Michael Mathes –
Bill Clinton felt your pain. Barack Obama assured that yes, we can. And for Marianne Williamson, the spiritualist author leading a notable but surpassingly longshot US presidential bid, love conquers all. Remote as her 2020 prospects may be against two dozen other Democrats in the race, Williamson hopes a moral “uprising” will lead American voters to reject President Donald Trump and help usher in a new era of national healing and compassion.
Williamson has warned that Trump is wielding a megaphone to broadcast his white nationalism, an accusation echoed by several Democratic candidates.
They warn his toxic rhetoric has deepened divisions, fuelled ethnic animus and coarsened the culture.
The antidote — or at least an opposing force — is empathy and love, and the candidate offering the clearest distillation of such a politics of the heart is Williamson, the self-empowerment advocate and sometime Oprah Winfrey adviser who, despite her low polling numbers, resonated late last month on the debate stage.
Some analysts have called Williamson’s campaign a spiritual crusade. Others dismiss it as piffle, a series of poorly prepared platforms which at their core feature her self-help incantation that individualism and personal will can solve intractable issues.
In an interview with AFP at a recent Democratic candidate dinner in Iowa, she described her campaign as a challenge to reclaim “moral leadership” after two years of a president treating Americans with contempt.
Neutralising Trump’s toxic rhetoric is key, but Williamson believes Americans in general are at a crossroads.
“We need to talk in deeper truths,” the 67-year-old said.
“If we don’t get deep and we’re not getting real, I don’t think it will inspire the kind of revolutionary fervour we need in order to win” next year’s election.
Like Trump, Williamson never before ran for public office, but used her personal celebrity as a stepping stone to politics. Also like the president, she eschews wonkiness, engaging on the personal tableau instead of more policy-driven discussions favoured by Democratic rivals such as Elizabeth Warren.
Williamson believes in the ability of “self-actualisation” to improve one’s personal circumstances, much like Trump, whose faith in his own grit and determination has helped propel his success.
In Trump’s era, Williamson has called for nothing less than the transformation of US politics. — AFP