Time Magazine, like most of the formerly prominent print publications, has seen its day. But one of its issues continues to hold the public’s attention, and that is the one that names its “Person of the Year.” While not as big as the Oscars or the winner of the Heisman Trophy, we look forward to this announcement as recognition for the year’s most influential performer. Once named, this person will forever have his or her name associated with Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin (a two time winner), Vladimir Putin, Donald J. Trump, Charles Lindbergh (the first winner in 1927) and Pope Francis.
Despite two major wars, the upcoming U.S. Presidential election, the state of the economy, climate change, mass shootings and abortion rights dominating the headlines, many are holding their collective breaths for the imminent announcement. It seems appropriate, therefore, that we take some time to identify the most likely candidates and evaluate their chances. Here, in no particular order, are the obvious choices.
Pros: His company, Tesla, continues to encapsulate a fossil fuel-free future for automobiles and his SpaceX demonstrates the viability of inter-planetary travel.
Cons: His acquisition of Twitter (renamed X) has unleashed a torrent of hateful misinformation in the name of free speech while giving him a vehicle for spouting his antisemitic views. Has won before (2021).
Pros: He continues to lead a democratic nation in its courageous defense of its sovereignty against a brutal bully, a former winner named Putin (2007), who is ravenous for the annihilation of a nation he claims doesn’t exist.
Cons: He was last year’s winner and Ukraine is mired in a slog reminiscent of the quagmire that was World War I.
Pros: Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster hit movie brought in over $1 billion in gross ticket sales and millions of viewers who had not been to the movies in years while dividing viewers into those who saw her as either a newly feminist icon or an unrealistic anachronistic portrayal of the feminine ideal.
Cons: She is a toy.
Pros: He is still the adult in the room who gets no credit for common sense leadership.
Cons: He gets no credit for common sense leadership.
Pros: Her Eras Tour brought in over a billion dollars and her smart business acumen allows her to control her music and image to an extent unimaginable in these days of social media hegemony.
Cons: Her ubiquitous presence at her boyfriend’s Kansas City Chiefs’ games may be taken as subliminal advocacy for violence.
Pros: Made cryptocurrency a household phrase through his exchange FTX and the use of celebrities such as Tom Brady, then wife Gisele Bundchen and Larry David to advertise.
Cons: Will spend the rest of his natural life in prison for stealing billions of investor money.
King Charles III
Pros: One of the few English kings who not only married his mistress but got her named Queen and not had her beheaded (see Henry VIII).
Cons: Still a prig.
Donald J. Trump
Pros: Yes, he is still around and leads the Republican nomination race by a distance greater than Secretariat’s win at the Belmont.
Cons: May spend his second term in jail.
So, there you have it. Who do you think has had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the world in 2023? My money is on Swift since, after all, there are more Swifties than Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Monarchists, Anarchists and Techies combined. That’s a fact.