National Politics

Who is Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson?

Democratic presidential candidate author Marianne Williamson speaks at the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress presidential forum in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2019.
Democratic presidential candidate author Marianne Williamson speaks at the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress presidential forum in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2019. AP

Marianne Williamson says she is running for president to bring a “moral and spiritual awakening” to America — and that includes a $100 billion investment in reparations for slavery.

“We need to get real in this country,” the bestselling author and lecturer told a CNN town hall in April. “… Racism is a character defect. Let’s end this. Let’s fix it.”

Williamson, 66, is a Texas native who has never held public office and is best known for being a spiritual counselor to Oprah Winfrey.

She endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2016 and first ran for office in 2014, coming in fourth in an 18-way primary for California’s 33rd District seat that eventually went to Democrat Ted Lieu.

Williamson’s arrival on the presidential debate stage is in many ways as unconventional as Donald Trump’s.

She briefly attended Pomona College in Los Angeles, where she was an antiwar activist, then dropped out of college after her sophomore year. In 1973, she moved to New York, where she worked as a cabaret singer and got her start as a spiritual adviser through three “self-study” guidebooks promising inner peace via forgiveness, “A Course in Miracles.”

Williamson then moved to Houston where she ran a metaphysical bookstore, gave lectures and would write a total of 12 books, becoming a self-help guru with a devoted following.

She raised her daughter as a single mom; launched an HIV/AIDS organization devoted to feeding the sick, and another organization dedicated to providing non-medical care to people living with the virus.

Williamson’s platform includes reforming the public education system, embracing the Green New Deal, promoting universal healthcare, gun control and criminal justice reform. But she believes the most pressing issue to restore the nation’s moral compass is through the removal of money in politics.

“For all intents and purposes, our government behaves more like it’s supporting an aristocracy than a democracy,’’ she told CNN. She attributes what she calls the nation’s “amoral political system” to decades of people living in “chronic economic despair.”

“The fact that the political establishment on both left and right was gobsmacked by Donald Trump demonstrates its complete lack of psychological perspicacity,’’ she told the Washington Post in February. “There was going to be a populist cry of that despair: It was either going to be an authoritarian populist or it was going to be a progressive populist.”

Williamson, who is the only candidate running for president who is Jewish, announced her campaign at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Calif., in January where she proclaimed it was time for a generational uprising.

“Cynicism is just an excuse for not helping. Whining is not an option,’’ she told the crowd of 2,000 people.“…We are not porcelain dolls. We need to identify the problems in this country. Then we need to identify with the problem solvers.”

She believes the job of president is to be the moral leader for the nation, a job she says Franklin Roosevelt considered his principal role. “I have had a 35-year career in naming and transforming those dynamics,’’ she says. “That’s my qualification for the presidency at this time.”

About Marianne Williamson

Current or most recent position: Author and public speaker

Other elected offices: none

Occupation: Author and public speaker

Education: Dropped out of Pomona College after studying theater and philosophy for two years

Age: 66

Residence: Houston

Family: Daughter India

Campaign website: : https://www.marianne2020.com/

Small donors: 65,000 through June 3

Big donors: Evolving Wisdom $8,100; University of California $6,130; YouTube LLC $5,400; Global Infrastructure Management $5,400 (through 6/3/19)

Fun fact: In her first book, “A Return to Love,” she wrote a poem that is often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure...”

On the issues: https://www.marianne2020.com/issues

Sources of biographical information:

https://marianne.com/about/

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2019/jun/11/who-marianne-williamson-bio-democratic-presidentia/

CNN Town Hall

MSNBC’s Morning Joe

profile in The Washington Post Magazine

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