Donald Trump's 'TIME' Distinction Feels Like An Election Repeat & It Stings
Like People's Sexiest Man Alive, TIME's "Person of the Year" issue attempts to identify a single person who has the most significant impact in a certain area (the latter on our world, the former on our hormones). Presidents and president-elects are often granted the annual TIME distinction, so it's not exactly a surprise that Donald Trump is TIME's "Person of the Year." In a strange, depressing microcosm of the election itself, though, TIME also announced that Hillary Clinton came in second.
Like the election itself, the TIME distinction was apparently welcome news to Trump, who seemed to regard it as vindication after a bitter 2015 "loss." When Trump did not get the title last year, the president-elect tweeted, "I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite They [sic] picked person who is ruining Germany." That "person who is ruining German" was Angela Merkel, who TIME called "Chancellor of the Free World."
As the New York Times noted, Trump also criticized TIME's list in 2013, writing — seriously — "Bad list!" I would imagine he feels differently this year.
Although Clinton did not win TIME's "popular vote" for the "Person of the Year" title (despite Stangel's joke above), Trump didn't, either. The majority of TIME's readers selected someone else for the distinction, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose strategies for facing his country's economic crisis included invalidating some of its paper money overnight. Modi won 18 percent of the reader vote; Trump tied with President Barack Obama and Julian Assange with a mere seven percent.
A point that is stressed annual as TIME's chosen person is announced it the fact that the distinction is not necessarily an honor — previous "Person of the Year" recipients included Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
Whether Trump is ultimately compared to these men or to other fellow "Person of the Year" recipients, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. will depend on his actions in office. TIME seems far from optimistic.
"Trump’s assault on truth and logic, far from hurting him, made him stronger," wrote Nancy Gibbs, TIME's managing editor, wrote in the magazine's announcement, adding that Trump "fram[ed] tomorrow's political culture by demolishing yesterday's." It's hardly a ringing endorsement; if one objective of Trump's campaign was to sow fear about the future in the hearts of Americans, he has arguably succeeded even before taking office.