In just a few weeks, TIME will name its Person of the Year. Before they do, I thought I’d put forward my own nominee. But first, a little history.
The first Man of the Year came in 1927, three years after the magazine started. Charles Lindbergh was that first honoree for his solo flight across the Atlantic. He was a true hero, who unfortunately in later years became more well known for his proto-Nazi “America First” rantings. (Sound familiar?)
A mere 11 years later, in 1938, TIME gave the award to German Chancellor Adolph Hitler and the year after to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who won again in 1942. Another Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, he who brought the world to the brink of war in 1962, won in 1957. The hat trick went to President Trump’s buddy, Vladimir Putin, who was the Person of the Year in 2007, TIME having changed with the times in the 1990s and done away with the Man of the Year.
Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini got the designation in 1979, the year after Chinese dictator Deng Xiaoping, who also won in 1985.
Among Americans, Newt Gingrich, who blew up Congress and ushered in the era of political tribalism and nastiness that persists today, got the call in 1995, and Kenneth Starr, whose report on Bill Clinton set a new standard for government pornography while Starr was picked for 1998.
Which brings us to today. My nominee for TIME Person of the Year is… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In the proud tradition of dictators who vanquished civilizations, McConnell has almost single handedly destroyed two-thirds of the American government.
Remember how there are supposed to be three branches of government? McConnell has taken out two — the legislative, by neutering the Senate, and the judicial by making Federal courts a home for wayward right-wing incompetents and by hijacking the U.S. Supreme Court.
Remember that whole “I’m Just A Bill” thing from Schoolhouse Rock? How bill have to pass the Senate and the House? Under Mitch, that just doesn’t happen any longer. Once upon a time, the Senate took pride in debating and passing important pieces of legislation. Now, what does the Senate have to show for itself? It passed Trump’s tax bill, which immediately added $1 trillion to the deficit and gave out large tax breaks to rich people and to companies that, instead of using it for productive purposes, bought back their own stock to jack up the price.
Oh, yes, the regular people got some money also. But it spoils the effect when you are so proud of your little cupcake while some other people got nine-tier wedding cakes.
The Senate grudgingly passed a bill to help people affected by Covid. With some of their members up for re-election on the ropes, they may be forced to do it again, but so far have resisted. The Senate can give billions to rich people and companies but gets the vapors when thinking about helping people who are out of jobs or whose businesses are doing under do to the criminal incompetence of Trump. It seems as if the rich and powerful are worthy of government aid, but normal people aren’t. The caste helps itself.
And, of course, there are the courts. Stealing a U.S. Supreme Court seat from President Obama by not granting Merrick Garland even a hearing sets the standard for judiciary-wrecking. Of course, at the time in 2016, Republicans said the Senate shouldn’t confirm a justice in an election year. It was only much later that they discovered the qualifier — that if the Senate and White House are of the same party, it’s OK. Hypocrisy is a feature, not a bug, of being a Republican.
Barrett knows what it’s like to sit in a stolen judgeship. In 2016, Obama nominated Myra Selby, a Black woman, for the seat Barrett now occupies. McConnell sat on that nomination, too, allowing Barrett to get the job once Trump became president. In all, Trump has billed more than 200 judgeships with right wing lawyers picked by the right-wing Federalist Society.
TIME has said its Man/Person/Whatever of the Year is based on the impact the nominee has had on society — for good or ill. In this case, McConnell fits the bill perfectly.