In a recent piece in Macleans magazine, columnist Anne Kingston compellingly contends that “the world is broken – and human kindness is the only solution.”
presidential candidacy of Marianne Williamson (left) is that she, like no other candidate, embodies and inspires a radical call for human kindness in all aspects of our broken world, including politics.
She's also, as New York Magazine's Ed Kilgore notes, “by any measure the most rigorously progressive candidate in the field [of 20],” being, for instance, the first of the Democratic candidates to sign The Progressive Economic Pledge. Williamson, writes Kilgore, “matches or exceeds the progressivism of her rivals. Like Andrew Yang, she’s for a universal basic income. Like Bernie Sanders, she’s for free college, and like Elizabeth Warren, she’s for full college debt relief. Like Cory Booker, she’s for baby bonds. Like several other candidates, she’s for universal pre-K. She’s even equaled Pete Buttigieg’s commitment to a robust national service program.”
Kristen Gillibrand, who came dangerously close to missing the cut. Three other politicians — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam — did not make the cut. In a recent interview, Williamson chalked up her unexpected success to a new “openness to ideas” among voters.
The first Democratic presidential debate began last night with 10 of the 20 candidates sharing a stage in Miami. It continues tonight with the remaining 10. Marianne is in tonight's debate, alongside Michael Bennett, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kristen Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, and Andrew Yang.
I'm very much looking forward to watching Marianne get her message out there, or as she prefers to say, in there – into the consciousness and imagination of the American people. How exactly does she plan to do this? By telling some “big truths.”
Of course, she's been sharing “big truths” throughout her life as a spiritual author and teacher. And because her understanding of spirituality necessitates conscious and compassionate involvement in all aspects of life, including politics, she's recently been sharing these “big truths” on the campaign trail.
Following is a compilation of statements by Marianne that reflect some of these “big truths.” If you're unfamiliar with her and her platform, these statements will serve as a handy primer ahead of this evening's debate and Marianne's participation in it. (The sources for these statements are the articles listed and hyperlinked at the end of this post.)
I’m a woman, I’m a Texan, I’m a Jew, and I’m 66 years old. If I were president, I would be humane and compassionate and values-based with the use of power. I would not be timid. In politics, you must compromise. But with vision, you should never compromise. And to me, that’s part of leadership. . . . The only way to beat [the Trump administration's] big lies is with big truth. [Trump] will eat a half-truth teller alive in this election. And the Democrats have been telling half-truths for decades now, ever since they too started playing footsie under the table with the same corporate forces that are the problem.
I’ve worked up close and personal with people for over 35 years who are dealing with crises in their lives, seeking to navigate those crises to transform them into opportunity. And I have recognized particularly over the last 20 years, how many of those crises are at least indirectly and often directly a result of bad public policy. So not only do I have a real visceral sense of how bad public policy affects people’s lives and which bad public policy affects people’s lives, but also a deep passion for what needs to change. I think that that’s what it’s all about. It’s about human suffering. How to address it and how to ameliorate it, that’s what politics should be. Politics should be a conduit for making people’s lives better. Securing our rights, not thwarting them.
Love is what makes us great. Many people in the United States, not just myself, long for a different conversation than the one that currently dominates our public sphere. There's something so toxic, so fearful, so bigoted and hateful that has formed a political voice and formed a political force field in the United States. we all know this. And we must create the alternative; we just can't fight that. We have to create a real substitute. And that's to bring back a conversation that includes love and justice and fairness and principle and ethics and goodness and morality, and make that a public conversation and turn that into a political force field.
I want to be president because I want this country to return to its mission statement. I want public policy to be aligned again with our deeper moral vales, our deeper democratic values, our deeper humanitarian values. I want this country to work once again as a democracy and not as a veiled aristocracy where our government is doing more to advocate for short-term corporate profits than for the well-being of the people of this country, and the world, and the planet on which we live. I'm not here just to "elevate the conversation." I'm here to elevate the country. And the deeper conversation [needed to achieve this] is the essence of this campaign. The political establishment has a very superficial conversation. We will not be able to transform or repair this country until we get down and have a much deeper conversation about what has happened here; about how we have deviated as a nation from the notion of a government of the people by the people and for the people. We're a government of the corporations by the corporations and for the corporations. I stand for an actual pattern disruption of the political and economic status quo.
