The Latest Slap in the Face for the Establishment: Mark Zuckerberg for President?
When Jesse “the Body” Ventura got elected governor in Minnesota, it was a wakeup call for the establishment. When Donald Trump got elected president, it became a full blown never-ending nightmare…the kind where you wake up in bed in a cold sweat. Yes, the Washington-New York-Boston establishment has been indulging in an eight month long self-pity party of moping and hand-wringing, and encouraging their acolytes in the mainstream media to pursue little journalistic work that does not involve somehow leading to a future Trump impeachment.
Anything to get back into the seats of power, and get Trump, the fringe lunatic, out of office.
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Well, the “establishment” may have a new problem…this time on the Democratic side, at least according to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek. The piece, which deal’s with Zuck’s so-called “political awakening” explores the rise of a site originally little more than a college dorm phenomenon, that has now evolved into one of the world’s largest companies; one which wields incredible political power as well.
Indeed, Hillary Clinton cited Facebook’s irresponsible content in her improbable 2016 loss, charging that the social media platform allowed Russia-backed fake news stories to dominate. Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner are known for their adept handling of social media, and, of course, the entire political world is speculating as to whether or not Robert Mueller can find any type of “smoking gun” that demonstrates any Trump-Russia collusion. Social media will certainly play a part in the investigation.
Zuckerberg, however, originally was skeptical of the political influence of Facebook, and the idea that so-called “fake news” altered the election, noting at a conference soon after the election: “Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way, I think is a pretty crazy idea. Voters make decisions based on their lived experience.”
Regardless of the political influence of Facebook itself, it is clear that Zuckerberg himself has become increasingly political in word and deed, spending large amounts of money on political outreach, and hiring former top Obama advisers such as former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. He has been particularly involved in opposing the repeal of the DACA, which provides temporary deportation stays and work permits to minors who were brought here illegally by their parents.
Zuckerberg is widely regarded to be a Democrat, although he has never assumed a particularly partisan mantra, and has in the past worked with Republicans, such as New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
The social media magnate would start a 2020 campaign with several advantages: no clear leader of the Democratic Party, no clear front-runner to compete with, sky high name recognition, and a literally unlimited budget, which would allow him to instantly make the case that he could be above political squabbling and bickering and not concern himself with fundraising.
As a widely admired self-made man, hypercapitalist, and aggressive and assured entrepreneur, he could appeal to many Republicans and libertarians as well. He could position himself, like Trump, as someone who transcends the two party system, and is not afraid to take on powerful interests for the good of the American people.
Who would be his top competition? Senators Corey Booker and Kamala Harris are often mentioned. Elizabeth Warren is almost certain to run, carrying the Bernie Sanders mantle. (It seems unlikely that Sanders would mount another campaign in 3 years at 79). Joe Biden could throw his hat into the ring. With a field this open, all bets are off…even HRC might to the unthinkable.
The bottom line is that Zuckerberg has an incredible path in a potential 2020 field, to follow a Donald Trump story line: suck up all the media attention, and make the race about him. Donald Trump played this role so well, that it got to the point that Jeb Bush publicly chastised the media for only calling him to ask questions about Donald Trump!
Zuckerberg has some potential challenges, however. He is young and politically inexperienced. In fact, he would become the youngest president in history, at 36, were he to win in 2020. (Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency at 42, following the assassination of William McKinley). He has faced some serious ethical inquiries into his business dealings. (Sound like another president?) And he has a considerable amount of detractors on both sides of the political aisle.
As Bloomberg Businessweek notes: “Zuckerberg has become a big, enticing target for both liberal Democrats, who see him as a media-devouring monopolist, and for nationalist Republicans, who see an opportunity to rail against the company that embodies globalization more than any other.”
Democrats like Zuckerberg because he wants to “build bridges not walls”, but they fear that he is infringing upon their power and want greater regulation of social media. Republicans like Zuck because he’s a savvy businessman and self-made man who’s built a multi-billion dollar company overnight, but they fear that his politics might be too liberal to their liking.
At the end of the day…if the prospect of Joe Biden’s umpteenth run for the presidency or the prospect of hundreds of hours of Elizabeth Warren paraphrasing Bernie Sanders on the economy doesn’t have you sitting on the edge of your seat; perhaps the time has come for yet another slap in the face for the Washington political establishment.
It would set up an epic battle of contrasts: pitting the oldest individual to ever be elected president (Trump at 70), against the youngest to ever potentially win the presidency.
He says he’s not running. Many say he’s not running. But perhaps the time has come…for a Mark Zuckerberg presidency.