Almost on cue after my post yesterday on how ambitious politicians in the US have to fake religiosity, I came across this Tweet that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said that he is no longer an atheist and that religion is very important. He had said this last December but I had missed it.
The founder of Facebook has found religion, it seems, according to a cheery holiday message he posted on the social network he created.
On Christmas Day, Zuckerberg indicated in a Facebook status that he was “celebrating Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me,” he wrote, naming his wife, daughter and dog. Then a commenter asked him: Aren’t you an atheist?
Zuckerberg identified himself as an atheist for years, but on Facebook on Christmas he wrote back: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”
Zuckerberg has been making moves indicating presidential ambitions but this should have been the most telling one.
Ever since, oh, last December, there’s been persistent speculation that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is running for president. The cited evidence is, basically, that Zuckerberg is doing a lot of things that a presidential candidate might do. He is on a year-long mission to make sure he’s visited each of the states in the nation by the year’s end. Out of that tour have come photographs of Zuckerberg touring factories, thanking cops and visiting cattle ranches. He went to Iowa.
There are some other things, too: He said in December that he no longer considers himself an atheist, and that “religion is very important.” His Facebook posts about his travels around the country often read a bit like speeches. And there are the small handful of political hires to the philanthropic foundation that he runs with his wife, Priscilla Chan, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: David Plouffe, President Obama’s former campaign chair, for one. Just this week, Politico reported that the organization had hired Joel Benenson’s firm to consult on a project. Benenson is a Democratic pollster, former Obama adviser and a chief strategist for the former Clinton campaign.
The December announcement about finding religion is significant since that is after Donald Trump was elected. Zuckerberg must have felt that if one faux-religious billionaire with no qualifications whatsoever for the job could be elected president, then why not him? The question is whether he can reach the high bar of lying and pandering to the worst impulses of voters that Trump has set.
We may be seeing the beginning of a ‘billionaires primary’, the end point of the ultimate goal of oligarchic rule. We may soon look back with nostalgia for the days when the wealthy had to secretly buy politicians and get them to serve their agenda. The billionaires may have felt that that process was too inefficient and sometimes unpredictable and are dispensing with those middle men and women and taking direct control.