There was immediate pushback to today’s decision by Time magazine to give its historic “Person of the Year” award to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. “Is this a parody?” asked writer Fiona Edwards, “What about the multi million strong Black Lives Matter movement which really played the decisive role in defeating Donald Trump? What about the health workers who have battled the pandemic?” “They haven’t even done anything yet…Totally unimpressed,” responded British author and radio host, Maajid Nawaz. Comedian Dave Anthony was similarly disappointed. “Kamala did so much. She started off having the biggest war chest and then had to drop out before Iowa. Then Biden picked her. And Joe. What can you say about a guy who had 30% enthusiasm, has a hard time speaking and was elected just because he’s not Trump?” he asked.
Others were more sardonic. “This is Joe Biden’s year. He not only managed to stay alive until the election, he also did other things, presumably,” replied popular YouTube creator Shaun.
— TIME (@TIME) December 11, 2020
After selecting its youngest ever Person of the Year last year in climate activist Greta Thunberg, the 78-year-old former vice-president is the oldest recipient in the award’s 93-year history. Time announced that it chose Biden and Harris, “For changing the American story, for showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division, for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world.”
Other recent winners include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and U.S. politicians, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Rudy Giuliani. Going further back, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill have also all received the distinction. Perhaps the most controversial selection, however, came in 2006, when it declared that “you” were the Person of the Year, sparking widespread collective eye-rolling.
“Time’s Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement,” the magazine wrote in 2007, after selecting Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world — for better or for worse.” Despite this, it is clear that the magazine is overwhelmingly supportive of the Biden/Harris ticket. In a long exposé article, it praises his leadership, approvingly stating that he “believed most voters simply wanted reconciliation after four years of combat, that they craved decency, dignity, experience and competence.” Harris, meanwhile, is presented as having “electrified millions” through her “charisma and tough questioning of Trump Administration officials.” Unlike Trump, “President-elect Biden takes COVID-19 very, very seriously,” it instructs readers. This must mark a change from March, when he was against CDC guidelines, beseeching his supporters to go to the polls during the Democratic primaries, insisting it was safe to do so when it clearly was not.
am i missing something did joe biden do anything significant in the last 12 months besides literally just not be Donald Trump. cause i did that too https://t.co/jHVzaVk3M7
— rishi! (@rishipuff) December 11, 2020
News of the announcement came just as audio from a private meeting between Biden and civil rights leaders leaked and went viral. In it, he seemed to shut down all their ideas for progressive reforms, including categorically rejecting any idea of defunding police departments. Activist Shaun King noted that his organization was present at the meeting and the 78-year-old Delawarean simply “yelled the whole time.”
Amid a pandemic that had cost nearly a quarter of a million American lives by Election Day, Biden managed to limp over the line, beating out the incumbent. However, Democrats failed to take control of the Senate, and lost ground in the House of Representatives, meaning that his four-year term could be one permanent lame duck session. Biden also suffers from a dearth of enthusiasm, with the majority of his voters telling pollsters their vote was cast against Trump, not for him.
In the leaked interview, Biden appears to acknowledge that, while he won the election, the Democrats’ performance was profoundly disappointing. “That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police,” he said, implying that progressive policies were unpopular. Others have argued the opposite, that, perhaps in the year of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter it was not a good decision to select a segregationist who wrote the 1994 Crime Bill and California’s “top cop” as the ticket.
Feature photo | MintPress News | Time Magazine
Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.
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