Was Trump's Retweet of Falwell’s “Two Extra Years as President” an Overton Window Ploy?
By Dallas Darling
Submitted by Author
Saturday, May 11, 2019
|According to those who track trends, Overton’s Window refers to the proposed range of ideas that may at first seem unreal or outlandish but the public eventually accepts. As a result, critics are voicing concern over President Donald Trump’s retweet by Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr. It called for 2 extra years to be added to the president’s first term as a “pay back for time stolen” by the Mueller probe. Since he mentioned in 2016 that he wouldn’t accept the election results if beaten, and now hints of refusing to step down in 2020, critics may have a point.
Reparations of a Different Sort
Tweeted first by Liberty University’s president Falwell, and then boosted by the president and others, the tweet read that Trump “should have 2 years added to his 1st term” as “reparations” for the recently completed Mueller probe. Falwell, who is considered to be a part of the far-right wing of the Republican Party and evangelicalism, has on occasion like Trump tweeted that the Mueller investigation was part of a vast left-wing Deep State conspiracy to destroy the president. This includes eliminating Christianity from America’s school system and public life.
Adolph Reed, Jr., a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, said that it may seem nuts “but I do think this is worth paying attention to.” He added that “the Trump administration is obviously contemptuous of procedural democracy, as are Republicans in Congress and elsewhere.” (1) Others agree. Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, said before Congress that he feared the president wouldn’t peacefully give up the White House if he loses the 2020 election. He also helped Falwell cover up raunchy and racy photos. (2)
What Is to Come
Overton’s Window was named after Joseph P. Overton who studied how ideas moved from the fringe to mainstream America. It’s been used to float policy ideas from both the left and right. The window, which is an insight into what is to come, included ideas like universal basic income and Brexit. By far, Trump has used the window more than any other president. He’s used it to ban Muslims, to build a border wall along Mexico, to separate children from their parents, and to destroy Obamacare. This goes for future scenarios, such as intervening in Iran and Venezuela.
Although the so-called mainstream media played a somewhat critical role in regulating what enters and leaves public discourse, the rise of Twitter and Facebook has turned Overton’s Window into constant flux. This includes skewing the difference between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood, even concrete realities and abstract absurdities. Plenty of issues once considered outside of the window and far removed from American ideals have moved inside the political mainstream. Does this include the notion that Trump deserves 2 extra as president?
Faction and Fiction Affixed
For millions of supporters who are willing to take a bullet for their president, the answer may be yes. Overton’s Window has not only been invoked by the Republicans and alt-right, who’ve used it to describe anything from white nationalism to a presidential dictatorship, but it gained traction with the same group after Glenn Beck’s 2010 novel, “Overtown Window". It involved a populist overthrow of the government. Consequently, it’s not that far-fetched to see Trump signing an executive order or declaring a national emergency to extend his presidency for 2 more years.
This is especially true for three reasons. First, criminal indictments await Trump on his last day of office. Continuing to serve as president would simply shield him from being indicted and charged. Second, Democratic leaders aren’t taking this scenario of an extra 2 years seriously. And finally, in 2016 many thought it was unreal, even fictional, to ever see Trump and his faction of true believers sitting in the Oval Office and running the country. Looking through the White House Window, both faction and fiction now seem firmly affixed.
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.WN.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and www.WN.com/dallasdarling.
(1) www.commondreams.org. “Though It May Seem ‘Nuts’, Experts Say Trump Endorsement of Two-Year Extension of His Term Should Not Be Ignored,” by Jake Johnson. May 7, 2019.
(2) www.reuters.com. “Trump Fixer Cohen Says He Helped Falwell Handle Racy Phots,” by Aram Roston. May 8, 2019.
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