I know Trump isn’t even sworn in yet. This article will do little to stop the incessant electioneering cycle of liberal democracies. But hey, what about 2020 or even 2024? Looking to the future to do some Presidential window shopping isn’t just escapism. If you want the Presidency you don’t decide on the day of the first primary. Not if you want to win anyway. The ground must be prepared beforehand. So who’s out there with a shovel? Some say the silhouetted figure is Mark Zuckerberg.
Revenge of the nerds?
Unlike Trump, Zuckerberg is a quantitatively successful entrepreneur. He’s currently the 6th richest person in the world, a fortune he has vowed to give away. His dorm room antics ended up facilitating a network that connects over a billion people. Political tropes dictate we have to ask why any successful businessperson would want the Presidency. For Zuckerberg the chance to apply his skillset to the largest system there is must be exciting. Silicon Valley looks at government and sighs. Government user experience is poor and needs improvement.
Trump’s rationale, and indeed his appeal, is the assumption he knows best. The deal-making and power plays Trump wants back in government requires secrecy. In context secrecy and privacy are important. When used out of context they become a hiding place for mediocracy. If the Trump administration won’t let the electorate in on the failures as well as the ‘success’, he will become another politician. Let’s be honest, Trump is a used car salesman. He’s Barry Scott. He’s the motor mouth spewing just enough sense and projecting just enough aggression to make the sale. But what can he build that hasn’t built already?
In Dave Eggers fictional world of The Circle, the app(lications) of direct democracy and small, cheap video-streaming cameras are wildly popular in politics and entertainment. After four years of deception the American people might be ready for a return to technocracy. Of large-scale verifiable data collection guiding policy and bringing a new sort of Truth. If we’re in the market for a technocrat who better to head up the network than Mark Zuckerberg?
Emperor in waiting
That Zuckerberg “wants to be emperor” is a common point of view. We don’t know if this is a verbatim quote from the man himself or merely chatter from his court. The emperor desire may refer more to than Zuckerberg’s procilivity for Civilisation and Risk. Although I can imagine his face carved in marble quite easily.
If Zuckerberg does want to be President he’d have to clear up some conflicts of interest. At Facebook there are legal manoeuvres in action to set precedents, should Zuckerberg run for office, enabling him to retain control for up to two years. His earnestness is also palpable. In the last decade Zuckerberg has met heads of state and held town halls with Barack Obama. All this experience and evidence indicates Zuckerberg is at least interested in government. What could hamper his bid is his social intuition. Facebook has made some rather clunky decisions regarding nudity. Being off-beat with the public right now is fairly harmless, there isn’t really a Facebook alternative. However if he was running a race against an opponent, these socially awkward actions would be pounced on. Zuckerberg seems aware of this though. His 2017 resolution is to visit the 30 states he hasn’t visited in the Union and meet some folks.
The Zuckerberg juxtaposition of a professional life connecting billions and a social life of a few close friends is satisfying. He isn’t flashy but he gets things done. Quite the opposite of Donald. A man whose most impressive achievements include being a middleman for some beef products.