As her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination battled over Medicare for All and the intricacies of federal immigration law during Tuesday’s debate, spiritual author Marianne Williamson had a message for them: Wonky won’t win.
Time and again on the debate stage, she countered policy talk with sweeping language that cast the 2020 presidential race as a fight between darkness and light.
Her comments get at a larger critique of the Democratic Party she has made before: Plans won’t defeat Donald Trump in 2020. She noted in the first debate that Trump didn’t win in 2016 by having a plan but by having a message.
“If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days,” Williamson warned during the exchange about water contamination.
Asked about the crisis of contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, she warned of a “dark underbelly of American society.” When discussing reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans, she spoke about the “great injustice” of slavery and the lingering “toxicity” it has left in the lives of Americans.
“We need to recognize when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with,” said Williamson, the only candidate on the stage to offer a specific financial proposal on reparations.
“Many Americans realize,” she said, “there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface.”
And the audience watching the debate inside Detroit’s historic Fox Theatre erupted in approval.
“We need to say it like it is, it’s bigger than Flint,” she added. “It’s all over this country. It’s particularly people … who do not have the money to fight back, and if the Democrats don’t start saying it, why would those people feel they’re there for us, and if those people don’t feel it, they won’t vote for us and Donald Trump will win.”
In her closing statement, Williamson spoke of wanting a politics that “goes much deeper and speaks to the heart.”
“You can’t fight dog whistles. You have to override them,” she said. “With new voices. Voices of energy that only come from the fact that America has been willing to live up to our own mistakes. Atone for our mistakes. Make amends. Love each other. Love our democracy and future generations. Something emotional and psychological that will not be emerging from anything on this stage. It will emerge from something I’m the one who is qualified to bring forth.
Williamson, who gained fame as a spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey and author of books such as “A Return to Love,” trails far behind her rivals in the polls but has found a following with her unorthodox candidacy.
As CNN’s Brian Stetler noted, Google Trends reported that Marianne Williamson was the most searched of the 10 candidates during the debate in 49 of 50 states.