Marianne Williamson is a superstar in the world of woo. Is she also the next US president?

The bestselling self-help author and Democratic nominee generates much hilarity. But if 2016 taught us anything, it’s a joke can win an election

by  edited by O Society July 3, 2019

Marianne Williamson is a household name – if you live in the sort of household that collects healing crystals. The bestselling self-help author has been described as a “spiritual legend” by Gwyneth Paltrow and is adored by Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian West. Having become a superstar in the world of woo, Williamson recently decided to take the next logical career step and run for president of the United States. Her January announcement generated a number of bemused headlines; however, Williamson’s candidacy only really became a mainstream talking point after last Thursday’s Democratic debates, when the 66-year-old announced she would “harness love” to defeat Donald Trump.


How exactly does one “harness love”? Williamson, who speaks in a beguiling mid-Atlantic accent that makes her sound as if she has walked straight off the set of a Cary Grant movie, was sort of fuzzy on the details. She was rather more clear, however, on the first thing she would do as president: Williamson said that she would call Jacinda Ardern and tell the New Zealand prime minister: “Girlfriend, you’re so on.” (This was in relation to Ardern saying her goal is to make New Zealand the best place in the world for a kid to grow up.)


Williamson’s idiosyncratic style captured many Americans’ curiosity: she was the most Googled candidate on the second night of the 2020 Democratic debates. Williamson also inspired a great deal of mirth; the candidate was turned into a meme and became the butt of late-night TV jokes. Stephen Colbert, for example, jested that she wanted to fix America “with crystals and bee pollen”. People also had a good chuckle over some of Williamson’s old tweets in which she says questionable things such as: “God is BIG, swine flu SMALL. See every cell of your body filled with divine light. Pour God’s love on our immune systems. Truth protects.” Meanwhile, many Republicans found her so entertaining, they are donating to the Democratic candidate so she can stay in the race.

Williamson is a good sport about all the hilarity she generated. “America could use a good laugh,” she said on Monday. “[However] I also understand I said some very substantive things.” And you know what? She’s right. All the jokes about Williamson’s spirituality ignore the fact she has some very progressive ideas. She supports reparations for African Americans, for example, and is a proponent of the Green New Deal. During the Democratic debates, Williamson also was the only candidate who mentioned American’s foreign policy in Latin America over the past few decades has contributes to the horrific situation at the border – a fact a lot more politicians and pundits would do well to address.

So could Williamson beat Trump and become the US’s first female president? While it may seem unlikely, I think we ought to open our chakras to the possibility. We certainly shouldn’t treat Williamson as a joke; after all, if 2016 taught us anything, it’s that a joke can very quickly win an election. I also think Williamson made an important a point when, in the debate’s closing remarks, she noted: “Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk. He’s not going to be beaten just by somebody who has plans.” According to Williamson, Trump is going to be beaten by someone who is able to reach into the psyche of America and tell them to choose to love instead of fear.

I don’t know if America will choose love instead of fear, but I’d keep an eye on Williamson if I were you. 2020 may well be the year the US swaps a reality TV star president for a self-help guru.

Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson calls for a moral and spiritual awakening America

The Mindfulness Scam – Capitalist Spirituality

How America Lost Its Damned Mind

11 thoughts on “Marianne Williamson is a superstar in the world of woo. Is she also the next US president?

    1. We’ve had 40 straight years of conservatives. Time for something different for sure. Just wish we could skip the vaccines and GMOs woo woo and focus on the real problems instead. Namely endless war and economic inequality and climate crisis and nuclear Armageddon and…


      1. Having grown up around woo, I have a strong woo bullshit detector. I’m one of the first to be criticial. But be careful. Calling Williamson’s positions woo is precisely what the corporate media is saying. That is the narrative they want you to believe.

        Williamson isn’t anti-science. Nor is she anti-vax. She is actually advocating for more independent science to inform public policy, rather than our political system being controlled by big biz interests and their pseudo-science. She has vaccinated her own daughter and she states that she is in favor of vaccine mandates when the science supports them. But she is rightly skeptical of issues in science that have yet to be settled with strong evidence.

        Whatever you think of her position, it is less woo than the mainstream corporatists who push anti-scientific and anti-democratic corporate propaganda. Williamson, instead, wants to bring genuine science back into public policy. That would require government increasing research and regulatory funding, rather than relying on corporations to police themselves. It would also mean to eliminate regulatory capture and the legal bribery of revolving door politics.

        This is where we need an informed public. Anyone who has researched GMOs, for example, knows that there is much mixed results. Some studies show evidence of harm, not necessarily from the GMOs themselves but because crops are being genetically modified for heavier use of pesticides. That isn’t to say that GMOs have proven safe yet either, even ignoring the chemicals. We simply don’t know. Some research doesn’t show evidence of harm and other research does.

