“Progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Alright, folks, we have tried it on for size and it did not fit. We tried putting a billionaire businessman in the big White House, and the experiment failed miserably within the first week, so why would we want to try it again? It is not that I have anything in particular against billionaires or businessmen, but the reality, as we have seen, is that being a billionaire businessman does not qualify a person for the role of president. In fact, I suspect it should automatically dis-qualify them.
Since January, when Zuckerberg announced his plan to visit all 50 states by the end of the year, there have been rumblings and rumours that he intends to run for the office of president. He said that his journey around the country would involve road trips with his wife Priscilla Chan, visits to Facebook offices, meetings with teachers and scientists, and stops in small towns and universities.
“I’m looking forward to this challenge and I hope to see you out there!”
Sounds rather like a politician, doesn’t he?
During his travels this week, he ‘dropped in’ on a family in northern Ohio and dined with them, making worldwide headlines – another very political sort of thing to do.
Zuckerberg is a better man than the current experiment sitting the Oval Office. He has donated to many worthy causes over the years, he is intelligent, and he is a humanitarian. However, he still lacks the skills and experience to lead the nation. The basis for the rumours, in addition to his political-sounding announcement, lies in the unsealed court filings from a class-action lawsuit filed in April, revealing that Zuckerberg and two board members had discussed how Zuckerberg might pursue a political career while retaining control of Facebook. Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, one of the company’s most prominent investors, texted Zuckerberg in March to say that the “biggest issue” of the corporate proposal was “how to define the gov’t service thing without freaking out shareholders that you are losing commitment”. Uh-oh … I smell conflict-of-interest and ethical issues already.
I will not spend much time dwelling on Zuckerberg as a candidate … it is just too early in the game to do more than briefly speculate and then move on. But let us take just a quick look at Mark Zuckerberg, the man.
Zuckerberg and his wife are philanthropists … real ones, not the fake kind who donate pictures of themselves to charity. Along with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, Zuckerberg signed “The Giving Pledge”, in which he pledged to donate at least half of his wealth to charity over the course of time. Zuckerberg founded the Start-up: Education foundation and donated $100 million to Newark (New Jersey) Public Schools, one of the lowest socio-economic school districts in the state. In 2014, he and his wife donated $25 million to combat the Ebola virus disease, specifically the West African Ebola virus epidemic. He has made numerous other charitable donations, some of which have been controversial, and I leave those out for the moment.
Zuckerberg’s political views are largely unknown, however I have read a few things I liked, and some I did not. He is supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and actually seems to understand it, which many do not, saying, “Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean other lives don’t — it’s simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve.” He is also supportive of immigrants and against bans and deportation, which raises him a notch higher in my book. He is also a supporter of the LGBT community.
On the flip side, he led the launch of a 501(c)(4) lobbying group called FWD.us. The goals of this group are basically worthy, including immigration reform, improving the state of education in the United States, and enabling more technological breakthroughs that benefit the public. However, they have also advocated a variety of oil and gas development initiatives, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Keystone XL pipeline.
Personally, I do not care about a candidate’s religion or lack of … I am more concerned with his experience and qualifications, and I consider religion or lack of to be a personal decision. However, I am in the minority on this, and many people seem to judge candidates based on their religious preference. I remember that this was a problem for John F. Kennedy, being a Catholic. In today’s environment of religious zealots, to be an atheist would doom any candidacy. Until December 2016, Zuckerberg, though raised in a Jewish household, identified as an atheist. But last December, some believe in preparation for a political run, he renounced his former atheism, saying, “I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”
Again, I believe Zuckerberg is a good man with his heart in the right place, which is certainly in contrast to the current president, but I know of nothing that actually qualifies him for the job. He has no experience in public service, no Constitutional Law background, no foreign relations experience, and I believe we have seen what those lacks can lead to. However, I reserve the right to change my opinion over the course of the next three years, if I see that Zuckerberg is, indeed, a worthy candidate for the office.