Of all the low-profile candidates vying for national attention in the Democratic debates this week, Marianne Williamson stood out.
In coverage immediately before, she was derided for simply being an ‘author and activist’: descriptors, it’s worth noting, that could be applied to everyone else standing.
The 66-year-old was placed at the far edge of the Thursday debate stage and only got four minutes and 58 seconds of speaking time. But she made those seconds count.
First, she struck out against her arch-nemesis: plans. ‘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,’ she said. ‘Because he didn’t win by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying “Make America Great Again.” We’ve got to get deeper than just these superficial fixes, as important as they are.’
When asked which foreign leader she would contact on her first day on office, she said, ‘My first call is to the prime minister of New Zealand, who said her goal was to make New Zealand the place where it’s the best place in the world for a child to grow up. And I will tell her, “Girlfriend, you are so on.”’
And in her 45-second closing statement, she took on President Trump directly:
‘This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he has harnessed fear for political purposes. So, Mr President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me please — you have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So, I sir, 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.’
I checked IMDB, and apparently Marianne Williamson is not a David Lynch character (though apparently she used to room with his favorite actress Laura Dern). But her Lynchian cosmic outlook and laid-back demeanor turned her from political nobody to Twitter darling and gay icon in a matter of moments.
Pete Buttigieg goes to shake Marianne Williamson's hand but she's already disappeared. On her lectern sits a lone origami crane
— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) June 28, 2019
marianne williamson threw the first crystal at stonewall https://t.co/ZTjZfQpXnk
— David Mack (@davidmackau) June 28, 2019
I know nobody wants political content on this account but it's 2:30am and I am awake and putting Marianne Williamson's speech to Twin Peaks music pic.twitter.com/fSjP5wzrnR
— Henry Garcia's Good Sperm (@BoxrecGrey) June 28, 2019
After the debate I approached her in the spin room to try and learn more of her ways. Other reporters from China and Germany were similarly entranced as they asked for her thoughts on their countries. She made prolonged eye contact with me repeatedly and it felt as if she was looking through me, into someone else my soul had inhabited in a previous existence. Before I asked to move into her commune, I thought I’d better get the interview out of the way.
I began by pointing out how she’d had to wait over 25 minutes before getting the chance to answer a question.
‘Oh, d’ya notice?’, she intoned.
What was going through her head as she watched the debate unfold before her in that time?
‘I almost couldn’t believe it. I didn’t expect it to be that bad…and in the second hour it was even worse. It was an aggressive energy of “why are you here” and “we are not going to talk to you.” It was pretty shocking.’
Some of the candidates, such as Swalwell and Harris, adopted a more confrontational style. Williamson did not.
‘Well I would try, I’d say things like “ah-ah!” and I need to learn, that’s what my plot has to be for the next time. “I’m talkin’! Did you hear me? I’m talkin’!” I gotta learn how to do that.’
Democrats have stood out this campaign when they’ve run directly against Donald Trump and ignored the primary field. Was that the thought behind her closing statement?
‘There was no thought behind it, but I did wonder…I thought we needed to talk about how to defeat Donald Trump and so…perhaps people didn’t know me well enough yet to know where that came from, but the reason I am the candidate to defeat Donald Trump is because I have an idea of what the man is doing. He has inspired masses with fear, and I have inspired masses with love.’
Back to love again. What is the secret to harnessing it to defeat the incumbent president?
‘Well, my 35-year career has given me access to that skill set. I have helped build movements. I have talked to millions of people about how principles of righteousness, principles of love, principles of compassion, actually repairs your life. And all that a nation is, is a group of people. So the same psychological and emotional principles that prevail within the life of one person, prevail within the life of a nation.’
Did she feel that she got the springboard to communicate that message?
‘No…no…but tomorrow is another day.’