As the United States looks to the immediate future, the musical musings of Mick Jagger might instill a sense of pragmatism.
"You can't always get what you want," Jagger sang in one of the Rolling Stones' top hits.
Clearly, only about half of voters on Election Day got what they wanted. The same is true for the two major political parties.
President Barack Obama is returning to the White House. His fellow Democrats still control the Senate. Republicans still lead the House of Representatives.
From all appearances, it looks like four more years of partisan gridlock.
But Americans cannot afford another term of government paralysis.
If Congress can't compromise on a budget deal to avoid tax increases and severe spending cuts set to start in January, the nation could fall into another recession.
The economy is showing many positive, albeit modest, signs of improvement.
Employers are adding jobs. Gas prices have been falling, and home prices have been rising. Consumers are feeling more confident, and because of lower interest rates, they have more money to spend.
Problems remain because of the European recession and an economic slowdown in China and other Asian countries.
But the seeds of U.S. economic growth can sprout in the coming months and years, if the president and Congress forge their political swords into plowshares.
President Obama needs to work harder at nurturing compromises that can boost economic growth and reduce the federal deficit. GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell need to foster a more amiable environment in Congress.
None of us — including our most powerful political leaders — can always get what we want. But if we try sometimes, as Jagger sings, we get what we need.
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