Oprah’s ‘spiritual guru’, an elderly Californian, tests whether New Age can win votes in New Hampshire

(Kristopher Radder/AP)

Oprah’s ‘spiritual guru’, an elderly Californian, tests whether New Age can win votes in New Hampshire

Elections 2024, California politics

Believe E. Pinho
Ziema Mehta

January 23, 2024

Presidential long shot Marianne Williamson fluttered down the aisle of a two-century-old granite church and stood gracefully. bowed to dozens of supporters as they chanted her name.

The author,

Who is

the most famous Democrat to appear on the ballot


when new hampshire the

to land

first presidential primaries

in the country Tuesday

spent much of her adult life in Los Angeles before moving east in 2018.

Williamson, who has never held elected office but was once called Oprah Winfrey’s spiritual guru, has virtually no chance of denying President Biden


renomination. Polls show many New Hampshire voters will write in Biden, who will not appear on the ballot after the Democratic Party opted to revoke the state’s “first in the nation” status and make South Carolina the first official to make a primary election.

But Williamson’s second bid for the White House (she also did so in 2020) is a test of another question: Exactly how many of these supposedly hard-line New Hampshireites will vote for a woman stereotyped as a “woo woo” Californian?

Texas residents’ ties to California date back decades. In 1970 she moved to California

study while present

Pomona College, where she studied theater and philosophy and protested the Vietnam War before dropping out

from school

a few


years later. After wandering around the country and getting sidetracked by what Entertainment Weekly called bad boys and good dope, she moved to LA in 1983 and shared an apartment with actress Laura Dern.

Williamson, 71, became a spiritual leader and


wrote more than a dozen books, one of which Winfrey promoted by saying: I have never been so moved by a book as by this book. Millions have bought her books and she has been adored by celebrities who chaired them


Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky’s Wedding at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch

in 1991


Williamson was also actively involved in helping charities

those people have been diagnosed

with HIV

or and that

live in poverty.

She came to believe that the two-party system disenfranchises the average voter by prioritizing the interests of wealthy elites.

The majority of Americans are arguably a little left of center, Williamson told The Times in an interview last year. The problem is that we have a political system that is more dependent on the short-term profits of their corporate donors than on the will of their own voters. Their idea of ​​an acceptable candidate is someone who will keep the system going as it is. What we need in a president is someone who will disrupt that system.

Williamson’s message resonates with a diverse group, but most importantly


people who believe

in her message

that changing the system begins

with from

change yourself. Her followers include

many years

fans of her books, disillusioned Democrats and some former Bernie Sanders supporters.

But there aren’t many voters in New Hampshire.

When she arrived

this weekend

at South Church Unitarian Universalist in Portsmouth

this weekend

the pews were filled with almost as many volunteers as voters.

Orson Maazel drove

to Portsmouth

from rural Virginia to volunteer for the campaign. Wearing a Disrupt the Corrupt sweatshirt, he said he was attracted to Williamson because she is an outsider who doesn’t take money from corporations.

“I agree with her that we don’t just need people who got us into the climate mess we’re in and the economic mess we’re in to get us out of the system,” Maazel, 35, said. We need someone from outside who is not bought by anyone and who has a very good character.

Williamson brought tears to the eyes of Nicole Dillon, 47, who lives in Massachusetts. Dillon, who didn’t know much about Williamson before the event, said she loved the candidates’ message about advocating for women and children, ending the war on drugs and fighting climate change.



I watched as, about twenty minutes into Williamson’s stump speech, a man approached the podium and took it away

the candidate’s sher

hand and thanked her softly. The fifty or so people sitting in the pews watched in awkward silence until a few security guards approached the man to usher him off the stage.

Can you sit down for me now? said Williamson


to the man



The Interrupter Hey

turned around and saw the crowd in the


banks and, with

a surprised look on his face

had security walk him down the aisle and apologize

the disruption. Disrupting the event.

Just tripping on his birthday,

one of security




shrugging and laughing,


leading that he had led

the person out.

Then he shrugged and laughed.

She draws all kinds!

He was drawn to her truth and her light, Dillon said. She was so gentle with him and like a mother. She is very motherly; She gathers us all in her basket and takes care of us.

But neither Dillon nor Maazel can vote in the New Hampshire primary.

Only 2% of registered Democratic voters in New Hampshire said they planned to vote for Williamson


64% who

they say



to write in Biden’s name, according to a recent poll from Suffolk University.

She has a perspective that actually reaches a certain percentage of the population. The question is whether that will ever be enough to catch on nationally


said Ray Buckley,


chairman of the Democratic Party of New Hampshire. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think she is


a good person. She does it for the right reasons. It appears she is not reaching enough voters to be successful.


the part of her

comes the inability to connect with voters


of her unusual political presence. Williamson peppered her speech with words about $20, book titles and


quotes. Her answers to voters’ questions often included references to books she had read, and sometimes to an esoteric history lesson.

She repeatedly expressed her frustration

with bee

the Democratic National Committee rejects her campaign. In several states, including North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee, Biden will be the only Democratic candidate on the ballot.

Should something be done with the president?

prevent braking

him from running

for athe

second term, I suppose their idea would be to convert [California Gov.] Gavin Newsom…”

she said, before catching herself. Don’t know. I don’t know anyone better than the next person.

Tables at the entrance shop with Marianne Williamson as president


signs, buttons and stickers were still full at the end of the evening.


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