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Presenting: the Nominees for Discourse Blog’s Person of the Year

The people who made our lives slightly better (or worse) in 2020.

A graphic of birds tweeting at an anonymous image of Discourse Blog's Person of the Year
Illustration by Samantha Grasso

As we reflect on this fucked-up year and the many, many people who have made it slightly more tolerable (or slightly more fucked up!), we at Discourse Blog wanted to rightfully valorize them for being the heroes that they truly are. And so today we’re proud to announce the nominees for Discourse Blog’s first-ever Person of the Year award, a list of people (mostly) who stood out to us through the year’s cheers and jeers.

(Note: this award is not affiliated with any other awards about people of the year, and any similarities with any other awards are purely coincidental.)

Never mind pitting frontline healthcare workers against the Movement for Black Lives, because why the hell you would do such a disgustingly tacky thing is beyond me! Our nominees run the gamut from people who have made our individual lives a little bit brighter, to awful power brokers who’ve driven us pleasantly bonkers. Without further ado, here are our 2020 nominees for Discourse Blog’s Person of the Year:

The guy who has memorized my boyfriend’s coffee order, nominated by myself:

Sometime in the summer my boyfriend and I started going to a coffee place down the street from us. In the half a year since, one of the baristas has memorized my boyfriend’s coffee order — a medium mocha frappe-type frozen beverage with whipped cream that he enjoys regardless of how cold it gets. I used to be a barista, and so I thought it was very Fun! and Charming! when you asked a regular customer if they were going to order their regular drink! But now every time I roll up to the drive-thru I get terribly self-conscious that this barista will be at the window, asking me once again if I’m ordering “the usual,” because I never expected myself to become someone who regularly Goes Out for coffee, and I still think of it as something bougie people do despite becoming one of those people, so now I’m left wondering if this barista who knows our regular order is silently judging me, too. Thanks to that guy for memorizing my boyfriend’s order, though! It is very kind of you despite the extreme anxiety it has unnecessarily brought me.

The Poll Guys (Dave Wasserman and Nate Silver), nominated by Aleks Chan:

For their unimpeachable methodology, unassailable humility, and unwavering Online-ness. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I found immense comfort in manically refreshing their Twitter feeds during the election, where they never condescended to anyone or ever conflated conflict with abuse. When it comes to the Poll Guys, I’ve never seen enough!

Christopher Nolan, nominated by Caitlin Schneider:

The director was absolutely insistent on being the person to save movies and the human spirit amid the pandemic this year and at least one person (Tom Cruise!!) bought into that insistence. As our own Aleks Chan said in the chat, Nolan delivered on “chaotic energy” in 2020, perhaps at the expense of his own film? What a hero. I still don’t know what Tenet is about and will probably never see it, but this man is proof that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish something.

Former Senate candidate Amy McGrath, nominated by Paul Blest:

She raised nearly $100 million mostly from Resistance people outside of Kentucky and mentioned she was a fighter pilot in every single appearance she made. She very nearly didn’t get out of the primary, vastly outspending a much better candidate (state representative Charles Booker) who she barely beat. In the general against Mitch McConnell, she ran on the campaign theme that he—Mitch McConnell, yes, that one—was not pro-Trump enough. She then got stomped by 20 points. At one point, she released a $200,000 campaign ad featuring a Trump-McGrath voter—and ran it in the Cincinnati media market. Ohio, a state the Biden campaign wanted to, you know, win.It was legitimately the funniest way to run a campaign that was bound to fail and one of the more incredible grifts in American politics this side of Donald Trump, and it very usefully exposed the creative bankruptcy of the D.C. Democratic establishment that handpicked her to run. A true hero.

:heart: My boyfriend :heart:, nominated by Katherine Krueger:

Not to be all :heart: I love my boyfriend :heart: but: Will has consistently made our quarantine bearable and live-through-able. Even when I’m being a nightmare, he’ll make me a hot dog and let me stress clean with no questions asked. Because boy can I be a nightmare when I’m stir-crazy and stressed about work(s) and deeply depressed about the state of our country!! It still seems like every single day gets stupider out there, but in here, he’s one of the few good things. Sorry!!!!

Hunter Biden, nominated by Jack Crosbie:

Hunter Biden is a true study in resilience. After struggling with addiction and the shadow of his perennially-running-for-president father, Biden has managed to become a sympathetic figure despite decades of nepotism because of his palpable desire to Just Be Left Alone. Look how happy he is in his Los Angeles studio, in February, before the world ended and all of this got bad. For me, it won’t be the actions of the father that will reassure me that everything is all right. For America to heal we need to get sweet Hunter back in his studio, sheltered from the vices and viciousness of the toxic world of politics so he can live the life every American deserves to have: one of art, leisure, and sure, maybe a little bit of moderated hedonism.

The Neighborhood Hesher who walks past his window every morning, nominated by Rafi Schwartz:

I don’t know his name or where he’s going, but he’s as reliable as clockwork. Every morning he walks past my window, black jeans, black hoodie, black leather jacket, and a cigarette dangling from his lips burned down to the exact same point each time I see him. Once, when I was outside getting my mail, he looked up and complemented me on my t-shirt. Another time he caught me unloading groceries and we had a nice chat about different seltzer flavors. He is a mystery to me, and yet, he is a comfort as well; Each time I see him, I think “ah yes, the world may be spinning wildly toward the abyss, but here’s my neighborhood Hesher, chugging along as usual, nevertheless.” We should all be so lucky to have a mysterious metalhead like that in our lives. Rock on, nameless Hesher. And thank you.

Donald Trump, the Discourse Blog bird, and my newborn niece, nominated by Jack Mirkinson:

First, thanks to our president for all the good times obviously. Trump getting COVID was the comedic high point of 2020, I will always be grateful.

Second, the Discourse Blog bird, symbol of the wondrous thing we have all done. Birds are not people but so what who cares.

Third, every time I would have a convo about the hell year I’d have to temper it with “well one good thing happened, my niece was born” so she gets a nod too.

Now to you, dear reader: who is in the running to be your Discourse Blog Person of the Year? Please nominate your own special person in the comments below!!!