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I Found Seven People Who Want Mark Zuckerberg to Be President

Eve Peyser

Eve Peyser

If the social media mogul ever wants to run, this is his base.

Photo illustration by author

For a guy who says he's not running for president, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg acts an awful lot like someone who might run for president, or at least pivot to politics. At the beginning of 2017, the 33-year-old tech billionaire announced he was embarking on a cross-country quest to better know the so-called real, non-billionaire Americans who use the monster of a social network he birthed. In December, he renounced his atheism, writing on his Facebook page, "I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important." And Zuck's recent hires at his nonprofit, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative—former Clinton pollster and one-time Obama adviser Joel Benenson, former Obama aide David Plouffe, and George W. Bush's 2004 campaign manager Ken Mehlman—suggest political aspirations.

Not too long ago, the idea of a rich guy with zero political experience and an, um, unpolished style—have you seen him talk on Facebook Live?—gearing up for a national campaign would have been laughable. But after Donald Trump, anything seems possible.

If and when Zuckerberg decides to run, he'll face one big obstacle: No one really wants him to. Leftists are wary of tech oligarchs, the right doesn't like California liberals, and it's not clear what his natural constituency would be or what his political beliefs even are.

Even members of the "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Fans" group on Facebook weren't too excited by the prospect:

"Someone Please Stop Mark Zuckerberg From Running for Office," a recent Observer op-ed begged. When I put out a public request looking for people who would vote for Zuck, InfoWars' Paul Joseph Watson snarked, "Do I get free Kool-Aid?" Another person asked, "Are you going to place them in 24-hour mental health holds?"

My call for Zuck fans was retweeted by alt-right superstar Mike Cernovich, which invited a flood of trolls into my inbox sending along excerpts of the Unabomber manifesto. One correspondent ironically called the Facebook founder "the very model of American excellence and Jewish ingenuity," opining, "He can reduce the human condition to raw data... So get used it, Mark Zuckerberg 2020, and when he combined us mortals with technology, supplying us with all the dopamine we need, we'll be calling him POTUS for eternity."

I also got anti-Zuck memes like this gem:

But there are a few people out there enthusiastic about a Mark Zuckerberg presidency. Wade Chapman, a 17-year-old from Alabama who once volunteered for Bernie Sanders, told me he actually met Zuck on his cross-country tour, when Chapman was out to lunch with his dad.

"He just starts walking to every table introducing himself," Chapman told me. "Being involved with politics, I knew what he was doing so I asked him a question about small businesses and his thoughts on how to make them thrive. His answer was more moderate than I expected."

Zuckerberg's nascent hypothetical candidacy has also been imagined in more elite circles. Last year, Jim VandeHei, the co-founder of Politico who is now the CEO of Axios, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, where he wrote that America needs an outsider to lead the country, but it shouldn't be Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders:

[We need] Silicon Valley technologist to do tours of service to bring data solutions and efficiencies to our aging governmental systems... Millions of young people are turned on by a 74-old-year socialist scolding Wall Street; millions of others by a reality-TV star with a 1950s view of women. Why not recruit Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg to head a third-party movement? ... I will even throw out a possible name for the movement: The Innovation Party.

But who would actually vote for this Innovation Party? I found six other people who are down for a Zuck presidency and asked them, literally why?

Debbie Saslaw, 31, Former Advertising Executive

VICE: Have you always liked Mark Zuckerberg?
Debbie Saslaw:
No. But the older I get, the more I identify with him: My knee-jerk reaction is to resist any and all authority. I have a short fuse, and often come across as curt, aggressive, or emotionally despondent—I think Trump is the same way. We're disruptors, and while I dislike most/any/all of Trump's policies, I respect his unyielding resolve, and the fact that he's not hiring 20 different community managers to growth-hack his Twitter account... [Zuckerberg] understands web culture and the power of transparency.

What do you make of Zuck's cross-country trip?
It's noble of him to acknowledge the bubble he helped create, and while I don't think he's doing us any favors (and by "us" I mean the rest of the "coastal elite"), I truly think the election was Zuck's "come to Jesus" moment... I feel like Zuckerberg used to be a punk who now has a big company and a lot of responsibility, and he's grappling with his own lack of moral fortitude.

Since there's little to go off of, what do you know about Mark Zuckerberg's political beliefs? What policies do you imagine he'd champion?
If Mark can figure out a way to help people of all ages monetize their talents (YouTube/Google/Adsense has done a pretty solid job with this, as well as tools like Patreon, Kickstarter, Etsy, etc...), I'd vote for him in a heartbeat... His Harvard speech was a pretty good preview of what his platform might look like. Yes, he's still corporate huckster, but it reads more Bernie than Trump.

