Presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson talks campaign and anti-Black hate

In a wide-ranging interview with theGrio, the 2024 White House hopeful says she thinks President Biden should debate his primary opponents and welcomes the campaign of Dr. Cornel West.

The presidential campaign of Marianne Williamson, the New York Times bestselling author and spiritual leader, continues to make its pitch to Democratic primary voters.

Williamson sat down with theGrio for a wide-ranging interview to discuss various happenings this 2024 election cycle, including scrutiny of President Joe Biden’s age, former president and Republican candidate Donald Trump’s four criminal indictments, and Green Party candidate Dr. Cornel West entering the race as a third-party candidate.

Marianne Williamson announces her bid for the presidency at a campaign launch event at Union Station in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2023. (Photo by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

TheGrio also asked Williamson’s thoughts on the racist fatal shootings of three Black Americans at a Dollar General in Jacksonville, Florida, and what can be done to end racially fueled hate in the United States.

“They’re killing Black people. They’re shooting people at synagogues. This is serious stuff now,” Williamson told theGrio. 

She continued, “When you have a situation where poverty and economic injustice have such a toxic prevalence within American society, this not only keeps some people shackled by economic conditions, but it actually becomes a petri dish, out of which the kind of societal dysfunction such as Nazism, such as white supremacy, actually almost inevitably occur.”

Read the full Q&A of theGrio’s interview with the 2024 White House hopeful below.

Editor’s Note: This interview was edited and condensed for editorial and clarity purposes.

TheGrio: President Biden officially announced his reelection campaign in April, and polls have shown that many voters have grown disillusioned by the Biden-Harris administration. There’s also been a lot of fascination and scrutiny around the president’s age and whether or not he is fit for a second term. What do you make of this, and does that reluctance help your campaign?

Marianne Williamson: Well, I wouldn’t want to think of it in personal terms. I don’t think there should be anything ageist or mean-spirited here. But at the same time, that is an increasing conversation, and I think it’s valid. Being president is the most stressful job in the world. We can see physically the toll it has taken on all those who have served, including [Biden]. And so for the American voter to ask, is this the best person, number one, to put up as our candidate in 2024, and also, is he the best person to take on that stressful job for the next four years? That’s certainly a valid, legitimate inquiry.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walk to the Rose Garden for an event on high speed internet access for low-income Americans, at the White House May 9, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

TheGrio: You are running to be on the Democratic ticket. But the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign are essentially one and the same. Can you talk about the challenges that your campaign might be experiencing breaking through that wall of the DNC?

Williamson: The DNC and the Biden administration are not supposed to be one and the same. This is something new. And the fact that they are so overt about it is not good news. Political parties traditionally were meant to stand in the background. The power here is supposed to be in the hands of the electorate. The power is supposed to be in the hands of the people to determine who a nominee will be. Traditionally, the party stood in the back, and then once the nominee was chosen by the people, they stepped in. 

For the DNC to now say basically that there was an anointing, a coronation of some kind, we have our candidate for no other reason that they have chosen [him]…that is undemocratic. The president does have two opponents. And one of the reasons there should be debates is because, particularly at a time like this, when the stakes are so incredibly high, voters should have the opportunity to hear what their options are.

TheGrio: Do you think you’ll ever get to debate President Biden and the other Democratic presidential candidate?

Williamson: People are not happy about what’s going on. The majority of Democrats have said that they would like to see debates. There was more scuttlebutt online. That scuttlebutt is even breaking into mainstream media. If you are talking about a real doubt about whether or not Joe Biden is the best candidate, then the next conversation should be, let’s have debates and see if the president wants to prove that he has what it takes to take on the Republican [nominee]. Let him show that he has what it takes to take on me and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in debates. It’s simply undemocratic not to have them. And, of course, the DNC right now is sticking to its stance that there are simply not going to be debates. But they’re probably getting more pushback from the public than they expected.

Marianne Williamson speaks as former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper looks on during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019, in Miami. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

TheGrio: Former President Donald Trump has been indicted four times now and in four different jurisdictions. And yet polling shows that as far as the Republican base, he is very much still a frontrunner. Does it concern you that these indictments are not really harming his campaign?

Williamson: That’s a question for Republicans to answer. But as a Democrat, what concerns me is the fact that given that he has been impeached twice, given all these multiple indictments, the fact that [President] Biden cannot really break 5, 10, 20 percentage points ahead of him, that’s what Democrats need to be so concerned about. Don’t we need to be considering someone who would be a much better candidate against Trump? And obviously, I feel that I am.

