Self-help author and metaphysical guru Marianne Williamson announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination at a rally at The Saban Theatre in Los Angeles Jan. 28. The event, which was live-streamed, featured Williamson diagnosing the state of the union in much the same style as she delivered her popular A Course in Miracles lectures during the AIDS crisis—erudite, deep and spiritually confrontational with tongue-in-cheek jokes.
“What I have seen in my career is what happens when people fall down,” Williamson said as a kind of inside joke. “People don’t usually come to me because things are going well.”
Williamson, who co-founded Project Angel Food in 1990 with grief expert David Kessler, focused on the “spiritual and moral rot” eroding the economy, thanks to huge corporate conglomerates.
Williamson said she was shocked but not surprised by the election of Donald Trump and the populist nationalism he inspired, which she attributes to economic despair.
“It was going to be an authoritarian populism or it was going to be a progressive populism, but it was going to come up from the bottom of things,” she said.
Williamson called for an approach “where the consciousness is such that we recognize that if you are not addressing issues of human despair and if you are not addressing the character defects of your whole nation; if you are not addressing ways in which we have to change, then no matter what changes on the outside – you can have low unemployment but what does that matter? We talk about the GDP being the wage and the measure of our happiness. Really? Meanwhile we have the opioid addictions. We have the chronic despair. We have depression. We have the high suicide rates. We need to look beneath the waterline,” she said.
America has to have “a presidency aligned with the higher angels of our nature,” she said. “One person has harnessed fear for political purposes. We need to harness love for political purposes….I need you to think of this as something bigger than just electing me. It’s so much bigger than electing one person. It’s about an uprising of the American spirit. It’s about the uprising of the democratic spirit. That is what needs to happen now.”
Williamson is the fifth woman in a longer list of people expressing an interest in becoming President of the United States in 2020: Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced an exploratory committee; Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have declared their candidacies. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar would be the sixth woman if she jumped in after much encouragement, including from out MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
Williamson’s announcement was largely overshadowed by instant top-tier candidate Kamala Harris appearing at a live CNN town hall that night.