Last night’s Democratic debates were about what you’d expect. The candidates talked over each other continuously; Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren continued to cement themselves as the only worthwhile contenders; and Marianne Williamson made a good, important point about Flint, Michigan and the depths of American racism that was undercut immediately by her decision to use vaguely spiritualist terminology to cap off the message.
This last point—Williamson’s evocation of the “dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred” animating American politics—has been grabbed up and run with by the internet because, despite the rest of what she’s saying being well-put, “dark psychic force” is some very silly shit.
None of this is very surprising. Williamson is now firmly defined by her mixing some worthwhile observations on modern politics and American culture with goofy self-helpisms whose greater meanings hint at a world-view that is fairly innocuous in some cases and abhorrent in others. (Some of these, like her stance on vaccines, may be backtracked and apologized for when called out.) This is how she is, it’s not a joke, and she’s going to keep doing it.
It’s working out pretty well so far, at least in terms of people talking about whatever gloopy turn-of-phrase she’s employed last or pumping out new memes based on any little thing she does. As Buzzfeed News’ Katherine Miller illustrates in a recent article, there’s a real draw to Williamson’s approach to politics, warts and all. Even though she may not be a serious candidate much longer, people are interested in her as the off-kilter, hazy counterpoint to the miasma of evil represented by the Trump administration.
The general thrust of what she’s saying—as is so much self-help stuff when looked at from a bird’s-eye view—is sometimes fine when it advocates for a generalized positivity, but is a lot rougher when the memes are put to the side and we take all of this seriously as a political platform.
In essence: Please don’t vote for Williamson. Leave her to rule the internet instead.
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