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How Marianne Williamson Plans to Heal America's 'Spiritual Malfunction'

Ali Oshinskie/NHPR


Like every 2020 Presidential Candidate, Marianne Williamson has her policy positions on the issues. But Williamson argues her ideas present what she calls a “fierce and authentic” conversation, unheard elsewhere in the crowded Democratic field.  

In an interview on The Exchange, Williamson described her approach, while painting an image of an America traumatized by economic distress and spiritual malfunction. She suggested that her status as a political outsider, along with her work helping people seeking transformation, make her the best-suited candidate for the country at this time. 

Marianne Williamson has built a successful career as public speaker and author of more than a dozen books on topics such as spiritual growth and personal transformation.  In the 1980’s, she founded Project Angel Food, a charity for patients with HIV/AIDS. In 2014, she ran for a Congressional seat in her home state of California. She came in 4th in a crowded Democratic primary.

Here are some highlights from our interview with Williamson.  It’s lightly edited for clarity. Listen here for the full conversation. 



You're aiming very high here, the highest office of the land, some would say the most powerful position in the world. Why not gain some experience first, running again for Congress or Senate?

Williamson: I've had a lot of experience. There are other experiences, there are other kinds of qualifications. Anybody who thinks that somebody who served two terms in Congress, that that gives them the elevated consciousness and the depth of gravitas necessary to lead this country doesn't realize what Congressmen do all day.


Credit Ali Oshinskie/NHPR
Williamson, speaking on The Exchange, challenged the idea that political experience is the best kind of experience for a future president.

I offer an understanding of the moral, spiritual, emotional and psychological issues that prevail within the life of a nation, just as they prevail within the life of an individual and that must be addressed if America is to do more than just defeat Donald Trump. The task is much bigger than that. We need to totally interrupt a trajectory that got us here. And those whose careers are based on maintaining that trajectory don't necessarily have the vision. The political establishment and a lot of the media establishment fulfill the same aristocratic archetype that's at work everywhere else in America. It's the idea of a small club who seems to think they're entitled, who seems to think they're the ones who know and they're the only ones worthy of our trust going forward. This is how we work and where has it gotten us? 


"There are some who do not find my candidacy convenient to their purposes."

Question from a listener: How can you get your voice into the conversation with the 20 other candidates who have greater political connections than you have? 

Williamson: There is definitely a media and political establishment who do not find my candidacy convenient to their purposes. I think as more people understand what's going on in this country, they see my candidacy as an example of how this system works: The aristocracy feels entitled and they're going to control the conversation. And who are they to say who's a serious candidate? That's not what the Constitution says. But I'm going to keep going and I hope the people will continue to support me because that's not how America should work.



Economic policy

Williamson describes her economic policy as “Capitalism with a Conscience”.  Within that broad heading, she includes specifics such as repealing the 2017 tax cut and social programs addressing education and health care. “It's all of one piece” she said. Here are excerpts from her policy proposals.

  • “I would repeal that 2017 tax cut although I would put back in the middle class tax cuts.”
  • “What I want is a massive and immediate infusion of economic hope and opportunity into the hands of the American people. Immediate universal health care, raise the minimum wage cancel or renegotiate all of those college loans and make college free and do these things quickly.”
  • “When you have a Green New Deal type of situation, you have massive infrastructure repair and with that massive job creation. So once [that happens], then you know how much we will need to augment that with universal basic income.”


Credit Ali Oshinskie/NHPR
Marianne Williamson speaking on The Exchange about her plans to repeal the 2017 tax cut and augment job creation with universal basic income.

Can you be more specific about your plan for free college? Free for all kinds of college? Or is it free public universities and community college? 

Williamson: Well, that's a pretty interesting question and there's a lot to think about there. But I think that basically, yeah, I think it should just be available for people. I think that this is the point: America is better off when people produce. America is better off when people are free to create. 

"I want to remove all material shackles that would keep you from being able to actualize your potential energy."

  This is what the young people of America will feel when I'm president: I'm going to do everything possible to create the conditions for you to be everything that you can be. I want to remove all material shackles that would keep you from being able to actualize your potential energy. In return for that, I want you to go out there and be everything that you can be. This society is going to invest in you. Right now, our government almost acts punitively towards people.


How would you fund for Medicare for All? 

Williamson: First of all, once you repeal the 2017 tax cut and get rid of these corporate subsidies, then you have more money. As for Medicare for All, there are many things we could do such as Bernie Sanders talks about, a penny from every stock trade going to the government. 

However, we need to change our thinking. When you look at how much money would be available to people because they do not have to pay for healthcare, that is much more that they can spend on their own self-actualization. That then increases your consumer base, creates jobs and increases our tax revenue. To me, having a Medicare-for-All type of system, we are ultimately putting more money into our economy and reducing the deficit. 

We need to think about the things that we need to do to make the average American's life healthier.  (Obamacare was) not enough, not at all. Because nothing challenges the corporate structure -- nothing says, "Hey, the toxins, the carcinogens, and the poisons in our atmosphere and our Earth.” But even taking into account all the ways that the economic anxiety and other forms of anxiety that are promulgated by a corrupt political system creates so much stress and stress is part of what makes people so sick. So we need to have a holistic vision not just of how to treat sickness but how to help the average American be healthier. 


National Security

Williamson: There are four main factors are involved in peace creation, which when they are presented statistically, increase peace and decrease violence. Number one: expanding economic opportunities for women. Number two: expanding educational opportunities for children. Number three: reducing violence against women. Number four: diminishing unnecessary human suffering wherever possible. We should see large groups of desperate people as a national security risk. Desperate people are more vulnerable to ideological capture by genuinely psychotic forces. 


Standing out in a crowded Democratic field:
"I'm having an authentic and fierce conversation that I don't believe others are having."

Williamson: I'm having an authentic and fierce conversation that I don't believe others are having. I'm talking about the millions of American children living in chronic trauma whose despair is simply normalized by our political establishment because their lack of financial leverage. I'm talking about the deep corruption of our national security agenda. I'm talking about what's really going down with race relations in America. I'm sorry but I haven't heard that from anyone else. 

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