TIME magazine has chosen President-elect Donald Trump as Person of the Year. Trump was an appropriate choice based on the criteria TIME uses to determine its winner, which does not involve whether the person selected has done good or bad things to merit the award.
Here, though, I suggest a new award: Person of the Year for Democrats. The winner of that award for 2016 is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), by a large margin.
There are three criteria for this award.
- Who had the most impact on Democrats in 2016?
- Who had the most impact on American society in 2016?
- Whose work will have the most impact on the Democratic Party and America as a whole in the long term?
Sanders earned this Person of the Year award for accomplishing the following in 2016.
Sanders inspired countless people in the new generation of young people who represent the future of the nation, while also inspiring diehard progressives who hunger for high principle in politics and many working-class blue-collar voters who hunger for leaders who will fight on their side against a rigged system.
Unlike the winner of the TIME award, the impact of Sanders was positive and good for Democrats and America. He inspired supporters to participate in our democratic process, which makes America a better place by bringing more good people to active political engagement.
Sanders has already revolutionized the system of campaign fundraising by proving that millions of good people making small donations can compete with the decadent old politics that is dominated by special interest money.
The multitudes of small donors who gave a few bucks to Bernie did not want tax loopholes or special favors. All they wanted was a candidate who would speak truth to power on great issues that matter in their lives, and an honest candidate who offered a dramatic agenda to make our country better, which Sanders delivered big time.
By the end of 2016, Sanders had expanded his influence to supporting other progressives across the nation. He inspired the creation of a new group, Our Revolution, which supports progressive candidates and battles for progressive causes.
Sanders had huge influence on the Democratic platform that was adopted at the 2016 national convention — after Hillary Clinton spent many months moving towards the Sanders positions on many issues (to her credit, she agreed to include major Sanders proposals in the final platform).
Sanders stands in the tradition of major historical reformers who brought changes to the center stage of national life that were ultimately adopted as national policy.
When the Gilded Age of the 19th century corrupted politics and finance, a new generation of reformers created the progressive movement and offered dramatic proposals that were realized during the presidencies of Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt.
The reformers who created the New Frontier for President Kennedy offered ideas that led to civil rights movement, anti-poverty programs, Medicare and nuclear arms control.
Bernie Sanders stands in this great tradition of leaders who had long-term impact on America, which makes him the Democratic person of the year for 2016.