Spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination last night to a crowd of supporters gathered in the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.
Marianne Williamson: “I’m asking for you to join with me”
Standing in front of an enormous American flag, Williamson gave a forty-minute, emotionally-charged speech. Besides her gathered supporters in the 2,500 seat arena, roughly 3,300 viewers watched the speech via live streaming.
Speaking without notes or apparently any teleprompter, Williamson spoke extensively about her parents and the inspirational advice she received from them.
“My father never let us forget to really see. He would always say don’t just look, really see,” she said.
Encouraging American voters to change their perceptions and “really see” became a central theme of the speech in its second half.
“I don’t want to do this to waste my time and I don’t want to do this to waste your time,” she explained. “Something bigger has to happen than just electing someone president.
“I’m asking for you to join with me for a year of talking about things that matter.
“Let’s talk about waging peace and not just prepare for war.
“Let’s talk about what it means to have a massive realignment in the direction of America’s children.
“Let’s talk about what it means…to wage economic and racial justice in America.
“Let’s talk about what it would actually end mass incarceration.
“Let’s talk about what it would actually mean to fight climate change.
“And let’s take responsibility for the fact that none of that’s going to happen unless all of us rise up.”
Is Marianne Williamson a viable candidate?
Best know for her bestselling books, especially A Return to Love, and frequent appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the political message of candidate Marianne Williamson is as unconventional as her background.
“I came to believe that the ultimate revolution was love,” the spiritual teacher sad. “I came to believe that the ultimate revolution was the spiritual change.”
Very little of her speech centered on specific policies. She was highly critical of the thinking of Milton Freeman and the Chicago School of Economics, describing its impact on America as “devastating.”
“Something began to change when the entire society began to be propagandized about this ‘trickle-down economics.'”
The only specific policy outlined in the speech was a plan for the federal government to pay reparations for slavery. She is proposing $100 billion be paid to African-American leaders over ten years, to be distributed to educational and economic projects.
Although yesterday’s speech was light on policy detail, she did announce the launch of her campaign website marianne2020.com. It is already populated with an extensive policy program (including the plan for paying reparations).
Getting down to brass tacks
Despite being a highly-successful businesswoman, Williamson made it clear in her speech that she was not another billionaire candidate bankrolling her own campaign.
“For everyone who is applauding,” she said after officially announcing her intention to run, “I appreciate your applause but I need your twenty bucks.”
Although the remark was met with laughter, it clearly carried a serious point.
“We need millions and millions of dollars. I’d like two million tonight please.”
Williamson acknowledged that the field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination is crowded, but expressed confidence about the campaign’s chances
“The establishment is not going to want [this campaign],” she explained, “but you know what? The establishment is not supposed to be the gatekeeper.
“In a democracy, ‘we the people’ are the ones who decide who’s going to run and we’re going to decide who’s going to win.”
While Williamson is just one of many Democrats announcing her campaign this month, one has already dropped out. West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeta, announced the suspension of his campaign on Friday.
After finishing her speech to shouts and applause, Williamson quickly exited the stage. She is currently preparing for her next event: a campaign kick-off in Iowa on January 31st.