I’ve decided to riff on Time Magazine and name my own Person of the Year, plus four entries for the short list. Needless to say that my take will differ a bit.
1. Vladimir Putin
The Russia President changed the decades-long Neoliberal regime change machine in addition to changing the West’s entire narrative. Do a word cloud on US President Barack Obama’s mentions of Russia each year since 2008 to see what I mean.
In the “normal” unipolar world, Ukraine would be just another victim of uncontested US regime interruption and Syria would already have new Qatar or Western gas pipelines under construction.
In the case of Syria, the problem could have become much worse — like Twin Towers, Part Two worse — since the US dragged its feet for more than two years about doing anything substantial to stop the rise of Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) and other extremist groups in Syria.
Motivations aside, Russia not only weakened the extremist threat cold but they also broke the US’s regime change rhythm and even made the West create it’s own version of despised “fake news” by stressing how the Syrian Civil War is about democracy. Some Iraqi government officials, impressed with the Russian military’s combat efficacy, considered asking Russia for help in managing its own Islamic State problem.
And for the first time in America’s modern history, its leaders and citizens are buzzing about how the Most Powerful Democracy on the Planet’s voting process could be disrupted by Putin-directed cyber hackers.
Whether or not Russia hacked one or both major political parties is a separate debate from the kind of threat WikiLeaks presents to business as usual partisan politics.
Wikileaks’ influence extends beyond the resignations of top Democratic party officials, and is arguably greater than the fall US election outcomes which many analysts blame on WikiLeaks’ damaging disclosures.
Although many critics complain about the Infamous leak publishers’ intrusive meddling, no one has yet proved WikiLeaks’ disclosures to be wrong.
And that revelation means every politician and corporate chieftain with an email address and less-than-honest intentions should be nervous right now.
3. The “Deplorables”
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton’s campaign wishes to blame everyone and everything for its stunning lost to President-elect Donald Trump, but hasn’t acknowledged its own failure to activate the voting groups it needed in sufficient quantities to win this election.
Trump needed the “Deplorables” to win — and they did not disappoint.
The so-called “Deplorables,” or white working-class Americans who’ve been ignored for decades like many other US citizens, supported President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign or sat out of politics altogether.
But they aggressively visited the polls this year to reject Clinton as the inherited “Hope and Change” halo of Obama’s administration in favor of Trump’s candidacy.
Sure, we’ll see how much love Trump will show these supporters in the coming months or years, but no one can deny the group’s political influence since 2009, and how they’ve set the stage for what could be one of the most talked about presidential administrations in American history.
4. Donald Trump
The President-elect has undoubtedly benefited from the perfect storm of WikiLeaks disclosures, the rage of poor and angry white folks, an opponent who filled most Americans with trust issues and a fragile economy.
But you also have to give Trump credit for masterfully exploding these factors to put points on the board this past November. Should his Presidential tenure last the full term (a different story) and his proposed cabinet choices remain unchanged, we’re bound to see an administration with the solution for journalists and bloggers who suffer from writers’ block.
5. Bernie Sanders
Many Americans’ earnestness to see President Barack Obama succeed caused them to marginalize the 2011 rise of Occupy Wall Street and view the movement as a fake-beef session led by bored hipsters. Many citizen critics of OWS never acknowledged the discontent and protests as signs that the economy isn’t working for a large number of Americans. Senator Bernie Sanders’ Presidential bid is in part an outgrowth of OWS’s ashes and the nation’s sustained discontent with social inequality. Sanders’ political positions moved beyond Internet meme status and became influential to the point where primary opponent Hillary Clinton and president-elect Donald Trump adopted Sanders’ policy positions while on the campaign trail.
I’m not surprised that Time didn’t make Putin or Wikileaks their top Person of the Year choices — I doubt that’s the kind of media exposure America wants to present to readers at this time …
What’s your top five?
song currently stuck in my head “freedom interlude” – noname