Grandpa and the Overton Window



I (DM) became a grandpa twice more in 2014.


How can I, a young man of 27  be a grandpa four times over???

Wife was asked to babysit with one of the grandsons Saturday night so I tagged along.

Sitting on the couch with this grand baby on my lap filled me with a quiet joy. As long as I don’t have to change any dirty diapers I am good to go.

The TV was on, when the words of a song caught my ear:

” Grandpa, tell me ’bout the good old days
Sometimes it feels like this world’s gone crazy
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday
When the line between right and wrong
Didn’t seem so hazy…”

(See the end of the post if you want to listen to the song.)

My grandpa used to talk to us about the “good old days.”

He’d say things like:

“Ha – the  good old days….You can have them!”

He was referring to living through  two World Wars,  the Great Depression, delivering babies at home on the kitchen table,  no indoor plumbing until  the 1940’s, and so on.

On those levels,  I would have to agree.

But as I sat there snuggling  my grandson  my mind  kept thinking about the words, “Grandpa, take me back to yesterday
When the line between right and wrong
Didn’t seem so hazy…”
and a  conversation I remember reading between  my favorite writer, Andree Seu Peterson and Congressman Frank Wolf.

Wolf  asked Peterson if she’d ever heard of  the “Overton Window”?


He  held out his hands and framed them into a window.

I’m paraphrasing the conversation as I remember it:

   “Imagine, a yardstick.  On either end are the extremes of  any political issue. Between the ends lie all gradations of thought from one extreme to the other. The essence of the Overton window is that only a portion of the spectrum is within the realm of the politically possible at any time…”

What once was considered unthinkable, goes through several steps until it becomes policy:








The Overton Window is a great analogy to me of what is happening in my culture, not just in the political sphere, but pop culture as a whole.  The lines between right and wrong , truth and lies feel blurred.

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.” 

Paul Joseph Goebbel   ( Minister of Propaganda for Adolph Hitler during WW II)

Would love to hear your thoughts on any of this.

Do we have “ministers of propaganda” today? (even if they don’t officially go by that title)  The more specific the better.

Any examples come to mind of “lies repeated often enough that they have become truth” in your life time?

What sources of information do you trust to help you  stay informed?

What are some of the things you do in your life to  keep your bearings?

Tell me about your grandpa.

Here’s a picture of my grandpa the day he helped me butcher 100 chickens

opa 1982

If I were a betting man, I think I am going to look a lot like this picture in another 30 years.  DM


One thought on “Grandpa and the Overton Window

  1. I just read a story about about a man who went from (several) very good jobs with the New York Times to a small organization called The Marshall Project.
    The Marshall Project, as I understand it, wants us all to question our entire criminal justice system– i.e. is it really working. The article I read said exactly that– that we have learned to believe that this is just how things work/the best way possible, and so have gotten to a point where we accept having juveniles locked up with truly dangerous, seasoned criminals; where we accept that rape in prison is just part and parcel of the whole deal; where solitary confinement is used for weeks and months as a matter of course to deal with prisoners who break rules– when solitary confinement has been clearly shown to make many people permanently unstable and to be absolutely inhumane in that sense….etc.

    Their point is that the fact that many of these people are indeed guilty does not mean that we can stop worrying about being human TOWARD these people…

    Wherever you happen to fall on this issue (from “prisoners deserve all the compassion and rehabilitative efforts we can afford” to “prisoners are criminals and don’t deserve anything extra or anything but punishment), we can all agree that a system that has more people incarcerated, per capita, than anywhere else in the world, is a system that needs to be looked at. And that a system with that many people incarcerated is a system that is affecting not just prisoners, but their families– spouses and children– and if the prisoners are being treated in the worst way possible, that means we are spreading a cloud of negativity from the prisoners out to the their family members.

    Anyway— this is, to me, a lie that we have all heard so often that we believe it. “We have a good enough criminal justice system”. How can it be good enough if it serves to MAKE more criminals, rather than stop most people from continuing on their criminal path? Do we really believe that dehumanizing people works to “fix” them? (It doesn’t work with kids. Setting LIMITS works, but lacking compassion or humanity when setting limits SELDOM works. I don’t think it actually works with adults either. Some people are sociopaths and psychopaths and may be beyond help– but the vast majority of criminals arrested on, for instance, drug offenses or for committing non-violent crime, or crimes of passion–are not.)

    Anyway, I think I wrote too much here (and may be on a topic that is of little interest to you or other people who write/read an “out in the country” blog!–I am clearly displaying some of my urban/lefty biases in this comment) or may be offensive to you, and if so, I apologize!

    That said, since I know you moved your blog over here and it’s newish, I won’t go back and erase all my comments this time….because I know you are still getting less than you once did, so even a somewhat undesirable comment is another comment, right? 😉
    Are you kidding? I love to hear your thoughts Lisa…(especially the long ones) thanks you! DM


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