If the “debate” to which the jostling scrum of Democratic presidential aspirants subjected the nation Tuesday is any guide, President Trump need not worry about losing his job in 2020. The most sensible participants were treated as unwelcome interlopers by the invitation-only audience and their fellow candidates, while the most incoherent contenders were greeted as staunch defenders of the faith. Thus, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan got the raspberry, while Senator Bernie Sanders and New Age author Marianne Williamson had a big night. The latter was widely declared the “breakout winner” of Tuesday’s debate due to effusions such as this:
The racism, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we’re having here tonight — if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.
Her solution to defeating the forces of darkness was received by the audience as a combination of the Sermon on the Mount and the Gettysburg Address, but it will perhaps seem a little trite to those who have thus far been unequal to the task of balancing their chakras. What she wants us to do is have a national conversation on hate and racism. It may seem to many readers that this is just about all the hell we talk about anymore, but Williamson seems to believe that the subject hasn’t yet been sufficiently ventilated. Moreover, and this can be verified by reading a transcript, she actually thinks Democrats haven’t spoken out enough on this issue and implores them to break their silence:
We need to say it like it is … it’s all over this country, it’s particularly people of color — it’s particularly people who do not have the money to fight back. And if the Democrats don’t start saying it, then why would those people feel that they’re there for us and if those people don’t feel it, they won’t vote for us.
Williamson also wowed the crowd with her insights on the vexed question of slavery reparations. For most intelligent Americans, this is an exceptionally controversial proposition. It is no surprise, then, that a new Gallup poll shows that two-thirds of Americans are against it: “67% say government should not provide cash payments to slaves’ descendants.” Even Democrats are divided on the issue: “Currently, 49% of Democrats say the government should make such payments; 47% say it should not.” Part of the problem is, of course, figuring out who gets paid and how much. Nonetheless, Williamson believes she has worked those minor issues out and provides this answer:
It’s $500 billion, $200 billion to $500 billion payment of a debt that is owed.… If you did the math of the 40 acres and a mule, given that there was 4 million to 5 million slaves at the end of the Civil War, four to five — and they were all promised 40 acres and a mule for every family of four, if you did the math today, it would be trillions of dollars.… Anything less than $100 billion is an insult.
The question is obviously a lot more complicated than this, of course. Not the least of the problems she fails to address involves where the money will come from. The $500 billion figure, for example, is not much less than we spend on Medicare each year. And we know who receives Medicare and how much they have paid into the system. As Williams envisions it, reparations requires taxpayers who never owned a slave — and whose ancestors may not have immigrated to the United States until after 1865 — to pay at least $100 billion to people who have never been slaves. That proposal alone will cost the Democrats the 2020 election. And yet Williamson is clearly quite serious:
We don’t need another commission to look at evidence.… It is time for us to simply realize that this country will not heal.… All that a country is, is a collection of people. People heal when there’s some deep truth-telling. We need to recognize that when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with.
USA Today reports that Williamson was the most searched candidate on Google during the first night of the Democratic debate in Detroit: “Of the ten candidates on the stage Tuesday night, Williamson was the most searched in every state but Montana.” She was also trending like nobody’s business on Twitter throughout the debate, of course. She casts her campaign in terms of “love” versus “hate” and her closing remarks in June’s debate challenged President Trump as follows: “You have harnessed fear for political purposes, and only love can cast that out.… I will meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.” If only the Democrats were dumb enough to give her a shot at him.