John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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2016: The Year of Shattered Assumptions

Posted on December 28, 2016
baseball_crop2016: The Year of Shattered Assumptions...

It was assumed that a small Catholic college could never win another NCAA basketball tournament.  And then Villanova surprised everybody.

It was assumed that the Cubs could never win a World Series again.  The Billy Goat curse and all that.  Sadly, the Cubs won.

It was assumed that a man with no discernable political experience, a man with a history of saying whatever came into his mind to the national media, a man with all kinds of questionable business deals could never win the White House.  And then came Donald J. Trump.

The lesson of 2016 is never assume anything.

History is a faulty predictor of the future.   Just because certain things happened in the past doesn’t mean that they will happen the same way three weeks or three years from now.

We are in a period of great disruption.

Social media makes everybody famous for at least a few seconds.

Everybody has a story.  Everybody is the center of their own universe.  And people react to things in unpredictable ways.

We have lost some great disrupters this year.

David Bowie disrupted how we look at sexuality.  You don’t have the Obama Administration trying to impose transgender bathroom policies without David Bowie and his music.  So too with Prince and George Michael.

Fidel Castro disrupted his home island of Cuba for a half a century and he proved to the world how terrible Communism is.  It’s a lesson sadly lost on young voters who see such promise in the ideology of Bernie Sanders.

John Glenn disrupted how we looked at the Earth by circumnavigating this small, fragile sphere in a matter of moments.  What seems so vast with our feet on the ground is really tiny in the big scheme of things.

There are plenty of disruptors who are still around, of course.

Pope Francis is trying to disrupt the Catholic Church and its place in the world.  He speaks a social justice message that is hard to discern politically.  He makes everybody uncomfortable, especially the powerful.

Speaking of making everybody uncomfortable, the rise of Donald J. Trump is remarkable.

They call him a Fascist and a demagogue, but for a demagogue, he is plain-spoken if not a bit stilted in his language.  He wants American policies to favor Americans first, which in a historic context might be alarming but taken in reaction of the previous eight years, it seems to be more a needed course correction.

Trump shattered the expectations of the political consulting class and for that he deserves a hearty round of applause.  He said things that would have killed a typical politician, but they only strengthened his reputation as a political outsider.

His victory was historic, not in its size, but in its unconformity (if that’s a word).

There are plenty of other disruptors, mostly in the world of technology.  Uber is a disruptor.  So is Twitter.  And of course, there is Jeff Bezos at Amazon.   His touch is so golden, he is making the Washington Post a success.  Who knew that could be possible?

The lessons of 2016 are clear.  Assume nothing.  Have the proper appreciation for the power of disruption.   And look forward to a future that is nothing like we have seen in the past.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, the French like to say.  But we don’t know if that is true anymore.