Former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson calls for spiritual change at NU Political Union event


Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern

Former Democratic presidential candidate, author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson spoke to a 150-person audience in Lutkin Hall at Thursday’s event, hosted by NU’s Political Union.

Lily Carey, Reporter

Former Democratic presidential candidate and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson spoke to a 150-person audience Thursday night about how to heal the United States’ political divisions and her perspective on spirituality in politics.

Williamson drew on religious and spiritual roots to provide a “metaphysical” perspective on America’s divided political sphere. In her opening speech at the event, which was hosted by NU’s Political Union, she took the audience through the nation’s history of political and social change within a spiritual context and encouraged listeners to “look deep within” to find solutions to modern problems.

“We have been infected by a malignant consciousness, by the thought that ‘it’s all about me,’” Williamson said. “We have an economic and political system that reflects it.”

After her initial speech, Williamson opened the floor to audience questions, which were moderated by Weinberg junior Will Secker, head of external events for Political Union. 

The co-presidents of the Political Union, Weinberg senior Pamela Chen and Medill junior Felix Beilin, said they were interested to see how students would react to Williamson’s views.

“I’m just excited to see the student body interact with her,” Beilin said. “What (Political Union) really wants to do is provoke the student body with opinions and perspectives they haven’t encountered before.”

With midterm elections coming up later this year, Williamson said she plans to voice her support for “progressive, non-corporatist” candidates in the coming months. On Feb. 16, she will host a virtual panel to announce which Congressional primary candidates she thinks align with these beliefs.

Williamson emphasized the “corporatist corruption” she sees in the American government throughout her speech and called Congress a system of “legalized bribery” that serves its donors rather than the constituents.

“We are not functioning as a government by the people and for the people —- we are a government by the corporation and for the corporation,” she said.

Students had a range of reactions to Williamson’s messaging. Weinberg junior Joe Maino said he was particularly inspired by her spiritual perspective on social justice and her emphasis on bipartisanship and unity.

However, Weinberg sophomore Chloe Porter said she was doubtful of the practical application of Williamson’s spiritual perspective.

“I like a lot of what she says, but I just don’t know how it translates to policy,” Porter said.

The audience also extended beyond the Northwestern community. Depaul University senior Devon Thomas and Chicago resident Danae Ing said they traveled from Chicago to hear Williamson speak. Secker said about 65 of the 150 event attendees were non-NU students.

Audience members were struck by what Chen called Williamson’s “unique approach” to politics. Williamson used physical and spiritual healing as a metaphor for how she wants to heal the nation, emphasizing how America needs to build its “immune system” to fight problems before they grow out of control, similar to how the body attacks disease.

As she continues to campaign for non-corporate-backed candidates in the midterm elections, Williamson said she hopes her message of “taking personal responsibility” for the nation’s future reaches college students especially.

“We’re not going to heal the world by talking about what needs to change on the outside — we also need to talk about what needs to change on the inside,” Williamson said.

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Twitter: @lilylcarey

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