Marianne Williamson Won the Democratic Primary

The Slatest

Marianne Williamson, in a dark suit, stands against a debate backdrop with the CNN logo repeating on it and makes a gesture with her hands as if measuring something in the air.

Marianne Williamson speaks during the Democratic presidential debate at the Fox Theatre on July 30, 2019, in Detroit.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On June 27, 2019, viewers of the second night of the first round of the Democratic presidential debates enjoyed what appeared to be a light diversion. There were 10 candidates crowded onstage, including the future presidential and vice presidential nominees, and they tended to get in one another’s way. Amid the confusion and early campaign fumbling, the most entertaining figure was the long-shot candidate and bestselling author Marianne Williamson, who combined a startling boldness—”The Democratic Party should be on the side of reparations for slavery”—with some fuzzy-seeming spiritual poetic rhetoric, in a way that sounded wholly out of place.

Her closing remarks, in particular, were nothing like what anybody else was saying:

I’m sorry we haven’t talked more tonight about how we’re going to beat Donald Trump. I have an idea about Donald Trump. 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. He’s going to be beaten by somebody who has an idea of what this man has done. This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he’s harnessed fear for political purposes. So, Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me, please. You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So, I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.

It was oddly stirring, but self-evidently kooky. Not something you’d hear from a real, professional politician. The campaign season carried on, and Williamson, as expected, got bumped off the stage when the debate qualifying rules tightened up. The more normal candidates, with their more normal messages about legislative records and policy proposals, took over. It was time to be serious about the election.

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Thirteen months after that debate, Joe Biden gave his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president, as the overwhelming choice of the voters and the party establishment.

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