Marianne Williamson is a Democratic candidate for president of the United States in 2020.
Williamson is a lecturer and author who has published 13 books. She previously ran for office in 2014 as an independent candidate to represent California's 33rd Congressional District.
Williamson also founded Project Angel Food, a meal delivery service for homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area, and the nonprofit Peace Alliance.
Williamson was born in 1952 and grew up in Houston, Texas. She attended Ponoma College in California for two years. Williamson read the book A Course in Miracles in her mid-20s, which she has credited with launching her career as an author and lecturer.
Williamson lectured on the book throughout the 1980s. In 1989, she founded Project Angel Food, a program delivering food to homebound individuals with AIDS in the Los Angeles area. She co-founded The Peace Alliance in 2004. The nonprofit says it aims to educate and advocate around peacebuilding, including a campaign for the establishment of a U.S. Department of Peace.
As of the beginning of her presidential campaign, Williamson had published 13 books, including four New York Times #1 best sellers. She also had appeared as a guest on television shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, and Real Time With Bill Maher.
Williamson ran as an independent to represent California's 33rd Congressional District in the U.S. House in 2014. She placed fourth in an 18-candidate field, receiving 13 percent of the vote in the top-two primary election.
Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
1. In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
2. Do you support expanding federal funding to support entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare?
Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
Do you support increasing defense spending?
1. Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
2. Do you support lowering corporate taxes as a means of promoting economic growth?
Do you support requiring states to adopt federal education standards?
1. Do you support government funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geo-thermal)?
2. Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
Do you generally support gun-control legislation?
Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")?
1. Do you support the construction of a wall along the Mexican border?
2. Do you support requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
1. Should the United States use military force to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a weapon of mass destruction (for example: nuclear, biological, chemical)?
2. Do you support reducing military intervention in Middle East conflicts?
1. Do you generally support removing barriers to international trade (for example: tariffs, quotas, etc.)?
- Unknown Position
How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?
- China is aggressively engaging in theft, practicing commercial espionage, and ignoring intellectual-property rights as well as trampling on human rights and democracy in their drive to dominate global markets. The US must maintain a strong position regarding China with regard to economics, politics, and human rights.
China’s treatment of the Uighurs and of Hong Kong reflect their aggressive drive for domination and their disdain for human rights and democracy. The United States needs to stand up for human rights and call out the gross violations of human rights committed by China. It’s a good thing that this week Secretary Pompeo denounced China’s treatment of the Uighurs. We should also be speaking out against the authoritarian push for greater control in Hong Kong where thousands of people are demonstrating for their democratic rights.
Additionally, the US has the power to prevent China from buying strategically important companies, which we have done through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS). We should exercise this power more vigorously as we defend our economic interests and human rights for all.
Would you rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? What changes to the existing agreement, if any, would you require before agreeing to rejoin the accord?
- I would rejoin the JCPOA, a historic achievement in multilateral diplomacy. Every IAEA report confirmed Iran's compliance. US withdrawal and severe sanctions violated the trust that had been painstakingly built. Rejoining the JCPOA will require healing from this rupture and rebuilding trust.
After the deal, Iranian moderates gained popularity and fundamentalists lost power. President Rouhani was elected to restore the economy and improve relationships with the West. Foreign Minister Zarif, who led negotiations, had a good relationship with then Secretary Kerry. This deal was intended as a first step toward improving relationships.
The Supreme Leader and hardliners opposed the deal. US withdrawal increases their popularity and justifies their mistrust of the US. Our sanctions are harming the Iranian people.
US propaganda exaggerates threats, and falsely claims the deal lets Iran get nuclear weapons within 10 years. This disregards the likelihood of changed dynamics and improved relationships. Iran is a potential ally against Sunni extremism with many common interests to build upon.
Over half of Iran’s graduate students are women. About 60% of the people are under 30. Many of them want normal relations with the West.
Iran is a political football. The UAE and Saudi Arabia do not want the US to improve relations with Iran and would like to provoke a war. It is said that the Saudis want to fight Iranians to the last American. We need to be careful to not be drawn into war by those who want us to fight Iranians for them. I would increase diplomacy, decrease tensions, and transform relations to create a context to address human rights and other issues. Sanctions relief and purchasing Air Buses would support travel, entrepreneurship and normalization.
Would you sign an agreement with North Korea that entailed partial sanctions relief in exchange for some dismantling of its nuclear weapons program but not full denuclearization?
- Nuclear weapons are a symptom of conflict, fear, insecurity, and a drive to dominate. Denuclearization will follow more naturally and easily with decreased tensions and improved relationships.
Sanctions are a form of economic warfare with a high rate of failure. Punitive, coercive policies do not always achieve the best outcomes. Sanctions harm innocent people, escalate conflicts and can put us on a path to war. They can provoke targeted populations to rally round the flag, support hardliners and inflame resentment against America.
