The pandemic has exposed crippling weaknesses in the federal government and troubling vulnerabilities in society that will be more difficult to ignore when the crisis begins to ease. For the first time, many Americans are looking to government for their very economic survival. In time, that could make them look at government differently.

The effects of hollowed-out federal agencies, persistent underinvestment in public health, enormous gaps in coverage and disparities in care have been on daily display as the coronavirus spread rapidly this winter and spring. So, too, have the effects of an economy whose benefits are distributed unequally, leaving the richest Americans secure while millions upon millions of middle- and lower-class families struggle even in the best of times…

“I think it could be paradigm shifting,” said Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, arguing that this crisis could generate greater public support for more spending on health care and safety net programs, which she favors.

William Galston of the Brookings Institution said he sees this moment as the end of the cycle that began with the 2008 financial crisis and the tea party revolt in the fall of 2009, which triggered populist forces that eventually helped elect President Trump. “So the movement that began in opposition to a bailout is ending in an administration that finds itself forced to sponsor — and in many respects urge on — the largest expansion of government financial activity in our history,” he said.