Donald Trump was named Time‘s 2016 Person of the Year on Wednesday. According to the magazine’s editors, the Republican president-elect had more global impact, “for better or worse,” than any other individual across the past 12 months.
“For those who believe this is all for the better, Trump’s victory represents a long-overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class,” Editor-in-Chief Nancy Gibbs wrote. “For those who see it as for the worse, the destruction extends to cherished norms of civility and discourse, a politics poisoned by vile streams of racism, sexism, nativism.”
Time‘s short list also included Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton; “The hackers,” the various people who broke into the U.S. Department of Justice, the IRS and likely the NSA, along with accessing the private data of other companies and celebrities; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; the pioneers behind CRISPR, a controversial tool that allows scientists to alter most DNA; and Beyoncé, a pop star-turned “political force.”
Gibbs explained the magazine’s decision to select Trump further in an accompanying video.
“It’s hard to argue that anyone had more influence than Donald Trump over the events of this year,” she said. “But there’s a profound argument about whether his influence was for the better or for the worse. And that really is the challenge that faces him: The country came through this election season more divided – conspicuously, publicly – than at any time through any election cycle that most of us can remember.”
Gibbs also explained that “Person of the Year” isn’t always an honor. “Certainly there have been years where we’ve recognized people whose influence has been altogether unassailably worthy,” she said. “Normally that’s not the case. I know there are a lot of people who disagree with so much of what Donald Trump said and are very apprehensive about what his presidency means for them and for the country. I think I would challenge them to suggest that someone else this year had more influence – and, in a way, a greater surprise than what he did in 2016.”
In brief interview clips, Trump touched on the many issues of his campaign – including “[defeating] ISIS” and bringing jobs back to the U.S. He also addressed how his ideas touched a nerve across the country: “I didn’t get Beyoncé and Jay Z and Bruce Springsteen to get crowds,” he said. “I had just me – and ideas that people wanted to hear.”