Glenn Beck's Thriller "The Overton Window"

Glenn Beck's new thriller, The Overton Window, reached #1 on the NY Times adult fiction bestseller list. Simon & Schuster says that Glenn Beck is the only author in history with books at the top of the NY Times lists in the following categories:
  1. hardcover fiction
  2. hardcover nonfiction
  3. nonfiction paperback
  4. children's picture book lists
Glenn Beck is quoted as saying, "I am extremely grateful to my audience and thriller fans for responding so well to The Overton Window."



What is the real Overton Window?

The Overton window is a concept in political theory, named after its originator, Joseph P. Overton, (January 4, 1960 - June 30, 2003, former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy .

It is described as a 'window' in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse, in a spectrum of all possible options on a particular issue.' Overview of the Overton Window

At any given moment, the “window” includes a range of policies considered politically acceptable in the current climate of public opinion, with “acceptable” defined as something a politician can recommend without being considered too “extreme” or outside the mainstream to gain or keep public office.

Overton arranged the spectrum on a vertical axis with policies defined as “more free” at the top and “less free” at the bottom, where “free” defined as less subject to government intervention. When the window moves or expands, it means that ideas previously not considered politically acceptable have become so and possibly that ideas previously considered acceptable are no longer.

The degrees of acceptance of public ideas:

  • Unthinkable
  • Radical
  • Acceptable
  • Sensible
  • Popular
  • Policy

The Overton Window is a means of visualizing which ideas define that range of acceptance by where they fall in it.

Proponents of policies outside the window seek to persuade or educate the public so that the window either “moves” or expands to encompass them.

Opponents of current policies, or similar ones currently within the window, likewise seek to convince people that these should be unacceptable.

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • What other administrations in US history have 'expanded' the window?
  • With the current administration, are we headed for the "unthinkable"?
  • What, for you, constitutes the "unthinkable"?
  • How much difference do you think there is between the "radical" and the "unthinkable"?


The Gods of the Copybook Headings
by Rudyard Kipling

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

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