Time Magazine's "Person Of The Year" Mistake

Time Magazine's "Person Of The Year" Mistake

Time Magazine has named Joe Biden and Kamala Harris their “Person of the Year” for 2020. Grammar issues aside, this is clearly a wrong choice.

Early yesterday, Time revealed their “short list” of finalists for “ the person who affected the news or our lives the most, for better or worse”.

  • Joe Biden
  • Donald Trump
  • Frontline heath care workers and Dr. Anthony Fauci
  • Movement for racial justice

Biden is, arguably, the weakest finalist on the list. Let’s assume Kamala Harris was added after a last-minute lobbying effort by those who realize she’s the more historic part of the incoming administration. As impressive as their election victory is, at this point it just means a bit more than half the country is a bit more optimistic now than they were a month ago.

Giving this recognition to Biden-Harris is at best a reasonable prediction of the future, at worst blind hope. It’s as silly as giving President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize before he had really done anything.

In a typical year, the movement for racial justice would have been an excellent choice. As with any broad social movement, there are elements that cause concern among some groups. I’m thinking particularly of anti-Semitic rhetoric we’ve heard from some of those involved in the movement. But that doesn’t diminish from the importance of having reached a tipping point in bringing systemic racism and other matters of injustice to the public’s conscience. It’s a critical step in making progress toward a more just society.

What is there left to say about Donald Trump? Is there much doubt he “affected our lives the most for … worse?”  As a result of the dishonesty, narcissism, and corruption of the Trump crime family, around one-third of the country is no longer capable of distinguishing fact from fiction. He attacked science while downplaying the virus, making the simple act of mask wearing – which could have saved many lives and slowed the spread – a political statement. Ultimately, as he more-or-less promised, he attacked our election system in a brazen attempt at a coup.

But even the worst President in American history is defeated in the race for Time’s (Worst) Person of The Year by the same opponent who has killed many of his supporters, infected 5% of the population, and is killing more people every day than died in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Despite Trump’s promises last spring, the virus is not magically disappearing.

Time’s “Person Of The Year” should have been the Covid-19 virus.

“But what about those healthcare workers and Dr. Fauci?” I hear you asking. The virus wasn’t even on the list of finalists. My response? That doesn’t matter. Kamala was added as Joe’s Partner Of The Year, so obviously the list of finalists wasn’t the final list of finalists.

It’s a close call between the virus and those bravely taking risks to protect us from it. If we’re looking for heroes, if we’re looking for those who impacted our lives for the better this year, it’s tough to argue against frontline healthcare workers. Although I think even Dr. Fauci would agree there is no need to single him out. They would be my runners-up.

There’s no question Covid-19 is the defining story of 2020.

“But the virus isn’t a person.” I hear you complaining. Historically that hasn’t been a requirement. In 1982 “The Computer” was named “Machine of the Year”, and in 1988 “The Endangered Earth” was named “Planet of the Year.” So why not name Covid-19 “Virus of the Year?”

The elections would have played out much differently sans pandemic.  Trump could have won running on the economy, although Biden might have had better GOTV if the campaign hadn’t limited in-person work. Trump’s failures in regard to Covid were a factor in the size of Biden’s margin in the national popular vote. Without the strong desire for voting early or by mail, Trump would have (maybe?) been somewhat constrained in his attempts to sow doubt about election integrity.

Because of Covid-19 we have businesses closed, lives lost, families separated, education interrupted, conspiracies mongered, and division exacerbated.

Is there really any doubt that Covid-19 affected our lives the most, for better or worse?


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