{{featured_button_text}}

WASHINGTON — Marianne Williamson for president!

It is perhaps not the best sign for Democratic prospects in the 2020 election that on a stage packed with senators, governors and the odd congressman and mayor, the one who repeatedly soared above the others Tuesday night was the New Age author and spiritual adviser to Cher.

But, again and again, this impossibly youthful 67-year-old with a comical patrician accent broke through with a cut-the-crap sensibility. She kept pushing her higher-profile competitors to think, and talk, in deeper perspective and sweeping context.

Dana Milbank mug

Milbank

Goaded by CNN’s Jake Tapper, the candidates spent the first half hour of the debate — the only part of the 2.5-hour extravaganza many will have seen — arguing angrily about their competing health plans. It was desultory, and about as practical as debating how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

Then came Williamson. “Everything that we’re talking about here tonight is what’s wrong with American politics,” she said. “When it — when we’re talking about health care, we need to talk about more than just the health-care plan.” She advised against getting hung up committing to a Medicare-for-all plan, “because if that’s our big fight, then the Republicans will so shut us down on everything else.”

The other nine on the stage resumed their squabbles, making big deals of small differences, until fairness required a question be directed at Williamson — as chance would have it, about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.

She drew applause for saying this “would not have happened in Grosse Pointe,” a wealthy Michigan enclave, then brought this back to her theme: “This is part of the dark underbelly of American society, the racism, the bigotry. And the entire conversation that we’re having here tonight — if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

Register for more free articles.
Stay logged in to skip the surveys.

Williamson went on: “We need to say it like it is. It’s bigger than Flint. It’s all over this country, it’s particularly people of color. It’s particularly people who do not have the money to fight back. And if the Democrats don’t start saying it, then why would those people feel that they’re there for us? And if those people don’t feel it, they won’t vote for us, and Donald Trump will win.”

Bingo. She seemed to grasp what others on the stage didn’t as they argued over small differences. As Trump proved in 2016, voters don’t much care about 10-point policy plans — what Williamson calls “wonkiness” — nor even about whether a politician’s promises are realistic. They like candidates who speak plainly and passionately.

In a sense, Williamson has the luxury of speaking plainly and passionately because she has zero chance of being the Democratic nominee. But those who do might take notice, and stop squabbling about the finer points.

Asked about her plan to make college free for all, including children of the wealthy, Williamson turned against the wonks again. “I’ve heard some people here tonight, I almost wonder why you’re Democrats,” she said. “You seem to think there’s something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people. That is what government should do.”

Asked about gun safety, likewise, she turned against her competitors, saying that because they accept contributions from corporate donors, “I don’t think the Democratic Party should be surprised that so many Americans believe yada, yada, yada.”

Her ideas are, often, utterly impractical. On guns, she blithely proposed a constitutional amendment. Otherwise, “it’s just the same old, same old.” On slavery reparations, she said, “anything less than a hundred billion dollars is an insult and $200 billion to $500 billion is politically feasible.”

But she’s right about one big thing, which she returned to in the closing moments of the debate. “Our problem is not just that we need to defeat Donald Trump,” she said. “We need a plan to solve institutionalized hatred, collectivized hatred and white nationalism. And in order to do that, we need more than political insider game and wonkiness and intellectual argument.”

Williamson will not be the Democratic nominee. But hopefully the one who will be is taking note.

Be the first to know - Sign up for News Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

2
0
0
0
0

(24) comments

new2Lax

If only a third and fourth term would be possible, the country would more than likely proceed to success at a feverish pitch. We are going great guns as we speak but another couple terms of Trump and we will have a good start on Making America Great Again.

oldhomey

Achthung, new2! Be careful what you wish for. I think Trump may be trying to arrange that for you. Stay tuned.

johnnybragatti

crank needs to : Return To Love, and take the dmoney and his life partner : ExLax too nude, with him. and possibly go back to where they came from.

crank

Yawn...[sleeping]

new2Lax

Your not supposed to say that. Oop’s I forgot, your Democrat.

