Pelican Institute: Meet our Capitol Reporter, The Overton Window, and More

June 10, 2010

What is the Overton Window?

A new blockbuster novel is named after a think-tank concept, The Overton Window, that helps explain why lawmakers enact the policies they do. Author Glenn Beck’s bad guys use the concept for evil, but we are using publicity surrounding his book to help us introduce millions of people to the power of ideas to shape policy.

The Overton Window of Political Possibility, created by Joseph Overton, noted that “when public policies in a given area, such as education, are arranged from freest to least free, only a relatively narrow window of options will be considered politically acceptable. This window of politically acceptable policies is not defined primarily by what politicians would prefer; rather, it is defined by what they believe they can support and still win re-election. Hence, the window shifts to include new policies or exclude old ones not when ideas change among politicians, but when ideas change in the society that elects them.”

Check out the new webpage set-up by the Mackinac Institute for Public Policy where Joe Overton, the creator of the Overton Window, was a long-time policy guru.

Meet Our New Capitol Bureau Reporter
We are delighted to welcome Fergus Hodgson aboard as our Capitol Bureau Reporter. Fergus will be providing you with news and analysis of issues of importance from Baton Rouge. As newspapers continue to downsize, his reports will help fill a significant void.

Prior to joining us, Fergus was a Visiting Scholar with the American Institute for Economic Research and a Research Associate for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Canada.

He grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in rural New Zealand, along with five siblings, but moved to the United States upon receiving an athletic scholarship from Boston University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and he then completed a Graduate Diploma in Political Science and taught macroeconomics with the University of Waikato, New Zealand.

His sporting pursuits have resulted in two New Zealand national rowing championships and junior national representation. However, after toning down his rowing and completing two marathons, he is now preparing to qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon. We’ll have more announcements in the near future regarding our investigative reporting, so stay tuned!

Introducing Tweet Louisiana!
Many members of Congress use Twitter to directly communicate with constituents, activists, and media sources. For example, Governor Bobby Jindal “tweets” on his activities to folks “following” him on Twitter. More and more legislators at the federal and state level are beginning to utilize this important new media tool as well. That’s why the Pelican Institute for Public Policy has created

At its core, TweetLouisiana is a two-way portal to connect and directly communicate with legislators via Twitter. Visitors to are able to:
· Follow the “tweets” (updates) of elected officials
· Get the latest news and commentary on Louisiana politics
· Comment on what is happening in the legislature
· Send legislators a message
· See the feed of “tweets” from all elected officials
Elected officials are already using Twitter to get their message out. They include:
Name Twitter ID
Governor Bobby Jindal @bobbyjindal
U.S. Senator David Vitter @davidvitter
U.S. Representative William Cassidy @drcassidy
U.S. Representative Charlie Melancon @melancon2010
Representative Neil Abramson @neilabramson
Representative Cedric Richmond @cedricrichmond
Representative Walker Hines @walkerhines
Representative John LaBruzzo @johnlabruzzo
State Senator Sharon Broome @westonbroome
Visit TweetLouisiana to keep up and communicate with your elected officials!

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