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Legendary radio personality Paul Harvey once said, “In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.” America does face significant economic political and global security challenges. Our inner cities – and more importantly, the individuals and families who live there – are struggling. But there have always been obstacles to growth, success and happiness in this country.

Many say that now is the time for the country to hunker down and wait out the storm, or to simply sit back and hope that Washington will come up with a solution. I believe it is far better to lean into the stiff wind of the current challenges of our day. It’s time to shift from political rhetoric to practical governing. What the country needs now more than ever before is a confidence-specific agenda for the American people.

The administration is rightly pursuing the kind of disruption government has needed for decades. Now the president would be wise to turn away from what Congress and the political elite of Washington have been promoting: that they know what is best for the American people.

Sadly, many in Washington don’t trust the American people. In fact, they say, just trust Washington – trust Washington to take care of everything, to raise our children, control our lands, and dictate every aspect of our lives. Now, the president should avoid the impulse to say that he knows best and will take care of everything with the stroke of his pen. That is not how it is supposed to work in America. We don’t need a nanny state or a big government mandate to restore freedom, upward mobility and opportunity for hardworking Americans. That is what they need. This is what they deserve.

The question then becomes – if there have always been times like these, what needs to happen to move America forward? And what can the administration do to facilitate that?

We must begin by overcoming the crisis of confidence in the country. The president can restore the confidence of the American people by rolling out a specific agenda and strategy to balance the budget, reduce our national debt, reform the tax system and eliminate waste. We can protect American workers without being protectionist. We can return power to the people and reduce regulations to unleash America’s entrepreneurs.

All of this will re-energize the economy, create real jobs, and provide the opportunity for every American to pursue their version of the American dream. A president with a plan can tap into the confidence and commitment of our citizens and achieve the seemingly impossible. This is who we are. This is what we do as Americans – we must remember that America has a future.

The question is whether that future happens by chance or by choice, and whether we settle for Washington-based solutions or engage in community-driven success. But since there have always been times like this in American history, we must also recognize that a president can start a conversation. Congress can clear a path, but it is up to the American people to make it happen.

For Sutherland Institute, this is Boyd Matheson. Thanks for engaging – because principle matters.

Boyd C. Matheson is president of Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank that advocates for a free market economy, civil society and community-driven solutions.

This post is an edited transcript of Principle Matters, a weekly radio commentary broadcast on several radio stations across the country. The podcast can be found below.

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