Donald Trump Shares The ‘TIME’ Person Of The Year Title With A Few Troubling People, But He Likely Won't Care
In 1938, the editors of TIME Magazine recognized the German chancellor as "Person of the Year," after he had brought the German nation together through the Anschluss and the Munich Agreement. The next year, they chose the Soviet leader who had signed a secret non-aggression pact with Germany, paving the way for him to take control over huge swaths of Eastern Europe. In 1979, this dubious honor went to the leader of the Iranian Revolution. In 2007, TIME named the Russian president, who had begun visible crackdowns on civil liberties in the country. Now, Donald Trump is TIME's 2016 Person of the Year and that puts him in both great and terrible company.
No one would ever argue that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Vladimir Putin haven't left an impact on world history — but not by doing good, and that's how some view Trump's role as 2016 "Person of the Year."
Trump, a man who revels in attention of any kind, was no doubt thrilled to hear the news. He lashed out in 2015 when it was revealed that he was only a runner up, and his hatred for what he often calls the "dishonest" or "crooked" media is outdone only by his love of the attention-grabbing headlines about him.
To a man like Trump, this is "a great honor." This is recognition that he has achieved his greatest aims: fame and power.
What he won't think about is the fact that this is not a prize, with fame and power does not necessarily come goodness. TIME has emphasized that the "Person of the Year" is the individual who has had the greatest influence on world events in that given year, not necessarily for the better. And while a quick look into the persons of the year from the last century reveals that many of them have fought the good fight, this is clearly not always the case.
When TIME named their Person of the 20th Century, they passed over Hitler and instead chose Albert Einstein, to recognize the advances of a century of science. To students of history, the choice somehow rings hollow; surely Hitler's presence in the century more directly and profoundly influenced more people — including Einstein himself, a Jew who emigrated to the U.S. to escape Hitler's rise to power. Trump is no Hitler, but to the victims of hate crimes in the U.S since Election Day, his effects may be starting to look similar.
Trump himself will likely not give the matter any critical thought, but those watching certainly can. TIME does not name anyone "Person of the Year" if they don't expect that person's impact to continue, so, now is a time to look to history and be wary of what will happen next.