Time Magazine announced its ten finalists for Person of the Year, including Pope Francis. PHOTO: Reuters
Time Magazine announced its 10 contenders for Person of the Year for 2013. This is an annual tradition for Time, and the Person of the Year does not have to be the best person, only the most impactful (for example, Hitler was the Time Person of the Year in 1938, and Stalin was the next year).
So, who are Time’s top 10 and how deserving are they? Let’s take a look.
Group 1: Symbols of a larger phenomenon
The contenders for Time Person of the Year are a mix of individually compelling people, representatives of a larger movement, and a few people who are both. First, let’s look at the people who lean more toward the most notable representative of a larger group or phenomenon.
Edith Windsor, Gay rights Activist
2013 was, among other things, the year that everything turned for gay rights. The Defense of Marriage Act was struck down. Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii became marriage equality states. Every Democratic Senator who hadn’t previously came out in favor of gay marriage, and a few Republican Senators did too. In the center of it all was 83 year-old Edie Windsor, who brought the case against the Defense of Marriage Act, which made it to the Supreme Court. The march for marriage equality happened in many forms and many faces all around the country, but Edie Windsor was at the front of that movement.
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Sebelius doesn’t want to win the Time Person of the Year. Maybe in 2014, things will be looking up for Obamacare, the program she has been in charge of administering, but for now, no news is good news for Sebelius. In reality, Obamacare is a many-headed hydra, and Sebelius is simply the most in-charge one, but, after 6 years as the Governor of Kansas, Obamacare has taken over Sebelius’ legacy.
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
We’ll use Bezos as a transition from symbols to compelling figures, because in truth he’s a little of both. Bezos made news in 2013 by purchasing the Washington Post, and, more recently, floating the possibility of drones delivering stuff to your door within hours of you purchasing it from Amazon. As one of the most visible and innovative tech billionaires, Bezos is a compelling figure, but he’s a nominee for Time Person of the Year for what he represents: the next wave of commerce and media moving online.
Group 2: Singularly Compelling People
Pope Francis became the Pope on March 13th of 2013, and since then he hasn’t stopped making headlines. For those of us who thought we knew what to expect of “the Pope,” whomever it happened to be at any given moment, Pope Francis has defied expectations at every turn.
If there’s one person who got more attention than Pope Francis in 2013, it was Miley Cyrus. Cyrus’ VMA performance made the internet explode, and her follow-up single Wrecking Ball kept the Cyrus fire going. And yes, it’s weird to write Miley Cyrus into the same section of the same list as Pope Francis.
Obama has been one of the most important people in the world every year since 2008 (when he was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year), but it’s unclear why he would be the choice this year (he also won Person of the Year in 2012, when he was reelected). I mean, other than the whole “being the world’s most powerful person,” thing, but 2013 was one year when he saw his influence sapped by a Congress determined to do nothing for as long as it can.
I almost put Cruz in the “symbols of a movement” category, but Cruz, Tea Party darling that he is, is mostly a symbol of Ted Cruz. His very long Senate floor speech (which resembled a traditional filibuster, but did not delay Senate business like an actual filibuster) against Obamacare in the leadup to the government shutdown, solidified Cruz as the leader of the far right. He kept up his charge behind the scenes as well, encouraging far right members of the House to keep the government shutdown going. If you find Cruz entertaining now, just wait for his presidential run.
Very Impactful People
These are the people who, by their own decisions and actions, had huge effects on millions of lives in 2013.
The NSA leaker informed the world about the extent of the U.S. spying on its own citizens. The Snowden leaks that we have already gotten are vast, and rumors are that these are just 1% of what Snowden exposed. His big move was coupled with a human drama, in which Snowden was stuck in a Moscow airport, trying to sneak to a country that would take him.
Are we witnessing a new era in Iran? If we are, it’s because of the relatively progressive stance of President Hassan Rouhani. The landmark deal with the United States on Iran’s nuclear program could usher in a new era of diplomacy and trade with Iran. However, that deal merely provided a six month window for further negotiation. Rouhani’s legacy is still largely unwritten.
The President of Syria seemed on the verge of losing his job and possibly his life to a citizen uprising, but he has fought back with brutal tactics. His military used chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels, prompting the U.S. to come very close to bombing Syria. The civil war in Syria rages on, and Assad remains one of the world’s most pivotal figures.
3. Edward Snowden
2. Bashar al-Assad
1. Pope Francis
Do you agree? Let me know who is your Person of the Year.