There have been a lot of people that have had an immense impact on society for 2013. Some of them have been positive and some not so positive, and being purely subjective term, I will leave the reader to decide.
To define “movers and shakers,” I will define “movers” and people who have actually moved society in a direction other than the status quo. The “shakers” are the ones who have just shaken society, creating no real direction, other than to make us collectively nauseous from all that shakin’ going on.
Agree or disagree with their positions on social issues, there is almost no question that the following have “moved” or “shaken” in some way.
First the movers:
1) Pope Francis: Being neither Christian nor catholic (if there is indeed a distinction), there is no question that Pope Francis has been the most proactive pope in a while to influence social forces. He has clearly garnered the respect of most in the “higher circles,” even the ones that are less than, shall we say, honorable.
2) Malala Yousafzai: Nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace, this 16 year old Pakistani girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban for promoting education is the epitome of social change, and a reminder that education is supposed to be a class mobilizer. She has moved entire nations to rethink, and re-act their policies on education.
3) Dr. Paul Krugman: The Princeton Professor, and Nobel Prize Laureate has done a lot of shaking. But he’s done a lot of moving as well. Dr. Krugman is the kind of guy that people either love, hate, or love to hate. However, he has been the staff-bearer for the revival of Keynesian Economics in the post 2008 financial meltdown, in which now, even the staunchest conservative seems to agree with him. He has moved both economists and sociologists in a new direction in looking at the plight of, well, people. From a personal standpoint, as a Sociologist, Dr. Krugman has done more for the field of Sociology (specifically political economy) than many Sociologists.
4) The LGBT Community: Gay marriage has hit 36 states over the past year, bringing the total to 49 states that now allow gay marriage. Moving beyond that however, the LGBT community has forced society to move into a discussion over the very definition of full equality and full citizenship, vis-à-vis the 14th Amendment. Considering that in 2008, just 5 years ago, any politician caught supporting gay marriage was committing political suicide, there is no question that there has been movement in equal access to the LGBT community, especially in the voting booth in 2013.
5) Daniel Day Lewis: I don’t normally do celebrities, but Lewis’ performance in Lincoln makes him an exception. Lewis is nortorious for taking roles in movies that make us think about social issues, and then playing that role to the point of the metaphysical. He debuted in Sunday Bloody SundayI in 1971 about the Irish massacre by the British. He continued in his role in Gandhi, made us think about Native American exploitation in The Last of the Mohicans (even though it was a love story), brought new ideas to think about in The Crucible, gave us reminders of our troubled immigration history, in The Gangs of New York, and showed us the brutality of the history of oil in There Will Be Blood. He may seem more like a “shaker,” however, his role in Lincoln made many academics, from History professors to Political Science professors re-think and modify their previous positions on Lincoln and the history of the war. For that, Lewis moved people, even if just emotionally.
And now for the “shakers” – those people who shook a lot but moved very little in society:
1) U.S. President Barak Obama: He is the first African American president, and the first President to appoint an African American Attorney General, declaring a mandate on income inequality, race relations, immigration reform, and healthcare. Yet Obamacare doesn’t actually provide health care (it’s the AFFORDABLE health care act, not the ACCESS to healthcare act). There has been no movement on the disparity of African Americans in prison versus anyone else. There has been no movement on income inequality. There has been no movement on monetary or fiscal policy. After declaring problems with the voting system, there’s been no movement either on fixing the broken voting system, or creating a new one. Somehow, affordable health care has taken precedence over Democracy. There has been not much movement anywhere; just a whole lot of shakin’ going on – especially from drones dropping bombs.
2) U.S. Senator Ted Cruz: The mastermind of the U.S. government shutdown in an effort to kill Obamacare, he has succeeded in changing…nothing. The result is government by crisis that makes us all nauseous.
3) Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: While a crack smoking, sexist, and bigoted mayor in Canada may provide entertainment in the Social Psychology Lab with a group of grad students gathered around a bowl of popcorn, the Chris Farley reincarnation actually had a platform: save taxpayers a billion dollars. He did indeed save taxpayers a billion dollars. What he doesn’t mention is that he also spent almost 2 billion in new expenditures. While there’s been movement (backwards) fiscally, what’s really shaking is the fact that the city can no longer perform any meaningful business, or social programs, in a town that is sucking up foreign investments like a giant shop-vac attached to the CN Tower.
4) Idle No More: The Canadian First Nations social movement (known as Native Americans in the U.S.) showed promise in their effort to stop the XL Keystone Pipeline being laid across their lands without permission. Then they died out. Now, with the XL pipeline in jeopardy in Canada because of delays in the U.S., there’s a new effort to lay a new pipeline to British Columbia, across, you guessed it, First Nations’ land. There has not been a peep out of Idle No More. Also on tap in Canada is a new First Nations education system that seeks to destroy Native Language and culture through institutional racism in the name of fiscal policy. Still not a peep out of Idle No More. The social movement has moved nothing, and only did a little shaking on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
5) The Tea Party: The Tea Party, complete with its advocates such as Sen. Rand Paul et al, has only shown that they are old white southern antebellums that haven’t moved into the 21st century since 1865. Where the Tea Party is stuck in moving things in the direction they want is demographics – there’s more of everyone else than them. While they have made SOME movement on a new form of class-ism, racism, and sexism, what they have NOT done is moved those positions into social norms; yet.