This piece originated in First Monday, my monthly email newsletter. Subscribe here.

The Inauguration of the next president occurs in 74 days. The process of preparing to govern begins immediately and governing is far different than campaigning. In many ways, taking the oath of office on January 20th marks the end of the beginning.

We desperately need the president-elect and congressional leaders to govern effectively. The trouble is, regardless of how much experience the leaders have, they have little experience at governing effectively.

I've always thought the moment in time when things changed goes back to 1990. Everyone knows the political damage then President George H. W. Bush did to his own cause by negotiating and accepting a deal to include tax increases in a budget compromise. But, what is often overlooked is that President Bush brought Republican and Democratic leaders to the table from both the House and Senate and the ALL AGREED to advance the package.

The fact that what the leadership pledged to do ultimately failed is, for me, a moment in time when "leadership" in Washington began a downward spiral.

Yes, President Bush took a very big risk, but up until then, modern day presidents who won the support of both parties leaders in both houses of Congress had every reason to expect a legislative victory.

Since that rebuke (from Republicans by the way), leaders have had more and more difficulty delivering on legislative agreements.

The fact it has been so difficult to build consensus for so long makes change very challenging.

My hope is that this election, whatever the outcome, creates an awakening. With every survey showing an electorate frustrated with how dysfunctional Washington has become, the only solution is to end the dysfunction. That, however, is going to take several positive actions.

Here are my suggestions: 8 steps that would improve chances for returning a measure of functionality to Washington...they have to start somewhere!

  1. Supreme Court - the sitting president has nominated someone consider fully qualified for the vacant position on the Court. The Senate should immediately advance the confirmation process.
  2. The President-Elect will certainly place before the Senate a full slate of Cabinet designees. Every effort should be made to meet the traditional deadline for confirming the designees by the Inauguration to give the president a cabinet to work with from day one. Serious review is important, but usually this is successful on almost all cabinet designees before the end of January.
  3. The president-elect has the unique ability to bring members of both houses of Congress and both parties together and that should happen right from the start. It won't always be pleasant, but trust will never be built by learning what leaders are thinking through the media...social or otherwise.
  4. The new president and Administration are required to submit a budget to Congress within a couple of months of taking office. The budget should be a clear blueprint outlining the plans of the new Administration and the Congress should not dismiss it as has been customary for years. A real discussion around a serious set of proposals would be a welcome change.
  5. We need to see the nation's leaders doing the people's business successfully. Holding public meetings is a start, as long as these are not followed by dueling press conferences. But, a few strategic meetings at Camp David where leaders can get away from the news media stakeouts would be a good change.
  6. There are a lot of exciting developments occurring across the country. We remain a highly innovative nation and the new President needs to be encouraging more not less innovation. And, along the way, associating with some of our best problem solvers would be a positive step forward.
  7. Without a doubt, there are real issues affecting millions of citizens. The campaign is over and serious work needs to begin on reforming health care, growing the economy to produce more jobs, successfully educating our young people and restoring respect for America abroad, for a start. Bring together the best and brightest in these areas and chart a course for the future.
  8. Finally, put aside the highly negative actions where there is little or nothing to gain....we do not need to further investigate emails or even a foundation that does good deeds around the world; heck, do we really need to audit tax returns of a successful developer. The point is, we need to move forward and stop fighting yesterday's battles.

Maybe some would say none of this is easy and I suppose it's not. But, unless we hold our elected officials to some set of standards and call for more specific productive actions, we run the risk of getting more of the same.

And, unless those who are elected decide that dysfunctional governance is even worse than compromise, the downward spiral of public respect and support for our elected officials will continue.

Presidential elections are always a chance to reset the path we've been on. Let's hope, regardless of whoever comes away winning the White House and Congressional majorities tomorrow, we get the reset we need.

Fuller_Craig
Craig L. Fuller

Craig Fuller is the co-chair of APCO Worldwide’s International Advisory Council and president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Read More