Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders won TIME’s open poll for 2015 Person of the Year by a two-to-one margin, earning over 10 percent of the popular vote. His closest competitor, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, won 5.2 percent of votes cast. Fellow 2016 presidential candidates fared poorly in comparison, with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump leading the rest of the presidential pack at a meager 1.8 percent. Sanders’ Democratic rival, frontrunner Hillary Clinton, appealed to only 1.4 percent of voters.
Yet, when TIME’s editors announced their eight finalists for 2015’s Person of the Year, Donald Trump was among them…but Bernie Sanders was not. That’s right: The two candidates who received the most votes, by wide margins, were not included. I figured that TIME would not name Bernie Sanders as Person of the Year due to his current status as a presidential candidate, but then they named Republican candidate Donald Trump as a finalist. I am flabbergasted – how can TIME name real estate scion Donald Trump as a Person of the Year finalist, but not U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders?
This turn of events should outrage anyone with a conscience and sense of fairness. For Sanders to not even make the list of eight finalists, after winning the public poll by a two-to-one margin over his nearest competitor, is flat-out ridiculous. Is Sanders and his story not sufficiently newsworthy?
The lone independent in the U.S. Senate, having clawed his way from left-wing obscurity in the 1970s all the way to being the most popular U.S. Senator, with hard-won stops as city mayor and U.S. Representative along the way, Bernie Sanders has an amazing backstory. The fact that he has a clean record and espouses the same values he did in the ’70s, all while earning an unrivaled reputation for integrity, only adds to his appeal. His ability to draw record-setting crowds while being maligned by the mainstream media as an outsider is simply icing on the cake.
America is feeling the Bern, but the existing power structure seems determined to minimize his clout and force him to the sidelines. Nowhere is this as blatantly apparent as today’s disgraceful snub by TIME. Why did they deny Bernie Sanders the title of 2015 Person of the Year, or even a spot among the eight finalists?
At a time like this, it is hard to ignore the fact that TIME’s parent company, Time Warner, is a major donor to Bernie Sanders rival Hillary Clinton. Did TIME snub Bernie Sanders in order to boost his primary election competitor? Since it would be too blatant to name Hillary Clinton as a finalist, due to her meager ranking in the poll, the next best thing would be to remove her Democratic rival from contention as well. Ignoring Bernie Sanders’ overwhelming popularity hands a tacit victory to Clinton.
This is not right. Progressives, populists, liberals, independents, and even conservatives must condemn this attempt to subvert democratic values and insist that Bernie Sanders be named TIME’s 2015 Person of the Year. His story is amazing and there is no valid reason why he could not be considered the most prominent newsmaker of 2015. He has single-handedly made liberal economic reform a mainstream topic, bringing it back to the public forefront after decades of obscurity…and all without the support of the power structure.