TIME magazine did away with their “Man of the Year” award for the gender-negative “Person of the Year,” but dammit, I prefer MAN of the Year and this year’s man of the year is…(drumroll, please)
Two years ago, Republicans liked to say that the only hard thing Obama ever did right was beating Hillary Clinton in the primary, and in electoral terms, there was some truth to that. In 2012 the GOP hoped to cast him as an inspiring guy who was not up to the job. But now we know the difference between the wish and the thing, the hype and the man in the office. He stands somewhat shorter, having won 4 million fewer votes and two fewer states than in 2008. But his 5 million-vote margin of victory out of 129 million ballots cast shocked experts in both parties, and it probably would have been higher had so much of New York and New Jersey not stayed home after Hurricane Sandy. He won many of the toughest battlegrounds walking away: Virginia by 4 points, Colorado by 5 and the lily white states of Iowa and New Hampshire by 6. He untied Ohio’s knotty heartland politics, picked the Republican lock on Florida Cubans and won Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis. (Those last two data points especially caught the President’s interest.) He will take the oath on Jan. 20 as the first Democrat in more than 75 years to get a majority of the popular vote twice. Only five other Presidents have done that in all of U.S. history.
There are many reasons for this, but the biggest by far are the nation’s changing demographics and Obama’s unique ability to capitalize on them. When his name is on the ballot, the next America — a younger, more diverse America — turns out at the polls. In 2008, blacks voted at the same rate as whites for the first time in history, and Latinos broke turnout records. The early numbers suggest that both groups did it again in 2012, even in nonbattleground states, where the Obama forces were far less organized. When minorities vote, that means young people do too, because the next America is far more diverse than the last. And when all that happens, Obama wins. He got 71% of Latinos, 93% of blacks, 73% of Asians and 60% of those under 30.
That last number is the one Obama revels in most. When he talks about the campaign, he likes to think about the generational shift the country is going through on topics like gay marriage — an issue on which he lagged, only to reverse himself last spring. He connects it to the optimism he felt as a young man, the same thing he always talks about with staff in the limo or on the plane after visits with campaign volunteers. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” reads one of the quotes stitched into his new Oval Office rug — an old abolitionist cry that Martin Luther King Jr. repurposed while marching on Selma, Ala. Obama believes in that, and he believes he is more than just a bit player in the transition. “I do think that my eight years as President, reflecting those values and giving voice to those values, help to validate or solidify that transformation,” he says, “and I think that’s a good thing for the country.”
I have no problem with President Obama being TIME’s Person of the Year. The brother worked hard for it, he fought hard for it and hell, he deserves it. I put a poll on a debate board asking if Obama winning the honor was a good choice.
Obama’s selection was deemed “a good choice” by nearly 65 percent, “a terrible choice” by 9.68 percent, “someone else should have won” got 3.23 percent and “PSY (Gangnam Style) got 22.58 percent. I’d say better luck next year, but I seriously doubt a one-hit wonder like PSY has a next year.
All props to the president. It’s an honor well deserved.
Based upon their ability to withstand the long, torturous Bataan Death March that was the Republican primaries, the relentless pummeling from a shitstorm of 60-second negative attack ads brought to you by the influence of Super PACS thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, a fat and lazy media that marginalizes most candidates and trivializes the entire process, and the repulsive waste of money that comes when two men raise $1 billion to run for a job that pays $400,000, the Person of the Year should have been The American Voter.
We deserved it.