[In the first 100 days of my presidency I would] first of all call European leaders and say, "We're back," and have a few chuckles and share the relief that we have rejoined the family of Western powers and a sense of how important that alliance is. I will call Jacinda Ardern, who is the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and who has said that she wants to make New Zealand the best place in the world for a child to grow up. And I will say to her, “Girlfriend, you're on, because we will be having quite a competition for that title over the next four years.” I will call leaders of both the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and I will work hard to begin the relationship with both of them, in which they are made very, very clear that the United States now has an equal relationship, in a very robust way, to both the legitimate security needs of Israel and also the human rights, and dignity, and economic hopes and opportunities of the Palestinian people. That will be a lot in that first hundred days.
I have talked, from the beginning of my campaign, about reparations, about a much deeper healing of the of the racial divide, our need for racial reconciliation in this country. I believe that a reparations counsel needs to be appointed, which would be in charge of dispersing these funds over a period of 20 years. These funds that would be given for for projects of economic and educational renewal. I don't believe that the average American is a racist, but I do believe that the average American is vastly under-informed and under-educated about the history of race in the United States. But we are a good people, we do have a good sense of fairness and justice. And I think when the average American sees that there were two and a half centuries of slavery followed by 100 years of what would be called today domestic terrorism. What do you call lynching? What do you call the Ku Klux Klan? What do you call institutionalized white supremacy and segregation? The economic gap between black and white America that was created, fostered and maintained, not just created by slavery, but then maintained by the 100 years after that, has never been closed.
The political establishment has a way of proffering this illusion that they’re the only ones who sit around and think deeply about America. Everybody cares about America, and politicians don’t care any more than anybody else does, and they don’t have any better ideas than anybody else does. . . . Our country was founded on the most enlightened principles that have ever formed the founding of a nation. And from the beginning, we have been at times the most violent transgressors against those principles. We had slavery, but then we had abolition. We had the suppression of women, but then we had two waves of feminism and the women’s suffragette movement. . . . To me, the modern political establishment – the Democrats no less than the Republicans – speaks to people’s self-interest. I’m not saying, “Elect me and I could do this for you.” Politics should be a far more noble conversation. It should be: This is what this generation should do for our unborn great-grandchildren.
I’m a big fan of Bernie Sanders . . . and on the vast majority of his policies, I agree with him. However, I’m having what I believe is a more expanded conversation as well. We need an integrative politics and by that, I mean we need to factor in much more than just external issues. The reason that the left was gobsmacked by [Bernie Sanders'] success, that the establishment, the Democratic establishment, was gobsmacked by his success, is the same reason that the Republican establishment was gobsmacked by the success of Donald Trump. Both [establishments] failed to recognize, and for the most part still fail to recognize, the significance of psychological and emotional factors in political dynamics. I had seen up close and personal for decades the economic despair, the economic tension and anxiety that is prevalent in the lives of so many millions of people that I wasn’t surprised that this economic populist cry of despair made itself heard. It was going to make itself heard either in a leftist progressive populism or an authoritarian right-wing populism such as is Donald Trump. So when I see certain things, certain issues where people are suffering needlessly and the political establishment is simply normalizing that despair rather than addressing it, then I’m going to speak up. That’s what I do.
People know who Donald Trump is. Donald Trump is harnessing primal fear. Intellectual analysis will not defeat that, only primal love will defeat that. . . . My campaign is about a deep and meaningful conversation I’m trying to have here, which I feel is [one] that will transform this country. . . . The only way to defeat dog whistles is to drown them out with angel voices. But the angels can only sing through us.
