Marianne Williamson 2024 Presidential Campaign Announcement Speech, March 4, 2023, Washington, D.C.
ďOur lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," said Martin Luther King, Jr.
What matters today is America, specifically its woundedness and our responsibility to repair it. Itís time for us to help initiate a season of repair.
After years of denial, of the disengagement of some of our best and brightest from the political scene, enough of us are ready now to rise to the occasion. This isnít a time to whine or give in to despair or personal anger. Itís a time for an awakening.
Our personal thoughts and actions matter. And politics is our collective behavior, no more or less important than our individual concerns. Weíre living at a time when we canít afford to see this as an either/or. We must step up as people and we must also step as citizens.
Itís been said that you can live your life in one of two ways; according to circumstances or according to a vision. We all know the challenging circumstances in America today. What we do now is to create a positive vision for this country that will override the forces of hatred and division that now plague us.
Most of us are upset in some way about whatís happening to America. I remember the look on one young manís face when he said, ďWhat are we going to do?Ē with such youthful sincerity. But sometimes in life the first question is not what do I need to do, but what do I need to understand? Americans are drowning in information, but we have far too little understanding.
The key to our deliverance in the present lies in a deeper understanding about some things in our past. We need to understand the American story and where as a generation we fit into it.
Our story began, as an established nation, in 1776. Some very brave men got together and signed a document called the Declaration of Independence. I say they were brave because if the British had won the war, they would have all been executed for treason against the king of England. And what they signed their names to Ė John Hancock writing his name famously very large so that George III would be sure to see it Ė were the establishment of principles profoundly enlightened not only for their time but for all time.
These principles are not just enlightened politically Ė declaring that not only king or aristocracy but rather ALL men have the to right to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness; theyíre also enlightened morally. They declare that God created all men equal. And that sentence, then as now, forms our national creed. It is that on which we have agreed to agree.
But that is also where things got very gnarly. For while 56 men signed that document, 41 of them were slave owners. Obviously, slavery is a direct contradiction to the right of all men to be free. Just as our freedom defines our national creed, the dichotomy between the principles of the Declaration and slavery forms our national character. This has always been true. We are, in essence, a split mind. From our very beginning we have been filled with people brilliantly and courageously willing to struggle and to sacrifice for the right of all people to be free; yet also filled with powerful forces who, usually for our their economic purposes, have no intention whatsoever of seeing a full actualization of those principles and have proven their willingness to go to violent extremes to make sure they donít.
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That struggle, that dichotomy, is Americaís story. It has been with us from the very beginning. American is like a book and every generation writes of its own chapter. Every generation, including our own, lives out that story Ė the often poignant, often painful, struggle between those whose lives are dedicated to freedom and those who would place their economic interests before the values and humanitarian interests put forth in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. This is not a struggle between left and right. It is a struggle between the powerful and the powerless. Thomas Jefferson himself said, ďIt is the general tendency of the rich to prey upon the poor.Ē
A nation has its character defects, just like individuals do. Maturity in a nation, like maturity in an individual, involves recognizing those defects, taking responsibility for them, and ultimately transforming them.
It is true that America has a shadow side, but we shouldnít forget the extraordinary light that lies at the core of our founding principles. No one ever thought, and no one has ever said, that America has fully embodied the principles on which we purport to stand. But it is every generationís responsibility to try; to continue the work of creating a more perfect union. Every generation, including ours, lives out the struggle inherent in our national story. And it is important to remember that if we look back at the sweep of American history, we have nothing to be ashamed of. For where we have been wrong, generations before us have risen up to correct our path.
It is simply our turn now.
We responded to slavery with abolition, we responded to the institutional suppression of women with the womenís suffragist movement, we responded to the ravages of the Gilded Age with the New Deal and the Labor movement, and we responded to the evils of segregation with the Civil Rights movement. Our ancestors did those things. They rose up, they corrected the path of this nation in whatever ways they could and at times they brilliantly succeeded. We owe them an extraordinary debt of gratitude. But we owe them more than that right now. We owe it to our ancestors Ė and more importantly we owe it to our descendants Ė to rise up in our time as they rose up in theirs.
