United States President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have been named by the prestigious TIME magazine as '2020 Person of the Year' for changing the American story, showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division and sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world.
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It named the Democratic leaders for its annual prestigious honour, choosing them over other finalists - frontline health care workers, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr Anthony Fauci, the Movement for Racial Justice and US President Donald Trump.
“For changing the American story, for showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division, for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are TIME's 2020 Person of the Year.
“If Donald Trump was a force for disruption and division over the past four years, Biden and Harris show where the nation is heading: a blend of ethnicities, lived experiences and worldviews that must find a way forward together if the American experiment is to survive,” the publication said on Thursday.
TIME named Fauci, the frontline health workers and racial justice organisers ‘2020 Guardians of the Year', who “put themselves on the line to defend the ideals sacred to democracy”.
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TIME said it is ‘noteworthy’ that a year after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was named Person of the Year, the youngest person ever for the honour, it chose 78-year-old Biden, one of the oldest persons selected for the annual honour.
“Biden calls himself a bridge to a new generation of leaders, a role he embraced in choosing Kamala Harris, 56, the first woman on a winning presidential ticket, daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother,” TIME said.
The publication added that Biden had the vision, set the tone and topped the ticket.
“But he also recognised what he could not offer on his own, what a 78-year-old white man could never provide: generational change, a fresh perspective and an embodiment of America's diversity. For that, he needed Harris, California Senator, former district attorney and state attorney general, a biracial child of immigrants whose charisma and tough questioning of Trump administration officials electrified millions of Democrats.
TIME noted that the US Vice President has never before been a woman, or Black, or Asian American.
“I will be the first, but I will not be the last,” Harris said in an interview to TIME.
“That's about legacy, that's about creating a pathway, that's about leaving the door more open than it was when you walked in.”
TIME said Biden and Harris together offered “restoration and renewal in a single ticket. And America bought what they were selling: after the highest turnout in a century, they racked up 81 million votes and counting, the most in presidential history, topping Trump by some 7 million votes and flipping five battleground states,” it said.
TIME said every elected US President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has at some point during his term been a Person of the Year, nearly a dozen of those in a presidential election year.
“This is the first time we have included a Vice President. In a year that saw an epic struggle for racial justice, and one of the most consequential elections in history, the Biden-Harris partnership sends a powerful message,” TIME said.
“The tell of this election,” says Harris, is that regardless of “your race, your ethnicity, the language your grandmother speaks, let's move forward knowing that the vast majority of us have more in common than what separates us.”
On its other honorees, TIME said in 2020, the Guardians “fought on many fronts. On the front line against COVID-19, the world's health care workers displayed the best of humanity --selflessness, compassion, stamina, courage -- while protecting as much of it as they could. By risking their lives every day for the strangers who arrived at their workplace, they made conspicuous a foundational principle of both medicine and democracy: equality. By their example, health care workers this year guarded more than lives.”
On Fauci, TIME said he led not only the battle against COVID-19 but also the “fight for truth -- clear, consistent messaging being fundamental to public health. With steadfast integrity, Fauci nudged, elided and gently corrected a President used to operating in a reality of his own construction, buoyed by the fervent repetition of lies.”’
On the racial justice organisers, TIME said these "Guardians put themselves on the line to defend the ideals sacred to democracy. In 2020, they fought on many fronts. When George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis in May, it was proof, if anyone needed it, that Black lives are still not treated as equal in America.”
In the aftermath of Floyd's death, the publication said, "a wave of outrage surged and was harnessed by organisers, both veteran and newly energised, to bring millions to the streets and spotlight the inequities in a world that claims to be far better than it is. The movement for racial justice found its voice in multitudes: a mother in Kenosha delivering her frank report to Joe Biden; a sister in Paris calling for police accountability in her brother's death. In this extraordinary year, they guarded truth -- lived truth.