- Marianne Williamson, a motivational speaker, New York Times best-selling author, and one-time congressional candidate with a substantial following, announced her candidacy for president in January.
- Williamson, 66, is the 10th Democratic candidate to jump into the race. She began speaking and writing self-help books rooted in New Age spirituality in Los Angeles in the 1980s.
- She appeared on the stage for the first round of Democratic debates, and her unique and sometimes confusing answers to policy questions made her the subject of endless online jokes and memes.
- Here’s everything you need to know about Williamson’s life, career, and political aspirations.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Marianne Williamson, a motivational speaker, New York Times best-selling author, and one-time congressional candidate with a substantial following raised eyebrows and became the subject of endless jokes and memes with her very unique – and sometimes confusing – answers to policy questions.
At multiple points during the debate, Williamson rejected the notion that detailed policy plans would help Democrats defeat President Donald Trump, saying in her closing statement: “He’s not going to be beaten by someone with plans,” and addressing Trump directly, added, “you’ve harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out… I’m going to harness love for political purposes.”
Williamson, the 10th Democratic candidate to jump into the race in January 2019, began speaking and writing self-help books rooted in New Age spirituality in Los Angeles in the 1980s.
A 1992 appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show helped launch her into Hollywood’s elite class as the preferred spiritual guide for many in the entertainment world.
Williamson has been involved in social justice advocacy for much of her life, creating two organisations to support HIV and AIDS patients at the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
Her first foray in politics was an independent run for Congress in California’s 33rd congressional district in 2014. She ended up losing to current Rep. Ted Lieu, but is now a contender for the highest office in the land.
Here’s everything you need to know about Williamson’s life, career, and political aspirations:
Williamson grew up in Houston, Texas. She attended Pomona College in Southern California for two years before dropping out and moving to New York City to pursue a career as a singer.
“Growing up in Texas in a liberal household, I was made deeply aware of issues of social justice,” she writes. “My father had grown up in poverty; he was insistent that we be aware of how fortunate we were, and always attendant to the needs of those who were not.”
Source: Marianne for America
Her interest in religion and spirituality began in her 20s, when she discovered a set of books called “A Course in Miracles” written by a Columbia University medical psychology professor.
“The Course is not a religion, but rather a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy based on universal spiritual themes,” Williamson explains. “There is no dogma or doctrine; it is simply a book on how to forgive.”
Source: Marianne for America
Williams moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, and began giving motivational lectures from a spiritual, but non-denominational perspective based on “The Course for Miracles'” teachings.
It was also at that time when she became involved in awareness and advocacy efforts for HIV and AIDS patients. She created two organisations — the Los Angeles and Manhattan Centres for Living, and the Angel Food Project — to support people living with AIDS.
Marianne For America
Williamson is the author of 12 books, including four that have made The New York Times’ bestseller list. Her first book, “A Return to Love,” was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and helped launch her to star-status.
Williamson and Oprah are still good friends to this day.
After the exposure from her Oprah interview in 1992, Williamson and her self-help books and lectures gained a cult following, including several Hollywood celebrities and elites.
Source: Los Angeles Times,
“I’m a provocateur. I come into a situation where I don’t particularly relate to any of the institutionalized boxes. I’m not a minister, I’m not a rabbi, but I’m totally excited by God and Jesus. So you get this Jewish girl talking about Jesus — it’s going to get attention,” Williamson told Mother Jones in 1997.
Williamson began to get involved in politics in 1997 with the publication of her book “Healing The Soul of America.” The book argued that universal values of spirituality and love could heal the divisions in the American political system.
“Because there’s a disconnection inside people, there is no listening,” Williamson told Mother Jones. “The reason that there are no major voices for social justice today is the listening isn’t there. We have to address it because people’s hearts aren’t open enough to hear. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
In 2014, Williamson launched an independent bid for Congress in California’ affluent 33rd congressional district, which includes parts of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Malibu.
While Williamson leveraged her high profile and large following to raise nearly $US2 million and secure endorsements from figures including Dennis Kucinich, she ultimately finished in fourth place in the primary.
Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, the winner of that primary, has represented the 33rd district since 2014.
At the time, many Democratic insiders questioned Williamson’s qualifications. “She has some very unusual beliefs about the world, a cult following, but she’s not a credible candidate,” the chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party said to LA Weekly. “She’s done a lot of work helping people heal, but that’s not preparation to be in Congress.”
“It sounds nice to say, ‘I’m pure, I’m outside the system, and I can change the system,’ but that’s not how it works,” Democratic strategist Donna Bojarsky told Elle. “It’s too important a district to do on-the-job training.”
“Over the six weeks I trailed her at numerous campaign question-and-answer sessions, I never once saw her glance at a note or trip over her words,” Elle writer Amanda Fortini wrote. “Her verbal dexterity, combined with her staccato, almost patrician, ’30s-era-movie-star delivery, often made me think of a heroine in a screwball comedy.”
Williamson announced her presidential campaign at a January 28 event in Los Angeles. “It is time for us to rise up, the way other generations have risen up,” she said. “Sometimes, people are so cynical these days, as though other generations owed us something. Cynicism is just an excuse for not helping. And whining is not an option.”
“We need to address the deep emotional and psychological dynamics within the average citizen that have led to the erosion of our political system,” she writes on her website. “In order to have a moral and spiritual awakening in America, we need a leader who is a moral and spiritual awakener.”
Source: Marianne for America
Against all odds, Williamson met both requirements to qualify for the first Democratic debates in June by achieving 1% support in three polls and obtaining 65,000 donors.
Williamson appeared on the debate stage on June 27 — and stood out from the pack with a number of eye-catching and sometimes confusing statements criticising her opponents for laying out concrete plans, leading to a spike in Google searches for her.
Source: Los Angeles Times
On immigration, Williamson said, “I have great respect for everyone on this stage, but where have you been, guys? It’s not just a matter of a plan, and I haven’t heard anybody who talked about American foreign policy in Latin America and how we might have in the last few decades contributed to this situation.”
Later, on the issue of climate change, Williamson also took a shot at her competitors for discussing their climate plans while invoking JFK, saying, “Just because you have an older body does not mean you don’t have new ideas. John Kennedy didn’t say, ‘I have a plan to get a man to the moon and we can all work to get a man on the moon,’ John Kennedy said by the end of this decade, we are going to put a man on the moon.”
When all the candidates were asked what their first priority as president would be, Williamson did not name a policy, but said she would call New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Arden to challenge her on who could make their respective country “the best place in the world for a child to grow up.”
In her closing statement, Williamson raised more eyebrows when she said: “Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk. He’s not going to be beaten by someone with plans.”
She concluded by saying: “Mr. President if you’re listening, I want you to hear me please. You’ve harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.”
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