US President elect Donald Trump the Time magazine’s person of the year!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
In a fitting end to a year in which he dominated TV screens and front pages, US President elect Donald Trump has been named Time’s person of the year. The annual cover on which the magazine recognizes the person who “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year” pictures the president-elect in his New York tower with the headline, Donald Trump: President of the Divided States of America.
The magazine has made the designation every year since 1927, when aviator Charles Lindbergh was chosen as the first Man of the Year. The title was amended to Person of the Year in 1999. Over its history, TIME has bestowed the title to many presidents, political leaders and industry trailblazers who often view the designation as an honor. However, the magazine also has selected notorious recipients in the past, including Adolf Hitler in 1938, Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942, and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, because of the impact they had on the world at the time.
With a couple of exceptions, every President of the United States of America has been named Person of the Year, almost always in the year they are first elected.
Previous winners include very important and even highly controversial international personalities with world influences: in 1938, Adolf Hitler was named Person of the Year (then ‘Man of the Year’), followed the next year by Joseph Stalin. President-elect Donald Trump, the real estate businessman and political novice whose election campaign made the entire world take notice, has been selected as TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year. Last year’s recipient was German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump was a runner-up. The year before that, 2014, the Person of the Year were the Ebola fighters. “To be on the cover of Time as Person of the Year is a tremendous honor,” Trump told Matt Lauer in an interview after the reveal. The president-elect did however take issue with the magazine’s choice to refer to him as “President of the Divided States of America.” “When you say ‘divided states of America,’ I didn’t divide them,” Trump said. “They’re divided now, there’s a lot of division. And we’re going to put it back together.”
Known until 1999 as man of the year, the magazine’s annual issue has occasionally stretched the definition of person, putting both “you” and “whistleblowers” on the cover in recent years.
Every year, TIME editors select the person — or idea — who has most influenced the news and the world in the past year, for good or ill. Trump beat out 10 other finalists, including his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Trump’s defeated opponent, Hillary Clinton, the singer Beyoncé and Mark Zuckerberg, who previously occupied the cover in 2010, were also shortlisted. TIME declared Clinton their runner-up. Trump was chosen by TIME from a shortlist that also included Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin, Simone Biles, Beyoncé Knowles and Mark Zuckerberg, and given the tagline ‘President of the Divided States of America’.
This will be Trump’s 10th time on the magazine’s cover, and all but one have been since August 2015. His first appearance on TIME was in 1989. Last year’s pick was the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the sitting president, Barack Obama, appeared both as president-elect in 2008 and after securing a second term in 2012.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who was Time’s pick in 2007, was on the 11-person shortlist for 2016 compiled by the Time editors, as was the Trump associate and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
The editor-in-chief of Time, Nancy Gibbs, wrote in the issue: “This is the 90th time we have named the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year. So which is it this year: better or worse? So which is it this year: better or worse? The challenge for Donald Trump is how profoundly the country disagrees about the answer. …. 2016 was the year of his rise; 2017 will be the year of his rule, and like all newly elected leaders, he has a chance to fulfill promises and defy expectations. “It’s hard to measure the scale of his disruption … For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is Time’s 2016 person of the year.”
Despite his ability to polarize opinion, Trump is far from the most controversial choice in the 90 years Time has picked its person of the year. Both Stalin and Hitler took the title in the late 1930s, with Stalin appearing again in 1942, and the Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini has also featured.
In an interview accompanying the cover, Trump says he does not believe Russia interfered in the election, defends his claim of widespread illegal voting, and insists that despite his wealth he represents “the workers of the world”, who “love me”. On allegations made by the US government that Russia hacked the Democratic national committee’s emails, Trump tells Time: “I don’t believe they interfered … It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
Incumbent President Obama is also appearing on a cover this month in a joint interview with his wife, Michelle, for People magazine in which the first lady, asked how she had spent election night, said: “We are ready to work with the next administration and make sure they are as successful as they can be. Because that’s what’s best for this country.”