On Wednesday, Greta Thunberg became TIME’s youngest person of the year ever. But among the many possible contenders for this annual recognition were two 2019 rivals: Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi. Both President Trump and House Speaker Pelosi made TIME’s shortlist this year, and the pair is, well, quite ironic. Trump, for one, expressed his candid disapproval of TIME's decision to elect Thunberg for the title, tweeting on Thursday, "So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!"
Thunberg, a class act, replied by making Trump's sentiments her new Twitter bio. But perhaps what could make Trump even more salty were his co-nominees and lack to win.
Donald Trump has been nominated for Person of the Year the past four years, including actually receiving the title in 2016. Though arguably, based on his commentary on the subject, Trump is Person of the Year every year in his mind. Pelosi, the woman who single-handedly reign impeachment all over him, is a first-time nominee.
So how, exactly, is a president in the midst of impeachment trials, a contender for this honor? Each year, TIME selects its finalists based on who has “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse.” The Hong Kong protestors who gathered en mass to dissent from a controversial extradition bill and the greater lack of autonomy in China also received a nomination for the coveted recognition. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, US women’s soccer team player Megan Rapinoe, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the shortlist as well; however, the Hong Kong protestors won the people’s vote that TIME opens up every year leading up to the official announcement. Trump and Pelosi, though, made it all the way to the top five.
Trump was a finalist again in 2017 but claims he “took a pass” on winning the award a second time, a statement TIME unequivocally refuted. And, in 2018, he made the shortlist for the award; however, Time gave the honor the “The Guardians” — a name they gave to journalists and who fight the “war on truth.” Given Trump’s history of encouraging violence against journalists, to award reporters who risk their lives in the pursuit of true stories definitely makes TIME’s loyalties known. Meanwhile, TIME described Trump as “forging a legacy that may be as much about the resistance he engenders as the goals he pursues.”
The Trump-Pelosi juxtaposition is perhaps the perfect irony to encapsulate news events in 2019. Given Pelosi’s influence (and brute force) in ousting Trump from office, both candidates made headlines this year — they just made opposing ones. And Trump’s impeachment — whether it happens or not — is a major influencer of world events.
It’s also clear that amid TIME’s selection process, Trump represents the more polarizing side of the Person of the Year — after all, it does say “for better or for worse.” While only two presidents have ever been impeached in the history of the United States, no president has ever been removed from office via impeachment. But since the announcement of the inquiry in September, not a day goes by where either Trump or Pelosi aren’t the subject of major impeachment-related news.
The best part of the 2019 person of the year award is the actual recipient: a 16-year-old activist who single-handed organized the largest global protest for climate change in human history. On the subject of influence and impact, that is exactly what makes Thunberg an ideal recipient of the Person of the Year award. She didn’t start from a place of influence before sharing her thoughts on dire state the earth is rapidly headed toward as a result of climate change. Her personal passion and convictions self-created a platform where she inspired 7 million people around the world to protest against climate change in September.
While Trump has a history of commenting on the results of the Person of the Year nominations, Thunberg took the higher road and thanked everyone involved in her organization Fridays For Future and climate activists everywhere.
But, perhaps if Trump does become the next impeached president, he can vie for the 2020 title and cover next year.