“Are the good times really over for good?” asked Merle Haggard in his 1982 lament.

Then, the good times weren’t over. In fact, they were coming back, with the Reagan recovery, the renewal of the American spirit and the end of a Cold War that had consumed so much of our lives.

Yet whoever wins today, it is hard to be sanguine about the future. The demographic and economic realities do not permit it.

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