We can achieve superior outcomes with clear-eyed respect and steps towards thawing the ice. This could help improve our relationship with Kim Jong Un and de-escalate threats from North Korea.
Actions that can be taken to reduce tension and build a stable and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula including the following:
Action might also include partial sanctions relief in exchange for some serious dismantling of their nuclear weapons program, as steps towards de-escalation and improved relations.
Negotiating a peace agreement would end the Korean War and ease denuclearization. It could shift resources away from endless wars to human needs, improving life for millions of North Koreans and reducing a global threat.
What, if any, steps would you take to counter Russian aggression against Ukraine?
- Part of the Russian aggression against Ukraine involves the Russian interference with the Ukrainian elections. Methods that Russia used against the United States in the 2016 election were first used against the Ukrainians. Russia launched a cyber Pearl Harbor attack against the United States and successfully interfered in our elections. I support a vigorous investigation into the Russian interference in elections in the US, Ukraine and Europe, and massively strengthened cyber-security for US elections.
Would you commit to the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of your first term, or would you require certain conditions be met before doing so?
- Updated August 16, 2019: The US government is negotiating with the Taliban, discussing US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban’s agreement to renounce al-Qaeda and prevent al-Qaeda from operating in areas under Taliban control. My concern has to do with the rights of women, towards whom the Taliban have been known for a history of brutality. When elected, I will talk with the appropriate voices for women in Afghanistan, and factor their protection and rights into all plans for withdrawal. The protection of women and women’s rights must be part of any agreement.
Original Response: The US war in Afghanistan has raged for almost 17 years at enormous expense of blood and treasure. About 15,000 troops are still deployed with no hope of a military victory and no clarity on what an end game looks like. I would confer with the women of Afghanistan to get their sense of what’s needed in their country. My aim would be a safe withdrawal of all US troops as soon as possible. We should consider some kind of UN or nonviolent people force that could assist in the transition.
Given the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the civil war in Yemen, what changes, if any, would you make to U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia?
- The United States needs to take a much stronger position with regard to Saudi Arabia. Although great measures were taken to distract the American people, it was mainly Saudis who attacked the Twin Towers on 9/11, not Iraqis.
When the US attacked Iraq, we decimated Iraq and strengthened the hand of Iran in the Iraq-Iran regional contest for power. The Saudis are now competing with Iran for regional hegemony.
The Saudi-led genocidal war in Yemen is being fought with US support. U.S. Air Force pilots are reportedly providing in-air refueling so Saudi and UAE warplanes can bomb Yemen, and US special forces are fighting alongside Saudi troops in what the New York Times called “a continuing escalation of America’s secret wars.”
We must stop US involvement in the war in Yemen, as Congress has voted to do. The Constitution gives the power of declaring war to Congress and we must respect the authority of Congress in this regard.
We should reject all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
We should press for an independent criminal investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi including any role that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have played in his death, as called for by the UN expert on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, after her five month investigation revealed the operation was carefully planned and endorsed by high level Saudis. American intelligence officials have concluded that the Crown Prince ordered the killing.
Do you support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, if so, how would you go about trying to achieve it?
The United States should have an equal and simultaneous support for both the legitimate security concerns of Israel, and the human rights, dignity and economic opportunities of the Palestinian people.
I will be a president who listens deeply to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Leaders of the Palestinian Authority will know that I hear them and understand their plight, yet nothing is going to sway me from my commitment to the legitimate security of Israel. Israeli leaders will know that I hear them and understand their plight, yet nothing is going to sway me from my commitment to the human rights, dignity and economic hopes of the Palestinian people.
I do not believe the settlements on the West Bank are legal. Also, I would rescind the president's affirmation of sovereignty of Israel over the Golan Heights. I understand the occupation of the Golan Heights, but only until there is a stable government in Syria with whom one can negotiate.
According to international law, the occupation of a territory does not give the occupying country a right to annex it. Also, according to international law, the resources of the occupied territory are to be used for the good of those living there.
I also do not support the blockade of Gaza.
I will use pressure afforded me as president of the United States to exert pressure on Israel to restart talks on a two-state solution.
What, if any, additional steps should the United States take to remove Nicolás Maduro from power in Venezuela?
- The US government - including under Obama - has wanted regime change in Venezuela since at least 2002 (year of the failed military coup against Chávez), and the efforts it’s undertaken to remove the leftwing governments of Chávez and now Maduro have consistently made things worse in Venezuela and have arguably harmed US regional interests.
The US government has for years supported radical elements of the opposition, those that support destabilization campaigns and military coups, rather than more moderate factions that support electoral solutions, and in so doing have exacerbated the internal polarization in the country which has, in turn, contributed to the current political crisis. The Trump administration’s support for Guaidó, who - until recently was calling for a military coup against Maduro and refusing all dialogue - is an example of this counterproductive approach.