TheGrio: Another challenge for President Biden is son Hunter Biden, who is likely to be indicted for charges that are unrelated to President Biden, at least according to evidence or lack thereof so far. But Republicans have been talking about opening up an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Are Republicans right to seek such an impeachment inquiry? 

Williamson: Hunter Biden is not his father. Just as there was a special counsel, Jack Smith…the special prosecutor for Trump, there is also a special prosecutor for Joe Biden [in his classified document case], and now there’s a special prosecutor for Hunter Biden. It is important that we respect the separation between the judicial system and politics. 

This has to do with indictments that emanate from the prosecutor that are then agreed upon by a grand jury. We’ll see what happens, whether or not Joe Biden or Hunter Biden are indicted of any crime. Until then, this is not about us having an opinion about it. That’s why we have a judicial system. And I think we should all hope more than anything, regardless of what our politics are, regardless of what we think about it, any of these men we should hope for a fair and just due process within our legal system. That is what we should all be hoping for.

TheGrio: Another person has entered the presidential race, and that is Dr. Cornel West, who is running as a third-party candidate for the Green Party. What do you make of Dr. West’s campaign and considering your own challenge of President Biden, do you welcome him entering the race? 

Cornel West
Philosopher Dr. Cornel West speaks onstage during the “Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise” panel discussion at the PBS portion of the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 29, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Williamson: I welcome democracy. I’ve known Cornel for years. I consider him an honored colleague. And on most issues, he and I are very, very much aligned. I think every person has to make these decisions inside ourselves; if you’re going to run as a Democrat or are you going to run as a third party? I think he has very legitimate reasons for why he’s running third. I think I have very legitimate reasons for why I’m running within the Democratic Party. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong there. I just hope the people remember that even if you do support Cornel West in the general [election], you can still vote for me in the primary.

TheGrio: I want to talk about the recent murders in Jacksonville, Florida. Three Black Americans were killed by a self-proclaimed white supremacist who was originally trying to enter an HBCU. What do you make of the current state of this country as it relates to race, the anti-Black hate crimes that we continue to see? What is your plan to address anti-Black hate in particular?

Williamson: I think we should all feel devastated. This is extremely dangerous for our country. We had a mix of a malignant narcissist [Donald Trump] who was not above stoking the flame of those things for his own political purposes. That married in a very toxic brew to the advent of social media so that anybody now can have a platform. The reason we know that this man who did these murders in Jacksonville, the reason we know that he was an avowed white supremacist is because he had put it on the internet. 

Each and every one of us, I think, has a role to play. There are those who hate in this country, and they hate passionately, and they have become politicized. But I do believe that the vast majority of Americans are decent people who do not have such thoughts and feelings — those ancient tropes of malevolence in their souls. The problem is that at a time when hate is so loud, love cannot afford to whisper. Conviction is a force multiplier. And if those who hate are going to be out there and they’re going to be demonstrating their hate, and they’re going to be standing on their hate, and God knows, picking up a gun to express their hate, those of us who love better be out there standing on our love, on justice, on brotherhood. 

Demonstrators participate in a march against white supremacy on Aug. 28, 2023, in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Our conduit for effectuating our worldview is public policy, among other things. And when you have a situation where poverty and economic injustice have such a toxic prevalence within American society, this not only keeps some people shackled by economic conditions, but it actually becomes a petri dish, out of which the kind of societal dysfunction such as Nazism, such as white supremacy, actually almost inevitably occur. So I see it as a warning signal. I think none of us should kid ourselves. It’s happening. They’re killing Black people. They’re shooting people at synagogues. This is serious stuff now.

TheGrio: But in terms of policy, should there be maybe an anti-Black hate crime bill?

Williamson: Of course…there is hate crime legislation, obviously. Another thing that happens in a lot of these cases, such as with the murders in Jacksonville, we now know how much of this vile, extreme right-wing terrorism is going on the internet. And we know that there are factors within the FBI and so forth that are trying to monitor this. It’s so overwhelming. So at this point, we need to get massive resources. But we also need in our schools…at our dinner tables, we need to be teaching our children.

Part of my agenda is, of course, reparations for slavery simply because I feel the United States has a debt to pay. And also on the issue of police reform. As president, I would bring [Senators] Cory Booker and Tim Scott into the Oval Office. I would say you can bring whoever you want, but we’re not leaving here until we have hashed out nonpartisan legislation on fundamental police reform. We need this. So even though legislative transactional issues like reparations will not of itself end white supremacy. I believe that it will…fundamentally interrupt a pattern of a very toxic relationship between the races in this country that is based on the fact that a debt has not been paid.

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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