[guest post by Dana]
So, Donald Trump. He continues to lead in the national polls, drawing in more supporters as he pushes the envelope with his proposals. He also continues to ratchet up panic in the GOP donor class as they plot and plan just how to topple him. And it can be said that he fairly owns the media as he exasperates journalistse unable to take him down, or at the very least, shame him. And worse, to their chagrin they find themselves bound to him, reporting on his every move and every word said lest they get left out. While celebrity and wealth have insulated him like no other candidate in the current GOP pack, it has also given him extraordinary power over a media that is used to being in the driver’s seat and setting the rules. Rules which Trump has mocked and blown open.
[T]he “window” refers to the range of acceptable political discourse on any given topic. As the Mackinac Center explains, “the ‘window’ of politically acceptable options is primarily defined not by what politicians prefer, but rather by what they believe they can support and still win re-election.” The key to shifting policy lies not so much in changing politicians but in changing the terms of the debate. In other words, “The window shifts to include different policy options not when ideas change among politicians, but when ideas change in the society that elects them.”
French notes the Democrats’ skill in exerting pressure on the “window” as they effortlessly change and shape the national debate on any number of issues. For instance, consider gay marriage and transgenderism, and compare societal attitudes and even current laws on these issues in the past two decades. He also notes the current push by the left to move the national debate from gun control to an outright ban on guns. This shift was reflected in President Obama as we saw him go from reassuring leery Americans that he didn’t want to take their guns to his now public admiration for Australia’s gun confiscation program.
Given the left’s stranglehold on the national conversation and debate, it’s been fascinating to watch the bellicose Trump bulldoze the “window” like no other GOP candidate:
On key issues, he didn’t just move the Overton Window, he smashed it, scattered the shards, and rolled over them with a steamroller. On issues like immigration, national security, and even the manner of political debate itself, there’s no window left. Registration of Muslims? On the table. Bans on Muslims entering the country? On the table. Mass deportation? On the table. Walling off our southern border at Mexico’s expense? On the table. The current GOP front-runner is advocating policies that represent the mirror-image extremism to the Left’s race and identity-soaked politics.
Critically, the Overton Window was smashed not by a politician but by a very American hybrid of corporate/entertainment titan — a man rich and powerful enough to be immune to elite condemnation and famous enough to dominate the news media. How many people can commandeer live television simply by picking up the phone and calling in? How many politicians can cause Twitter to detonate seemingly at will?
While many of Trump’s actual proposals are misguided, nonsensical, or untenable, by smashing the window, he’s begun the process of freeing the American people from the artificial and destructive constraints of Left-defined discourse.
In other words, the audacious carnival barker has proven useful to the body politic, and according to French, the substantive GOP candidates will likely benefit from his window smashing as well.
But just because he has been useful to the conversation at large, it does not mean that he is the best candidate for the presidency. In the same way that Darth Trump asked, How stupid are we?, we too should be asking that very question.
(h/t to JVW for the David French link)