Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign

She may not have made the September or October debates, but Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is still very much in the race.

Last week, for instance, her campaign announced that she had raised $3 million in the third quarter, a haul that, as CNN reports, “is a significant boost from the $1.5 million Williamson raised respectively in both the first and second quarters of 2019.” Furthermore, “Williamson's ability to double her third quarter haul during a three-month period where it is notoriously difficult to raise money, signals she may have the fundraising base to sustain a longer run.” . . . Yes! And I'm happy and honored to be part of that fundraising base! Indeed, Marianne remains the presidential candidate about whom I feel most excited and energized.

Another hopeful sign of the vitality of Marianne's 2020 presidential campaign is that in a field of 19 remaining Democratic candidates, Marianne registered sixth place in the national Monmouth Poll released on October 2. This despite being frequently (and disparagingly) labeled an “outsider” and a “long-shot,” kept from the third debate, and smeared with predictable stereotypes dished out by the corporate mainstream media.

Speaking of the mainstream media and its stereotypes, I don't know who created the meme below but it gave me a much-needed chuckle, especially after Saturday Night Live's recent skit involving “Marianne” (Chloe Fineman, left).

Of course, the real Marianne has never talked about crystals, essential oils, yoni eggs, magic, or the astral plane. I guess it's easier to make fun of an erroneous caricature than to actually acknowledge and find reality-based humor in the depth and substance of her message and/or the establishment's efforts to marginalize this message.

Just how serious and informed is Marianne Williamson's message? Well, you be the judge by checking out the following video compilation of her "best moments" in the second Democratic candidates' debate back in July. (These two videos are followed by a compilation of comments excerpted from articles and op-eds generated by her debate performance.)

[Williamson] used her limited time on the microphone to maximum effect, attracting attention for meaningful answers on race and Democratic ideology. She was the top-searched candidate of the night, according to Google Trends, besting Sanders and Warren. She drew cheers when she wondered aloud why some of her rivals “seem to think there’s something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people.” And she invoked language unusual for a political candidate when, referring to the legacy of slavery and racism, she vibrated her hands in the air and warned of “an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface, an emotional turbulence that only reparations will heal.”

– Holly Bailey
Excerpted from “Marianne Williamson
Had a Big Night in the Democratic Debate

The Washington Post
July 31, 2019

Marianne Williamson has been a surprisingly valuable voice in the 2019 Democratic presidential debates. She’s been radical in the real meaning of the word, calling on America to treat not just our tangle of symptoms but the underlying diseases. Even better, she understands that high-level political leadership is not about whose policies will elicit the best graphs from the Congressional Budget Office but rather the murky alchemy of human emotion. And she’s clearly connecting, since on Tuesday night she was the most searched candidate on Google in 49 states.

This is all bad news.

The problem is not what Williamson, the author of four bestselling books, is saying. It’s not even that she’s the person saying it. It’s that she was the only Democrat on the stage saying it – which suggests America’s problems have grown so large we can’t face them.

. . . [T]he most startling part of Williamson’s performance was her explanation on Tuesday of her support for reparations for slavery. CNN’s Don Lemon spoke of reparations as “financial assistance.” No, she responded, this was wrong: Reparations would not be financial assistance, but “payment of a debt that is owed.” And the point of reparations is not just money, but ending the price we pay for avoiding reality. “There is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface, an emotional turbulence,” she said, but “people heal when there’s some deep truth-telling.”

It was here that Williamson demonstrated most clearly that she understands what standard-issue elected Democrats don’t: that politics isn’t about what we call “politics.” It’s not ultimately about taxes, or budgets, or immigration, or regulations. It’s about hope and fear, and love and hate.

Donald Trump definitely knows this – in fact, it may be the only thing he knows about politics. And it was enough to get him elected president. He may not understand what she means when she says that “only love” can beat him in 2020, but he surely intuitively understands that to win he needs to nurture the opposite, what Williamson called the “dark psychic force of collectivized hatred.”

