Improbable Democratic presidential aspirant Marianne Wilson gave the crowd what it wanted during a sweltering night at Manny's on August 15. Photo by Julian Mark.

On Thursday night Manny Yekutiel walked on stage at his political cafe, Manny’s, held up a mic, and faced a crowd of 350 strong. 

“Who are we here for?” Yekutiel asked them. 

“Marianne!” the crowd yelled back. 

“Are you all hot?” he said.

“Yes!” the crowd shouted back. 

It was, indeed, upwards of 90 degrees in the room, and when improbable Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson walked in, the frenetic crowd seemed to make the room just bit hotter as it hooted and cheered. 

Truth be told, Williamson — a 67-year-old self-help guru and decidedly the Democrats’ “new age” candidate — is not so hot, polling-wise at least. Running at 2 percent in the friendliest of polls, she has a snowball’s chance in overheated San Francisco of winning the Democratic nomination. And this is for a fairly good reason: Williamson made a name for herself writing seven New York Times best-sellers on self-help, has referred to herself as Oprah’s spiritual adviser, officiated Elizabeth Taylor’s seventh marriage (at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch), and has, on occasion, advocated not vaccinating children

Her only political experience has come in the form of a failed 2014 33rd District Congressional (Los Angeles-area) bid — she missed the podium with a fourth-place finish and 13 percent of the vote — and a book titled Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as American Citizens. It did not make the best-seller list. 

In short, she’s an anti-politician like Donald Trump, but with far more kum-ba-ya — and absolutely no Ku-Klux-Klan.

And maybe that’s not so terrible? Williamson’s general message Thursday night was that morality trumps all and should the sole guiding force of public policy. 

“Some people would say I’m naive,” she told a crowd of onlookers fanning themselves with Williamson fliers. “The idea that I believe love, rather than market forces disconnected from all moral considerations, should be the operating principle of human civilization.” 

Williamson spoke a lot about children — specifically, childhood trauma. “We have millions of children going to school every day asking the teacher if maybe the teacher has something for them to eat,” she said. 

The mise-en-scène. Photo by Julian Mark.

If we want the “power” that will fuel American abundance — because “it’s not power in the ground like oil; it’s not in the sun, either; it’s not in the wind, either” (rather, it’s in the minds of children) — she said the country should take better care of children. 

To that end, she said, as president, she’d set up a Department of Children and Youth — a “holistic coordination” that not only focuses on education, but also “early childhood understanding of the brain and psychology and so forth.” 

There was also Williamson’s proposal for slavery reparations. “Race-based policies alone leave open the question who’s fault this is,” she said. “Whereas reparations, inherently, there is a mea culpa.” 

After giving her audience a 10-minute abridged history of slavery, she said she had submitted a proposal for reparations, but did not go into specifics. 

And then there were the Williamson moments everyone came to see. During a discussion on the nation’s massive defense budget, Williamson compared national security to the human body: “You can’t just take medicine — you have to cultivate your health. And with war and peace the same is true.” 

“Sickness is the absence of health; health isn’t the absence of sickness,” she said. “And war is the absence of peace; peace isn’t the absence of war.” 

“Even Donald Rumsfeld said, ‘We must wage peace.’” 

She then proposed a U.S. Department of Peace. 

Following the speech, a KTVU reporter asked Williamson outside on 16th and Valencia whether the candidate plans to go the distance. “If you were me, and you just had the experience we just had, would you drop out?” Williamson replied. 

After a pause: “I’m feeling heard.” 

You know, that’s actually a scary thought, all things considered. 

But such are these times. 

Asked if, by some miracle, Williamson shot up in the polls, vanquished a chorus of political pundits, and worked her way from being a fringe candidate to actually sitting in the driver’s seat of the most powerful country on the planet — very much like Trump in 2016 — 31-year-old onlooker Elie Schoppik said, unequivocally: He’ll take it. 

“Over Trump?” he said to this reporter. “I’d support that recorder in your hand over Trump.” 

Julian Mark

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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9 Comments

  1. Hi,

    She’s not anti vaccine. The article you cited just stated she had an anti vaxx person on her show. As you know, it’s normal journalism to review both sides. She did not endorse that view on her show as the CNN article clearly describes. CNN had a white supremacist on their program: Richard Spencer. Would you lead your readers to believe they support white supremacism?

    Also, there was allegedly 350 fervent supporters and you couldn’t get one of their genuine viewpoints? You just piggy backed off of KTVU and a random onlooker.

    If local news is supposed to be valuable, and not just your spin on the same stories from Vox or CNN, I suggest you get some local supporters’ perspectives.
    You do a disservice to your community and journalism in general when you write in half truths.

