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The Overton Window and Bitcoin

As Bitcoin enters its adolescence, many people from all walks of life, from all over the world, may ponder the question: is Bitcoin mainstream? Is it going to go mainstream? Or is it something that may never go mainstream? The answer to this question is likely to have profound implications for how governments around the world behave towards Bitcoin in their teens. The reason public perception plays a big part in how governments behave towards a particular topic is related to a concept called the Overton window. In this article, we examine the Overton window: what it is, how it compares to Bitcoin, and whether the Overton window for Bitcoin has moved far enough into the mainstream to warrant government support. What is the Overton window? Wikipedia states, “The Overton window is the range of policies that are politically acceptable to the mainstream population at any given time. It is also known as the window of discourse.” The term is named after American policy analyst Joseph P. Overton , who argued that the political viability of an idea depends primarily on whether it falls within this range, rather than on the individual preferences of politicians.Overton, the window frames the range of policies a politician can recommend without appearing too extreme. to gain or maintain public office, given the climate of public opinion at the time.” At the heart of the Overton window is public perception. Contrary to popular belief, politicians, at least politicians who want to stay in office, not have a policy they want, instead they have to choose from a set of policies that are politically acceptable at the time be dable. The Overton window defines that range of ideas. Examples of movements that have shifted from fringe — outside the Overton window — to mainstream include women’s suffrage, racial equality, and recreational marijuana use. Once these movements became mainstream, government policy began to align with the movements. How does the Overton window compare to Bitcoin? Now that we have a basic understanding of the Overton window, let’s take a look at how it compares to Bitcoin. Bitcoin turned 13 on January 3, 2022. During its first 13 years, it has morphed from a network primarily used by cryptography enthusiasts, extreme privacy advocates, hardcore libertarians, and Austrian economic enthusiasts to something used by ordinary individuals across the globe. around the world, small businesses and large and even nation states such as El Salvador. Given that the Overton window dictates “the range of policies that are politically acceptable to the mainstream population at any given time”, we can ask: “Has the Overton window for Bitcoin shifted far enough into the mainstream to support support of governments?” To answer that question, let’s examine the US government’s actions regarding Bitcoin thus far and then extrapolate what those actions might mean going forward. something too heavy to find. In 2014, the IRS classified bitcoin as property. The United States has some of the strongest property rights of any country in the world. Bitcoin’s classification as property provides the same legal protections as other types of personal property, such as real estate, and is a major reason some of the largest bitcoin holders choose to invest their bitcoin in the own the United States. In 2017, the CME Group, in partnership with the CFTC, launched a bitcoin futures market, an important step for any commodity. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has repeatedly reiterated that bitcoin is not a security and thus does not fall within their area of ​​regulation. Other cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, could be rude awakening when it comes to SEC enforcement. In 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency gave federally chartered banks the green light to hold bitcoin. In 2021, the first bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) in the United States was approved. Yes, the ETF is based on bitcoin futures and does not include physical bitcoin, but the fact that a bitcoin ETF product has been approved at all is just another kudos to bitcoin when it comes to favorable regulation in America. take a look at the totality of government actions related to bitcoin in the united states, we can see that the u.s. government has supported bitcoin in general to date. Now let’s turn our attention to what this could mean for Bitcoin as it relates to the Overton window. Is the Time Right for Politicians and Governments to Lean Into the Bitcoin Movement? With millions of people owning bitcoin, businesses of all sizes owning bitcoin, and even nation-states owning bitcoin, it’s clear that in many parts of the world, Bitcoin is either going through the Overton window or is on the way. If so, the time has come for politicians and governments to lean into the Bitcoin movement and use it to their advantage. We are beginning to see the first suspicions of this. In the United States, politicians such as Cynthia Lummis, Ted Cruz, Aarika Rhodes, Tom Emmer, and others are leaning towards pro-Bitcoin politics. By doing so, they are tapping into a large number of voters who care more about the issue of Bitcoin than any other issue. This big one-number voting bloc is powerful for any politician to tap into as they tend to be very vocal and, in a world of 24/7 social media influence, being vocal is important. Dennis Porter wrote a great article, “Why Bitcoin Represents the Ultimate Single Issue Voting Block.” I highly recommend that you read it here. Another prime example of politicians and governments leaning towards Bitcoin are President Nayib Bukele and El Salvador. Bukele and El Salvador hit the international scene in 2020 when they announced a law that would make bitcoin legal tender. Rather than being tied to bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for funding, El Salvador instead chose to plug into the Bitcoin network. Bukele was internationally recognized almost overnight, and the country of El Salvador turned from a small country, largely forgotten by the West, to an international stage. Rest assured that other countries are considering similar actions. Now that we’ve looked at several examples of politicians and governments taking advantage of the shifting Overton window for Bitcoin, let’s look at an example of a government trying to keep Bitcoin out of the Overton window: China. China has “banned” Bitcoin more than once. I count. Which makes sense when you think about it. A communist country run by a dictator doesn’t want its people to have access to a global, distributed, censorship-resistant sovereign monetary system? Shocking! In 2021, however, China took its disdain for Bitcoin to a whole new level. They were serious this time. They cracked down on miners, leading to 50% of the Bitcoin hash rate being moved to friendlier jurisdictions. They broke down hard on the exchanges and forced the accounts of Chinese citizens to be closed. They generally instill enough fear in enough people to keep many of them from interacting with Bitcoin. China put on a classic display of attempts to prevent a move from shifting to the Overton window. In my opinion, history will not be nice to China because of its grave mistake. Conclusion The Overton window is an important concept to understand. Simply put, the Overton window dictates a set of policies that are acceptable to the mainstream population on a particular topic at any given time. As Bitcoin enters its teens and adoption continues to grow, it is clear that the Overton window for Bitcoin has shifted, or at least is in the process of changing. Politicians and governments around the world will do well to join the Bitcoin movement, use it to their advantage to attract voters to one issue and bolster their position on the global stage. In the United States and El Salvador we see this process starting to unfold. In other countries, such as China, we are seeing attempts to thwart Bitcoin before it can get through the Overton window. In my opinion, these countries will look back and realize that stopping the inevitable was a serious mistake. This is a guest post from Don. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
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