Saturday, November 07, 2020

“As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”

Marianne Williamson on the meaning of
the 2020 general election for the Democratic party
– and the task for progressives in a Biden era.

Earlier today, Joe Biden was declared the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election. He will be the next president of the United States, and Kamala Harris the next Vice-President of the United States, beginning January 20, 2021.

Although I'm greatly relieved that the racist and fascist Donald Trump has been defeated (albeit in a disheartenedly narrow way), I'm also very aware that, as progressives, we now have a monumental task before us. We have to work to bring about a fundamental course correction of the political and economic system of the United States so that in four or eight years time we’re not contending again with Trump or with the rise of another authoritarian populist (perhaps even Donald Trump Jr.). This means challenging and transforming the centrist, neoliberal agenda of the Democratic party and rebuilding our political system so that it is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.

In recent decades this system has sadly de-volved into one that is much more of, by, and for the short-term profits of corporations, with little or no regard to the well-being of individuals, communities or the environment. That has to change, and a Biden win has brought us a step or two back from the brink so that we can indeed facilitate and embody this change, this transformation.

Author, activist, and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has long advocated for this much-needed transformation, one that involves the recognition of the need for both individual and societal healing. Throughout his campaign and in his acceptance speech tonight, Joe Biden has eloquently and sincerely spoken of “healing the soul of America,” but Marianne literally wrote the book on that decades ago. (Her most recent book serves as a “handbook for a new American revolution,” one based on a “politics of love.”) Accordingly, Marianne recognizes that a Biden win is itself not a healing but rather a reprieve, and that this needs to be made clear to Biden and his incoming administration.

On Wednesday, before Biden was officially declared the winner yet looking certain to prevail, Marianne was a guest on The Zero Hour with Richard “RJ” Eskow. As is her way, she did some “radical truth-telling,” especially in terms of the role that progressives (i.e., people who recognize the absolute necessity for a fundamental course-correction and transformation of our political and economic system) can and should play within – and in relation to – a Biden administration, one that will most likely be populated by people dedicated to re-establishing the pre-Trump status quo. As a progressive, Marianne recognizes that this would be a disaster, as it was this neoliberal status quo that in many ways helped pave the way for the rise of Trump.

Following is part of what Marianne said about this and other related issues when interviewed three days ago on The Zero Hour.

This election is a repudiation of both parties. We have a neo-fascist who is more like Mussolini than he is like Lincoln, and who has supervised the death of a quarter-million Americans. If all [Biden] can do is win by a razor-thin margin against him, [he’s] in trouble. And if we also look at the House races and the Senate races, the Democratic party did not do well.

So this is a real good moment to flash the mirror in front of the Democratic party. And I like to believe that there are some sober, intelligent neoliberals, moderates, even perhaps Democratic corporatists who still are not stupid, who will certainly realize that this is not a time for self-congratulations or giddiness. This is a time to realize that this election is as much the sounding of an alarm as it is a time for self-congratulations and “let’s all break out the champagne flutes.” And I think also that we can’t wait to have that conversation, because people will be lining up to be the next Trump in Congressional and Senate races all around the country. This will begin in two weeks.

Beginnings are extremely important. If Joe Biden strides into the White House, appointing all these corporatists as though he’s trying to impress John Kasich more than he’s trying to include progressives; if we get a strong message that, no, Bernie will not be part of the administration; no, Elizabeth will not be part of the administration, and if they dare to blame all that on Mitch McConnell rather than their own choices, then, God help us, we will be back here. And I don't think we can stress this too loudly.

[What would I say to Joe Biden?] You know, Joe is a nice man. I don’t know him well but every time I met him on the campaign he was very kind, very respectful. I really love his wife. But our political conversations have to go so far beyond who’s “nice” and who’s not “nice.” George Bush was “nice.” Laura was “nice.” And how many people died in Iraq? We have to go beyond who’s “nice.” This has to be a much deeper conversation than that.

Bernie Sanders said it correctly on television recently. He said, progressives have proven themselves; they deserve a seat at the table in [a Biden] administration. And anyone who is going to say to Joe Biden now, We don’t need the progressives, we won without them, obviously that’s untrue. He barely squeaked by, and he could not have won without the progressive vote. And this time I don’t think the progressives are just going to be “good kids” and take it. First of all, people are nor enamored of Joe the way they were enamored by Barack Obama . . . and also, I believe, with the formation of things like the People’s Party, there will be created this time a sense of some place else where progressives can go. You know, when you look at Wisconsin, when you look at Michigan, and you look at some of these other very, very close races, and you look where a third party got 1%, and you look at the fact that the 1% is exactly what we wouldn’ve needed to guarantee that Biden won, you cannot mess with that because progressives have had it this time. So that’s what I would say, in the kindest way possible, to Joe Biden.

Because he will be striding back into the White House with all the old Clinton and Obama gang . . . just so glad to be back in the building. Plus he will be bringing along with him what I call the political Ken dolls, who are just chomping at the bit to stand in line for their place in the neoliberal sun. He will be so surrounded by their voices that I think it’s extremely important that voices of serious progressives are around him to say, Don’t go down that path of ignoring us again, Joe. this will be disasterous for the Democratic party and none of us want that to happen.

