Presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson on miracles in politics, and why she's not a liberal Donald Trump

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Author Marianne Williamson and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper debate during the second night of the first U.S. Democratic presidential candidates 2020 election debate in Miami, Florida, U.S., June 27, 2019. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar.

Marianne Williamson is Oprah Winfrey's former spiritual advisor, a motivational speaker and a New York Times bestselling author. She's seen as a long shot presidential candidate. 

She caught a lot of attention at the Democratic debate in June, when she said she would defeat Donald Trump "by harnessing love."

"I think the president has clearly harnessed some of the worst aspects of human character for political purposes: racism, bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia,” Williamson tells Press Play. “But I think dignity, decency, love, mercey, and justice can be harnessed for political force as well."

Williamson's language of "miracles" and the separation of church and state

Williamson has written books titled "A Year of Miracles" and "The age of miracles." She teaches a course on miracles, and her stated purpose in life is to create miracles, So what miracles would she perform in the White House? 

Williamson says she defines a miracle as a shift in thinking from fear to love. "So that is exactly the miracle that belongs everywhere, whether it is in politics or anywhere."

However, with the separation of church and state, why should voters choose a spiritual leader as president?

Williamson says she has great respect for the separation of church and state, and that it's to protect governmental functions from interference by religious authorities, and to prevent a governmental authority from shutting down any religious service or even an atheist meeting. 

"People are free in the United States to believe or not believe. I respect that deeply," she says. "Remember, I'm a Jew. So I myself am not from the majority religion... But I'm not having a religious conversation as part of my political campaign. I'm not doing it as a candidate, and I would not do it as a president either." 

Is Williamson the Democratic version of President Trump? 

President Trump and Williamson are both entrepreneurs with no experience in government. They run in celebrity circles, speak off the cuff, and promote an outsider status. She has suggested that experience limits people's imagination to come up with novel solutions to problems.

Williamson responds, "I have said that a certain kind of political experience is not a guarantee of vision. It is not a guarantee of moral certitude. It is not a guarantee that someone is actually paving the best road for a future. And I have not in any way put down political experience. It is certainly an important qualification."

She points out that Trump's problem isn't that he lacks experience, but that he lacks ethics and a "visceral taste for democracy."

But after four years of Trump, is she worried that people are tired of a president with little direct experience running the government? 

She says, "The power to make these decisions lies in the hands of the people. So no, I don't worry, as long as people have a chance to hear what I have to say. And that is what a campaign is about: you're talking to the voters."

Granting asylum and a path to citizenship

She mentions that during her visit to Homestead detention center in Florida a few weeks ago, she was moved by those who showed up each day to bear witness to what's happening with immigration. "I see a lot of really good, decent, wonderful people out there, and we could harness that and change the world. Hate inspires action, but love inspires action as well," she says. 

Williamson says she believes that the immigrant experience is part of America's story, and that Trump has demonized immigrants. "Seeking asylum is not a crime. Seeking asylum is a statutory right." 

So would Williamson grant amnesty to the estimated 10 million  undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.? She responds, "What I believe we need to do is to provide a path to citizenship to everyone who obviously has not committed a crime."

--Written by Amy Ta, produced by Adriana Cargill

Credits

Guest:
Marianne Williamson - Democratic candidate for president of the United States

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Alexandra Sif Tryggvadottir, Rosalie Atkinson, Adriana Cargill, Brian Hardzinski