Since 2017 the Trump administration has been trying to force Maduro out through increasingly damaging economic sanctions that have made the country’s economic crisis worse and generated higher levels of migration out of the country, creating enormous difficulties for neighboring countries. The end result has been more human suffering - including thousands of avoidable deaths - and, ironically, the consolidation of Maduro’s rule over the country, as the lower income chavista base has rallied in his defense against “imperial intervention.”
If the US really wants to see a peaceful political transition in Venezuela it needs to help create the conditions for effective dialogue, which means supporting moderate factions on both sides that seek a peaceful transition and supporting existing efforts to promote dialogue, in particular those being led at the moment - with some success - by the Norwegian government.
The historical record shows that when the US government engages in aggressive intervention to remove a leader that it dislikes, its efforts generally backfire or lead to unforeseen political and social developments that are not easy to resolve. The best policy in Venezuela and most places is to support efforts that allow the country’s citizens to decide on their political future (even if it’s not exactly the sort of future that the US favors).
By 2050, Africa will account for 25 percent of the world’s population according to projections by the United Nations. What are the implications of this demographic change for the United States, and how should we adjust our policies to anticipate them?
- We are wrong to ignore Africa because it is the continent with the fastest growing population. In a generation, Nigeria may have a larger population than the US. While some African countries manage their economies well, others have poor economies and risk becoming failed states. Failing states can become grounds for terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, for epidemics as was seen with the Ebola virus in Eastern Congo or sources of refugees seeking political asylum. Ignoring Africa means ignoring real risks to our security.
At the same time, a growing Africa also means opportunities we should not ignore. Angola has a president who is reversing decades of corruption. Algeria and Sudan are seeking peaceful transitions or power, and South Africa is struggling to re-establish economic growth and build opportunity for its people. In each case the United States could have been involved in these positive developments but was not.
1. Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
- The TPP would need greater protections for workers and the environment for me to support it.
How would you discourage the proliferation of coal-fired power plants in developing countries?
- We have the opportunity to leap frog over fossil fuels and dirty energy and build clean renewable energy systems in developing countries. The US should redirect subsidies away from fossil fuels including coal and invest them in building renewable energy power, both in the US and abroad.
What has been the greatest foreign policy accomplishment of the United States since World War II? What has been the biggest mistake?
- Accomplishment: the Marshall Plan
Mistake: Nuclear weapons escalation
An election for president of the United States will be held on November 3, 2020. Williamson announced that she was running for president on January 28, 2019.
Williamson ran in the 2014 election for the U.S. House to represent California's 33rd District. Williamson was defeated in the blanket primary. She came in fourth with roughly 13 percent of the vote.
|U.S. House, California District 33 Primary, 2014|
|Source: California Secretary of State|
© Getty Images BY MARINA PITOFSKY | THE HILL 2020 hopeful Marianne Williamson clarified her stance on a host of issues, including vaccinations, in a tweet Wednesday, arguing that “misrepresentations” of her were in “high gear this morning." “Misrepresentations of my work are in high gear this morning, so just in case it need be said: I am not anti-vaxx. I am pro-science & medicine. I’ve never suggested to anyone they should pray away their illness & not see a doctor. I’ve never blamed a victim nor fat-shamed anyone,” the author and activist tweeted Wednesday. It was not immediately clear what criticisms Williamson was addressing. Last month, Williamson walked back comments calling mandated vaccines “draconian” and “Orwellian,” comparing them to 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,” Williamson said at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. But the next day, Williamson tweeted that “many vaccines are important and save lives." "I recognize there are epidemics around the world that are stopped by vaccines,” Williamson wrote. “I also understand some of the skepticism that abounds today about drugs which are rushed to market by Big Pharma. I am sorry that I made comments which sounded as though I question the validity of life-saving vaccines. That is not my feeling and I realize that I misspoke.” In her 2010 book “A Course in Weight Loss: Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight,” Williamson writes that losing weight is the key to becoming “more your true self,” according to Business Insider. Williamson also wrote that people may gain weight in response to sexual violence because they want to “hide behind a wall of weight,” although Williamson’s Wednesday tweet does not specifically mention the reaction to her book. The Hill has reached out to Williamson’s campaign for comment.