        For those familiar with dietary and nutritional research, the low quality of research is well known because it is so hard to control for confounding factors. The dietary and lifestyle differences between those who do and don’t eat GMO foods could be immense. A better comparison would be between those eating a fully GMO diet and those eating a fully organic diet. I don’t know if such a study has ever been done on humans, as there are few people who eat a fully organic diet.

        Williamson is advocating the precautionary principle that informs the public policies of many European governments. It’s the difference between social democracy and corporatocracy. Anything else would be anti-scientific. The science is a lot less clear and conclusive than the corporate media typically lets on. Knowing the history of diet, public policies, and official guidelines makes me extremely skeptical about the confidence of official experts when it comes to highly contested science (see my writings on Ancel Keys, as an example).

        “I want you to rail against the chemical companies and their GMO’s — not support them. I want you to decry the military industrial complex — not assure them you’re their girl. I want you to support reinstating Glass-Steagall — not just wink at Wall Street while sipping its champagne.”


      2. Here is the case I make for Williamson:

        My support for her is motivated by essentially the same reason I backed Sanders last time. I think she might be able to elevate debate and shake it up. Sanders succeeded in doing that and so opened the door wide open for our present selection of candidates who all embrace Sanders-like rhetoric.

        In the case of Williamson, this is nothing new. She has been vocally advocating for progressive causes for decades. This includes building non-profit organizations to serve the public good, something I talked about in the earlier post about her.

        So, we’ll see. I have a low standard of expectation for US politics. My starting point is that, as a society, we are likely doomed. But maybe we can lessen some of the worst damage and suffering as we decline. Managing a soft landing as we crash would be no small feat.

        Williamson, if nothing else, is pushing public awareness in the right direction. She is framing the challenges we face as systemic problems, rather than as isolated issues to be dealt with a whack-a-mole style of policy plans. That kind of campaign rhetoric, she effectively argues, is not good enough. We don’t need more plans. We need an entirely new vision.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. My main concern is it may no longer matter who the president is much. What do I mean?

        Let’s say the 2016 presidential primary had not been rigged for Hillary Clinton. Let’s say Bernie Sanders won and was the nominee instead. Let’s even say Bernie became president instead of Agent Orange.

        What do you suppose would have happened?

        Well, he’d have McConnell/ Schumer and Ryan/ Pelosi cock blocking him in the Senate and House respectively. People assume nothing ever gets done because of the WWF feud between the Red people and the Blue people.

        What if the Red people want to destroy government? Breaking it completely except for having a functional military/ police to keep order.

        What if the Blue people don’t want progress, they want to maintain the status quo?

        What we’d get is Bernie can’t get shit done, while the mainstream media points the finger at him saying lookit –> we told you that “socialism” shit doesn’t work.

        The popular assumption is the government is broken. But what if it works exactly as the patrons of your local Congressman want it to?

        Broke ain’t a problem, it’s a feature of our current system. A handful of oligarchy families – such as the Kochs and Mercers of the world – benefit most by this “libertarian” Ayn Rand social Darwinism scam.

        What then?

        When we look at American history of change, we see MLK as the prototype. He was black and he was a preacher. Malcolm X was a Muslim. The Black Panthers had a leader with a PhD and soscialist ideas.

        Therefore, the change we seek isn’t going to come with the consent of the old rich white men. It’s going to be taken by someone outside the Good Ole Boy Network.

        If Sanders brings back Eugene Debs and FDR, then he’s onto something good. Likewise, if Maryanne Williamson can bring an authentic spirituality to political world the way MLK did, this is where change comes from in America. Ralph Nader may never win an election, but he is authentic. This is what America needs and it is why we respond to Bernie and Alexandria Cortez. They are authentic.

        I don’t know Maryanne Williamson well enough to know if she is authentic, but if you vouch for her, she may very well be real. Nothing necessarily wrong with a leader who is religious (or atheist), we just don’t want to devolve into theocracy.

        My unsolicited advice to Williamson is stay the hell away from the woo peddlers such as Gwenyth Paltrow. Perception is everything in voting.

        Again, our fundamental question breaks down to inside vs outside. Personally, I believe it is going to take the rise of a third party to make any meaningful change. The duopoly controls in such a way as to be functionally speaking, a monopoly. Cock blockers.

        Therefore, Sanders labeling himself an Independent or a Socialist is good. Jill Stein and Ralph Nader labeling themselves as Green is good. Anything outside the duopoly is welcome. America needs an authentic left wing. We haven’t had one during my lifetime, which is why the bird flies in circles. It’s a one-winged vulture, not a bald eagle.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’d say we are on the same page. You write that, “My main concern is it may no longer matter who the president is much.” I’ve often said something along these lines. The main reason I support those like Sanders and Williamson is simply the impact they might have on public awareness and public debate, to shift the Overton window in a new direction. You’re even more on target when you say that, “The popular assumption is the government is broken. But what if it works exactly as the patrons of your local Congressman want it to?”

