There she stood on the banks of the Waccamaw River, Marianne Williamson, a wisp of a woman with a huge heart and a big message of love, of caring, of doing what's right for ordinary people.
Nearby, as she spoke to a local South Carolina television reporter, a grandfather and his two grandchildren picnicked in the shade of a huge tree; their laughter carried on the soft breeze. It seemed perfect, for this was Williamson's message. Love and protection of children. All children.
Declared Williamson as she looked into the camera, the river's waters glistening in the sun behind her, “I want a government that actually helps people, particularly our children.”
But those little children who played there in the grass that day with their grandfather clearly are not the ones about which Williamson is concerned. It's those who are much less fortunate; those without the love and support that those children clearly receive from family.
She had just come from visiting the Waccamaw Youth Center, a private, non-profit agency in Conway, SC, that is committed to providing comprehensive residential services for abused, abandoned, and grossly neglected youth, ages 12-21.
“It was both inspiring and heartbreaking,” she said, “to see the kind of people who do this excellent work. But it is so under-funded. Our government should be in the forefront of taking care of our children.” The most that center can care for at any one time is 20 children, although the need is much greater than that.
“I saw the most moving testimony of what human beings are doing to repair lives,” she said of her visit there. “There are millions of at-risk children in America. These children have not failed society. Society has failed these children.”
Traveling from state to state, speaking to small groups and large -- to anyone who will listen -- Williamson seems a throwback to the '60s, those days when protests against the Vietnam War filled the streets and dominated the airwaves. Those were days when I was tear-gassed by the Chicago police during the Democratic Convention of 1968, as I covered that historic event for United Press International.
As Williamson spoke, her small voice warning of a "country in crisis" because of "assaults on our democratic foundations, and the erosion of human values," I could see her in my mind carrying a "Make Love Not War" sign, her long brown hair flowing, her eyes at once filled with fire and hope.
“We need to get rid of the political, economic, and social input that gave rise to the situation today,” she said, asserting that America needs a President who has a vision for the future, moral certitude, and programs that improve large groups of people.
"I'm not prosecuting the case against Donald Trump," she told me. "I'm prosecuting the case against the system that led to Donald Trump."
Williamson promotes the concept of the Politics of Love, which she says the current government does not embrace. The Trump administration does not stand up for American workers, nor does it fight against injustice, she declared.
If elected president in 2020, Williamson said she will create a Department of Peace and a Department of Children and Youth and will prioritize climate change, saving children, making reparations for slavery and replacing today's war economy with a peace economy.
An author, lecturer, and activist, Williamson is best known for co-founding Project Angel Food which provides food to the homebound with AIDS and other illnesses, and Peace Alliance, which supports peace-building projects.
Obviously, Williamson has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination, let alone the presidency, as she is one of 25 candidates and barely registers in the polls. Hopefully, though, her candidacy will last long enough for her to continue sharing her message of hope, of caring, of changing the priorities of government from protecting those that have to helping those in need.
It wouldn't hurt us to listen to that.