If you have not read Glenn Beck’s book, “The Overton Window,’ you are thinking, “What on earth is he talking about?” You have no clue. I will explain. But, before I do, let me tell you why I thought of it.
Yesterday, a patient asked me why on earth would recent articles suggest that women refrain from breast self-examinations? Until today, I hadn’t realized that the explanation had been provided by Beck in his recent novel. But first, this.
A few weeks ago, I attended a fundraiser luncheon (in Arizona) for Carly Fiorina, who is trying to oust Barbara Boxer (D) from her California Senate seat. I was incredibly impressed with Fiorina; she has poise, a wonderful business background that can be put to use to try to staunch the fiscal hemorrhage in D.C., the brains to accomplish it, and gumption, to boot. I really liked her answer to a question about HOW can we truly reduce the burden of bureaucracy? The answer, in part, would be to publicize the budgets for agencies, to see where there are duplicative and/or excessive services, and to CUT them. But I digress.
What impressed me above all was this. Carly told us, very matter of factly, that After she decided to run for the Senate, and two weeks following a Negative mammogram, she found a lump in her breast. She subsequently underwent surgery and chemo for the breast cancer she discovered on her own. In spite of this setback, after talking the matter over with her husband, she decided to continue her bid for the senate – because it was that important for the country.
She knows that the reason our country is suggesting we don’t need to perform routine mammograms as early as age 40 is for budgetary reasons. Carly knows better than to allow herself to be a statistic, and I daresay she will fight for the right for anyone who feels the same way. As for the ‘unnecessary trauma’ that some bureaucrat suggested would accrue to women ‘subjecting’ themselves to self-examination, she adroitly commented, “I can handle the trauma!” That produced a good laugh from the audience.
Why, though, should the government be arguing Against self-examinations? There is no cost involved. Not directly. The answer is “The Overton Window.”
“The concept of the Overton Window was first developed in the mid-1990s by Joe Overton of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy” (From “An Introduction to the Overton Window of Political Possibilities” By Nathan J. Russell | Jan. 4, 2006). Some now call his thesis the "Overton Window of Political Possibilities." In essence, if one views Political philosophy as a spectrum, running along a sliding scale from left to right, there is a narrow ‘reference frame’ (the “Window”) positioned somewhere along this spectrum. While one cannot shift public opinion or perception from one extreme to the other all at once, by education one can reposition this frame of reference bit by bit, so that public opinion can slowly be moved closer to the acceptance of a different understanding and/or viewpoint. Once PUBLIC perception has shifted, astute Politicians, who know how far they can ‘push the envelope,’ will be more willing to acquiesce to that reframed perception.
How does this bear on a Federal Agency’s admonition against breast self-examinations? In my view, it helps shift the public toward the acceptance of less testing. The suggestion ‘nudges’ the window a bit.
Carly Fiorina understands this. VERY well.
Let me close by adding more names to the list of doctors running for office:
Dr. Joe Heck, from Nevada, is running for the House.
Charles Boustany, MD (R-LA, District 7, a cardiac surgeon) is running to continue serving in the House.
This is truly a Revolutionary moment in our country’s history. Be There for it.
I am asking that those of you who read this Blog help make it and the last two go VIRAL.
To Our Health.