Friday, 22 Sep 2023

Quirky, kooky, a joke but why is Marianne Williamson so popular with the young?

Quirky, kooky, a joke but why is Marianne Williamson so popular with the young?


Quirky, kooky, a joke  but why is Marianne Williamson so popular with the young?

Marianne Williamson, the self-help author who is making her second bid for the presidency, has a history of saying things that can be characterized as either "deranged" or "quirky" depending on how charitable you're feeling. Some of her greatest hits include:

Tweeting that the "power of the mind" might have changed the course of Hurricane Dorian and stopped it from hitting the US in 2019. (She later deleted the tweet.)

Saying that she would "harness love" to defeat Donald Trump during her closing statement at the Democratic presidential debate in 2019. We all know how that one worked out.

Unsurprisingly, Williamson's presidential campaign isn't being taken remotely seriously by the media or the White House. The Biden administration has laughed off any idea that she's a proper contender - when the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, was asked about Williamson's political aspirations in March she joked about not having "a crystal ball".

It's certainly easy to make fun of Williamson but, while she's said a lot of questionable things, it's wrong to dismiss the author as a joke. When she's not talking about the "power of the mind" Williamson has a lot to say about institutional inequality, the need for universal healthcare, the problems with capitalism, the importance of cancelling student debt, and the complacency of the Democratic establishment. And guess what? An awful lot of young people are listening. Williamson's very left-leaning videos draw millions of views on TikTok and her speeches often go viral.

"If engagement on TikTok is any indication, a Democratic presidential primary held today among people under 50 would result in a landslide for the bestselling author now making her second bid for the nomination," the Intercept recently noted. And it's not just TikTok where Williamson is popular: the Intercept further notes that "a recent poll found Williamson hovering above 20% with voters under 30". Which is a lot better than she was doing in 2020 and is pretty impressive when you consider what a political outsider she is.

Then again, of course, it's the very fact that Williamson is a political outsider that makes her so popular among young people. Williamson has an energy and urgency that is severely lacking in the Democratic party. And she's not shy about calling the Democrats out for their complacency.

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