Time magazine has chosen President Barack Obama as the “Person of the Year,” and in describing their choice, delivers two stunning slams to conservatives, the Tea Party, Republicans, and the religious right. “His presidency spells the end of the Reagan realignment that had defined American politics for 30 years,” Time declares, calling Obama the “Architect of the New America.”
President Obama was chosen as “Person of the Year” in 2008 as well, and this year was on a short list that included Malala Yousufzai, Tim Cook, Mohamed Morsi and Fabiola Gianotti.
“He is the first President to embrace gay marriage and to offer work permits to many young undocumented immigrants,” Time’s Richard Stengel writes in explaining “The Choice.”
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%. He has stitched together a winning coalition and perhaps a governing one as well. His presidency spells the end of the Reagan realignment that had defined American politics for 30 years. We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America. “The truth is,” the President said in the Oval Office, “that we have steadily become a more diverse and tolerant country that embraces people’s differences and respects people who are not like us. That’s a profoundly good thing. That’s one of the strengths of America.”
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