Sometime in the next 24 to 72 hours, Time Magazine will be announcing its Person Of The Year. One of the early favorites at Ladbrokes online betting was Greta Thunberg, the eloquent Swedish climate change activist. She is clearly deserving, and the award could heighten focus on the looming existential crisis, but the bookies, if not Time executives, are cooling to her. Others touted on the more recent wagering list regrettably include Trump, Boris Johnson and the cast and creators of Game of Thrones.
Time‘s designation can go to someone who has made a negative impact, such as Adolph Hitler (1938), Ayatolah Khomeini (1979) and Vladimir Putin (2007) . Groups have been named, like American Women (1975) and U.S. Scientists (1960). In 2001, Rudy Guliani was named as a symbol of the nation’s response to 9/11. Next year, it was The Whistleblowers (2002), and the case against Enron. Two years ago it went to “The Silence Breakers,” a tribute to the #Me Too movement and last year it went to “The Guardians,” journalists like Jamal Khashoggi, who gave their lives for press freedom.
Since 1927, all US presidents (save for Calvin Coolidge) have been selected at least once. Franklin Roosevelt was named three times (1932, 1934, 1941). After years of hanging fake Time covers featuring himself at his various golf resorts, Donald Trump was selected in 2016 for his upset victory over Hillary Clinton. In 2017, learning that he wouldn’t be a repeat selection, he lied, tweeting that he’d turned down the honor. [Angela Merkel won.] I cringe to think how he’d exploit the recognition this year. Better to give it to Vladimir Putin, for his perniciously disruptive influence on Western elections, or Volodymyr Zelensky, for steadfastly refusing (so far) to succumb to White House pressures.
My personal favorite is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now 13th on the betters’ list, just above Tom Brady. She’s on the way to resurrecting Article 1 in the Constitution, asserting the equal power of the legislative branch of government. As candidate Amy Klobuchar said in the last Presidential debate, “Of you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.” She is the single greatest hope for rational thinking and return to normative behavior in Washington at this time.
Under her leadership, the Democrats are building a stronger bench, there is more transparency in House processes, myriad substantive bills have been passed by the House on everything from gun safety, to immigration, to election security, to health costs and more, and there’s a general sense that there are at least a few grown-ups in the House. She is articulate and courageous. Her hand at the helm is a small reason to feel optimistic in the mighty struggle to preserve our democracy. Pelosi likes to quote Benjamin Franklin, who was asked, upon completion of the writing of the Constitution, what kind of government we were to have, and he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Right now, we are in an epic struggle to do just that, and, even though this Time cover Person-of-the-Year selection is just a marketing device, Pelosi as that designee would send a message that what she is doing is crucially important and worth supporting in whatever ways we can.
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