“Reports of the end of my campaign have been drastically exaggerated today,” Marianne Williamson tweeted after laying off her entire campaign staff—as one does when one is ending one’s campaign. But not Marianne—Marianne insists that she is not ending her campaign just because she’s fired all her staff.
And maybe you don’t need staff for “a moral and spiritual awakening in the country.” I mean, that sounds a little bit like something one might need staff for, but let’s not forget that Marianne occupies a spiritual plane, a place where one does not need the normal human accoutrements that weigh down regular mortal candidates.
And for someone who is running to “fundamentally change the patterns of our political dysfunction,” her campaign had contained a fair amount of dysfunction, not including the time she direct-messaged my mom on Twitter to complain about me. “I understand your daughter is young and doesn't know better,” Marianne wrote, “but given your own career and the fact that we've met, I would have thought you'd at least be open to a non-corporate political voice in the mix.”
But I am not here to dredge up residual bitterness. I am not using my platform to say that even though I know she was complaining about me, I sort of liked being called young, because let’s be honest, I’m 41, which is not young.
No, there’s been more dysfunction than just some Erica Jong direct messaging. For example, Marianne has a complicated relationship with vaccinations. In New Hampshire, she said, “To me, it’s no different than the abortion debate. The U.S. government doesn't tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child.” She added that vaccine mandates are too “draconian” & “Orwellian.” After receiving pushback, she tweeted, “I understand that many vaccines are important and save lives,” but then she continued with: “I also understand some of the skepticism that abounds today about drugs which are rushed to market by Big Pharma.” The measles vaccine has been around 55 years, but who’s counting? Certainly not all those children who didn’t die of measles.
But perhaps none of this anti-science stuff should come as a huge surprise. After all, in 2009, Marianne wrote a blog post entitled "Pray Away the Swine Flu," which puzzlingly invoked Martin Luther King and included the paragraph:
So, don't be fooled when it comes to this conversation about the swine flu. This flu wasn't created on the level of the body, because no disease is. It was created on the level of the mind, and it is there that we will root it out at the causal level.
Now, I’m no doctor. I’m not even a Ph.D. But I can promise you that there is no possible way to pray away the swine flu. Thank you for coming to my obvious things talk.
And then there was Marianne’s appearance on the president’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, where she complained: “I would say that I feel that I’ve learned the system is even more corrupt than I knew, and people are even more wonderful than I hoped.” I’m not sure what any of those words mean when strung together in that order, but I am sure that the optics of going on Trump’s favorite morning show and complaining about the Democratic Party are not amazing when your objective in life is to get millions of Democrats to vote for you.
If Marianne hadn’t made it into two different debates (September and August), she might just be a fun wacky candidate who was running for president with the hopes of selling a few books and perhaps getting a TV show. But as soon as the DNC relaxed the requirements for debate qualifications, it inadvertently made her a representative of the Democratic Party.
Obviously, Tom Perez was over-correcting from 2016 (when the DNC was accused of favoring Clinton). But what he didn’t understand was that getting on that debate stage bestows a certain credibility. Being on that stage implies that you are a representative of and spokeswoman for the Democratic Party. When Tulsi Gabbard mounts her third party run, it will be in some part the DNC’s fault for elevating her.
The same is largely true for Marianne. Marianne matters because she made it to the debate stage, and she made it to the debate stage because the qualifications were shockingly low (at least 1 percent polling in three polls and 65,000 unique donors). So, Marianne is as much a product of the Democratic National Committee as she is of Oprah, who elevated her, or Liz Taylor, who had her perform her eighth wedding.
But back to the current state of Marianne’s wacky campaign—is this the end of the ministry of peace? You may remember the ministry of peace from Orwell’s 1984, where it engaged in war. Perhaps more can be gleaned by a gentle unpacking of this statement from Marianne’s still-functioning website. “I am not suspending my candidacy, however; a campaign not having a huge war chest should not be what determines its fate. The point of my candidacy has been to tell the heart’s truth and that does not cost money. Forging a new path for campaigns is going to be necessary, if we’re ever to forge a new path for our country.”
Maybe not having money shouldn’t theoretically determine the fate of a campaign, but it does actually literally determine the fate of all the terrestrial campaigns. Marianne has no incentive to drop out because as we’ve seen before (with Lyndon LaRouche and Jill Stein), running for president can be good business and good for the brand.
But it is bad for the Democratic Party and perhaps even for democracy as a whole because it trivializes the presidency. Of course we’re currently being ruled by a dimwitted reality television host who paints himself the color of ripened mangoes in the hopes of conveying a tan, so maybe we’re passed the point of trivialization, but either way Marianne Williamson isn’t gonna be president in this universe or in any of the other parallel universes where she is running. And I can’t help but feel that my mom is gonna hear from her again after this one.