Across Twitter, there was a bit of a two-step reaction. First, “Hahaha, the new age guru just used the phrase 'dark psychic force.'” Then, second, “Wait, there’s something to what she just said.” . . . It is absolutely, positively crystal clear that Trump builds much of his appeal with his base on his own rage and fury. He stokes anger and then basks in the chants and cheers. No one can look at Trump and argue that he is trying to bring Americans together. . . . Williamson’s moment may have been the most important of the entire debate [because] she tapped into something real. There is, in fact, something dark lurking in American civil society, and all the wonks and all the plans in either party won’t purge that darkness so long as stoking partisan fury is seen as the most expedient path to power.

– David French
Excerpted from “The Meaning of the Marianne Williamson Moment
National Review
July 31, 2019

In Tuesday’s Democratic debate, Marianne Williamson, better than anyone on the stage, captured the number one issue that has been sabotaging democracy in America for decades, when she said: “The issue of gun safety, of course, is the NRA has us in a chokehold, but so do the pharmaceutical companies, so do the health insurance companies, so do the fossil fuel companies, and so do the defense contractors. And none of this will change until we either pass a constitutional amendment or pass legislation that establishes public funding for federal campaigns.”

CNN’s pundits asked questions that were designed to generate heat at the expense of shedding light. But Williamson was having none of it. She dodged the gotcha questions and reframed the narrowly framed single-issue questions to address the systemic problem facing America today. To be fair, Sanders and Warren did, too, and have been for some time, but Williamson was relentless in her focus and did it with a magnanimity that kept the focus on the issue of money in politics, not the candidates who won’t admit it’s the main problem.

Yes, healthcare is important, and yes, income inequality is important, and yes immigration is important, and yes, gun violence is important, and certainly climate change – a truly existential threat – is important.

And the fact that we have a narcissistic, racist incompetent as President, and that no one in his party will stand up to him is a problem. But at the end of the day, Ms. Williamson is right – these are symptoms. Money in politics is the real impediment to solving any of the problems we are facing, including the erosion of our system of government.

– John Atcheson
Excerpted from “Moscow Mitch and Yada, Yada, Yada:
Progressives Need to Do a Better Job at Messaging

Common Dreams
August 2, 2019

Again and again, this impossibly youthful 67-year-old broke through with a cut-the-crap sensibility. She kept pushing her higher-profile competitors to think, and talk, in deeper perspective and sweeping context. . . . [Marianne Williamson] seemed to grasp what others on the stage didn’t as they argued over small differences. As Trump proved in 2016, voters don’t much care about 10-point policy plans – what Williamson calls “wonkiness” – nor even about whether a politician’s promises are realistic. They like candidates who speak plainly and passionately. . . . [She is right about many things including] one big thing, which she returned to in the closing moments of the debate. "Our problem is not just that we need to defeat Donald Trump," she said. “We need a plan to solve institutionalized hatred, collectivized hatred and white nationalism. And in order to do that, we need more than political insider game and wonkiness and intellectual argument.” Williamson will not be the Democratic nominee. But hopefully the one who will be is taking note.

– Dana Milbank
Excerpted from “Marianne Williamson Won’t Be President.
But Her 2020 Competitors Should Take Note

The Washington Post
July 30, 2019

Political observers seemed stunned to hear best-selling author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson speaking so eloquently on issues near and dear to the average Democratic voter’s heart. They shouldn’t have been. A quick visit to her website or a Google search could have disabused them of the idea that she’s a dingbat interloper in the Democratic race. But why do research when you can snark and mock instead? Full disclosure: Williamson is a friend, so I have been well aware of her brilliant mind, well-honed worldview and deep thinking around the most important issues we face as a nation. I’ve been frustrated watching her be denigrated and caricatured based on a profound ignorance of her experience and abilities.

