Billions of people will say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017 tonight. We will all (well, mostly) drink champagne, make our New Year’s resolutions, and then wonder how long they will last. In some years, events occur that we instantly recognize as being destined to become part of the historical record: 2008 – recession and market crash; 2001 – 9/11 terrorist attacks; 1999 – tech bubble burst; 1986 – stock market crash; 1963 – the assassination of JFK. Other years do not get such star billing except when being discussed in hindsight.
We believe that 2017 shall go down as a defining historical moment in governance – it has the potential to be “Yuge”. Millions of years ago, when tribes were being formed amongst our knuckle-dragging ancestors, the most physically gifted took the role of tribal leader. If you aspired to become a tribal leader, you had one path – kill the current tribal leader. As the centuries went by, we started walking more vertically and tribal leaders transformed, by introducing the concept of reward in exchange for support, the position into a monarchy – a framework of governance and leadership that could be passed through to heirs. No longer could you simply hit someone on the head with a rock and become the new leader, now you had to defeat the King’s, or Queen’s, army.
That form of governance continued for thousands of years until the famed “shot heard round the world”. The American colonies decided to rid themselves of an allegiance to a crown they believed did not have their subject’s best interests in mind. Luckily for the world, the leaders of that armed insurrection were learned men and formed a constitutional republic that was uniquely defined by the orderly transfer of power based on elections. Enter the United States of America and the age of democracy.
Until 2017, America’s leaders had been plucked from the ranks of people that had previously been receiving a government paycheck – legislative or military leaders. Donald Trump has changed that dynamic for the first time since George Washington. Voters chose a President that has never worked in government, but successfully campaigned on a platform of bringing corporate boardroom skills to the Presidency. We have no illusions that running a corporation, no matter its size, is different that running a government. We also have no illusions that our current government is in dire need of the budgetary and negotiating skills that are found in America’s corporate boardrooms.
2017 will be remembered for being a key step in the evolution of governance. From tribal leader, to monarch, to experienced legislative or military leader, to corporate leader. This is an experiment. It could turn out good or bad and most likely be somewhere in-between. But on this first day of 2017, it should be recognized that this year will go down in history as the year voters gave the most powerful office in the world to a person without a history of working in government. The voters rejected tradition and gave the office to a person based on the promise of implementing their corporate leadership and skills. We wish Mr. Trump all the success he can bring us. And if successful, the world shall see more of his kind. But he will always go down as the first.