Millions of American children go to classrooms where they do not even have the adequate school supplies with which to teach a child to read. We have elementary school children on suicide watch. Around 13 million American children go to school hungry every day. We have children living in what’s called America’s domestic war zones, where psychologists say the PTSD of returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq is no more severe than the PTSD of these children. These children should be rescued, no differently than if they were the victims of a natural disaster. And what is the political establishment doing, except normalizing their despair? I want a massive realignment of investment in the direction of children 10 years old and younger. ... It’s not so much how I would exercise power differently than a man, it’s what I want to use power for that is different.
America should embark on a 10- to 20-year plan for turning a wartime economy into a peace-time economy, repurposing the tremendous talents and infrastructure of our military-industrial complex in such a way as to leave us strong enough to deal with America’s legitimate needs for military preparedness, yet moving on to the urgent task of building a sustainable society and sustainable world.
Discrimination in housing and employment is a terrible problem for the LGBTQ+ community. And I recognize that and I also recognize the efforts throughout the country to actually regress rather than to progress on efforts to provide greater equality for LGBTQ+ people. My relationship with the gay community in the United States is deep and goes back for decades. It’s a natural one. It’s one that is already part of my emotional blood stream. I feel that my recognition of discrimination against gay people has been well honed over the decades and also my recognition of the profound gift of the gay community has been well honed. I hope that there’s the feeling that I’ve proven my kinship and my friendship as that community has certainly proven its friendship and kinship to me.
There’s really no such thing as neutrality. Neutrality is a [fallacy] and a lot of Americans over the last few decades – economically, socially, and politically – have fallen for the [fallacy] of neutrality. . . . As they used to say in the '60s, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. If whether in our individual lives, our personal lives, or our societal lives we’re not holding high, proactively, and vigorously the principles of democracy and the principles of deep humanitarian concern and passion, there is no reason to be surprised [by where we find ourselves now]. You know, you turn off the lights, the darkness sets in. So now everybody’s talking about what do we do about the darkness. The answer is, turn on the light.
I've always had a deep thing about about God, even when I was a little girl. [And then when] I was in my twenties I began reading a set of books called A Course in Miracles. And A Course in Miracles doesn't have a monopoly on truth; it's not a religion. There are no dogma, no doctrine, but it's a psychological course based on the universal spiritual themes of love and forgiveness and atonement for our own mistakes, [These themes are] at the core of all the great religious teachings. And it made a tremendous difference in my life, and still does make a difference when I apply it. Like I always say, when I practice what I preach, my life really does work well. You know, it's not enough just to know these things, we also have to practice these things. It's easy enough to be loving to someone who is loving to me, it's easy enough to be loving in a situation where other people are behaving the way I want them to. The issue in life is: What about when I'm triggered? What about when I'm tempted? Am I going to constrict my heart or am I going to open my heart?
We're living in a period of spiritual emergence at this time. The fact that it is not always centered in institutional religious organizations [means that] religious institutions are losing, and this is probably good for them because they're going to have to, like, figure out [that] maybe [they] should return to some of [their] own spiritual basics. [So what we have today is] a lot of people [who] are living profoundly faith-based existences but do not feel they need to center that faith experience within the context of an organized religious institution. Faith in Gd if faith in love, that we love one another. That is the essence of all faith traditions. It's [about] how we live, how we live with one another, whether we love one another, whether in fact we are brothers and sisters on this earth. That [understanding], I think, people are coming back to in droves. And I think everything we're talking about politically has to do with people thinking, Well, wait a minute, if this is true for me for how I'm supposed to live as an individual, isn't this also true for how we're supposed to live collectively?
I think part of the tragedy with Hillary Clinton is [that] Trump named people’s pain. Bernie named people’s pain. Hillary did not name the pain. I’m not saying she didn’t care about the pain, and I’m not saying that she wouldn’t have done everything in her power to assuage the pain, but during her campaign when she was out there saying, Oh, we just need to continue the success of the Obama years, I knew in my heart right then, because I travel this country, I knew how many millions of people were out there thinking, Continue the success? I’m freaking dying here.
