Getting Political While Running Around Washington

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This is a rare political post at shankman.com. It’s bipartisan, and is directed to our elected officials as a whole, not towards one party. I encourage you to read it and comment below. If you believe in what I’ve written, I encourage you to share it. Thanks. 

I’m in Washington, DC this morning, to keynote at the Compliance and Ethics Institute’s National Conference. Acela’d in last night, had a great swim workout (Thank you, Fairmont Hotels for lending me your pool,) then promptly fell asleep at the W DC. (The beauty of Ironman training – It NEVER takes more than five seconds to fall asleep.)

Woke up this morning to go for a run. DC is a great running town, and staying at the W lets me do a seven mile loop that covers all the major monuments and touristy things. Walking out the door at 5:10am, I set off.

Within half a mile, I realized this was going to be an entirely different run – As I hit Constitution Avenue to start running around the monuments. I was greeted by gates and yellow tape, all informing me that all the monuments, all the pathways, and all the best running areas in Washington, DC, were closed.

Keep in mind, it’s what, 5:15 in the morning, and pretty close to pitch-black. Not knowing where to go, I just started running “along side” the path. It appeared to be a service road, and it was DARK. Like, “This isn’t the smartest thing I could be doing” dark. But hey, I’m no stranger to stupid runs. (Think my “I’m gonna see how far Miami Gardens Drive goes” run, or my “Eh, I doubt Boulder is THAT high, I should have enough oxygen” run.

A mile or so in, I came out by the other side of the reflecting pool, and was able to stay on main roads for the rest of my run, looping the White House to 15th St. a few times, as well. Keep in mind also, I have the WORST sense of direction, so the fact that I didn’t wind up in Reston is a minor miracle in itself.​ It was a great 6.60 mile run, despite not being able to get up and close to my monuments. 

Yes, “my” monuments. The same as they’re “your” monuments. As citizens of this country, we technically own them. And as I ran “close” to the monuments, I noticed other people – some no doubt furloughed, running as well. They owned the monuments, too, and our government was also failing them. See, as I was running, it occurred to me – I got my ass up out of bed and got my run done this morning. Why? Because it’s required. If I want to do well in my upcoming Ironman, I have to train. So I did it. I didn’t complain, I didn’t rationalize staying in bed and not running, I simply got up and did it. Turn on CNN, however, and it seems that our elected officials prefer to blame everyone else for not doing their own work the right way.

As I was running by the Capitol building, I thought back to my friend Jack Walston, a former Navy SEAL. He had a simple saying: “Get it done.” That’s it. “Get it done.” When you have a job to do, you simply get it done. You don’t complain. You don’t blame someone else. You get it done. That’s a sign of integrity.

What’s truly amazing to me is that this man was a NAVY SEAL. The Navy is a branch of the armed forces. As in, he worked for the Government. He served at the pleasure of the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He was told to do something, and he did it. He didn’t whine that it wasn’t his job, or that someone else wasn’t playing fair. He put himself in harms’ way every day, because it WAS HIS JOB, and he DID HIS JOB.

As I made my way past the World War II Memorial, I imagined what Winston Churchill would have made of the shutdown. The man who looked fear in the eye, when Britain seemed destined for complete annihilation – He stood his ground and said “Never, ever, ever give up!” What do our politicians do in 2013 when things don’t go their way? They take their toys and go home, the entire country be damned. Could you imagine Franklin D. Roosevelt dealing with a government shutdown? He would have rolled over to Congress and smacked every single politician in the head. But today? We go on CNN and whine. It’s ridiculous and sad. And remember – This is a bipartisan post. Both sides are to blame here.

As I lapped around the white house for the last time, I imagined Jed Bartlett and his staff working late through the night and into the morning. 

Jed Bartlett would never have let the government shut down. Despite him being a fictional character, I couldn’t help but think that our next president should really, really be Jed Bartlett. Bartlett for America. but I digress. EDIT: Thanks to my loyal readers, I now know Jed Bartlett shut down the government. But I stand the intent of my message: Jed Bartlett had balls.

Making my way back down towards 15th Street, the sun was just starting to come up, and people were headed to work. Regular people, government people, sanitation workers and attorneys, repairmen and PR people. People who have a job to do, and don’t have time for excuses. I got back to my hotel room and jumped into the shower, because I had to make my speech on time. I didn’t have the  opportunity to say “Yeah, I didn’t feel like it, so I’m not going to show.”

GET IT DONE. That’s the motto of the Navy SEALs, and that should be the motto of the President, the Senate, and the Congress. GET IT DONE. JUST GET IT DONE.

I’ll put a challenge out to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and anyone else who’d like to join me: I’ll come back to DC anytime and run with you all. We’ll start running at the White House, and run all around DC. I’m not a fast runner, but that should work, since speed isn’t something that seems to be of paramount importance in Washington. We can even run into Maryland or Virginia. We’ll keep running and won’t stop until we have an agreement, until the government is reopened, and until we can run sans yellow caution tape past the monuments of those who died protecting our freedoms. We owe our forefathers and our children that much. So come on, Mister President. Come on, Mister Speaker. Let’s go run. Let’s get a deal worked out. Simply put, sirs, let’s GET IT DONE.

Comments? As always, I’d love to hear them below.

PS: This piece is made up entirely of my own opinions, and doesn’t necessarily represent the opinions of Shankman|Honig, any of their clients, or any of the clients I represent.

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