Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Overton Window

A student brought up the new Glenn Beck fiction book, The Overton Window.  The actual Overton window in political theory refers to the phenomenon that at any given time, there is a range of political ideas that the majority of the country finds palatable.  Ideas outside this range are typically career killers and thus politicians who wish to continue as politicians are actually incentivized to think inside the box...or window, in this case. 

Another professor brought up a classic example.  Steve Largent ran for Governor of Oklahoma several years back.  Oklahoma is notorious for its massive administrative layers and bureaucracy in the public education system.  For instance, Broken Arrow, which boasts the largest high school in the state, has one superintendent.  Berryhill High School, a school that is two or three classifications (classified according to size) lower than Broken Arrow also has one superintendent.  In many cases, there are towns with fewer than 500 people with their own public school superintendent.  Largent's proposal was to get rid of some of this bureaucracy by consolidating the administrations of many smaller schools. 

Largent's idea must have been outside the Overton window considering his subsequent loss of the election and disappearance  from politics in Oklahoma altogether.  I wonder if his idea would still be outside that window in today's economic/political climate.

No comments: