Hope dies last, it’s said, but hope is limited by what the possibilities are. Greece cannot hope that by changing a few faces in government things will change rapidly. Mr. Papandreou will probably won’t continue as Greece’s prime minister, but who’s to take over next? That’s a big problem, because all the political leadership in the country has played various roles in the long road to the economic and political decay.

“Crisis” is a Greek word familiar to all. It also means “judgment”. People under duress don’t usually make good judgments, but the Greeks today can’t afford to make more mistakes. The question is whether they can given the options available to them. It is said that democracy solves problems by allowing for a dialogue and change of leadership. But, there has to be a new kind of dialogue based on reality, and new leadership that won’t do what most governments and leaders have done in the last 20 years.

So, what’s next? A government of so-called national unity to replace the current one is a proposal, except those who are familiar with the Greek reality, such governments don’t last and aren’t effective. Who’s going to be part of this coalition government? Members of the PASOK, New Democracy, KKE, and other career politicians? They all have been part of this failure, which includes leaders of parties that haven’t governed but they have grave responsibilities in perpetuating a system of patronage, corruption, and delusional policy proposals.

Elections will most likely take place soon, yet, I can’t see a party winning enough votes for a majority in parliament. Then what? Another election? A new coalition government? The pattern of politics as usual has to end. It can happen if a new leader emerges who brings a new realistic approach to public policy and tells the truth (even if uncomfortable at times) to the people. Or, it can happen if the people demand responsible leadership and are willing to punish those who don’t act in the public interest.

However, both these two solutions aren’t easily come by. First, we can’t assume that new and responsible leadership can emerge out of a crisis. Secondly, it remains to be seen whether the majority of Greeks realize that if the country spends lots more that it earns, if the public sector is there to “take care of our own” by hiring incompetent and unnecessary employees, if the world ..owes Greece and should pay, then nothing will change.

The Greek political parties and much of their leadership have been promising something they couldn’t deliver. They’ve been lying to the Greek people about reality. It was unconscionable what the preceding Karamanlis’s government did with the economy and the furthering of corruption. It was unconscionable that the Papandreou government came to power by saying, “there’s lots of money!” Well, the irony was that everyone had experienced the current system for decades. Everyone knew about the inefficiencies, the corruption, the lies, the cheating, the loss of civility, but too many were willing to practice self-deception and listen to fairy tales about solutions that didn’t exist. Since the 1980s, they kept changing parties in government, yet the outcome got invariably worse.

In the past, failed countries looked to supervision in order to function and “grow up.” Many, including Greece in the past, welcomed foreign supervision and royalty. Today, Greeks claim that they have matured. Yet, if you can’t provide for yourself, you rely on others for support or, worse, solve your problems. How’s that for being a grown up, mature person? And, how’s that for true independence and sovereign power?

Adversity and hard choices have a way to mature a person, indeed a whole country. Is Greece up to the task now?…

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A self-described Athenian, works and lives in the NYC metropolitan area. Interested in the world of ideas, the human condition & history, and how public policy can foster a progressive culture of life.