How Marianne Williamson’s radical pacifism could restore America


Of all the Democratic candidates gunning for the White House in 2020, Marianne Williamson is no doubt the oddest.

In her last Democratic debate, Williamson claimed policy “wonkiness” won’t deal with the “dark psychic force” in this country, but her agenda of healing will. Regarding New Zealand’s goal to make itself the best country for children, Williamson says to its prime minister: “Girlfriend, you are so on.” Among her other quirky tweets, she once opined, “Each of us is pregnant with a better version of ourselves.”

Thanks to her offbeat persona, the author and spiritual guru has captured the hearts of meme lovers and suburban wine moms alike, but her ideas are not as insubstantial as they may seem. She has proven that she knows exactly what ails America, even if she misdirects her ideas for change.

Williamson is even on the right track when she says we overprescribe antidepressants for cases of “normal human despair,” and when she announced on Tuesday that she plans to create a Department of Peace, the idea that was previously proposed by former Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, actually made a bit of sense.

No, this isn’t an Orwellian Ministry of Peace that actually oversees war. The mission of the new department would be to end gun violence and find nonviolent means of negotiation. “In short, we must wage peace,” the description on Williamson’s website reads. The department would create a Peace Academy, akin to a military academy, where attendees would train to serve in programs “dedicated to domestic or international nonviolent conflict resolution.”

The new department is necessary, the site explains, because the government has to invest in peace. “Lasting peace requires its active and systematized cultivation at every level of government and society,” it reads. Of course, the administrative state is overly bloated as is. But is Williamson correct that a systematic cultivation of peaceful practices, whatever that means, would aid our society? Absolutely.

She has also planned on creating a Department of Children and Youth. It’s like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative meets a child counselor and a school safety officer. The plan includes free preschool, and, honestly, it’s no more ridiculous than the free college other candidates have proposed.

Williamson has recognized the spiritual rifts in America. Unlike Pete Buttigieg, who has used religion as a cudgel against the opposing party, and most other candidates, who have barely mentioned faith, Williamson has made spirituality and healing pretty much her entire platform. As Kira Ganga Kieffer writes in Religion and Politics, “Her message is aimed directly at the growing category of ‘spiritual but not religious’ voters—currently over 25% of the population.”

Her supporters have been latching on to her message, too. One fan wrote on Twitter that because “there are many humanitarian crises,” she wants “a career humanitarian over a career politician for POTUS.”

On Tuesday, Williamson also hit the milestone 130,000 unique donors, according to her Twitter account, and she will wait to see if the DNC accepts her into the next round of debates. Her influence is growing, but when she finally ceases to make the debate cuts, where will it lead?

Every candidate has his own pet project: Jay Inslee who is currently polling at 0%, has brought climate change to the stage, and Kirsten Gillibrand who is polling at 1%, has made her platform about women. Williamson, herself polling at 1%, may not make it much further. But she has shared her message, and she now has an opportunity to implement it where it matters.

Williamson’s radical pacifism could restore America after her presidential run ends. If she attempts her social change through social means, she might just see results. When she said during her last Democratic debate that she will defeat “this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country,” her language may have been dramatic, but something about it rings true.

There is something off in our politics today, and it may not be just the president’s fault and it may not be a dark psychic force. But if Williamson wants to address the root causes that are making Americans as divided as we are, then girlfriend, go for it.

Just don’t do it in Washington.

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