Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won TIME's Person of the Year Reader's Poll, which closed Sunday at midnight, with 10.2 percent of the vote. The runner-up was Malala Yousafzai, who had 5.2 percent support, according to TIME's poll. Among the other candidates readers could've chosen were Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Pope Francis, Stephen Colbert, refugees, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, Adele, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, so it's interesting that Sanders was chosen. Given their other choices, there are a number of reasons Sanders won the Reader's Poll.
The presidential campaign season is well underway, and, thanks to recent events, candidates have been making the news a lot — for both good and bad reasons. Sanders and Clinton have started acting as the voices of reason in a campaign where people like Donald Trump and Ben Carson are getting away with saying insensitive, often racially charged things.
Meanwhile, Sanders has stuck to serious, newsworthy issues, and maybe that's why he was chosen by TIME readers. Sanders' selection over a number of notable, internationally-recognized figures could mean that the magazine's U.S. readers see domestic issues as more important. Furthermore, their selection of a political figure and not someone like Colbert or Adele shows that this is a year for the title to be a bit more serious. Here are four reasons why Sanders may have been chosen as TIME's Person of the Year by readers.
1. He's Focusing On Things People Care About
Class of 2014 graduates had the highest student loan debt ever, with average student debt rise 56 percent from 2004, according to U.S. News & World Report. Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act has provided health insurance to millions of people who previously went uninsured, meaning that now almost 90 percent of the nation has health insurance, according to CNN.
These issues are just some of the things that Sanders have made critical to his campaign, and TIME pointed that out when they announced him as the winner. Sanders advocates for a single-payer health care system and free public universities.
2. He Takes Some Kind Of Stance On Everything
Black Lives Matter, the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, paid family leave — these are important, pressing issues that Sanders has repeatedly spoken out about. Sanders doesn't tiptoe around issues, and that could be why readers voted for him as Person of the Year. Sure, his views might be progressive and controversial for some, but at least he makes them glaringly clear.
3. He's Sticking To The U.S.
It's pretty notable that Sanders won the poll even though he was among international figures like Pope Francis, who received widespread support for his comments on climate change, and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girls education activist who was chosen as one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People for the last three years. TIME readers obviously believe that — given the fact that the country has seen more than 300 shootings this year — someone who is focused on improving domestic policies rather than engaging in efforts abroad deserves more recognition and support.
4. Sanders Views Are "Revolutionary"
Sanders is a divisive character for a lot of people. He openly describes himself as a Democratic socialist, which turns a lot of people off, even though the majority of Americans support policies that tend towards socialism. In its announcement, TIME said "Sanders has said his goal is a political revolution that will re-energize the electorate and push big money out of politics." Like Trump, but in a way that's actually good, Sanders is getting attention because his views are different than those of a big-money politician.
When Sanders speaks, he kind of sounds like your riled-up uncle after he's had a few drinks, but in an endearing way. He makes it clear that he won't be supporting tax breaks for big companies, and he's a clear proponent of racial and gender equality. In a September cover story, Sanders told TIME that his campaign wants to energize people who have given up on the political process, and he's doing just that:
In this fight we are going to take on the greed of the billionaire class. And they are very, very powerful, and they’re going to fight back furiously. The only way to succeed is when millions of people stand up and decide to engage.