Seeking small-dollar support, Marianne Williamson campaigns in Vegas, aims for presidency
Best-selling author, political activist and spiritual thought leader Marianne Williamson, who is seeking the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination, delivered a fiery speech to Nevadans in Las Vegas on Thursday night, voicing skepticism about the direction of the country and calling for Americans to come out of their “siloed” political parties to collectively “evolve.”
Roughly 100 people at the Las Vegas Center for Spiritual Living listened, many with expressions of admiration on their faces, as Williamson challenged the actions of modern-day politicians, questioning the moral conviction of the Republican apparatus and the Democratic “establishment.”
A colorful crowd of predominantly women, who the host, spiritual minister Staci Hilton, said were mostly hippies from prior eras, appeared to hang onto Williamson’s every word as she criticized the state of politics and called for an end to “worker exploitation” and the beginning of universal health care, food free of carcinogens, a wealth tax and reparations for the descendants of U.S. slaves.
“It's a machine,” she said of the Democratic Party. “It’s a chess game … And I'm not trying to impugn anybody's intentions — I just don't think that's working.”
Willamson made an unsuccessful bid for president in 2020 and dropped out of the race during the primaries to later endorse Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
When asked if she would receive Sanders’ endorsement in return, Williamson pointed out that not only did Sanders endorse President Joe Biden right away, but so did progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, (D-NY). She cautioned against progressives endorsing Biden.
"I don't know how you push them left by endorsing him," she said.
She said for the past 50 years, the political landscape of the U.S. has dug itself into a “matrix of corporate tyranny” that she believes has forced many youth and young adults into a financial underclass.
If elected, she said she would establish a national Department of Children and Youth, as well as a Department of Peace and a Reparations Council made up of Black leaders who would distribute funds, at least $1 trillion, over the course of 20 years. She also said she would enact free tuition to trade schools and public colleges, including community and four-year colleges, and eliminate interest on college loans and forgive federal and privately held student debt.
Williamson told the crowd that $50 trillion has been transferred from the bottom 90 percent of Americans to the top 10 percent of Americans through “trickle-down economics,” a theory that giving tax cuts and benefits to the wealthy class, including corporations, business owners and investors, would later benefit society through job creation.
She said the policy “makes it easier for those with capital to get more capital, and harder for almost everybody else to even get by.”
A study by the nonpartisan research group RAND Corp. reported that from 1975 to 2018, Americans lost $47 trillion in potential wages because “middle-class and working-class” incomes did not keep up with the “pace of overall per capita economic growth.”
Their data, which is based on income tax filings, revealed that workers at the 25th percentile of the income distribution in 1975 earned $28,000 a year, which rose 18 percent to $33,000 by 2018, “instead of rising at the economic growth rate of around 120 percent" to $61,000. By contrast, those at the 99th percentile who had an “income of $257,000 would have [earned] $560,000 by 2018 at the economic growth rate, but it actually rose to $761,000."
Williamson said she is focused on raising $500,000 to get on the ballot, stating that $5 monthly donations would go a long way. This comes after Politico reported last month that leaked audio from her “longshot” campaign implied she was struggling to raise funds.
“We are headed for the iceberg,” she said about democracy. “Republican policies as they exist now, take us straight into the iceberg. The corporate Democratic policies hit the iceberg at a different angle.”
Political activist and consultant Leisa Moseley, 52, told The Nevada Independent that she was at the gathering because Williamson will stand up to “behemoth investment corporations,” a phrase that Harper Collins dictionary defines as businesses that are extremely large and often unpleasant and hard to manage.
Moseley said she believes Biden is doing “what he knows to do and what he believes is the best thing for our country” but thinks that it leaves many people out, especially young adults. She said her four adult children, who work full-time jobs and go to college, are on her health insurance and cannot afford to live on their own, something she attributed to unchecked corporate influence in the housing market, health care and the workforce.
Moseley said Biden leaves her wanting more. She said she wants a “bold” leader who will “put policies in place that are going to help everyday working class American people just be able to live.”
“We need someone who's gonna say … it's a free market society and people should be able to make as much money as [they] want, but not at the expense of everybody else,” she said. “I think what has happened is, we say this person can beat [former President Donald] Trump and then they beat him and we sit back and say we dodged that bullet. But we haven’t.”
Not quite sold
Although those attending gave Williamson a standing ovation following her speech, some of those who said they were inspired by her talk said they are unsure if they will vote for her during the primary, where she takes on an incumbent with more than 50 years of political experience and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is believed to have $10 million in campaign funds as of July.
Marsha Slater, 77, said she was excited to see Williamson but that she hasn’t decided if she will vote for her.
“I came just to honor her strengths,” she said. “And it doesn't make any difference if you're here for her as a presidential candidate or not. That strength, and caring, and doing the right things because it's the right thing to do, is completely awesome.”
Slater was there with two friends and one, Debbie Britt, 72, said she would vote for Williamson if she wins the Democratic nomination.
Britt said she believes in Williamson and will wait until she is at the ballot box to decide who earns her vote during the primaries. She said she also fears that if Williamson wins the presidency, she would not get much done because of the opposition she might face at the White House.
“I was thinking that I don't want my vote to be taken from somebody who would win,” she said. “But if it's her against a Republican, especially Trump, I will vote for her.”
This story was updated at 10:36 AM on Thursday, January 11, 2023 to show that