Sanders Jett-Folk | United States
Marianne Williamson’s campaign for President has already reached the national stage, both bewildering and enticing voters across the nation. Her political background is in activism, though her true claim to fame is writing self-help books. Yet, Williamson believes she has what it takes to be the 46th President of the United States. But does she have a chance at defeating the Democratic establishment and Donald Trump?
From Author to Activist to Presidential Candidate
Born in Houston, Texas, Williamson attended Pomona College, a liberal arts school. She dropped out in her junior year to become a cabaret singer.
She traveled around the country as a lecturer before settling down and publishing her first book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles in 1992. The book quickly reached The New York Times bestsellers list and led to appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and ABC’s news show 20/20.
Five years later, Williamson published a book that stretched deeper into a political view of America. Titled Healing the Soul of America, she stated in the book that “It is a task of our generation to recreate the American politeia, to awaken from our culture of distraction and re-engage the process of democracy with soulfulness and hope.”
Throughout the book, she outlines concepts similar to what she proposes in her Presidential campaign: using positivity, spiritualism, and love to overcome the turmoil of the American political climate.
She also adamantly pursues activism. She founded Los Angeles and Manhattan Centers for Living during the HIV/AIDS crisis to provide support to individuals affected by the disease. In 1989, she created the Angel Food Project. The project cooks and delivers 12,000 meals a week for free to families affected by life-threatening illnesses. The organization is still active and served its 11 millionth meal in 2017.
In 2014, Williamson ran for a Congressional seat in California as an independent. According to her campaign website, her core message to voters was that “humanitarian values should replace economic values as the ordering principle of our civilization.” She had high profile endorsements from Representatives, former Governors, and pundits. Despite this, she came in fourth with 13.2% of the vote in the jungle primary.
A Campaign Like Some Others
Right off the bat, Williamson aligns herself with the progressive ideas that are prevalent among much of the Democratic field. Medicare for All, $15 an hour minimum wage, Green New Deal, you name it.
She is not without original ideas, however. One of her signature campaign promises is to set aside somewhere between $200-500 billion in reparations for slavery, an idea which has previously been subject to contentious debate. According to her campaign website, this would be “disbursed over a period of twenty years” and handled by “an esteemed council of African-American leaders” who “would determine the educational and economic projects to which the money would be given.”
Her campaign is not without media criticism. Soon before the Democratic debates, The Daily Beast referred to her as the potential “anti-vax President?” This came after she stated that mandatory vaccinations are “Orwellian”. She claims that the vaccine debate is “no different than the abortion debate.” However, she later stated in a statement to The Daily Beast that she “misspoke” and that “public safety must be carefully balanced with the right of individuals to make their own decisions.”
Williamson cruised onto the debate stage, hitting both of the Democratic National Committee’s requirements for polling and grassroots fundraising. Some supposedly higher-profile candidates, such as Representative Seth Moulton and Mayor Wayne Messam, were unable to hit either of the two thresholds.
During the debate, Williamson shared the stage with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and many other candidates. Williamson, who needed to get her thoughts out to America, did not speak at all until nearly half an hour into the debate. After the debate on her Twitter, she claimed that her mic was turned off at several points when she wanted to jump in and speak. This mirrored a similar statement made by entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who received the lowest speaking time during the debate.
Williamson in the Debate
When she did speak, her statements seemed all over the place. When asked what foreign nation she would speak to first as President would be, she gave a rather off-putting answer:
My first call is to the prime minister of New Zealand, who said that her goal is to make New Zealand the place where it’s the best place in the world for a child to grow up. And I would tell her, ‘Girlfriend, you are so wrong.’ Because the United States of America is going to be the best place in the world for a child to grow up.
When asked about her plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs, she replied “I’ll tell you one thing, it’s really nice if we’ve got all these plans, but if you think we’re going to beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you’ve got another thing coming.” Being that a Presidential candidate is supposed to have plans to better the country that they hope to lead, this did not come off as a strong answer.
After the debate, a user commenting on her Instagram expressed their disdain with that specific statement. Williamson replied “I know that it sounded that way and I deeply regret it. I do have policies and I do have plans.” She said that her statement was driven by her frustration about the candidates “not having a larger conversation.” She ended her response by admitting her debate performance was unsatisfactory. “I know my performance was not very good last night,” she said.
What’s Next for Williamson’s Campaign?
Did the debate, with all of its slip-ups and poor word choices, hurt Williamson’s candidacy? Not a chance.
Williamson was the single most Google-searched candidate on the night of the debate. Also, Twitter was lit up with positive comments about Williamson’s “psychic warfare” against Trump and her apparent ability to cast magical spells. So, at least to the young people of social media, her debate performance was no disaster. She was a beam of positivity, the physical manifestation of her 13 self-help books.
Does America need a magician? Perhaps. Does America need a spiritual leader? Maybe. Does America need someone outside of the political establishment to set the country back on track? Depends on who you ask. If you ask the young people of America, Marianne Williamson might be all of that and much more. She has already outperformed several Representatives, Mayors, and Senators in the polls. One thing is for sure; she is not going away any time soon. Marianne Williamson might just be the dark horse candidate that 2020 deserves.
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