The Overton Window, Trump, and Immigration

The Overton Window, Trump, and Immigration. By David Cole.

Trump has no ideology. Trump isn’t anything but pro-Trump … Trump’s 2016 platform was just a return to border restrictions that used to be advocated openly by both parties.

It was Democrats who tried to constrict that window and shift “tight border controls, deportation of illegals” from “sensible and popular” to “radical and unthinkable.”

A champion worked window magic in 2016:

Trump, or more accurately people like Ann Coulter who gave him his platform, made a smart bet that the Democrats had failed; that the window had not constricted among voters. That what Dems now try to present as radical is still seen as sensible by enough working-class whites and right-leaning independents to elect a president. A smart bet that paid off …

In the Overton Window definition, it’s the “considered acceptable by the mainstream population” line that’s key.

And the battle the past few decades has had nothing to do with rightists expanding the window, but rather leftists trying to close it on certain things (the border, crime) while concurrently working to expand it on gender and race (by making transgender ideology and antiwhite racism “acceptable to the mainstream population”).

By and large, the GOP’s been content to sit back and let Dems dictate Window terms. And when Trump tried to reassert the 1990s border Window, when he ran on an unapologetic anti-immigration platform, he won. But then he went wacky, forgetting that platform entirely to the point that now he’s so neck-deep in far-out conspiracy bullshit, no one even associates him with the border anymore. …

A new champion works window magic in 2022:

Ron DeSantis has worked Overton wonders in Florida. Under DeSantis, “tough on crime, unapologetic on law and order” is “sensible and popular,” while “telling children they should surgically change their sex” is “radical and unthinkable.”

DeSantis’ Florida represents a successful restoration of the commonsense 1990s Overton Window as it existed before Dems corrupted it.

The radical fringe of irrelevant fantasies and grifting:

The InfoWars loons claim they’re “breaking” the Overton Window, but “I like Hitler” was never considered acceptable by the mainstream U.S. population in the past, and it isn’t now. Neither is “the Holocaust didn’t happen.” These nuts believe that by being outrageous, they can push certain topics into the mainstream. But that’s the opposite of true; taking any topic and coupling it with insanity will always alienate the mainstream population from that topic.

Kanye took “white lives matter” and associated it with being a Hitler fanboy. You think that helped? You think that made “white lives matter” more palatable, or less?

After Kanye said “I love Hitler” and “the Holocaust didn’t happen,” do you think those positions are now “considered acceptable by the mainstream population”?

In this manner, the ADL and InfoWars, Kanye, and Fuentes are on the same side: Amplify the unhinged and act like the fringe is now mainstream. Create an illusion that the Overton Window has shifted, and use that illusion to fundraise as Jones does (“Yay! We broke the Overton Window!”) or as the ADL does (“Oy! They broke the Overton Window!”). Foes on paper, but brothers in the same illusory battle.