Support for expanding Social Security is a big litmus test for us in the 2014 primaries, and I’m happy to tease that 13th District candidate Valerie Arkoosh will endorse this idea, at least in concept, in a yet-to-be-transcribed interview with us.
Here’s a fun profile of Philly-based blogger Duncan Black (Atrios) who’s had some recent success in popularizing this idea, and whose writing first persuaded me that this is the only humane position on the retirement security issue. Read the profile and the op-ed that started it all for the policy rationale, because I want to excerpt this part about blogging and political strategy from David Dayen’s piece:
For years, bloggers and activists like Black in the online progressive movement have been fascinated with something called the Overton Window, a theory of how ideas enter the political mainstream and eventually become policy. The theory was coined by the libertarian thinker Joseph Overton, who argued that the public can only countenance a fairly narrow “window” of acceptable views on a given subject at a given time. Politicians, in order to be seen as viable, generally have to endorse views within that narrow range. However, savvy members of a political movement can work to move the Overton Window. By endorsing proposals that split the distance between views that are inside the window and the movement’s ultimate goal, activists can gradually drag the window toward their desired end position. To change policy, the idea goes, you change the political environment.
For the past several years, the right has been especially skillful at moving parts of its agenda into the public consciousness and onto the law books this way. For example, instead of pushing for an outright ban on abortion—an ultimate goal that many GOP leaders endorse—Republican state legislatures have passed things like parental notification requirements, or partial bans on abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, or targeted regulation of abortion providers (known as TRAP laws) to restrict access. Sometimes the legislators overreach, and a proposal that falls too far outside the Overton Window gets promoted—like the Virginia GOP’s politically disastrous attempt to force abortion-seekers to endure a transvaginal ultrasound. But even such blunders can move the window in the desired direction, by making other, more “moderate” ways of restricting abortion access seem more palatable.
When it comes to blogging, the key thing is being repetitive. It’s not enough to write one or two posts about your idea. And while it’s genuinely difficult to find new and interesting ways to say the same thing over and over, it’s so necessary if you want to actually break through.
I doubt anybody pays that close of attention to this blog, but if they did, they’d notice there’s only ever about 10 actual issue posts on rotation here, in addition to actual new developments in elections and polling and such. The news events change all the time, but the purpose of writing about news events is always to build up more context for why we need to adopt the policies I favor.
Persuasion isn’t about convincing people you’re right so much as getting them to understand the internal logic of your ideas, so that your political program runs on their wetware as they read the regular news on their own time. My friend Bethlehem Councilman Willie Reynolds always likes to make fun of me whenever I see him for harping on their parking requirements and use-based zoning so much, and I love that because guess whose ideas are going to start running in his head when those issues come up on Council? Blogging works y’all!