The Washington Post

A theme song for western democracies

The Avett Brothers’ song "Head Full of Doubt,” where they sing, "and your life doesn't change by the man that's elected," should serve as the theme song of western democracies. First, France changed governments, but "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." Now, it is Greece's turn. The two coalition partners who emerged from yesterday's election favor staying in the Eurozone, which is initially seen as a superficial positive for markets and for the U.S. economy.  But the problems of Greece and Spain, and their spill-over to their European partners will not improve simply as a result of new leadership.  In other words, the problems facing Europe transcend the politics of the people who are elected, or, more accurately, are bigger than the ideologies of the people in power.

The same is true in the United States. Regardless of who wins November's election, the next president will inherit a series of structural economic and fiscal challenges that will not yield to a pre-packaged set of solutions from the right or left. Not only compromise and political will be necessary,  so will pragmatism. Hope doesn't equal change (still a version of Obama's message) and change doesn't equal hope (Romney's message). Instead, the next president will have to be much more direct and innovative to try to break stale-mate.

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