– Kirsten Powers
Excerpted from “Don't Mock Marianne Williamson,
Democrats Need Her Spiritual Politics in Dark Trump Era

USA Today
July 31, 2019

Marianne Williamson’s draw is her uncanny ability to drive straight to the spiritual heart of the issues at hand. She not only lays out the expected progressive ideology but goes further, housing it in a metaphysical context. While the Left of recent years has claimed a position of moral authority on the political issues of the day, Williamson actually provides something of an underlying framework for this demand. As her campaign’s tagline, “Turning Love into a Political Force,” exhibits, Williamson seeks to redefine why we have government in the first place. Her campaign has demanded “a politics that goes much deeper, . . . a politics that speaks to the heart.” Williamson sees politics as a platform to heal the psyches of the American people. For her, politics isn’t [primarily] about policy, it’s about an ongoing battle between wisdom and fear.

– Kayla Bartsch
Excerpted from “Marianne Williamson Offers
Priestly Wisdom for a Nation Adrift – Seriously

National Review via
August 12, 2019

[T]he unsung heroes of [the first two debates] were the long shots new to politics completely, unschooled in the cautious contours of campaign rhetoric. They were full of crazy ideas that were just this-side-of-sane enough to get people talking – and a few sane ideas that are spoken so infrequently in politics that they only sound crazy. So as we await the inevitable shrinking of the field, let’s raise a glass to Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, and that rarest of campaign artifacts: the unvarnished truth.

Williamson . . . [an] author with the speaking cadence of Jane Fonda in a 1960s B-movie, and was the most Googled candidate from Tuesday night’s debate, when she broke up the progressives-versus-moderates fight with interjections about reparations, a conceptual critique of the health care system and a killer line about the Flint water crisis.

. . . Williamson served up [the night's] more cogent critique, saying Democrats were foolish to think that detailed policy debates would work against a force as toxic and fact-challenged as Donald Trump.

“If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country,” she said near the end of Tuesday’s debate, “then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”

For the most part, she was right. What’s going to beat Trump is not any particular set of 17-point plans. It’s a combination of vision and charisma, the ability to sell a broad idea of where the country is and where it needs to go. Four years ago, an unschooled, unqualified, unapologetic candidate – speaking an emotional truth that spoke to certain crowds – rode that philosophy straight to the White House.

– Joanna Weiss
Excerpted from “The Value Of Fringe Candidates
August 1, 2019

Sneer if you will, but a call for a little spiritual healing is in order in the unspiritual, racist, hate-filled era of Donald Trump. . . . Debates are about the visceral, and Williamson has that down. Not since Admiral James Stockdale, a fan of the Stoic philosophers, opened the vice presidential debate in 1992 by asking “Who am I, why am I here?” has there been a line as arresting as this one from the philosopher of love: “If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”

– Maureen Dowd
Quoted in “Winners and Losers of the Democratic Debate
The New York Times
July 31, 2019

Aside from Harris’ strong performance, Pete’s disarming humility and Biden’s slow-rolling flameout, I found Marianne Williamson to be one of the most intriguing people on the stage. When the subject of the concentration camps at the border was raised, Williamson boldly went to one of the core issues of the crisis. “I haven’t heard anybody on this stage who has talked about American foreign policy in Latin America,” she said, “and how we might have in the last few decades contributed to something being more helpful.”

It was a necessary shout-out to a facet of U.S. foreign policy that gets short shrift because it is uncomfortable for the many politicians of both parties who have long supported it. To no small degree, U.S. actions in Central and South America are a reason why so many migrants have been flooding north, and Williamson damn well said it out loud.

Having Marianne Williamson on the stage was like having the internet participate in the debate. That is not an insult; the internet is my office, and it was important to have someone up there willing to say the kind of things that get left out, even by candidates like Sanders and Warren. A friend noted that most run-of-the-mill politicians focus on problems in the branches, while Williamson has a way of looking at the roots. She was a welcome and refreshing presence . . . and I hope she stays in the race for a while.

– William Rivers Pitt
Quoted in “Joe Biden and Chuck Todd
Lose the Second Democratic Debate

June 28, 2019

There is a numinous sense in which Marianne Williamson “won” this debate. She was compelling on health care and education, and dazzling on “institutionalized hatred.” As a wonk, I don't love Ms. Williamson's anti-wonk agenda. She's right, though: we're useless against the “dark psychic force.” But I can feel it. Can't you?

