Marianne Williamson was back during the second round of Democratic debates on Tuesday night — and for a pretty nontraditional candidate, she made a lot of sense. (Though she also warned of a “dark psychic force” in America and advocated healing through “deep truth-telling.”)
Williamson raised eyebrows with her viral performance in the first round of debates, including her proposed “girlfriend, you are so on” phone call to New Zealand. This time around, the author, spiritual leader, and friend to Oprah Winfrey came armed with some sharper points, leaving a bit of her trademark love talk at home. She also seemed to have a different — and, sadly, less groovy — accent.
One of her biggest moments was when she took aim at her fellow candidates on the issue of money in politics. “For politicians, including my fellow candidates who themselves have taken tens of thousands and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars from these same corporate donors, to think that they now have the moral authority to say, ‘We’re going to take them on,’ I don’t think the Democratic Party should be surprised that so many Americans believe ‘yadda, yadda, yadda,’” she said, to applause.
Later, on the topic of college affordability, she took an even bigger swipe. “I almost wonder why you’re Democrats,” she said. “You seem to think there’s something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people.”
And some of her most stirring responses came on race and inequality, including on the context of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and the racial undertones in play. “This is part of the dark underbelly of American society — the racism, the bigotry,” she said.
Maybe we’re all just more used to her, but on Tuesday, Williamson seemed like she came to make a point, and she made more of an impression than many of the other candidates on the stage.
Of course, Marianne also did some Marianne-ing. She warned of the “dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred” President Donald Trump is bringing to the country and talked about “emotional turbulence” in America. She said she wants a politics that “speaks to the heart.” She walked onto the debate stage blowing a kiss.
Was this Marianne Williamson’s 2020 debate finale? Probably — she, like a lot of candidates, has an uphill battle to get into the next round in September. So below are transcripts of her notable answers from the second Democratic debate. Girlfriend, it’s been fun.
In 1776, our founders brought forth on this planet an extraordinary new possibility. It was the idea that people, no matter who they were, would simply have the possibility of thriving. We have not ever totally actualized this ideal. But at the times when we have done best, we have tried. And when forces have opposed them, generations of Americans have risen up and pushed back against those forces.
We did that with abolition and with women’s suffrage and with civil rights. And now it is time for a generation of Americans to rise up again, for an amoral economic system has turned short-term profits for huge multinational corporations into a false god. And this new false god takes precedence over the safety and the health and the well-being of we the American people and the people of the world and the planet on which we live.
Conventional politics will not solve this problem because conventional politics is part of the problem. We, the American people, must rise up and do what we do best and create a new possibility, say no to what we don’t want and yes to what we know can be true.
I’m Marianne Williamson, and that’s why I’m running for president.
On axing private health insurance with Medicare-for-all
I admire very much what Sen. [Elizabeth] Warren has said and what Bernie [Sanders] has said.
But I have to say, I have — I’m normally way over there with Bernie and Elizabeth on this one. I hear the others. And I have some concern about that as well. And I do have concern about what the Republicans would say. And that’s not just a Republican talking point. I do have concern that it will be difficult. I have concern that it will make it harder to win, and I have a concern that it’ll make it harder to govern. Because if that’s our big fight, then the Republicans will so shut us down on everything else.
On health care and “sickness care”
Everything that we’re talking about here tonight is what’s wrong with American politics, and the Democratic Party needs to understand that we should be the party that talks not just about symptoms but also about causes. When we’re talking about health care, we need to talk about more than just the health care plan. We need to realize we have a sickness care, rather than a health care system. We need to be the party talking about why so many of our chemical policies and our food policies and our agricultural policies and our environmental policies and even our economic policies are leading to people getting sick to begin with.
On gun safety and corporations in politics
The issue of gun safety, of course, is that the NRA has us in a chokehold. But so do the pharmaceutical companies, so do the health insurance companies, so do the fossil fuel companies, and so do the defense contractors. And none of this will change until we either pass a constitutional amendment or pass legislation that establishes public funding for federal campaigns.
But for politicians — including my fellow candidates, who themselves have taken tens of thousands and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars from these same corporate donors — to think that they now have the moral authority to say, “We’re going to take them on,” I don’t think the Democratic Party should be surprised that so many Americans believe “yadda yadda yadda.”
