Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”

Part one of the second Democratic presidential debate takes place tonight in Detroit, Michigan. I'll be tuning-in mainly to hear what my top three candidates have to say. They are Marianne Williamson, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. All three will be sharing the debate stage this evening, along with Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney, and Steve Bullock.

Of my top three candidates, the one I'm most passionate and energized about supporting is author, spiritual teacher, and activist Marianne Williamson. Why? Well, she's a progressive in terms of her politics, and, in my mind that's what's needed to defeat both Trump and the rising tide of fascism we're witnessing today in the United States. This is because a genuine progressive mindset and platform recognizes that Trump isn't the problem but rather a symptom of the problem. Or, as Marianne put it in a recent interview with The Guardian, “Donald Trump did not create the problem. The problem created Donald Trump.”

Here's how Marianne identifies and describes this problem:

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 of people and the 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 do 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 the well-being of people and the planet. And our democracy itself can no longer be accurately described as a government of the people, by the people and for the people [but rather a government of the corporations by the corporations and for the corporations]. It’s only when we recognize the depth of this corruption 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. . . . I stand for an actual pattern disruption of the political and economic status quo.

Along with her progressive politics, I greatly appreciate Marianne's authenticity and gravitas, qualities sorely missing from the U.S. political scene. For instance, when recently asked who she thinks is the person, or people, to beat in tonight's debate, Marianne said the following.

I don’t think that way at all. That’s not the way I see any of this. I’m not running against anyone, I’m running with a lot of good, smart people. In a way I hope that we all do well. I think that it’s the best thing that could happen for America. There’s a higher goal here. And my impression is that all of us are very aware of what that is. We’re living at a critical moment in our democracy and something is going on here so much bigger than who beats who in a debate.

In short, I totally agree with Greg Korn who, in a recent YouTube comment, notes that “Marianne Williamson should not be underestimated. She has a rare ability to articulate the ethics of the left in an approachable, graceful, confident, and wildly intelligent way. I truly believe that she's the most intellectually and philosophically sophisticated candidate I've seen in my lifetime.”

Left: With my friend Kathleen and wearing my Marianne 2020 t-shirt. We're at the June 30, 2019, rally and march in Minneapolis against the Trump administration's rhetoric and policies on immigration, especially as they relate to the inhumane practice of separating families seeking asylum at the southern border and the placing of migrant children in over-crowded and unsanitary "detention centers" that have been described as concentration camps. (For a description of Marianne's involvement in a similar protest at the notorious the Homestead detention center in Florida, see the end section of this previous Wild Reed post.)


Ahead of tonight's Democratic presidential debate, here are eight informative and insightful interviews with Marianne Williamson from the last two months (June-July 2019). Accompanying these videos are excerpts from Kaitlin Johnstone's recent Medium article in which she shares her thoughts on Marianne and her presidential bid. Enjoy!

On PBS's Newshour, June 6, 2019 (7 mins) . . .

• As mocked as she is, Marianne Williamson would still make a better president than almost any Democrat running

Granted, given the platoon of plutocratic palace eunuchs that is the 2020 Democratic primary race, this isn’t much of a compliment. But it’s still worth noting that her overall platform is more progressive than most of her primary opponents, and that she appears to be far less invested in coddling the oligarchs than Biden, Warren, Harris, O’Rourke, Buttigieg, Booker, or almost any of the other twenty-something candidates. Only Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard have more to offer in terms of challenging existing power structures, and of course Mike Gravel (who Williamson helped fundraise for) if you feel like counting his interesting campaign.

I tend to ignore any self-proclaimed “progressive” if they don’t express a determination to overhaul the status quo of the US-centralized empire’s forever war, but Williamson has been promoting significant changes on that front, including the creation of a Department of Peace. In a debate that was remarkably scant on any foreign policy questions, Williamson was the only candidate to point out during the immigration section that many immigrants are fleeing their countries because of disastrous US foreign policy.

Williamson also has unusually awake views on things like race, slavery reparations, and putting children first in a real and tangible way which could do a lot to heal America’s deep psychological woundedness, something she seems to prioritize in all her political thinking.

Marianne Williamson on CNN, June 18, 2019 (14 mins) . . .