– Will Wilkinson
Quoted in “Winners and Losers of the Democratic Debate
The New York Times
July 31, 2019


I close with Marianne's September 19 C-SPAN interview and the text (with added images and links) of her October 11 e-mail to supporters of her presidential campaign. Enjoy!

Many voters say “I just want someone who can win!”

I understand that, and it’s why I’m running. A politics of love is the BEST possible politics to defeat a politics of fear.

In 2016, people were angry. But that’s not the dominant emotional tenor of the American voter in 2019. Today, people are exhausted. They aren’t looking for a fight now; they’re looking for inspiration.

We need a candidate who can counter the president’s outrageously dangerous lies with outrageously exciting truths. His campaign in 2020 will be laced with fear, but mine will be stronger than his because it’s a politics laced with love.

What will win the presidency in 2020 is the ability to create a new political coalition – based not on people’s anger but on people’s conscience. Not on people’s rage, but on people’s desire to believe once again in the promise of America.

And we will give it to them.

• We’ll make every school in America a palace of learning, culture, and the arts.

• We'll make a just transition from a dirty economy to a clean economy, reversing climate change and leaving a healthier planet for our children.

• We'll move from a war economy to a peace economy, and restore moral authority to American foreign policy.

• We'll pay reparations for slavery and repair our relationship with Native Americans.

• We'll massively infuse the life of the average American with economic hope and opportunity.

• We'll establish a Department of Children and Youth, and a Department of Peace.

• We'll provide universal health care.

• We'll base every public policy on one core principle: that it should help people thrive.

That is our message, and it is why we will win.

– Marianne Williamson
October 11, 2019

Related Off-site Links
2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson in Conversation with Jonathan Capehart92nd St. Y via YouTube (September 19, 2019).
Marianne Williamson is the New Gladiator – CK Sanders (Medium, September 17, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Goes Beyond the Surface – Sable Knapp (Bleeding Heartland, September 14, 2019).
Marianne Williamson on How to Bring Consciousness to PoliticsMindValley via YouTube (May 9, 2019).
Marianne Williamson on Climate, Respecting the Right, and the Blind Spots of the Elite Media – Olivia Nuzzi (New York Magazine, September 24, 2019).
Marianne Williamson on Climate Change – The Greatest Moral Challenge of Our GenerationMarianne2020 via YouTube (September 25, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Calls for Impeachment Inquiry – Zack Budryk (The Hill, September 24, 2019).
The Gospel According to Marianne Williamson – Taffy Brodesser-Akner (The New York Times via, September 3, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Discusses Stress of Campaign with Voters in “Candidate Café” – Adam Sexton (WMUR 9, October 7, 2019).
Marianne 2020 – The official Marianne Williamson for President website.

UPDATES: Tonight's Debate and the Power of the People – Marianne Williamson (Marianne 2020, October 15, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Isn't on the Debate Stage But Reminded People She's Still Running – Nicholas Wu (USA Today, October 15, 2019).
We May Never See Marianne Williamson on a Debate Stage Again. That's a Pity – Jonathan Capeheart (The Washington Post, October 15, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Files for, Predicts She’ll Win, First-in-Nation Primary – John DiStaso (WMUR 9, November 4, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About (and Embody!)
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson on Amanpour and Company, 9/21/19
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson on The Breakfast Club, 8/29/19
“This Woman Is Going to Win the Nomination”: Matt Taibbi on Marianne Williamson in Iowa
Marianne Williamson On What It Will Take to Defeat Donald Trump
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Friar André Maria: Quote of the Day – June 28, 2019
Marianne Williamson Plans on Sharing Some “Big Truths” on Tonight's Debate Stage
Sometimes You Just Have to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands . . .
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – August 29, 2017

Opening image: Bethany Mollenkof for The New York Times

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