        That is been on my mind for a long time. Some people think of the Vietnam War or Iraq War as failures, but I see them as effective strategies for their intended purpose. The American Empire doesn’t want to defeat countries to make them into colonies but to cause so much destabilization and destruction to keep any other global superpower from controlling them. The same basic principle applies to every other area of power. It seems to be working quite well in maintaining the status quo. “What then?,” you ask. Heck, that is one of my favorite questions. I’ve written entire posts dedicated to that question.

        And I get what you mean when you point out that, “Therefore, the change we seek isn’t going to come with the consent of the old rich white men. It’s going to be taken by someone outside the Good Ole Boy Network.” Then again, as argued by Corey Robin, reactionaries follow that same game plan. When reactionaries come to power, it is often as outsiders, from the Irishman Edmund Burke in English politics or Adolf Hitler as a failed artist who wrote a book. My basic point is in line with your own: “This is what America needs and it is why we respond to Bernie and Alexandria Cortez. They are authentic.” Yep. I’d like to think that is what we need. It sure is what feels refreshing after all the bullshit, like air to someone drowning.

        Still, I can’t claim any grand insight about what it all means. “I don’t know Maryanne Williamson well enough to know if she is authentic, but if you vouch for her, she may very well be real.” I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. She isn’t the Second Coming of Thomas Paine, but she has her own authenticity. Your “unsolicited advice to Williamson is stay the hell away from the woo peddlers such as Gwenyth Paltrow. Perception is everything in voting.” I’m just not sure if that is a game that matters at this point.

        The same kind of unsolicited advice was given to Donald Trump and he ignored it and he won. For all his lies as a con-man, he had an attitude of not giving a fuck that approximated sincerity close enough for those tired of the endless manipulative rhetoric of much smoother politicians worried about perception (Hillary Clinton spent her entire career managing perception). Trump simply created his own perception and forced others to play along. Whether through strength of narcissism or strength of character, that is the only way an outsider bludgeons their way into the system.

        You conclude that, “Personally, I believe it is going to take the rise of a third party to make any meaningful change. The duopoly controls in such a way as to be functionally speaking, a monopoly.” And, personally, I agree. Something from outside the system is required. Let us hope that what we get is meaningfully left-wing and not something co-opting left-wing rhetoric in the way that early 20th century fascists spoke in the language of freedom and liberty, progress and public good.

        I’m not sure Williamson is up to the task and so whether or not I vouch for her is probably moot, but so far she is the most outside voice that has managed to get heard in the mainstream in a long time. So, it’s a starting point. Something is knocking at the door and we might as well let it in to see what it brings.


      5. Here is a post that relates:

        The blogger puts Williamson in the context of Aurobindo’s thought: “The subjective idea is even trying to reach into the political field with the recent attempt by a spiritual proponent of the Course in Miracles actively attempting to run for President of the United States on a “consciousness-based” platform! Once the limits imposed by physical matter, life and mind are removed, there are bound to be areas of progress, as well as substantial errors along the way, as humanity blindly gropes for what its next future needs to be.” That captures my sense of things. We are groping along. Following that, Aurobindo is quoted and the last section gets at the present mood:

        “These are sure signs, if not of the thing to be, at least of a great possibility of it, of an effort that will surely be made, another endeavour perhaps with a larger sweep and a better equipped intelligence capable not only of feeling but of understanding the Truth that is demanding to be heard. … It is only when these groping beginnings have found that for which they are seeking, that it can be successfully applied to the remoulding of the life of man. Till then nothing better is likely to be achieved than an inner preparation and, for the rest, radical or revolutionary experiments of a doubtful kind with the details of the vast and cumbrous machinery under which life now groans and labours.”

        Take that as you will. It ain’t going to come easy. I place no ‘hope’ in Sanders, Williamson, or anyone else. I’m looking for something other than hope at this point. But I do take the “groans and labours” as a positive sign. That means the system is under stress and opens up other possibilities, whatever they are and however we might get there. If the Williamson’s campaign is simply throwing a monkey wrench into the works, then so be it. I’d be satisfied with that much. Let the groans and labours become a cacophany of rattling as the gears come loose.


  1. Admittedly Donald Trump lowered the bar such that most of the cast of Cheers could fall off their barstools over it and qualify for President now. As in who’s next? Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, Sam the one-time MLB pitcher, now a barkeep… actors are qualified, it seems. Straight out of Hollywood.

    So the obvious concern with Marianne Williamson is separation of church and state. No one said the US president can’t be a preacher from the Oprah Winfrey show, I guess.

    What do I know?

    Anybody qualifies now. I prefer a non-aristocrat. No more Bush or Clinton family dynasty shows, please.

    Someone authentic. That’s what I want. A real person. The last real person we had as president in the US was Jimmy Carter. I’m not old enough to remember anyone before him, so can we go back to that?


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