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While reading this article I came across the following sentence:

Today Democrats are wondering what went wrong, but before too many fundraising dinners have been digested they will have concluded they don’t need to worry, that demographics will bail them out sooner or later, and that the right and noble course of action is to proceed as before.

I'm a little bit puzzled as I just can't get the right chronological order of events. Am I wrong, or the author places a completed future event before a past one that continues up to the present?

Please let me know your thoughts on this.

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It's a little confusing but most of the sentence is "what the Democrats will think in the future". Here's the total sequence of events:

Today: Democrats are wondering what went wrong.
In the future: Democrats will conclude that:

  • they do not need to worry
  • demographics will bail them out sooner or later
  • the right and noble course of action is to proceed as before

Farther in the future: many fundraising dinners have been digested.

I think the tricky part is "before too many fundraising dinners have been digested" - that is, before this event is complete - "they will have concluded" - this other event will be complete.

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No, it's all current and future events, but the "will have concluded" might be confusing. Of course it's also heavy with sarcasm, indicating that the Democratic Party (of the United States) won't learn their lesson from the latest election.

Chronology of this sentence:

  1. Today they are wondering, but

  2. In the future there will be fundraising dinners, at some point during which

  3. They will realize they don't need to worry, because

  4. They believe at some distant future point demographics will bail them out, and so therefore

  5. (at the time point of #2) They will conclude that they should continue to do what is familiar, the "right and noble course of action"

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