crank

It must be a real toss-up for Democrats to chose between Oprah’s spiritual advisor or the guy telling us it’s too late and we should start moving to higher ground. [beam]

oldhomey

Well, crank, there are 16 more months before this comes down to a face off with your guy, Donald Trump. I think there is a fair chance that the Democrats can find somebody who will steer the election choice to either Trump or a Democrat yet to be determined who stands for honesty and integrity, two qualities that demonstrably mean nothing to you, while showing us a plan to strengthen and broaden the Affordable Care Act and the resolve to restore quickly the damage Trump has done to all of our international trade and defense alliances, restore the dispassionate professionalism of our government agencies that Trump poisoned, and restore the essential government safeguards and regulatory laws that Trump has been smashing and corrupting. In other words, a candidate who stands up for basic decency, another quality you demonstrably have no time for, but what most Americans long for. If the Democrats go off the rails and decide to do their own version of blowing up the government for extremist left-wing ideology, as Trump is doing for extremist right-wing ideology, I would hope and pray somebody will emerge as a third party choice willing to go the route I described that I am hoping the Democrats will follow. Given that choice, a lot of people will abandon their usual voting pattern in the presidential race, I should think, maybe enough to vote a real adult into the White House and deliver a lesson to both parties about what Americans really want from their political process. A pipe dream? I suppose so, but not totally inconceivable. Not after seeing your champion, Donald Trump, become president.

DMoney

What ever happened to the Starbucks guy? I could have voted for him.



By the way, which international defense alliance has Trump damaged exactly?

oldhomey

Have you noticed our traditional allies rushing to the Persian Gulf to join us and our armada there to play chicken with the Iranians, D? Have you heard European leaders lately extolling our commitment to NATO and their confidence in our willingness to stand in solidarity against common aggressors? Have you been thrilled to see our defense partners working closely with us to work out a strategy to neutralize China's fortifying the South China Sea as it attempts to turn it into its own private lake? Have noticed how our two closest Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, have fulsomely praised Trump's indifference to North Korea's continued nuclear build-up and missle testing?

DMoney

Why, yes, I did notice the British rush a couple of frigates to the straight of Hormuz last week in response to Iranian aggression. I've noticed whining by NATO but no talk of dissolving it or kicking out the US. It's just talk. China has been building military infastructure and hardware in the south China Sea for years, well early in Obama's tenure. Obama initiated the "pivot" to Asia. In that time, including up till now, we've continued regular multinational exercises such as RIMPAC. We continue annual training with SK and Japan. I wonder if Japan prefers ICBMS flying over it's country? Stopped happening since Trump took his efforts.

oldhomey

They rushed in after British flagged ships were seized by Iran, a very stupid tactical blunder on Iran's part. Who else is there? Who else is cheering us on? NATO can't "kick out" the U.S., though I shouldn't dispute somebody who says he is way ahead of everybody else on these boards when it comes to geopolitics. If the U.S. is gone, it is no longer a treaty between the great powers of the North Atlantic. Duh. I don't recall ICBMs flying over Japan from North Korea until a certain brilliant president started mocking Kim as "Rocket Man". The man is a natural statesman and superb diplomat who needs no knowledge whatsoever beyond what he carries in his ample gut for his "instincts". The U.S. military has been carping pretty heavily because, indeed, the full-bore military exercises with South Korea have ceased, by the way. The point about the South China Sea is that we used to have a world of reliable allies we could work in concert with to pressure the Chinese. We don't have that luxury anymore. Thank you, Donald Trump.

crank

Considering my comments was a light-hearted, tongue in cheek jab, you sure spent a great deal of time composing this lengthy response which I didn’t bother to read. Every comment, little fella? Not obsessing? #triggered

oldhomey

I am crushed, crank -- CRUSHED! -- that you blithely ignored my response, not even bothering to read it. It is an object lesson for me, I guess, having formerly thinking that you boasted about taking extreme measures against posters with whom you disagreed.

new2Lax

You have a choice for a third party now and you do really support them but you are too cowardly to back them openly, there’s no way these knuckleheads are going to make you look like a fool too. I’m just assuming here but it’s more than likely true. The vast majority of the country feels the same way but they seem to show a little more courage than you. Disguise, masquerade, cover up, hide, deceive, all this sounds to me like how you see it to get these loons in, I’m sure these may be quality traits in some countries but I’m sure not here. You suppose the rest of the Democrats do the same thing.

oldhomey

Dang! new2 has stripped me bare and held me up for righteous public ridicule for being a coward and a fool. I am converting immediately and joining the camp of Donald Trump, the most honest, straight-talking, knowledgeable, wise, decent and moral president that any country ever had or ever will have. How do you feel about a third term for him, new2?

