Zuckerberg vs. Trump 2020. Welcome to the reality show that we now call the real world.
It seems that good old Zuck has his eyes on the American presidency. Or at least that’s what people are saying — and possibly with good reason.
You see, for the past little while our friend Mark has been making some pretty savvy moves.
People first started to take notice a few years ago, when Facebook wanted to make inroads in China, where it remains banned to this day. It seems Zuck’s early overtures to the Chinese Communist Party were a bit hamfisted, including a speech in which he spoke beginner’s Chinese to an adoring crowd at Tsinghua University in Beijing, garnering high praise from the Chinese media:
Of course, any foreigner living in China who has taken a few Chinese lessons knows that Mr Zuckerberg’s putonghua isn’t exactly up to the task of a public speech. Nonetheless, the Western media lapped it up.
The next sign of Zuck’s awakening political savvy came soon after, when Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a friendly visit to Facebook headquarters. And what happened to be sitting in the background during an opportunistic “candid” photo? Why if it wasn’t a book of Mr Xi’s speeches. A book that conveniently omitted many of Xi’s more reform-minded speeches. Zuck, you shouldn’t have!
So it’s been a while since the man with the featureless face decided to dabble in realpolitik. But what’s this now? The guy who works with the Lean In lady might be shooting for the American presidency?
You heard that right. Or at least that’s what people have been saying for the past few days, ever since Mark Zuckerberg inexplicably took a trip to rural Alaska to find out what people think about a universal basic income:
Priscilla and I spent the weekend around Homer, Alaska as part of the Year of Travel challenge. It's beautiful…
Now, universal basic income (or UBI for short) may very well be an idea whose time has come. So why should anyone be suspicious of Mark Zuckerberg?
Well, considering the current political climate in the United States — which has reached a point of bitterness and divisiveness not seen before in our lifetimes — it’s a bit suspicious that Zuck says he thinks “basic income is a bipartisan idea” which “comes from conservative principles of smaller government“.
So what’s the idea, Mr Facebook? Some are saying that President Zuck’s comments hint that his interest in UBI stems less from concerns about social justice than it does from ideas about how to keep everyone happy, as jobs are increasingly made redundant by technological initiatives which ultimately benefit the super-rich.
Perhaps that’s just the way of the world now. But if it’s not sitting quite well with you that someone like Zuckerberg might suddenly think he’s fit for the highest public office in the most powerful country in the world, with no qualifications other than being a billionaire, don’t dismiss that thought.
In fact, if you have a few minutes, why not listen to the hottest take making the rounds on the internet regarding Zuck’s calculated entry into public life, from the good people of Chapo Trap House, one of the most popular political podcasts on the internet:
Remember people: once he’s President, you can’t unfriend him.