• She has the ability to capture America’s attention

Because of her willingness to talk about love and say things you’re just not meant to say on a presidential debate stage, Williamson was the most-searched candidate on Google after the last Democratic debates, with interest surging nearly every time she opened her mouth. You can tell me that a lot of that was the undesirable kind of attention, but if Donald Trump’s election taught us anything it’s that undesirable attention isn’t necessarily a thing for presidential candidates.

Williamson’s challenge is using that attention in a way that wins people over and captures their imaginations. If she can find a way to put out concise, forceful, positive messages that really light people up while she has America’s attention, it’s technically possible for her to turn interest due to novelty into actual support, especially if she can get better at taking advantage of her massive social media following. Unlike Gravel, Williamson is actually sincerely in this race to win it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she picks up a few tricks to help push toward that goal.

Williamson has a unique knack for getting herself into the bloodstream of the zeitgeist. There’s a very famous quote almost everyone has heard at some point that goes, “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

That quote appears everywhere from memes to inspirational posters to graduation speeches, and it’s often misattributed to Nelson Mandela. It’s actually Williamson, from a book she published in 1989.

The New Progressive Voice's analysis of Marianne Williamson's appearance on The View, June 20, 2019 (23 mins) . . .

• The “anti-science” smear is bullshit

Williamson has repeatedly denied that she is opposed to science, vaccinations and medical care, so the only way to continue to believe that she opposes those things is to decide that she’s a secret science-hater who is trying to get into the White House to wage a covert war on science. This would obviously be stupid. Williamson has said weird things in her weird guru-lady life to talk about the power of the mind, but if she’s saying in plain English that she supports modern medicine then there’s no reason to disbelieve her.

This is a common wedge issue against the political left in America that the establishment narrative managers are all too happy to use; they used it constantly on Jill Stein in the lead-up to the 2016 election, and she’s a bloody doctor. It works as a wedge issue because it turns the dreadlocks/patchouli lefties and the rationalism/atheism lefties against each other, thereby rendering them both impotent.

There’s no good reason to believe that Marianne Williamson is secretly plotting to become president so that she can steal your measles vaccines, though. Don’t be a doofy conspiracy theorist.

Marianne interviewed by CNN's Kate Bolduan, July 3, 2019 (6 mins) . . .

• Her underlying premise is absolutely correct

One of the things that sets Williamson apart from the other candidates is her insistence that the only thing which can really turn things around for America and for the world is a profound psychological change on a mass scale in the way human beings operate. Her stated goal is not just to change policies in a more progressive direction, but to help get people learning to relate to themselves in a more awake and truthful way.

Williamson is right to promote this goal. We’re never making it out of this mess if we keep operating and thinking in the way that we do. Only a profound shift in our relationship with thought will enable humanity to shake off the psychological chains of plutocratic propaganda and use the power of our numbers to force real change. Positive change isn’t coming by any other route, so it’s nice to see someone talking about the fundamental issue.

Whether Williamson is the person to facilitate such a shift is another matter. Generally if someone’s insights into the human condition have been sufficiently deep, they can talk about them like a normal human being without sounding all woo woo hippietastic. But maybe Williamson talks that way for her own reasons. In any case, it’s not like anyone else in US politics is speaking about inner work with any amount of profundity.

Marianne interviewed by CNN's Ana Cabrera, July 6, 2019 (10 mins) . . .

• She is a collaborator first, competitor second

When Williamson used her platform to send her supporters to help her opponent, the very naughty octogenarian Mike Gravel, reach his target fundraising numbers, I was infuriated. Infuriated because I had cancelled her in my mind because of her position on Julian Assange, and then she goes and does something awesome like that. In her policy reviews on her page she plugs another opponent Andrew Yang, even going so far to link to his on a Universal Basic Income. She also plugs two other books on economics for good measure [Yang’s The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income is Our Future and Robert Friedman’s book about the Universal Savings Program, A Few Thousand Dollars: Sparking Prosperity for Everyone]. A strong feature of Williamson’s campaign is not just to take solid ideas and promise to implement them, but to bring the people who have been pushing those ideas along with her. She may have some blind spots when it comes to sovereignty and boundaries, but she sure knows how to collaborate in an effortlessly egoless way.

On Anderson Cooper 360, July 17, 2019 (7 mins) . . .

• She has self-reflection

[For some] she’s endlessly mockable, but Williamson knows how to laugh at herself, which is an astoundingly rare characteristic for someone with her reach, ambitions, and audience. Rather than react to the barbs with pursed-lips and aggression, she has a light way of dancing with the attention that ameliorates its effect.

