After a recent readers’ poll which didn’t determine but helped define the choices, Time magazine named Mark Zuckerberg its Person of the Year for 2010 for "changing how we all live our lives." (Time readers, not the most radical bunch, picked Julian Assange as the winner and had Zuckerberg ranked 10th.) Time‘s runner-ups included Assange, Hamid Karzai and Sarah Palin.
Since we here at The Nation consider our readership the most politically informed and intelligent of any publication in the country, we thought it would be informative to conduct a Nation readers’ poll to determine the Person of the Year for our own community.
The response was strong and, interestingly, WilkiLeaks founder Assange was also our clear-cut winner because, as Lorna Singh pointed out, "we need to see how we were lied to," and, as Mike Pribula wrote, "he has reminded us about the importance of integrity in diplomacy and democratic ideals in our republic."
Finishing a strong second was the Senate’s only socialist Bernie Sanders, a great friend of The Nation, because, as Carol Kivi nicely put it, "he spoke up for what he thinks is right, which is to oppose the tax breaks for the wealthy and ensure that the successful social security program remains intact."
The third runner-up, Bradley Manning, is the US Army soldier who was charged in July 2010 with the unauthorized disclosure of US classified information and being held in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps Brig, Quantico, Virginia. As Tom Baurain noted, Manning "broke a very serious oath to the military to help shed light on our ‘New Dark Age’ of information."
Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who conceived of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("and consistently challenged the pro-business economic orthodoxy of Tim Geithner and Larry Summers") and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow ("the smartest and most effective progressive on television") rounded out the top five.
Numerous other candidates received multiple votes, including Reps. Nancy Pelosi ("the most effective speaker for many years who has stayed true to her progressive supporters"), Barney Frank ("because he stood up for working Americans against the egregious tax cuts for the wealthy") and Alan Grayson ("for being a bold progressive when and where most people wouldn’t"), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, radio commentator Amy Goodman and Dan Choi, the former American infantry officer who presented the most visible public challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which, until its recent repeal, forbid lesbian, bisexual and gay service members from serving openly in the US armed forces.
Finally, honorable mention, courtesy of a reader who chose to remain anonymous, goes to "The Unemployed. Why? Because it’s time they get something, even if it’s just an award."
Thank you for voting. Here’s to a progressive 2011!