As you may know, popular and controversial talk host Glenn Beck just released “The Overton Window,” a novel that’s already topped the bestseller list. What you may not know is that the book’s title comes from a model of policy change developed by the Mackinac center’s vice president, Joe Overton, in the mid-1990s. After Overton’s untimely death in 2003, their current president, Joe Lehman, developed a formal Overton Window presentation to train hundreds of think tank executives around the country and the world.

The Overton Window of Political Possibility is a model developed to explain public policy change. When public policies in a given area, such as education or labor, are arranged from freest to least free, only a relatively narrow window of options will be considered politically acceptable. This window of politically acceptable policies is not defined primarily by what politicians would prefer; rather, it is defined by what they believe they can support and still win re-election. Hence, the window shifts to include new policies or exclude old ones not when ideas change among politicians, but when ideas change in the society that elects them.

For more information on this concept, visit Mackinac’s Website.


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