Are you concerned that the qualities Zuckerberg shares with Trump—a billionaire without political experience—might make him a less than ideal candidate?
My main concern with both Zuckerberg and Trump is the fact that they want to run this country like a business. I'd like to think Mark Zuckerberg is more humane, but there was that whole thing about him building a wall in Hawaii, etc.

If you had to decide a slogan for Mark Zuckerberg's 2020 campaign, what would you go with? And who would you choose as VP?
I'm sure I'm not the first to suggest "I'm President, Bitch." I have a long-running joke about the Dwayne Johnson/Zuckerberg 2024 bid. Is that even a joke, though?


"If Batman teaches us anything, it's that not all rich people are dicks."


Skylar Baker-Jordan, 31, Essayist/Opinion Writer

VICE: What do you make of Zuck's cross-country trip?
Skylar Baker-Jordan:
It's quite obviously a farce; it's political theater. But the thing about political theater is we know it works. Donald Trump was as far removed from middle America as you can be, and yet through the media circus that ensued managed to tap into a very real anger and resentment toward the chattering classes that few politicians have been able to exploit. It works, and it's smart.

Does it mean I think Zuckerberg is a man of the people? Not really. No more than Donald Trump was, and less so than Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders were. But if we're being realistic here, it's a necessary, if cynical, step. Zuckerberg is going to have to show he's in touch with middle America, and that might mean milking cows in Wisconsin or hunting in Montana. It's all for show, but these images matter—whether we want them to or not.

Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg would make a good politician? Why do you like him?
I don't know if Mark Zuckerberg will make a good politician... I do like him, though. He's not like Donald Trump, who inherited his wealth, built one tower, and then went bankrupt and leveraged his celebrity to build essentially a marketing business. Mark Zuckerberg is a visionary.

Contrast this with Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, both who look backward at what America was in the 1960s and 1970s. Mark isn't doing that. He's looking ahead, realizing the jobs of the past—like the factory job my grandpa retired from at 50—aren't coming back, but that there are other jobs to be created and American talent to take them on... Couple this with Zuckerberg's overtures to the LGBT community—he's always been an ally.

What do you know about Mark Zuckerberg's political beliefs? What policies do you imagine he'd champion?
I think he would champion a more inclusive America. I think he'd look to further open, not close, our borders... Economically, I think he'd tell us some hard truths. Factory jobs aren't coming back... Instead, Zuckerberg will be focused on the economy of the future—service, yes, but also technology, science, engineering, and education. If anything, he could promote the manufacturing and assembly of electronic and technological components in the United States.

How does Mark Zuckerberg's status as a billionaire factor into your support of him?
Not at all. If Batman teaches us anything, it's that not all rich people are dicks.


"[His cross-country trip is] the same as when rich students go to Africa and snap selfies with people who live in poor villages, all for show."


Robert Miller, 21, College Student

VICE: Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg would make a good politician? Why do you like him?
Robert Miller: The left is doing some soul searching after losing pretty much everything for years now. Democrats don't have a message, and personally I think that there is a phenomenal opportunity for tech/Silicon Valley to be a part of that message. Run on the promise of building a better future with technology. Of curing cancer, building flying and driverless cars, going to Mars, fighting climate change, you name it. A positive message of a better future. Zuck could be the person to shepherd this in. I don't think he's the best person for the job, but he works, and I believe in the message enough that I think he could win in 2020 with it.

Do you think Zuck is electable?
Trump changed the rules of the game and society seems so volatile that I could absolutely see Zuckerberg being elected.

If you had to decide a slogan for Mark Zuckerberg's 2020 campaign, what would you go with? And who would you choose as VP?
"A Better Future" and [California senator] Kamala Harris.



Sandra M., 39, Part-Time University Lecturer

VICE: Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg would make a good politician? Why do you like him?
Sandra M.: When I look at the politicians in Washington, DC, currently... I don't see a lot of people who see digitally first... The chance that Zuckerberg could take his forward-thinking business ideas and learn more about the populations in America that include people like my mom or grandma is exciting.

What policies do you imagine he'd champion?
I don't know what he believes politically. I can say that he has "potentially" an open mind simply because he has married outside of his race, backed down off of his Hawaii land controversy, and recently changed the mission statement of Facebook.