In order to transform our society, we need to recognize the depth of corruption that has set into our governmental and economic functioning. We have essentially moved from a democratic to an aristocratic situation where our government works more to advocate for short term profits for multi-national corporations than it does to advocate for the well-being our people and our planet. Our government works more to make it easier for those who already have a lot of money to make more of it and harder for those who not have any money to even get by. This corruption, which has progressed over the last 40 years, has created an amoral economic system where economic values are placed before humanitarian values. And our democracy itself can no longer be accurately described as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It’s only when we recognize the depth of the corruption that has set in here that we can move into a path of genuine transformation. Because until then, all we’re doing is addressing the symptoms and no one is naming the cause. All we’re doing is making incremental changes seeking to diminish the pain that people are experiencing because of all this, but not challenging the underlying forces that make all of that pain inevitable.
The undue influence of money on our politics is the cancer underlying all the other cancers. One of the very sad things about the fact that Hillary did not win is that we don’t have a chance any time soon of appointing a Supreme Court Justice that might give us a path towards overturning Citizens United. . . . The first thing I would do [as president] is submit to Congress legislation to establish public funding for federal campaigns.
The reason we don’t have universal health care right now is because it would cut into short-term profits for health insurance companies and big pharma. We need to be willing to name this and to challenge this. The reason we’re not addressing the climate crisis adequately is because it would cut into short-term profits for fossil fuel companies. And the Democratic party should name and challenge the fact that we do not have a national security agenda based on creating peace in the world anytime in the next few decades because to really do that would cut into short-term profits for defense contractors and the nuclear industry. [These are examples of] what I mean by challenging, by naming, by bringing the American people into realization [about the influence of money on our politics].
I think moral outrage is not born of anger. Moral outrage is born of love. And women have known this forever. We express our fierceness, [and] we’re called angry. So we know there’s a lot of projection and misuse of that word to hold people down when we’re expressing our passion. When you allow anger to be the fuel for your political activism, it’s like choosing white sugar as opposed to a healthy diet as your nutritional support. So white sugar will give you an adrenaline high and you have all this energy and then you’ll crash. Political change is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. And so it ultimately eats away at you, if that’s your motivation. It’s higher and every bit as powerful to know you’re serving the ages. Something fierce rises up, particularly in a people with a history of oppression. Something fierce and way more powerful than anger rises up when you say, You did it to my grandparents and you’re not going to do it to my kids. It’s not anger, it’s just that this shit stops now.
UPDATE: Well, it was definitely disappointing that Marianne received less podium time than probably anyone else on the debate stage tonight. Organizers were clearly catering to who is currently most popular in the polls (Sanders, Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg).
All that being said, Marianne made the most of the time she was given, getting to the heart of a number of important issues and making the connections, as is her way. And as Faris Bseiso and Gregory Krieg of CNN note, she “called out the other candidates on what she perceived was a surface-level discourse: she criticized them for not discussing 'American foreign policy in Latin America' [in relation to the crisis on the southern border], called on them to 'get deeper than the superficial fixes' regarding the health care system, and underscored the 'deep, deep realms of racial injustice' at play when discussing police shooting incidents.”
Initially, I thought her closing statement was too esoteric for the occasion. But then, as my friend Connie reminded me, it was just Marianne being Marianne. And bravely so too, given the cut-throat setting of a political debate. Meanwhile, my friend Phillip humorously saw Marianne's closing remarks as doing psychic warfare with Trump. “The devil is a liar and he's occupying the White House,” said Phillip. “Marianne just performed an exorcism on Trump.” And in doing so, one can only wonder if Marianne is the first candidate to use the word “love” in a presidential debate. Certainly the word has never been used in such a powerful and targeted way: as a volley of transforming energy aimed specifically at one who has wrought so much damage by harnessing fear as a political force. (It's a vision that, for me, readily casts Marianne as one of the “interlopers” in this stunningly drawn panel from the Prince Valiant adventure strip!)