She is a deep thinker that is humble enough to change her mind when presented with evidence, but she doesn’t back down easily either. In politics, where nobody ever says sorry and changing stances is seen as a weakness, modelling her brand of agility and self-reflection is a blast of much needed fresh air. Of course, manipulators will use any apologies as a weapon against you, so you need to only apologise for things you have actually done and wish to change. Most of us use only defense or use only submission. She seems comfortable with both.

On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, July 22, 2019 (8 mins) . . .

• At least she’s interesting

Is she perfect? No. Do I think she’s got a chance of being president? Stranger things have happened. But I’m glad she’s up there, right up in the guts of the establishment politics making them all work a bit harder. I love that they feel like they need to attack her right now, but she could go further.

If I ever got her attention, there’s a bunch of tweaks I think Williamson could make. For example, her Twitter game is sub-optimal for what it could be with the follower size she has, because she doesn’t make the kind of large, bold statements that could blow out a giant hole in the Overton window. With the following she has she could easily get people talking, but she has to give them something to talk about.

Williamson talks about “fear versus love” a lot, presumably a hangover from her A Course In Miracles days, when I think “life versus death” is a much more useful dichotomy for what we’re actually looking at today. When the status quo’s only solution to every problem is to apply the salve of death, in my view she wants to strongly put the case for applying healing and applying life in terms that people can understand. Whether it be the homeless crisis, healthcare, foreign policy etc, the only solutions we are being offered right now are predicated on lots of people dying so they’re not a problem anymore. It’s okay to fear that, and loving that isn’t going to fix it. Put the case for life, Marianne. That’s what I’d say.

But whatever, in any case, I’m glad she’s a thing. The presidential race is much healthier because of her.

Caitlin Johnstone
July 24, 2019

On Face the Nation, July 28, 2019 (7 mins) . . .

Marianne on MSNBC's Weekends with Alex Witt,
July 28, 2019

Related Off-site Links:
Author Marianne Williamson on 2020 Run: “The Best Thing I Can Do Is Be Myself” – Miranda Bryant (The Guardian, July 27, 2019).
When Everyone Else Stepped Back, Marianne Williamson Stepped Forward – David Kessler (Medium, July 26, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Polling Ahead Of Beto O’ Rourke, Corey Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand in New Hampshire – Ashe Schow (The Daily Wire, July 16, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Wants to Win the Presidency With the Power of Love and Miracles – Jesse Walker (Reason, July 13, 2019).
Marianne Williamson's “Evangelion” Meme Uses Anime to Explain 2020 Candidate's Holistic Politics – Andrew Whalen (Newsweek, July 10, 2019).
The Meaning of Marianne WilliamsonThe New York Times (July 9, 2019).
Williamson Says Election About “the Love of Democracy” – Karen Dandurant (Sea Coast Online, July 6, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Is Just What the Democratic Party Needs – Tyler Cowen (Pioneer Press, July 5, 2019).
Vogue Writer Explains Why 2020 Democratic Candidate Marianne Williamson Was Snubbed From Photo – CNN (July 4, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Finds New Fans in Iowa After [First Democratic Presidential] Debate – Jake Bullington and Pat Rynard (Iowa Starting Line, June 29, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Back in Iowa for First Time Since [First] Democratic Debate – Gage Miskimen (Des Moines Register, June 29, 2019).
The Bizarre Charm of Marianne Williamson – Shannon Palus (Slate, June 28, 2019).
Marianne Williamson and the Rise of “Spiritual But Not Religious” – Matthew Zeitlin (Vox, June 28, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Sums Up Trump's Victory and Highlights Issue for Democrats – Faris Bseiso and Gregory Krieg (CNN, 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 “Girlfriend” Call to New Zealand and Her Other Best Moments in the [First] Debate – Emily Stewart (Vox, June 28, 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 . . .
Marianne Williamson Plans on Sharing Some “Big Truths” on Tonight's Debate Stage
Pete Buttigieg: Quote of the Day – June 27, 2019
Friar André Maria: Quote of the Day – June 28, 2019
Marianne Williamson: “Today Is a Day of Shame”
Brian Geving: Quote of the Day – July 20, 2019


Mary Lynn Murphy said...

She was outstanding last night. Gutsy, actually. I am very glad her voice and her message are part of this race.

John Webster said...

Marianne Williamson is vital to the conversation as to what it means to be a member of the Democratic party.