This is an "oh dear" moment for humanity: TIME has posted the ongoing results of its Person of the Year poll, voted for by the public, and guess who the top contender for the number one spot is? Edward Snowden? Pope Francis? Malala Yousafzai, perhaps? All good guesses, and all of those people appear somewhere in the poll, but none are in the top slot. Nope, the number one contender for TIME's person of the year is, that’s right, Miley freaking Cyrus. Hooray! When asked to name the most significant person in the world, Americans voted for a pop singer most notable for sticking out her tongue and twerking. Never has there been more accurate snapshot of the American zeitgeist at a particular point in time.
To clear up a common misconception, Person Of The Year — formerly Man Of The Year — is not intended to only honor people who have had a positive impact on the world. Were that the case, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin probably wouldn’t have been earned the title in 1938 and 1940, respectively. The designation is merely intended to honor "the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.“ According to the voters in TIME’s online poll, Cyrus’s butt-shaking — which, don’t get me wrong, has had plenty an impact on the world affairs — is ultimately more significant than Snowden’s NSA leaks, Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria, and Pope Francis’s attempted liberalization of the Catholic Church.
As you can see, Cyrus has raked in 23.4 percent of the votes so far. Snowden comes in a close second, with 19.9 percent, followed by Indian Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Syrian President Assad, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. From there, the list gets weird. Despite doing nothing of significance in 2013, Rand Paul is currently the number six contender; his Tea Party colleague Ted Cruz, who actually did do something of minor significance, is all the way down at 14. Wendy Davis is in there at number 8, while Lebron James, Angelina Jolie, Jimmy Fallon and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani all occupy lower spots on the list.
Voting will continue until December 11th, so nothing is set in stone just yet. But since I started writing this article, Cyrus’s share has risen three percent, while Snowden’s has dropped by 0.8, so it seems pretty clear where this poll — and indeed, our nation — is headed.