Picture an adjustable window, like the ones seen in old Bugs Bunny cartoons. This window can be shifted upward and downward. Upward means more freedom, and downward means less freedom. At the very top and bottom of the window, we have 'acceptable' ideas, followed by 'sensible', then 'popular', then, smack-dab in the middle, 'policy'. Outside the window, both above and below, lie 'radical' and 'unthinkable' ideas. This window can be shifted upward and downward. This is what is known as the 'Overton window'.
The Overton window of present Western society is currently very much down, although in alternative circles, it's much higher. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were even further down.
The problem-reaction-solution strategy is based on the Overton window. By introducing a problem, the reaction shifts the window downward. 9/11 helped the elite slam it downward hard. Previously radical authoritarian ideas like mass surveillance became official policy with the USA PATRIOT Act, and previously unthinkable ideas such as violent Islamophobia became very popular.
The Overton window has since shifted slightly back toward freedom, but only in certain circles. There's still not that much of an uproar about the continued NSA spying, for instance, even though it was the story of the month back in June 2013. A lot of people have even forgotten who Snowden is, rather depressingly, and a vocal number of the few who still remember think of him as a 'traitor'.
Donald Trump and his alt-right followers are helping shift the window even further down. With dangerous positions including mass deportation, mandatory identification of Muslims, and full support for both reinstating the USA PATRIOT Act and the NSA, they're shifting the Overton window toward authoritarianism more and more. The right-wing master troll, weev, has explicitly stated his plan is 'widening the Overton window until genocide is politically acceptable.'
Political Ponerology speaks of a technique used by psychopaths labelled the 'reversive blockade'. This is when a psychopath insists repeatedly on an extreme viewpoint or a blatant lie in order to force the normal mind to find the alleged 'truth' in the middle. For instance, we know that Tellus (Earth) is an oblate spheroid—mostly round, but compressed at the top and bottom. A psychopath may insist that Tellus is completely flat just to provoke a reaction. As they insist and insist against all evidence, even though a scientist may be in the vicinity arguing that Tellus really is an oblate spheroid, the normal mind, using Bayesian reasoning and the 'golden mean' heuristic, may conclude that Tellus is actually flat to some decent degree.
The reversive blockade is used by the pathocracy in political discourse to shift the Overton window toward less freedom in tandem with the problem-reaction-solution formula. The solution is often offered with the reversive blockade technique: on one 'extreme', keep current freedom; on the other, obliterate it entirely. Most normal citizens will select a 'middle ground' between freedom and tyranny, thus allowing the window to be shifted downward.
For instance, returning to 9/11, the pathocrats suggested drastic measures such as a total shutdown of communication or even martial law. The opposing side was one that wanted to preserve civil liberties and deal with the attacks using normal means, or even people who suspected the government itself might have been involved. (This latter group has been vindicated repeatedly.) Instead, the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law and Afghanistan was invaded—which was the initial plan all along.
This all goes to show that power is psychological. If every American refuses to accept what their government is doing tomorrow, the regime loses all of its power. It's all what Robert Anton Wilson called a 'Bavarian fire drill'—you condition people as to the signals of authority and they'll obey. But peaceful regime change happened in India in 1947 and in the former Czechoslovakia in 1989. All it takes is for enough people to resist the programming and to stand up, and the reign of terror is over.