Former U.S. presidential candidate Marianne Williamson discussed how the younger generation can shift the current political climate in the United States during a town hall at the University Student Center Amphitheater Tuesday.
Williamson spoke about the role of spirituality in American politics, how to shape the next generation of political leaders and some of her main takeaways from her presidential campaign, which drew about 50 attendees. GW’s chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America hosted the event, which was moderated by junior Carly Shaffer, the YDSA chapter president.
In an interview with The Hatchet before the event, Williamson said she decided to visit campus and connect with students because the United States is in a “very critical moment” with issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and young people can provide a new perspective for elected officials to break from a “20th-century thinking.”
“It’s about how we’re all coming out of COVID, and new conversations are in the air,” she said in the interview. “Obviously, I respect a school like GW. I mean, I respect it for obvious reasons. But this isn’t to me about some selection of place. It’s about the opportunity to speak with people, particularly people at a time like this.”
She said the United States needs a political “revolution” for politics to focus more closely on people’s “emotional” and “spiritual” well-being instead of protecting corporate or property rights. She said the Republican and the Democratic parties fail to offer real solutions to reform America’s economic and health care systems.
“My own personal perspective on this politically is that the Republican Party represents a total nosedive, and the Democratic Party represents a managed decline,” she said. “But both are based on tweaking a world that is essentially and fundamentally unworkable – a paradigm that is essentially unworkable.”
After campaigning for president during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, she now views the Democratic Party as “corrupt” and divided between “corporatists” like President Joe Biden and “progressives” like herself or former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. But she said young progressives should not give up on centrist Democrats, citing Biden’s recent Supreme Court nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, who would become the first Black, female associate Supreme Court justice if confirmed.
“The majority of American people want Medicare for All,” she said at the event. “The majority of American people want to raise the minimum wage. The majority of American people want to cancel the college loan debt – at least to some extent, they do. The majority of American people want free college. And yet progressives are consistently treated like errant children who just don’t understand.”
Williamson said more students who major in political science and the humanities should run for political office after they receive their degree. She said left-leaning leaders and political parties are not encouraging young people to run for political office enough, instead favoring older or more experienced figures.
“I meet a lot of people who are studying political science but aren’t making the real quick jump to, ‘and then I’m going to run for office,’” she said. “And part of that is the problem on the left that we haven’t been preparing people for that.”
Williamson said she likes to speak at colleges and universities like GW because students have newer ideas to address current political and social problems. She said the political establishment is trying to push forward policies that are outdated and will not apply well to the modern world or economy.
“One of the reasons I find talking to college students so interesting is because they’re not 20th century people – even those who were born in the 20th century were just born at the tail-end,” she said in an interview with The Hatchet before the town hall. “And 21st-century people should not be affected by bad ideas leftover from a previous time.”
Williamson spoke at GW in the fall of 2019 during her presidential campaign, where she outlined many of her policies, including promising slavery reparations and wiping out federal student debt. She said she likes speaking at GW and in the District because she can see the contrast between the social and political issues within the federal government and the younger students who will eventually run for political office.
“This town is the world headquarters for some of the worst things going on on this planet and some of the best things going on on this planet,” she said.
Jarrod Wardwell contributed to reporting.