Time names Barack Obama as Person of the Year

The president earned the coveted title over runners-up like teen activist Malala Yousafzai and Apple CEO Tim Cook

Topics: Barack Obama, Time magazine, Person of the Year, Awards, ,

Time Magazine has named President Barack Obama as the Person of the Year for 2012. Managing editor Rick Stengel, who made the announcement on the Today Show this morning, explained that Obama is more than a political icon–he has ushered in a cultural change at a crucial turning point in America.

Although Obama is just beginning his second term, Time notes that his re-election itself affirms America’s transformation. Stengel penned the introduction in the magazine’s upcoming issue, in which he which he writes:

“In many ways, Barack Obama is the 21st century version of this new American. But he’s more than just a political figure; he’s a cultural one. He is the first President to embrace gay marriage and to offer work permits to many young undocumented immigrants. There has been much talk of the coalition of the ascendant — young people, minorities, Hispanics, college-educated women — and in winning re-election, Obama showed that these fast-growing groups are not only the future but also the present. About 40% of millennials — the largest generational cohort in U.S. history, bigger even than the baby boomers — are nonwhite. If his win in 2008 was extraordinary, then 2012 is confirmation that demographic change is here to stay.”

“Obama is the first Democratic President since FDR to win more than 50% of the vote in consecutive elections and the first President since 1940 to win re-election with an unemployment rate north of 7.5%.”

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Obama beat runners-up Apple CEO Tim Cook, who oversaw over the innovative company during some of its most prosperous years, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen activist who became a symbol for women’s rights, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and Fabiola Giannati, the Italian physicist in charge of the CERN experiment that discovered the Higgs-Boson Particle. (Members of the short-list, announced yesterday, included Hillary and Bill Clinton, Undocumented Americans and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer). Last year, Time’s Person of the Year was The Protester.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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