The Overton Window
I was listening to a podcast last night focused on investments and issues that investors care about. When identifying a mission for a company or developing a product, it is important to focus on issues that matter. People (a.k.a investors) invest in companies that are reflective of their issues and brands that are in line with their values.
The Overton window is the range of ideas considered acceptable relative to the political party. The window can shift over time based on the views of influential politicians, court decisions and differ significantly in other countries.
Currently, the two main parties in the U.S. have distinct windows. For Democrats, issues such as universal healthcare, a higher minimum wage, and action on climate change are considered within their window. For Republicans, issues such as smaller government, lower taxes and a strong national defense are considered mainstream and within the window.
On controversial issues such as abortion, Republicans mostly seem onboard that abortion is bad and should be outlawed mostly because the church doesn’t agree with it. Democrats are looser in their reviews within the “window,” mainly fighting in support of legal abortion. A comedian I heard recently said that Democrats are passionate about civil rights and helping everyone, just not unborn children. I wrote an article entitled When Does Life Begin for a deeper dive into that issue.
Each party has a few issues that are on the fringes and not all members support. For the Democrats, ideas such as socialism, wealth redistribution, and the abolition of private property are on the fringe. For Republicans, ideas such as isolationism, protectionism, and non-interventionism are outside.
Outside of the issues supported by the two main parties, the Green Party in the United States advocates for policies such as the immediate transition to renewable energy and the introduction of a basic income. Similarly, the Libertarian Party advocates for policies such as the reduction of government intervention in the economy and the protection of individual rights.
One of the most controversial issues currently outside of the Overton window for both parties is the idea of reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans. While some argue that it is a necessary step towards addressing the ongoing effects of slavery and racism, others argue that it is impractical and unfair to current generations who did not participate in slavery.
My opinion on this is that legacy issues aren’t the responsibility of current tax payers. Many people, like me, didn’t grow up with money or resources and have had to fight and persevere to make every dime I have. But, there are others that take advantage of certain benefits they might get to help organizations meet diversity or equity quotas. I am torn on the issue because I know many people of color were repressed for much of history but today is a new day and opportunities are everywhere.