A team can’t win without a game plan.

During the next few weeks, dozens of college basketball teams will execute the plays they’ve been rehearsing all season long. All their work has led up to this moment.

I understand the pressure these teams are under. I played for the University of Maryland in what is regarded as one of the greatest college basketball games ever — the championship game of the 1974 ACC Men’s tournament. Maryland lost in triple overtime to North Carolina State, but the game has had lasting implications. After that game, the NCAA changed its rules to allow more teams into the tournament, changing it forever.

Additionally, I was a member of the 1972 U.S. men’s basketball team that faced Russia in the championship. After coming from behind, the referees kept resetting the clock, which led to the Russians taking home the gold medal instead of us. Before this game, no American team had ever lost in men’s basketball during the Olympics. For over 40 years, our team has shown solidarity in not accepting the silver medal for that game.

The lesson these games taught me is that teamwork is what makes it all happen.

Though I didn’t always get along with my teammates personally, we had to play together. Winning was our common goal. The same principle applies to Washington. Members of Congress can’t work to create positive change if they aren’t working toward the same goals. Right now, what are the long-term goals of the government?

A divided government shouldn’t be an excuse for gridlock.
During my time in Congress, both parties were able to work together to reach binding budget resolutions that outlined a spending plan for the entire year. While this process was often contentious, we all had the same goal: to establish sensible fiscal guidelines.

But because of the current level of partisanship in Washington, lawmakers haven’t passed a budget since 2009. We haven’t seen an efficient, cooperative government in years.

Without a shared goal, it’s impossible to know where we are going, whether on the court or as a nation, regardless of the color of your jersey or the color of your party.

No Labels, a national movement of Democrats, Republicans and independents, is calling for a new process of decision making in Washington, D.C., one that will serve as a game plan for our country.

To support this framework, No Labels is developing, through an extensive series of town meetings and surveys, a National Strategic Agenda to serve as a basic guide for America’s next president. The agenda has four goals, which are shared by both parties:

•Create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years;

•Secure Social Security and Medicare for another 75 years;

•Balance the federal budget by 2030;

•And make America energy secure by 2024.

You wouldn’t step foot on the court without having a playbook. Every governor in the country has a strategic plan. But why do our national lawmakers attempt to lead our country without a sense of direction? It’s time for lawmakers to support the National Strategic Agenda.

The path to success is not a straight one. There will be detours along the way, but our lawmakers need to agree to a set of shared goals to guide us. Without that strategic plan, a playbook, we’re going nowhere.

Charles Thomas McMillen served three consecutive terms in Congress as Maryland’s Fourth District representative from 1987 to 1993. He played on the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team in Munich. A former Rhodes Scholar, he is a co-founder of No Labels. His email is ctm611@msn.com.