    1. Hey there.

      Ms. Williamson’s repeated statements questioning the veracity of vaccines and deriding vaccine mandates are well-established.

      https://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-pol-williamson-vaccines-20190619-story.html

      Also, I know it’s not the debate you want to have, but one could argue that CNN was, in fact, giving aid and support to white supremacism by having Richard Spencer on its airwaves, just as it legitimizes anti-vaxx zealots by having them on its shows.

      Best,

      JE

      1. Being skeptical of pharmaceutical companies, does not make you an anti-vaxer. Just like being critical of Israeli policies does not make you an anti-Semite. She has explained herself over and over again and the issue should be dropped.

        It’s obvious the writer is not a fan and didn’t pay much attention to what she said. He had to site other opinion articles to back up his own.

        Love is scary to a lot of people. That’s her message and unfortunately, some are turned off by it. and/or don’t have the courage to stand up for it.

  2. Hello Julian , I find it sad that as a journalist you put your personal judgment within the first sentence by calling her service to her country as improbable. You didn’t even spell her name correctly. I know you can do better if you are honest and have a deep conversation with yourself. Please refresh yourself with the pillars of journalism and best practices. . It would be appropriate for you to stand up and take responsibility for your negative judgments and errors. I would like to see you write a truthful article on Marianne Williamson’s portraying her as the strong presidential Candidate that she is and all her very hopeful followers! They deserve your support. In reporting honesty and morally.

    With gratitude, Mary Lou Evelyn.

  3. Sorry brother, but I think you drifted into the world of make believe in this article. Where exactly has Marianne Williamson EVER herself called herself ‘Oprah’s spiritual advisor’. It is true that other journalists have done so, but to my knowledge she has never said that about her relationship with Oprah.

    Then, how the heck can you legitimately intimate that the result of her 2014 congressional campaign was her 1999 book “Healing the Soul of America’. Your timeline sense is a little askew, perhaps?

    And then you wish to throw up the vaccination issue at her because she knows what is really going on? OMG, I do think all the vaccinations you’ve been injected with must of rewired your clarity with fog there. Don’t you know that not a single vaccination developed since 1989 has been scientifically tested for safety, and that they are ALL full of known poisons? How can that be? They (the vaccine manufactures use a loophole… they label them ‘biologics’, instead of ‘medicines’. Don’t you know that in medical school ALL DOCTORS ARE TAUGHT THAT DRUGS ARE POISONS? Yes, when taken in carefully measure dosages, these poisons do have predictable effects, and are thus ‘medicines’. But ALL these medicines have been studied very well… that is where they got the knowledge that certain ‘side effects’ may occur. But vaccinations… nope, nada, zero testing. You think that is SAFE? You got a child? You willing to risk your kids LIFE on UNTESTED POISONS? Come on, sir clueless, WTFU. BTW, if you wish to really get the scoop on the truth about vaccinations, check out Robert Kennedy, Jr….. that’s right, THE Robert Kennedy Jr. That man is outing the big pharma scam VERY publicly. Have a nice day.

  4. This hack has a snowball’s chance in hell of evet becoming a real journalist. The amount of misinformation packed into this mess is scary, actually.

    But such are these times. There’s very little money for quality, intelligent journalism so tabloid writers like this get published. Thankfully, there’s a plethora of terrific articles out there about Ms. Williamson which resoundingly refute everything this meandering trainwreck attempts to put forth. This reads like a poor editorial in a middle school newspaper (not to denean the good ones I’m sure are out there.)

    See articles by Forbes, The Washington Post, The L A Times, Newsweek, Slate, and many others for a more accurate portrayal of this powerful candidate.

  5. This article falsely states that Marianne Williamson has advocated against vaccinating children. For an in-depth discussion of her beliefs, watch this 2015 episode of her appearance on the Bill Maher show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7yvI0tu3Ho&feature=youtu.be

    Also false is the declaration that Marianne has “referred to herself as Oprah’s spiritual adviser”. As someone who regularly watches Marianne’s livestream lectures, she has never said that (to my knowledge). If she did, that would anger Oprah. It’s common knowledge that Marianne got her big break on the Oprah show in 1992, when she published her first book, “Return to Love:”. What Marianne has said is that she is grateful to Oprah, who encouraged her to revise her book, “Healing the Soul of America”, originally published in 2000; so she revised the book in 2018. See this: https://marianne.com/healing-the-soul-of-america/

    Marianne, although she has a great sense of humor, is a serious woman, campaigning for a serious job. The least this article could do is be truthful. For good videos and articles, check out http://www.marianne2020.com

  6. Seems like the main purpose of this article is to discredit her completely. If you truly hear her speak for more than 10 minutes interrupted you will see her potential both as the potential future president but to say the least as a leader that could have a positive effect to what this country culture needs.

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