I'll just say it: TIME hasn't always gone with the best pick for Person of the Year. Who let George W. Bush win a second time? And designating "You" as the winner in 2006? Really? In 2015, the list of nominations left readers aching for something — or someone — more. There's no denying that Angela Merkel has earned her place on the cover, but there were quite a few qualified candidates who were totally bypassed in the nomination process. So here are eight people who who were worthy to be TIME 's Person of the Year.
Tuesday morning brought the magazine's shortlist for the 2015 winner, and the majority of the nominees weren't exactly inspiring. Along with Merkel, you've got ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Donald Trump. I love calling up an Uber as much as the next person, but did Kalanick really deserve to make it to the final eight? No words should even be wasted on Trump being shortlisted. All of the following would have been infinitely better choices for the Republican presidential hopeful's spot.
1. Bernie Sanders
Just about everyone has been #FeelingTheBern in 2015, except maybe Republicans. And Sanders won TIME 's Reader's Poll for Person of the Year. So even though Bern didn't actually win, he basically still won.
2. Pope Francis
OK OK, I know that Pope Francis already won in 2013. This year, however, the Pope was better than ever. He called on both Christians and Muslims to come together as brothers and sisters while visiting the Central African Republic in November. He also got his own set of emojis. #Popemojis
3. Same-Sex Couples
Did TIME already forget that SCOTUS ruled in favor of same-sex marriage this year? Same-sex couples fought the hard fight for this right, and while their battle for equality is nowhere near over, they clearly deserve to be named the People of the Year.
4. James Hansen
This atmospheric physicist went against the norm when he and more than a dozen of his colleagues published in an open-access journal a controversial paper suggesting a more rapid rate of sea level rise than what had been forecast by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Hansen wasn't afraid to share his disturbing findings, and undoubtedly deserves recognition for this.
There are a whole lot of men and not a whole lot of women on TIME's list of past winners. And if ever there was a woman who has won the hearts of people everywhere, it's Adele. Her return with a third album after a several-year hiatus had us in tears, and it wasn't even really about the super depressing lyrics. She just makes the world emotional. Which isn't a bad thing.
6. Black Lives Matter Activists
"Black Lives Matter activists" were one of the few shortlisted nominees which really made sense. They haven't just protested the seriously questionable deaths of unarmed black people around the country. They've made a history of racial injustice an unavoidable topic for discussion across the nation.
7. Elon Musk
While Musk has been doing awesome things for a few years now, the billionaire entrepreneur hasn't won Person of the Year before. This just seems wrong. In 2015, Musk proposed the construction of a satellite system that would provide Internet access to every square foot on the planet, and launched Tesla's powerball battery, a lithium-ion battery which stores excess energy from solar panels or the power grid.
8. Lin-Manuel Miranda
It's not really a surprise that Miranda made neither the shortlist of nominees nor the picks for the Reader's Poll — not too many Broadway musical composers have. But Miranda wrote the music and lyrics for (and plays the lead role in) a new musical which makes Alexander Hamilton, of all historical figures, cool. He's also putting together the songs for Disney's next animated feature, Moana. And he won a MacArthur "Genius" Award this year. No biggie.