After the most dramatic effects of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought about the New Deal, establishing the modern day social safety net in the most sweeping package of policies ever seen in the United States.
After the recession of 2008, Barack Obama used his political capital to institute the Affordable Care Act, changing the fundamentals of healthcare in this country.
After this pandemic is over and the dust has settled, what policy or fundamental shift in political ideology will occur?
Here’s three possibilities:
1) Healthcare reform
This is the most obvious. After a global pandemic that has illuminated many holes in the healthcare system not just in the US but around the world, it is only logical that the next step is to fill those holes. Testing diffenciences, a lack of preparation, global cooperation — anything and everything that has failed in this pandemic is on the table.
If Joe Biden is elected president in November, this could take the form of Medicare for All as many Democrats on the campaign trail advocated for. If Trump wins re-election, it could mean the end of US funding for the World Health Organization, something the president has already initiated.
2) Universal basic income
The country got an education in the theory of the universal basic income — better known as UBI — from Andrew Yang’s surprise campaign for the Democratic nomination this year. With that as his fundamental policy idea, the theory gained attention but not necessarily many backers.
That changed when the relief packages for COVID-19 included a one-time $1,200 check to every American — in short, a form of UBI. It’s a big jump from a one-time payment to a monthly income, but it has entered the realm of legitimacy. Especially after all policymakers have witnessed how the economy and employment can change on a dime, we could emerge from this pandemic with a legitimate drive for UBI.
3) A big-government Republican party
As this Politico article describes, Obama struggled to pass a $900 billion stimulus package in 2009, receiving only three Republican votes in the Senate and no GOP votes in the House. It was big-government, the enemy of the Republican party.
Transition to 2020, and more than $2 trillion in relief has flown past the two chambers with little resistance from the president or his party. For the Republican party, it is a complete flip and a vital change from its nature. This change could be the beginning of a fundamental shift in the ideology of the Republican party.
Or it might not be. It is next to impossible to predict what policy or ideological shift will come out of this pandemic, if any at all. It could be one of these three, or it could be something totally unexpected. Regardless, the upheaval from this pandemic will be making waves years down the road.
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