But seriously, Marianne's signature focus on love and its harnessing as a political force was not lost on TIME magazine's Rachel E. Greespan, who in the hours after tonight's debate wrote: “Marianne Williamson's vibe was all about love, [and] people couldn't get enough.”
Indeed, according to data from Google, Marianne was the most searched candidate in tonight's debate. Now that's definitely something, wouldn't you say?
Related Off-site Links:
Marianne 2020 – The official website for Marianne Williamson's presidential campaign.
What Does Marianne Williamson Believe? Where the Candidate Stands on 8 Issues – PBS NewsHour, May 13, 2019).
Here’s What 2020 Long-shot Marianne Williamson’s Candidacy Says About the State of American Politics in the Age of Trump – Valerie Block (CNBC, June 24, 2019).
“He Will Eat a Half-truth Teller Alive”: Marianne Williamson Takes on Trump – Linda Feldmann (The Christian Science Monitor, June 12, 2019).
2020: Marianne Williamson on Big Truths and Moral Outrage – Jon Favreau (Crooked, May 31, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Wants to Be the People’s President – Karen Ocamb (The Blade, May 3, 2019).
2020 Candidate Marianne Williamson's Quest to “Heal America's Soul” – David Folkenflik (WBUR.org, April 14, 2019).
Marianne Williamson: Can a Presidential Bid Fueled by Love Transcend the Politics of Fear? – Margie Warrell (Forbes, January 29, 2019).
The Spiritual Politics of Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson – Jack Jenkins (Religion News Service, April 12, 2019).
UPDATES: Marianne Williamson's Vibe at Thursday's Debate Was All Love. People Couldn't Get Enough – Rachel E. Greespan (TIME, June 28, 2019).
Marianne Williamson’s “Girlfriend” Call to New Zealand and Her Other Best Moments in the Debates – Emily Stewart (Vox, June 28, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Gains Attention During Heated Democratic Debate With Unique Performance – Kendall Karson and Briana Stewart (ABC News, June 28, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Brings Love, Peace and a Distaste for “Plans” to the Debate Stage – Caitlin Oprysko (Politico, June 28, 2019).
Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson Want to Harness God and Love to Beat Trump – Peter Weber (The Week, June 28, 2019).
Marianne Williamson’s Weirdest, Most Wonderful Debate Moments – Matt Stieb (New York Magazine, June 27, 2019).
The Second Democratic Debate: Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson Won Google Search War – CBS News (June 28, 2018).
Last But (Maybe) Not Least: Marianne Williamson Scolds Rivals on Debate Stage – Ledyard King, Jason Lalljee and Sarah Elbeshbishi (USA Today, June 28, 2019).
From Harris and Biden's Face Off to Williamson's Words of Wisdom: Here's How the 2nd Night of Democratic Debate Unfolded – Kendall Karson, Elizabeth Thomas, and Quinn Scanlan (ABC News, June 28, 2019).
Here’s Who Won (and Who Lost) Thursday’s Democratic Presidential Debate – Carl Gibson (Grit Post, June 28, 2019).
In Praise of the Bizarre Charm of Marianne Williamson – Shannon Palus (Slate, June 28, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Put a Spell on Me – Matt McDonald (Spectator USA, June 28, 2019).
Ignore Marianne Williamson At Your Peril – Mary McNamara (Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Back in Iowa for First Time Since Democratic Debates – Gage Miskimen (Des Moines Register, June 29, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Finds New Fans in Iowa After Debate – Iowa Starting Line (June 29, 2019).
For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
• Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018
• Jacob Weindling: Quote of the Day – November 19, 2018
• Something to Think About – February 19, 2019
• Quotes(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019
• Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – March 2, 2019
• Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
• Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
• Pete Buttigieg: Quote of the Day – April 17, 2019
• Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
• Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
• Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
• Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
• Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics
• “A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
• Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – June 12, 2019
• Sometimes You Just Have to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands . . .