As I sat in my Lyft taking a 30 minute drive to the Seaside Center for Spiritual Living listening to the October Democratic Debate on the radio, I did not know what to expect upon entering Marianne Williamson’s Encinitas rally. Williamson is quite an outlier on the political scene — Vox writer Zack Beauchamp called her campaign “scary,” while Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart said that it’s “a pity” that we likely will not be graced with her presence on a debate stage ever again.
Neither of these sentiments rang true as I entered the auditorium, being greeted by an aura of enlightened energy, the aroma of incense and oils, and a sea of rally signs portraying Williamson’s likeness.
The infamous candidate has been polling at 0 percent in numerous polls for the past several weeks — however, it was clear that the hundreds of supporters, many who have been following Williamson for decades, were in it for the long haul. Several of the followers that I spoke to echoed this notion. One woman who practiced the spiritual exercise of light reading told me that she had been following Williamson since the 1970s. It appeared to me that Williamson’s core base was an audience that is aft overlooked by many a presidential candidate — one of those who practice spiritual awakening and self-discovery.
The crowd cheered as Williamson took the stage around 8:10 p.m. Many supporters wiped away tears of joy at seeing a lighthouse beaconing them to enlightenment in a sea of moral darkness. Williamson took her place in front of the crowd and began speaking in her iconic coastal accent.
“There’s nothing holy about complacency, and there’s nothing negative about yelling fire if everything is burning,” Williamson asserted to the crowd.
But the main focus of the night was not on spirituality. Rather, Williamson honed in on the intersection of spiritual enlightenment and political involvement.
“We have allowed ourselves the chronic convenience of political disengagement,” Williamson continued. “This isn’t the time to say: ‘What is going on?’ This is the time to say: ‘Come on, we need some courage. We can do this.’”
Her 45 minute speech ended in a verbose uproar from her supporters. However, the night was just getting started. She gave the audience two options — a question and answer session about her candidacy, or the opportunity for a brief group meditation and reflection session. While I abstained from voting, the room unanimously chose the latter.
I did not know what to expect going into this. However, after closing our eyes and clearing our minds, Williamson encouraged us to find our deepest desire for the country, and to shout it out loud by finishing the phrase “I imagine an America in which…” The room came to life for the next 15 minutes, with folks sharing their desires ranging from “an America in which there are no more school shootings” to “an America in which the bees are saved.” I found this exercise heartwarming — the people in the room genuinely cared about the nation’s moral compass.
As the night came to a close, and I sat in the backseat of a Lyft home, I couldn’t help but reflect on the Marianne 2020 campaign as a whole. My experience with Williamson’s campaign was not scary. However, I also don’t find it a pity that she will likely not return to the debate stage; her personal brand of political morality seems to not be a winning ideology. That being said, Marianne Williamson serves as a voice for a niche community in the nation — a joy to watch for those who consider themselves an outsider to the spirituality community. Will I be casting my vote for Williamson come March? No, but will I be cheering her on from the cosmic sidelines of the universe? You bet your spiritual ass I will.