Enough speeches, Washington, do something already
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In the days that follow a national tragedy, whether it September 11, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, or now Orlando, Americans coalesce in common purpose for a period of time. Today, we have seen it with GoFundMe raising a record $3M in a single day. People hang flags and put up signs that say: "these colors don't run". We exchange messages on social media and elected officials and want to be elected officials give speeches about how things need to change.

And then they don't change. Washington goes back to raising record levels of revenue from the American people, yet spending even 30% more. The President and Congress demand Ritz Carlton levels of taxes and then stick the American people with Bates Motel quality government. We say public safety is important, and re-elect politicians that spend hundreds of billions every single year on parks. We say that safe bridges are important and then reward politicians with more votes who spend hundreds of millions on museums. We say that safe food and water is important and then watch elected officials whip crowds into frenzies telling them that which bathroom people use is the critical issue of our time. 

These are the fundamental responsibilities of government. We simply must have strong public safety, a safe and secure transportation network to move throughout our nation, and confidence that our food and water supplies are protected. Until we get these basics of government right, we simply can't move into topics of "nice to have" (parks, libraries, museums). It is akin to a family that lacks the resources to feed their children dinner this very evening, having a passionate debate over how much to save for their kids college education.

Either Trump or Clinton will inherit a national government that has set a record for taking in revenue, yet sadly is nearly $20T in debt, has 20% of bridges rated as deficient, and provides unsafe water in multiple cities. Rather than get the fundamentals of government right, we instead watch passionate national debates on cable news over whether the mascot of a game that grown men play or where someone should/ shouldn't go to the restroom is offensive. If there is anything that September 11, San Bernardino and Orlando should teach us is that we simply must get the fundamentals right.

Imagine a government where we focused on doing precisely that. 

Would you like our government to continue to subsidize the sugar industry or would you like 12,000 more FBI agents?

Would you like our government to continue buying more private property for parklands when already 40% of American land is government owned or would you like 5,000 more Border Patrol agents?

Would you like to continue the Community Development Block Grant program that taxes people, skims 30% off the top and then sends the balance back to communities or would you like to replace New Jersey’s Portal Bridge, a 105-years-old structure that dangerously carries more than 250,000 people across it every single day?

We’ve gone from taxation without representation 225+ years ago to taxation without performance today. We simply must make choices. We can not do it all. We can't continue spending 30% more than we take in and not even getting the fundamentals right.

Speeches saying: “We’re going to make America win” and “I care about our children’s future” are silliness. Does anyone think they would say they want America to lose? Or that they could care less about kids? Those statements are obvious and are a waste of our time.

President Kennedy put a stake in the ground and committed himself to “sending a man to the moon and back by the end of the decade.” President Reagan challenged: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Whether you agreed with either of them, they fundamentally transformed the governments they led to deliver upon that vision. They put their time, energy and the American's people money to work in order to deliver.

What if we committed ourselves to saying that within the next five years we will have built a structure that never allows anyone who wants to do America's children harm to gain entry our shores? What if we committed ourselves to saying that within 10 years every single bridge in America was safe? What if we demanded that within three years every single time a child in America turns on their tap, the water they consume will be as safe as that at the White House? Do we want that or do we want to subsidize museums? Or a gallon of milk? We simply must make those choices. This is exactly what can't continue – not some meaningless debate about guns or what we're going to call those whom will do us harm.  

Now is the time to get government right. We must focus on the fundamentals and get them right. Distraction can have no place in our national debate. Let's stop the speeches and deliver solutions. Let's align around what's critically important to get right – and deliver it. Every American deserves the right to move around our great nation without fear of assassination, their child's school bus falling through a deteriorated bridge, or consuming contaminated food and water. Let's get that right, and then we can talk about how much park land we should have and where the bathrooms should be.

Just last week we celebrated the 72nd anniversary of D-Day. Our grandparents had to defeat tyranny to save America. Our flag flies high because of them, because of the greatest generation this country has ever had. We only have to defeat ourselves. Now, let’s go save America.

Mark Aesch is the CEO of the public sector consulting firm TransPro and the author of Saving America: 7 Proven Steps to Make Government Deliver Great Results.