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Tyler Cowen

How to Tell Which Democratic Dreams Won’t Come True

Lasting changes in policy happen only when both parties are in broad agreement.

Popular? Quite. Likely? Not so much.

Popular? Quite. Likely? Not so much.

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

As the Democratic presidential candidates continue to present their various proposals, it is worth keeping in mind a simple but clarifying question: Is this likely to actually happen? I have progressive friends who are looking forward to a new reign of social justice, conservative friends who fear socialism, and cynical friends who predict total gridlock. They’re all wrong.

Leave aside for now questions of policy, good or bad. Instead, focus on how the broader trends of U.S. history offer guidance as to which proposals have a realistic chance of being enacted.