[Biden does, however, have] the value of age. You know, they say you get more conservative as you get older. I don’t find that to be true. What the hell!? What's left? He’s not going to run again. He may as well do what he really thinks is right. And you know, Biden is known for having said during the Obama years that he felt Obama was too timid. So I believe that Biden’s age is on our side here; that he might be willing to say, You know what? There’s not going to be a future political journey for me. This is it. So there’s a real good chance he’s going to say, To hell with it! I’m going to do what’s in my heart and what I believe is best for America.

And our job is to lobby him in that direction.

Following is the full 30-minute interview.

UPDATE: The day after I shared this post, Marianne Williamson shared many of the thoughts and insights she expressed in her November 4 Zero Hour interview in her regular Newsweek column. She entitled her November 8 column, “A Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party.” To read it, click here.

NEXT: Republicans Don’t Care
About American Democracy

Related Off-site Links:
Marianne Williamson Discusses America’s “Soulless Ethos”The Hill (October 30, 2020).
What Democrats Should Learn From the Spate of Socialist Wins on Election Day – Mindy Isser (In These Times, November 5, 2020)
Joe Scarborough Calls Election “Absolute Repudiation” of Dem “Brand” Despite Likely Biden Win – Joseph A. Wulfsohn (Fox News, November 6, 2020).
As Centrist House Democrats Attack Medicare for All, Fox News Poll Shows 72% of Voters Want “Government-Run Healthcare Plan” – Kenny Stancil (Common Dreams, November 6, 2020)
“They Had One Job and They Blew It”: Progressives Fire Back as Centrist Democrats in House Blame Left for Election Failures – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, November 6, 2020).
America’s Next Authoritarian Will Be Much More Competent – Zeynep Tufekci (The Atlantic, November 6, 2020).
Resisting the “Moderate” Reaction – Peter Bloom (Common Dreams, November 6, 2020).
Our Work Is Just Beginning – Rebecca Gordon ( via Common Dreams, November 6, 2020).
Progressives Made Trump’s Defeat Possible. Now It's Time to Challenge Biden and Other Corporate Democrats – Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, November 6, 2020).
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Dismisses Centrist Attempts to Blame Left for Dem Losses, Calling on Party to Listen to Progressive Demands – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, November 7, 2020).
Noam Chomsky: Voting Is Not the End of Our Work. It’s Only the Beginning – C.J. Polychroniou (TruthOut, November 7, 2020).
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Biden’s Win, House Losses, and What’s Next for the Left – Astead W. Herndon (The New York Times, November 7, 2020).

UPDATES: The Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party – Marianne Williamson (Newsweek, November 8, 2020).
We Were Told Joe Biden Was the “Safe Choice.” But It Was Risky to Offer So Little – Naomi Klein (The Guardian, November 8, 2020).
How Can Biden Heal America When Trump Doesn’t Want It Healed? – Robert Reich (The Guardian, November 8, 2020).
We Were Right to Celebrate Trump’s Defeat. Now We’ll Have to Stay in the Streets for the Next Four Years – Eric Blanc (Jacobin, November 8, 2020).
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ends Truce by Warning “Incompetent” Democratic Party – Tom McCarthy (The Guardian, November 8, 2020).
Cornel West Explains His Vote for “Neoliberal Disaster” Biden – Tori Sousa (The Daily Pennsylvanian, November 8, 2020).
Ro Khanna: Progressives Helped Biden Win. We Can’t Stop Push for Green New Deal and Medicare for AllDemocracy Now! (November 9, 2020).
Apart From Defeating Trump, Why Did the Democrats Have Such a Bad Election Day? – Ralph Nader (CounterPunch, November 9, 2020).
Will Biden’s Presidency Be a Wasted One? – Mary Harris (Slate, November 9, 2020).
Imperialism in Pumps – Caitlin Johnstone (Consortium News, November 17, 2020).
Progressives Demand “Corporate-Free Cabinet” as Biden Taps Pharma and Fossil Fuel Allies for Top JobsDemocracy Now! (November 19, 2020).
Dear Joe Biden: Are You Kidding Me? – Erin Brockovich (The Guardian, November 19, 2020).
“I Hope President Biden Seizes This Opportunity” – Ilhan Omar (The Nation, November 20, 2020).
Peace Groups Critique Biden's Director of National Intelligence Pick Over Links to Drones, Torture, and Mass Surveillance – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, November 23, 2020).
The Collective Suicide of the Liberal Class – Chris Hedges (, December 7, 2020).
Biden Officially Reaches 270 Electoral College Votes, Further Affirming Election Win – Ursula Perano (Axios News, December 14, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
We Cannot Allow a Biden Win to Mean a Return to “Brunch Liberalism”
Eight Leading Progressive Voices on Why They’re Voting for Biden
Deep Gratitude
Progressive Perspectives on the Biden-Harris Ticket
Eight Leading Progressive Voices on Why They’re Voting for Biden
Election Eve Thoughts
Election Day USA, 2020
“Now Is the Time to Reaffirm Our Belief in Democracy”
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson

Opening image: Doug Emhoff, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden after Joe Biden's speech to the nation in Wilmington, Del., on Saturday, November 7, 2020 (Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP)

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