Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson hosted community members, students and campaign volunteers on Saturday for a town hall sponsored by Tufts Democrats.
The event began with Williamson delivering an opening statement in which she shared her experience being on the campaign trail.
“It is as though there are two separate political universes. One huge, corporatized … and then there’s you guys. I have come to feel that in many ways the system is even more corrupt than I feared and that the people are even more wonderful than I’d hoped,” Williamson said.
Williamson then turned much of her opening statement to describe the history of the U.S., its roots and the challenges the foundation of American society faces today.
“The second president of the United States, John Adams, said that he hoped that every July 4 we would revisit first principles. Now those first principles are written on marble walls, written on parchment behind glass, but they’re not in our hearts,” she said.
Willimason said that although there are significant issues facing the country today and some setbacks in the past, in general, the U.S. has tended to promote justice.
“If you look at the ongoing narrative of American history, we bend towards justice. But it’s not a straight line either. Sometimes we take two steps forward, one step back … in some ways we’re sliding backwards, chipping away at the Voting Rights Act,” she said.
Williamson pointed to Donald Trump’s presidency as a symptom of larger issues facing the country.
“I don’t believe Donald Trump created all of our biggest problems, I believe Donald Trump was created by these deeper problems,” she said.
Williamson went on to describe those issues present in American society in much deeper detail, referencing the movement of government policies toward trickle down economics as an amoral economic system. However, Williamson qualified her statement, specifying that she is not against capitalism.
“I am not anti-capitalist. I know there is a lot of conversation about capitalism and socialism … I don’t believe capitalism is inherently oppressive,” she said. “There is a virulent strain of capitalism — a predatory capitalism — that has corrupted our government. It has hijacked our value system because it is completely untethered to any kind of moral or ethical consideration.”
Williamson then shared what some of her administration’s priorities might be, starting with repealing the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and using the money to improve the conditions for impoverished Americans with a particular emphasis on improving the conditions of struggling children and creating a new U.S. Department of Peace.
“I really liked what she had to say about education, it was really inspiring … the way she framed it as thinking about what we want politics to look like in 10 years. We need to make sure to educate the youth of today in order to see the world we want in 10 years was my biggest takeaway,” A.J. Pandina, a sophomore at the event, told the Daily.
The forum was then opened to questions by the audience.
The first question, asked by a student, asked Williamson if she is capable of understanding the nuances of the world and the U.S. government as a political outsider.
“This is America. There isn’t supposed to be an outsider. The Constitution says in order to be president you have to be born here, you have to be over 35 and you have to live here for 14 years. You don’t have to be a congressman or a senator or a lawyer or a governor,” Williamson said.
Nic Salem, who serves as vice president of Tufts Democrats expressed interest in Williamson’s campaign ideas but stopped short of endorsing her.
“[Williamson] occupies a unique spot in the primary, both with her overall message and her actual policies … I won’t endorse anyone for president but I will endorse good ideas,” Salem, a sophomore, said.
Williamson was asked how she believes the Democratic National Committee has done so far giving less well-known candidates a chance to compete, particularly considering that she has failed to qualify for two Democratic debates.
“It’s a big machine … there is nothing in the Constitution that even mentioned political parties. George Washington warned us against them when he left office, saying that they will become a faction of men who care more about their faction then their country,” she said. “It’s not American to me [how the establishment] mocks, marginalizes and mischaracterizes if you are not one of them.”
Williamson was then asked several more questions on topics ranging from chief executive officer compensation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As the event wrapped up, Paul Hodes, Williamson’s New Hampshire state campaign director, took the stage to encourage members of the crowd to become active in this election cycle.