History shows that big national shocks have a way of changing the role of government in lasting ways—and any shock as big as the coronavirus pandemic inevitably will alter political life and philosophies in America.
The crisis has been not just a public-health emergency requiring a sweeping response, but also the cause of the most searing economic pain since the Great Depression, summoning forth a multi-trillion-dollar government intervention into the economy.
Much of today’s new government activism will recede over time along with the virus. Yet conversations with a broad cross-section of political figures suggest there is little reason to expect a return to what had been the status quo on federal spending, or the prevailing attitude toward the proper role of government.
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