While there were many reasons Marianne Williamson is ending her longshot presidential campaign that never really got started in the first place, it was an American addiction to contempt that ultimately drowned her presidential ambitions before they could even reach the surface.
At the beginning of the race, Williamson was a bizarre and unknown figure to political observers who had never heard of her, but to millions of Americans familiar with her work, Marianne Williamson was a household name.
A non-denominational faith leader and bestselling author of 13 books who frequented the Oprah Winfrey show, Williamson entered the Democratic primary as no stranger to a niche portion of the American electorate. These voters are generally younger women who might be non-religious but spiritually hungry.
Williamson’s introduction to national politics however, was marked by the first Democratic primary debate where she came off as a left-wing hippie stuck in 1960s that forever came to define her candidacy for politicos.
Her hallmark moment of the night came when she issued a stark warning to President Donald Trump, expressing her theory that the president “has reached into the psyche of the American people” and “harnessed fear for political purposes.” Williamson in turn, pledged that she would defeat the president on a message of radical love to win over the hearts of the American people.
“Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me out, please,” Williamson challenged to a primetime audience in Miami. “You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out… I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.”
Williamson’s love it seems, lost to the contemptuous forces driving American politics and embedded in the Democratic primary. Each of the leading candidates in the race are eager to engage in the type of spiteful back and forth with the president to drum up support among their base no matter how damaging to the nation’s civil discourse. Just this week for example, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg cast blame on Trump for the downed Ukrainian passenger over Iran. Former Vice President Joe Biden once challenged Trump to a fist-fight. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has called Trump a “loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud,” and a “loud orange elephant in the room.” Senator Bernie Sanders promised civility on the trail but hired a “Twitter Attack Dog” as described by the Atlantic. And never forget that the Democratic nominee in 2016, Hillary Clinton, condemned Trump’s supporters as “deplorable.”
American civil discourse in a on steep decline with no signs of abating. A public love affair for painting political opponents as evil as they come is thriving.
Williamson’s campaign however, was different. While she characterized Trump as emulating a “dark psychic force” from the White House in the second Democratic debate, Williamson stayed true to her campaign pledge to run her course on a platform of love and unity.
Last fall, Williamson chastised those who ridicule people for offering “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of tragedy as Hurricane Dorian barreled towards the east coast. Williamson was heavily mocked on the internet after tweeting that Americans ought to use the “power of the mind” to pray away the category 5 hurricane.
“Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea,” Williamson later wrote on Twitter. “It is a creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization, meditation for those in the way of the storm.”
Sure, her message on the trail might have sounded cheesy, and cliché at best, but it was necessary in the midst of a moment when the nation needs healing from its deepening divisions.
The country is now facing historic levels of polarization not seen for more than 150 years since the Civil War. According to Pew survey published last summer, 85 percent of American adults said the “tone and nature” of our political discourse has become more negative in recent years. Another survey from Reuters/Ipsos found that 15 percent, or one in six Americans, reported that they had either stopped talking to a close friend or family member over the result of the 2016 presidential election.
The 2020 election is only promising to be even more divisive as protests break out at political events across the country.
Outside a Trump rally in Minneapolis, one man sporting an “I Stand with Ilhan Omar” shirt was caught on camera choking a man attempting to get his “Make American Great Again” hat back.
.@AlphaNewsMN captures moment when a man in a "I Stand with Ilhan Omar" shirt chokes a man who tried to retrieve his stolen MAGA hat. Other antifa people then kick & punch him. He was trying to leave the area after the Trump rally in Minneapolis last week. https://t.co/iEugKxiMoA pic.twitter.com/XDMfVBrZam
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) October 16, 2019
Trump on the other hand, has certainly not helped restore the spirit of civility in the nation’s discourse. The president has famously promised to cover attendee legal fees for beating up protestors who heckle at his rallies.
As U.S. civil discourse continues to deteriorate, candidates such as Williamson who campaign on albeit cheesy campaigns of love and unity will struggle to gain support as a result. Williamson’s candidacy quickly became victim to American civility’s destruction.