and now, anti-gay sentiments are unacceptable.

The Overton Window frames the range of public debate that society finds acceptable. A politician will take positions within the Window not being so extreme as to cost him an election.  The Window shifts left and right as the electorate changes their ideas about important issues.

And so over time, the political left and right are engaged in a tug of war attempting to focus public attention and approval on their side of the spectrum.

The Democrats had no real election campaign programs and instead attempted to discredit Republican candidate Donald Trump as being outside the range of acceptability. It appeared the party aimed to do this as a reaction to his anticipated legislative agenda.

And why shouldn’t they? With the power of the media on their side, it makes more sense to try to change public perception than to compromise their own strongly held views. The Democratic position is such that their candidate won the popular vote and this fact somehow delegitimizes the results. This stance ignores claims that there were three million illegal votes cast by non-citizens. Given President Obama’s encouragement to an admitted illegal citizen to vote at a town hall the day before the election, would seem to lend credence to the assumption that these were Clinton votes.

Climate Change                                                                                     

Nowhere is the leftward tug on the window more obvious than on the subject of man-made climate change in an attempt to confer credibility on this very questionable ‘science’.  It is fundamental to assuaging the pervasive liberal guilt for being successful in so many ways economically and politically.  People who question climate change assumptions are called ‘deniers’ thus associating them by inference with Holocaust deniers making the subject unfit for public discussion.

Liberal vehemence in this regard is such that climate change is a major tool used to force a degree of unnecessary austerity on the American public through exorbitant energy costs while justifying hand-outs to under developed economies. It is also a mechanism for funding their ‘pay-to-play’ buddies who dream up all sorts of alternative fuel contrivances.

If the new administration is to make good on their economic revival promises, they will need to obliterate the entire subject from the “Overton Window”.


This is the reddest of herrings which does not warrant public discussion. There is general agreement from one end of the political spectrum to the other that infrastructure spending is the way to create an abundance of new, well-paying jobs.  Apparently, everyone has forgotten about how Obama’s ‘shovel ready’ jobs disappeared before anyone collected a paycheck.

The fact is that any public works project requires several steps before any trades begin punching a time clock.  If it is anything more than some curb and gutter repair, engineering design work and architecture will take a couple of years or more and that comes after the appropriation process.  Next, there is the bid process which will take a couple of months or longer.  If the new administration is counting on this to furnish an abundance of well-paying jobs before the next election, they may want to have some retirement plans ready.

Who knows better than Trump the steps required in the beginning to end of a construction project?  At the same time, Democrat leaders well remember the fruitless hunt for Obama’s ‘shovel ready’ projects. Chuck Schumer, senate minority leader-designate, just said that they can work with Trump’s program if there is an infrastructure spending component, knowing that money for this will not be required for three years or more.  Infrastructure has become the lingua-franca for two politically opposed sides to come together and move toward real solutions.


The Overton tax window is framed by ‘fair’ on the left and growth on the right. Fair is the word in liberal lexicon which precedes their ‘tax-the-rich’ schemes.  They assume a static, no growth economy (a self-fulfilling prophecy) and people on the bottom of the ladder don’t know how to climb and therefore, it is ‘fair’ to confiscate money from the people who make the ladders and spread it around to those bottom-rung folks.  They also assume any cut in tax rates will increase the deficit.

On the other side, growth will increase government revenues enough to make up any diminished federal revenue. On Thursday, November 17, Ford Motor Company president, Bill Ford, issued the following statement, “Today, we confirmed with the President-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly Plant will stay in Kentucky. We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States.”

And he hasn’t even been sworn in yet.


Keep your eye on that window.  The tug of war is fierce and the anti-growth folks, far from moving to the center, are putting more muscle into it.

The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.  –Milton Friedman

Wayne McLaughlin is an OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army veteran.







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