Friday, November 27, 2020

54 Days to a Fresh Start: Time's Person of the Year

 In two weeks, on December 10, Time magazine will announce its selection for Person of the Year. Some people to consider:

Had he not blown the response to COVID-19 and thereby his chances for re-election Donald Trump might well have earned designation as Time’s Person of the Year. He would have been lauded for brokering tension-alleviating deals between Israel and several Moslem countries, for reshaping the Supreme Court, for overseeing a robust economy and for transforming the communications link between a president and the electorate. Like him or not, Trump monopolized our thoughts 24/7/365 or, in the case of 2020, 24/7/366.

Alas for him, the pandemic exposed his frailties. He is an incompetent manager who embraces vindictive revenge when confronted with dissent or realities that don’t align with his views. He dances separately  from the truth. He grifts in a homemade way of obtaining gratitude for his actions.

If you believe in science then Dr. Anthony Fauci is your candidate for Person of the Year. His decades-long dedication to helping humankind overcome the scourge of  disease became top of mind in our fight to contain COVID-19. He became America’s doctor, a reassuring if not persistent voice of common sense precautions tempered by realistic warnings of dire consequences if the public failed to heed his distress signals.

Jeff Bezos might top the list of some people. By founding Amazon he has reformatted the way we shop, not just in the United States but the world over. His ownership of The Washington Post has reignited the paper’s crusading spirit. And his investment in the Blue Origin space program has energized that sector of discovery and exploration.

SpaceX, the brainchild of entrepreneur Elon Musk, has reconstituted America-based space travel. His advocacy of battery powered Tesla automobiles has supercharged the shift away from fossil fuel travel. Tesla also is pushing solar systems for home and commercial energy needs. Musk’s multi-pronged businesses have catapulted him into wealth stardom, landing his as the second richest person in the world, behind only Bezos, according to Forbes.

George Floyd. In death Floyd became the standard bearer of targeted oppression. His was the face that launched a thousand street protests. A movement, Black Lives Matter, that already existed, was galvanized by the very public images of him losing his life under the knee of a policeman who resisted entreaties to let him breathe. Surely other black men and women have starred in cell phone videos of their deaths or disabling shootings or extreme beatings by police. But Floyd’s pointless death stirred the nation out of complacency. Blacks were joined in the street by people of all color, of all ethnicities, of all religions.

For Joe Biden the third time was a charm. Twice denied in his bid to become president, the comeback kid started off slow this time as well but thanks to Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina he mixed a coalition of Black voters with an appeal to voters of all stripes who simply wanted an end to daily agitation from their president. 

Biden’s progressive agenda was not as important as what his candidacy promised—a return to normalcy, to civility, to empathy, to  truth-telling.

As Trump fulminates and tries to overturn an election he lost in landslide proportion—based on his own analysis of the 2016 Electoral College results, which Biden matched—Biden has displayed calm efficiency and concern for Americans as they impatiently wait for pandemic relief both physical and emotional.

In a normal year perhaps Uncle Joe might be Time’s chosen cover shot. Instead the recognition should most deservedly go to all COVID-19 front line and essential workers, from healthcare professionals and support staff, to foodservice, grocery, food processing and agricultural workers who risked exposure to keep food on our tables, to scientists and biotechnicians tasked with developing an effective response to the coronavirus catastrophe that has engulfed the globe, to teachers who have had to reorient all levels of the educational system from kindergarten through graduate school.   

Considering the sacrifices many of these heroes have performed on our behalf it would be inexcusable if they are not recognized for their dedication to making our lives return to normalcy.