Will it change us?

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Washington, DC, USA; The United States Capitol building is seen as demonstrators display and march along Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Reuters/USA TODAY.

Halfway through an extremely eventful 2020, what is the outlook for persistent change?

In this special midyear episode, Josh Barro speaks with Dorian Warren and Megan McArdle about whether this year’s events — in policing and racial justice, the economy, and public health — will make change in these areas more possible and more necessary.

 A lot of change is happening quickly. The government has spent trillions to support the economy, Americans’ lives are barely recognizable, and public opinion has moved faster than we’ve ever seen on issues related to race and policing. Will it change the country permanently? Positively? And what are we learning from these extraordinary months? 

Megan notes that many trends appear revolutionary in the short term but less so in the long term, citing how little changed after the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. She also says there are examples in our history of police reform and “defunding” actually backfiring, and reform may be more difficult in the midst of economic troubles.

Dorian notes that we’ve already seen incredible change as a result of the multiple crises facing the country now. “Normal models we look for in politics don’t quite explain how much change we’ve seen so far...” and he says generational change and indicators in the culture should not be underestimated.



Sara Fay