Debating Tonight: Marianne Williamson on Spiritual Healing

Marianne Williamson, 66, a best-selling self-help author, is participating in the Democratic primary debate in Miami on Thursday. She has run a campaign focused on spiritual healing and ending what she says is a “low-level emotional civil war” being waged in the United States.

Ms. Williamson drew particular attention last week at an event in New Hampshire when she called mandatory vaccinations “draconian” and “Orwellian.” She apologized last Wednesday after her remarks were criticized.

[Follow our live coverage of the 2019 Democratic debate, night 2.]

Ms. Williamson has built her campaign on the idea that love can be a political force. In that vein, she has pledged to create a “Department of Peace” if she is elected president.

  • Ms. Williamson frequently refers to a handful of statistics: The Defense Department military budget is $718 billion; the State Department budget — including all peace-creation agencies — is $40 billion; and the United States Institute of Peace has a budget of only $36.8 million.

  • What she is really proposing involves strengthening the peace-building agencies within the State Department, as well as potentially creating government infrastructure to support conflict resolution, violence prevention programs and more.

  • Ms. Williamson argues that “the United States has no more serious problem than the problem of violence itself.” She cites children traumatized by violence at school, mass incarceration and family separation at the border to make her case.

  • Given her background and experience, Ms. Williamson believes she is well positioned to lead a moral and spiritual awakening in America. Peace-building is a major component of that.

  • Ms. Williamson has a significant following in the self-help and spiritual communities, but it is unclear if her call for healing will take off more broadly with an angry Democratic electorate.

  • Any increase in funding for peace-building probably means less funding for something else. And any attempt to strip funding from the Pentagon is sure to encounter opposition.