Do you think Mark Zuckerberg is electable?
Did I ever believe my grandmother would be on Facebook in her 80s? No, but did I think Donald Trump would be elected? No! It is important to believe anything is possible.

Are you concerned that the qualities Zuckerberg shares with Trump—a billionaire without political experience—might make him a less than ideal candidate?
The difference is that when I hear Zuckerberg speak, I don't think that he is speaking at a fourth-grade level like Trump. I believe he earned his place in Harvard. I believe he would surround himself with advisers on areas foreign to him and would be thoughtful about the American people instead of having disdain for our institutions like Trump.


"Once you reach a certain level of wealth you are so far away from the problems of average people, it's impossible for you to relate to them."


Carlos Guzman, 30, Architect

VICE: What do you make of Zuck's cross-country trip?
Carlos Guzman:
I think it's the same as when rich students go to Africa and snap selfies with people who live in poor villages, all for show... Once you reach a certain level of wealth, you are so far away from the problems of average people it's impossible for you to relate to them. I don't think any of this stems from Mark being genuinely worried or interested in the well-being of common Americans.

Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg would make a good politician? Why do you like him?
He's an outsider... he's young, [and] he understands a language that has so far been overlooked by most if not all politicians in recent elections across the world: technology. Technological advances like artificial intelligence and genetic alterations are looming on the horizon, and this knowledge has the potential to really destroy us if we don't overcome this technological infancy that we currently find ourselves in a post-Trump era. None of these things are really understood by Congress or other politicians... Having a president who understands this will facilitate the creation of necessary policies for the US to lead the effort to consolidate global boundaries in what could be very harmful tech.

If you had to decide a slogan for Mark Zuckerberg's 2020 campaign, what would you go with? And who would you choose as VP?
"America and all your friends like this." A good VP would probably be [former New York City mayor Michael] Bloomberg.


"Zuckerberg is electable. Even though he has a lot of negatives—short, un-charismatic, bad public image."


Wesley Taylor, 24, IT Specialist

VICE: Why do you like Mark Zuckerberg?
Wesley Taylor: I have always thought Mark Zuckerberg was an impressive guy. Sure, he may not be loquacious, but seizing the zeitgeist and creating something like Facebook is much more impressive than having a high verbal IQ.

Why do you think he would make a good politician?
I don't know a lot about Zuckerberg's political beliefs. I know he donated to Obama, publicly signaled against Donald Trump, and recently hired Clinton pollsters, so I think it's fair to say he's on the left. He recently championed universal basic income in his speech at Harvard, so I imagine he would champion something like that as a politician. I think policies like Universal Basic Income are the bold proposals that have to come from outside of political parties and have to be championed by people outside of mainstream political parties.

I would like someone like Peter Thiel to be part of the Zuckerberg team, but Thiel is an immigrant, so someone like Sheryl Sandberg might make a decent choice. It's hard to say this far out.

Do you think Mark Zuckerberg is electable?
Yes... Even though he has a lot of negatives—short, un-charismatic, bad public image—I think the American people will be so anti-Republican after four years of Trump that Zuckerberg will be electable, simply because he could run as the anti-Trump.

Why do you think so many people hate the idea of Mark Zuckerberg being president?
They probably troll him because of his nerdy aesthetic or maybe they view his persona as trying too hard to get people to like him, and there's nothing more uncool than that. (In The Social Network, his entire motivation [for creating Facebook] is to get a girlfriend and become more popular.)


Ari Notis, 24, Magazine Editor

VICE: Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg would make a good politician? Why do you like him?
Ari Notis:
He's called for a universal basic income, believes in investing significant capital into developing technical skills in workers, and—at least on paper—seems to genuinely care about people. Say what you will, but no matter the potential cynical motivations, he's donated billions to those in need. (Hey, at least he tried with his Newark Public Schools donation!) Also, honestly? As a Jewish person, I'd love to see a Jew sit behind the Resolute Desk.

Are you concerned that the qualities Zuckerberg shares with Trump—a billionaire without political experience—might make him a less than ideal candidate?
Zuck has surrounded himself with Obama and Clinton brass, and he has a proven track record of listening to people that know more than him. (See: Sean Parker telling him to turn down the at-the-time Yahoo's outrageous offer [to buy Facebook for $1 billion in 2006.]

If you had to decide a slogan for Mark Zuckerberg's 2020 campaign, what would you go with? And who would you choose as VP?
Something like, "Connecting America," or, "America's Social Network," or "Bringing the Country Face to Face... book." Kamala Harris for VP.

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