Kronosaurus

I think Dana wrote a horrible column. Williamson is not saying anything new here. She is using emotion to make arguments. Since when have Dems NOT pointed out that Flint was due in large part to racism? The one thing Dana got right was that she could say it like she did because she has no chance of winning. What he should point out is that she is pulling a Trump. She's probably running so that she can sell books. CNN made a big deal about how she was the most googled candidate after the debate. No doubt that translated into a few book sales.



And going after Democratic wonkiness is the oldest cliche of all. Should they resort to GOP platitudes and simpleton ideas so as to connect with the IDs of the voters? Is that where we are at?

oldhomey

Krono, thank you. I could not agree more with your 3:31pm post. I, too, think Williamson is simply the reverse, Democratic side of the Donald Trump coin, a clever opportunist who is abundantly, demonstrably a hopeless ignoramus. I am astonished at the number of political commentators, most of whom I respect, who have given her reputation a boost on the strength of what she said in the debates. I am not particularly astute about the political world, but I did not see her say a single thing that was meaningful or germane to the issues our nation faces. Her New Age air-headedness is particularly off-putting to me. I hope to God that my reaction to her and her performance is not generational, that younger people would find value in anything she says. She talks in sound byte generalities and has never -- never -- shown the grasp of actual facts that we need in our governance, the quality she derides as "wonkiness". We have a dishonest, self-promoting ignoramus in the White House right now, with disastrous results and constant, churning turmoil and destructive uncertainty. Why would Williamson be any different? And Milbank's sniffy dismissiveness that she cannot possibly get the nomination is laughable, given the man we saw the GOP give the nomination to in 2016. I can accept, being deep into my 70s, that the zeitgeist of the moment has passed me by, that I may be bereft of being able to understand it very well, but, sheesh, if people take Williamson seriously on the basis of her debate performance, America is in a crisis mode, given who already is in charge in the White House.

new2Lax

If any voter takes any of these clowns seriously, I’d be shocked. You so the raise of hands for open borders last debate and because it was a visual accountability aid, you can bet you will not see it again. Decriminalizing illegals entering the country was truly one of the worst things I have heard, I thought, until these knuckleheads want to take away company sponsored health insurance. There is near 170 million people covered by this arrangement and these workers have negotiated away in many cases a lesser wage for an increase in health care benefits, this will not fly and again it is shocking anyone would even think its a good thing. This is a tool companies use to attract the very best, it comes at a cost and the employee is also a beneficiary in this arrangement. It is a win win situation and there actually needs to be more of this type of arrangements made with employees. This is probably the worst group of candidates put forth in the last 100 years, one nuttier than the next. Who is your choice and why. Biden hardly knows where he is, Sanders, Warren and Harris with their open borders or taking away insurance from 180 million people, decriminalizing illegal crossings, getting rid of Homeland Security, free healthcare for illegals, raising taxes on the middle class, the green new deal, and just so many other goofy thoughts. Each of these issues is a loser.

johnnybragatti

No one dumber than Exlatoonude, he never made it very far in life for a reason. No wonder he is such a crab-face. Can you imagine if he had kids?

johnnybragatti

Above and beyond fantastically fabulous, to the point.

new2Lax

A major Democrat event just took place and the high point is the views of a physic and I’m not suggesting her views seemed any better than the open borders, free everything crowd but she has a better chance of being elected than all the others. You heard it and you so the hands raised which by the way you will never see again in a Democrat debate because you saw the unexpectedly the truth with your own eyes, this was a horrible blunder by MSNBC. Getting these people by a show of hands, to tell the truth and not able to lie as to what they meant, ain’t in the play book. Is there any wonder why MSNBC is at the bottom rung f the ladder. I’m not so sure if the spouses of these folks would have more of a bias than these clowns.


oldhomey

I expect for a man of your age and temperament, new2, a "physic" is always a major and pleasurable undertaking for you. Did Ms. Williamson's commentary penetrate into your psyche through the opening of your nether region? Did it have a purgative effect on you, ridding of the accumulated waste matter that so obviously fills you up to distraction? I hope so, and maybe having evacuated all that b.s. messing you up you will come to these comment boards with a little more joy and useful insight than what you usually bring here.

oldhomey

Did I say "usually"? How careless of me. It is what you always bring to these discussions.

johnnybragatti

Ultamino perfecto !!!in every single, solitary, way,shape and form.,Oh and :"outta the park" !!!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.