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  • Steve Hamelman

Marianne Williamson: Peace, Love and Hubris

Marianne Williamson campaigns in Horry County, South Carolina.

With things going badly for the Democrats—and last year’s gains in Congress aside, they are—one tends to admire anyone running for the 2020 nomination. It takes courage, time, financial sacrifice.

Some 25 hopefuls are jockeying for position on the long mud-strewn track leading to the convention. You and I wouldn’t think of putting money on most of them. Still, one wishes to be charitable to them all, if for no other reason than that each wants to depose Donald Trump.

Marianne Williamson is a case in point—admire her, wouldn’t bet five bucks on her.

She will not be the Democratic nominee for the office of President of the United States of America.

So where does that leave her?

On July 25 she visited the headquarters of the Horry County, SC Democratic Party in Conway to make her case for the nomination, and was greeted warmly by the 40 or so attendees. She was likeable, smart, full of ideas, and presented herself, as someone of her stature (successful author, media celebrity, world traveler) might be expected to do, with practiced, professional ease.

In most ways her agenda hews closely to the standard Democratic line. She opposes increased arms sales and defense spending, wants to do more for America’s dispossessed, cares about education and health care, would increase taxes on the super-rich, and hopes to see “the people” reclaim the power they’ve ceded to the one percenters.

A few points make her stand out from the rest of the pack.

For instance, reparations. Only by making this commitment to African-Americans, she argued, can our nation cleanse its guilt for centuries of racist oppression. With reparations, the United States, like Germany after making amends to the remnants of the post-WWII Jewish population (she made much of this comparison), could finally move forward with a clean conscience.

Whether reparations is a program upon which a candidate can hope to attract enough votes to win a nomination is immaterial considering the more general problem: Marianne Williamson believes her proposal for a Department of Peace, fueled by a collective investment in “love,” is a realistic political stance.

It isn’t that most Democrats don’t believe in love and peace; it’s that most of us don’t believe that love and peace have even the remotest chance of winning a national election.

Another oddity in Williamson’s campaign is her claim to “rambunctiousness.” This quality, she said, is needed to defeat the “phenomenon” of Trump. She seems to think “rambunctious” (a term used against her that she proudly owns) is a synonym for “radical” or “revolutionary.” It means neither. It means rowdy and unrestrained. It conjures the image of misbehaving or wild children who can’t be disciplined.

Finally, coming dangerously close to hubris—which is a lot different than self-confidence—Williamson addressed the pushback Jill Stein received for allegedly derailing the Democratic victory in 2020 election.

In Williamson’s view, “If everyone who didn’t think they were throwing away a vote on me voted for me, I’d be the next president.”

As a result of such remarks, Marianne Williamson labors at the back of the field.

True, there are some good things coming out of the Williamson camp. In a July 27 New York Times interview with Maggie Astor, her refusal to apologize for stating that antidepressants are overprescribed was refreshing and, in this day of perpetual apologizing for past and present positions, bold.

“I’m happy for anyone who is finding the help they need for any ailment whatsoever. My problem is not with antidepressants per se, which clearly have and do help many people. My problem is only with their over-prescription, and the practices of pharmaceutical companies when drugs are marketed in predatory ways,” she said.

Why a person would have to refute such a common sense statement says more about a culture where everyone seems pathologically sensitive than about the person who said it. Give Williamson credit for not backing down.

Marianne Williamson’s visit to South Carolina shows her determination to make a mark in a race of the utmost importance to the Democratic party and the American public. But next time she visits, and wherever she goes next, she will have a better chance of being taken seriously if she leaves the peace, love, and hubris at home.

Editor's Note: Not Fake News welcomes Steve Hamelman as our newest contributor. Steve is an English professor at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC.

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