The crux of it is that it is just another Tycoon game. There is nothing really unique from your description of it.
Could it be popular?
Probably. Tycoon games are fairly popular. It just depends on the execution.
I'd like to see a culture like this as one of the places you visit in an RPG. Not really interested in a game where the player's main task is promoting a political agenda, though.
Do you find the idea of the social gameplay uninteresting or is it another aspect? Because an RBE isn't meant to shift politics, its meant to shift society. The aim of the player's character is to socially connect with characters to physically achieve technical projects, so in many ways it would play much like an RBE but instead of grinding combat you are fighting the social walls that people naturally put up when faced with an alternative to society organized with money. Grinding would be finding and keeping in touch with individuals that helped in previous successful projects, boss battles would be powerful corporate, banking and political figure heads. So instead of just stumbling upon an interesting place with a strange way of life. You get to physically alter this world, seeing the people, cities and planet change because of you're actions. The aim is to go beyond the existing power structure of the world (politics and money) and build answers to the problems we face as a planet.
Thanks for the great feedback so far, please keep it coming!