It is time for us to start over with people who have not taken donations from any of these corporations and can say with real moral authority, “That is over; we are going to establish public funding for federal campaigns.” That’s what we need to stand up to. We need to have a constitutional amendment. We need to have legislation to do it, and until we do it, it’s just the same old same old, same old.
On the Flint water crisis and race
My response on the Flint water crisis is that Flint is just the tip of the iceberg. I was recently in Denmark, South Carolina, where there is a lot of talk about it being the next Flint. We have an administration that has gutted the Clean Water Act. We have communities, particularly communities of color and disadvantaged communities, all over this country who are suffering from environmental injustice. I assure you, I lived in Grosse Pointe. What happened in Flint would not have happened in Grosse Pointe.
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 the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.
We need to say it like it is. It’s bigger than Flint. It’s all over this country. It’s particularly people of color. It’s particularly people who do not have the money to fight back, and if the Democrats don’t start saying it, then why would those people feel they’re there for us? And if those people don’t feel it, they won’t vote for us and Donald Trump will win.
First of all, it’s not $500 billion in financial assistance. It’s $500 billion, $200 to $500 billion, payment of a debt that is owed. That is what reparations is. We need some deep truth-telling when it comes, we don’t need another commission to look at evidence. I appreciate what Congressman [Beto] O’Rourke has said.
It is time for us to simply realize that this country will not heal. All that a country is is a collection of people. People heal when there’s deep truth-telling.
We need to recognize that when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with. That great injustice has had to do with the fact that there was 250 years of slavery followed by another 100 years of domestic terrorism.
What makes me qualified to say $200 to $500 billion? I’ll tell you what makes you qualified. If you did the math of 40 acres and a mule, given there were 4 to 5 million slaves at the end of the Civil War, and they were all promised 40 acres and a mule for a family of four. If you did the math today, it would be trillions of dollars, and I believe that anything less than $100 billion is an insult, and I believe that $200 to $500 billion is politically feasible today because so many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface, an emotional turbulence that only reparations will deal with.
On free college and stimulating the economy
I think all domestic and international policy should be based on the idea that anything we do to help people thrive is a stimulation to our economy. That’s how you stimulate the economy. So if a few people take advantage, there are four or five people who were going to take the money that they then have in the bank. When you look at this $1.5 trillion college debt, this is why I agree with Bernie, I would be okay, why don’t we swap it?
We had a $2 trillion tax cut, where 83 cents of every dollar goes to the very, very richest among us. That does not stimulate the economy. If we get rid of this college debt, think of all the young people who will have the discretionary spending, they’ll be able to start their businesses. The best they think you can do to stimulate the US economy is to get rid of this debt.
This is not just about a plan to do it — it’s a philosophy of governing. And I’ve heard some people here tonight, I almost wonder why you’re Democrats. You seem to think there’s something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people. That is what government should do. All policies should help people thrive. That is how we will have peace; that is how we will have prosperity.
Her closing statement
Our problem is not just that we need to defeat DonaldTrump. We need a plan to solve institutionalized hatred, collectivized hatred, and white nationalism. In order to do that, we need more than political insider game and wonkiness and intellectual argument. Those things will not defeat Donald Trump.
We need some radical truth-telling — not just to talk about health care, but talk about why we are so sick all the time. We need to have a serious conversation about race and what is owed. Even on the subject of foreign policy, it’s all about symptoms and not about cause. We need to talk about the fact that the United States has sacrificed our moral leadership; the fact that countries see us not only domestically but internationally, with policies that simply support our corporate overlords; the fact that our national defense agenda is driven more by short-term profit for defense contractors than genuine peace-building.
There’s some corruption that is so deep, ladies and gentlemen. And until the Democratic Party is ready to speak to the deeper corruption, knowing that we ourselves sometimes because of our own corporate donations participated, then I’m afraid those who vote for Trump will continue to vote for Trump, and those who might not like Donald Trump will continue to stay home.
I want a politics that goes much deeper. I want a politics that speaks to the heart. Because the only way to fight — you keep talking about how we’re going to fight Donald Trump. You can’t fight dog whistles. You have to override. And the only way you can override them is with new voices, voices of energy that only come from the fact that America has been willing to live up to our own mistakes, atone for our own mistakes, make amends for our own mistakes, love each other, love our democracy, love future generations. Something emotional and psychological that will not be emerging from anything on this. It will emerge from something I’m the one who is qualified to bring forth.