Self-help author Marianne Williamson is seizing much of the 2020 attention after her headline-grabbing performance at Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate, giving a boost of momentum to the little-known presidential candidate that has barely registered in the polls.
Williamson’s answers on race, reparations and Flint, Michigan, propelled her to become the most-searched candidate on Google of the 10 Democrats who sparred during the first night of debates in Detroit.
She has touted channeling love as a political force and has said that “conventional politics won’t solve” the country’s problems. Despite Williamson clocking in with just under nine minutes of speaking time at Tuesday’s debate, she had some of the biggest break-out moments.
She called out racism, President Donald Trump and the water crisis still roiling the city of Flint, which is a predominantly African American city. Williamson said “what happened in Flint would not have happened in Grosse Pointe,” a wealthy Detroit suburb where she used to reside.
“This is part of the dark underbelly of American society, the racism, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we’re having here tonight. If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days,” she said.
Still, Williamson languishes in the polls and has raised just $3 million since entering the race. It remains to be seen if she can convert the momentum of her debate performance into dollars that’ll help build up a campaign apparatus to compete with the more well-funded candidates.
Who is Marianne Williamson?
Williamson, 67, has published more than a dozen books about self-help and spiritual guidance.
Her first book “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles” became a New York Times best-seller in 1992 and was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s show.
Her self-help career started about a decade earlier when she held lectures called “A Course in Miracles” in both Los Angeles and New York City.
Williamson’s orbit includes a litany of celebrities and she recently revealed that she officiated the late actress Elizabeth Taylor’s last wedding in 1991 on Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
While she’s never held public office, Williamson unsuccessfully ran in 2014 as an independent for California’s 33rd congressional district. Williamson moved to Des Moines, Iowa, in June to live full-time ahead of the first-in-the-nation caucuses in February 2020.
Where does Williamson stand on the issues?
Williamson was one of the first Democratic candidates to announce her support for reparations for descendants of slaves and it’s become one of her signature issues. She has proposed giving $200 billion to $500 billion over 10 years, describing reparations at Tuesday’s debate as “payment of a debt that is owed.”
According to her campaign website, she believes in universal health insurance “by making Medicare an option on the Obamacare exchanges” as well as providing federal subsidies “to ensure medical coverage for every American.” She also supports the Green New Deal.
At Tuesday’s debate, Williamson said she generally supports the politics of progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, but said she disagrees with their support of a “Medicare for All” health care system that eliminates private insurance.
“I am concerned what Republicans would say if we ran for the presidency on getting rid of health insurance. Also, it sounds difficult to do,” she said. But in an interview with The Young Turks post-debate, she walked back some of that criticism and said “the needle moved a bit today.”
She recently got into hot water when she said that mandatory vaccinations are “Orwellian” and equated it to the abortion debate. But she later said she misspoke and supports vaccinations.
Will Williamson make the debate stage in September?
The Democratic National Committee has issued stricter polling and fundraising thresholds to qualify for the Sept. 12 and 13 debates hosted by ABC News and Univision in Houston.
To qualify, candidates must reach at least 2 percent in four national or state polls approved by the national party and garner 130,000 individuals donors, with a minimum of 400 donors from at least 20 states. The DNC has also capped the third debate at 10 candidates per night.
According to RealClearPolitics’ polling average, Williamson is polling with less than 1 percent of support. It’s unclear where she stands on the number of donors who have contributed to her campaign. All candidates have until the end of August to meet these qualifications.