Marianne Williamson speaks during the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sunday. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg) By Megan McArdle | The Washington Post New Hampshire may be the Granite State, but it appears to have a wee soft spot for long-shot presidential candidate Marianne Williamson. The best-selling self-help author garnered 1.5 percent support in a new Democratic primary poll by St. Anselm College. Critics will quibble that 1.5 percent is . . . not anything close to a majority. Indeed, it’s within the poll’s margin of error. But that still beats “serious” candidates such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (1.2 percent) and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (0.7 percent). Besides, Williamson tells us in “ A Return to Love,” “the world of the human storyline . . . is a veil in front of a more real world, a collective dream.” So let’s take a moment to dream about, well, a collective return to love, if only because her candidacy offers so many interesting parallels to that of our current president. One can sketch a path for Williamson to the presidency, though it’s a narrow, meandering one through remote mountains and high cliffs. Her sort of metaphysical spirituality has a distinguished pedigree in American culture, and as Norman Vincent Peale and Joel Osteen could attest, the deity she invokes — a cosmic grandparent, affectionate and undemanding — appeals across the political spectrum. She’s also a celebrity. Especially in a divided field, celebrities can sweep to an unexpected victory thanks to name recognition and unimpeachable outsider credentials, as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump all did. Williamson’s celebrity has been underremarked because her work sits at the profitable intersection of spirituality and self-help, two genres disdained by the political class. Which leaves the political class with an unfortunate blind spot: capable of naming every third-tier conservative radio host but often drawing a blank on figures such as Dave Ramsey, the evangelical Christian personal-finance guru who attracts 14 million radio and digital listeners a week. Williamson isn’t quite in Ramsey territory, but she has sold millions of books, and her fan base could push her through at least the September debates. With some difficulty, one can then imagine Williamson’s gripping and unconventional debate performances earning her a plurality in a crowded primary field. That would retrace Trump’s path in 2016 — one reason it’s unlikely, because Democrats are forewarned. But Williamson has some of Trump’s other strengths: no inconvenient record of unpopular political decisions to explain, no political relationships yoking her to an ossified party consensus, no policy experience. That last is a great disadvantage once you’re in office, as President Trump keeps demonstrating. But before that, he showed us an unexpected upside. When you don’t know how hard policy is, you’re not afraid to make big promises and to phrase those promises for voter appeal, not for verisimilitude. Williamson is already deploying many of the tactics with which Trump covered his policy deficits and is using them more deftly. She avoids the embarrassment of mangled detail by shunning specifics in favor of general statements of principle. Or she changes the subject entirely, as when she dodged a debate question about prescription drug prices by detouring into environmental degradation and poor diets. Such workarounds served Trump surprisingly well. Only a small-but-influential fraction of the base really craves wonky detail. Though a much larger portion of today’s Democratic base is mostly looking for an anti-Trump, it will be hard to sell them on a different inexperienced celebrity. Yet we should note that in one respect, Williamson is the only true anti-Trump to emerge thus far. The core of Trump’s campaign was rage: at the foreigners, the media and the Republican establishment who had collectively destroyed American greatness. Appalled Democrats went on the debate stage last month and offered us instead . . . rage at the Republican establishment. Along with bankers and pharmaceutical executives and Trump himself, who loomed larger on the stage than any actual candidate. The targets might be different, and some of them are better, but the promise is essentially the same: Vote for me, and I will smite the unrighteous with fire and brimstone. Then I will deliver their ill-gotten gains unto thee. Only Williamson declined to fight the enemy on the ground of his choosing. She exuded an ineffable, almost otherworldly positivity, even when attacking multinational corporations or Trump. “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. . . . I will meet you on that field. And, sir, love will win.” If the United States is truly hungering for something different from the past few years, then Williamson should win in a landslide. Likely? Not remotely. But it seems possible, though only barely, that voters might eventually conclude, “We could do worse than a four-year love-in.” After all, we just did.
By Joseph A. Wulfsohn | Fox News 2020 Marianne Williamson pledges that she will make America a better place to grow up than New Zealand Ed presses Marianne Williamson on her odd pledge about New Zealand. Spiritual guru and 2020 Democratic hopeful Marianne Williamson asked white members of her audience at an event last July to apologize to black people also in attendance for slavery, lynching, police brutality and other issues. According to the Houston Chronicle, Williamson opened a stop of her "Love America" tour by asking all white people in the audience to stand up during an opening prayer. She then asked them to hold hands with black members of the audience nearby, and start by saying "I apologize." "With nearly 200 black people in the audience on their feet, Williamson apologized for slavery, lynching, murders, rapes of black women, destruction of the black family, mass incarceration of black men, being called the N-word and systemic and institutionalized racism and more," the Houston Chronicle's Joy Sewing wrote at the time. And, based on video from other times, it seems as though Williamson asked audiences at other events to make similar apologies. She also wrote a poem in 2016, titled "Prayer of Apology to African Americans." Williamson received lots of attention on social media following her big debut on the national stage during the first round of Democratic debates. In a recent New Hampshire poll, she ranked higher than Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, although factoring in the poll's margin of error, they were all statistically tied.
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