Today, itís not a specific institutional reality that counters equality and the God given rights to which we are devoted. Itís not one thing, itís many things. Itís like an atomizer spray of dysfunction and disrepair. Itís the water in Flint, Michigan and itís the rivers drying up in the American Southwest. Itís 68,000 people dying of from lack of health care every year and itís mass incarceration. Itís income and opportunity inequality and the ubiquitous despair of the majority of our citizens shackled by the consequences of an unjust economic order that has gripped this country, laying claim to every aspect of our lives, dominating our government and tearing apart the fabric our nation. It is not an institution - it is an economic mindset.
This mindset is called by many names, from neoliberalism to trickle-down economics, to crony capitalism to hyper capitalism to free market fundamentalism. But whatever we call it, is not the high side of capitalism and it is not a free market. Quite simply it is a racket. A racket so huge and so entrenched that it has gripped this nation for almost fifty years in the vice of economic injustice. It has perpetrated a 50 trillion-dollar theft from the bottom 90 percent of Americans to the top one percent. It has literally destroyed Americaís middle class. It has denied people health care, education Ė and most importantly, hope. It has sucked the resources of both money and opportunity into the hands of a few at the expense of the many. It is the people of the United States who have suffered and are suffering the ravages of this mindset. Twenty per cent of us are doing fine, at least for the most part. But that twenty per cent lives on an enchanted island surrounded by a vast sea of economic despair.
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We donít need any more evidence that the system has become deeply, intrinsically corrupt. We can see it in the broken windows, shuttered factories and violent crime in our once thriving communities. We can see it in the hollowed eyes and addiction rattled brokenness of our fellow citizens. We can see it in the mass despair of millions of Americans who work hard all day yet cannot afford a place to live, who were holding on but now find themselves homeless, who are struggling with anxiety born of constant economic uncertainty, who tried their best to get into the game but have found the game so rigged against them. Despite the scandalous scale of despair in our midst, leading politicians barely mention the word poor, barely address the root causes of poverty, so drunk are they on money and power that they are buffered emotionally against the ravages of human suffering.
This situation is Americaís current status quo, neoliberalism having burrowed so deeply into the sinews of our nationís capital, that the function our government is more often than not as a handmaiden to the economic forces that - with their multibillion-dollar donations and corporate lobbyists, in total, three times more than there are legislators in this town - make it little more than a system of legalized bribery.
And that status quo will not disrupt itself.
That is our job. Like generations before us, the people must not serve the political parties, but push and propel the political parties. Emancipation was propelled by abolitionists and enslaved people themselves; womenís rights were secured by suffragists and feminists; workerís right were won by the Labor movement; and racial justice and desegregation by the civl rights movement. Major political parties did not originate those ideas, they were conduits for the ideas. But the people led in all those cases, and itís time for the people to lead again.
Just as Franklin Roosevelt led the charge against the power of the first Gilded Age, it is time for us to rise up against the ravages of the Second Gilded Age. For that is what weíre living through now. Our government gives billions of dollars in subsidies to insurance companies, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Food, Big Ag, Big Chemical companies, and defense contractors of the military industrial complex. It bows down to the most irresponsible demands of gun manufacturers at the expense of the safety of our own children, it continues to support fossil fuel extraction although that literally puts humanity on a collision course with global catastrophe. It is willing to prostitute our national interests kowtowing to a murderous dictator for the sake of oil. This is not at this point a left-right dichotomy. It is a reversion to the aristocratic paradigm from which our ancestors fought, and gave their lives, to be free. The least we can do is pay attention, get real, and get busy. Only we the people can turn this ship around.
And weíre doing that. From the resurgence of the Labor movement to the bravery of environmental activists, from protests against racial and police injustice to the movements for indigenous rights, food security, gender liberty and womenís rights, the American spirit is asserting itself and the American people are rising up. The American people are not the problem. The American people are just fine. But the American people are stymied. In a very real way, the voice of the American people is now muffled, replaced by the power of the corporate matrix that in our time is doing what such forces throughout our history have done: they seek to replace the will of the people, the well-being of the people, the safety of the people and the security of the people, with their own often ill-begotten economic bottom line. It is time for us to do what generations before us have done. Itís time for the people to respond.
We need to take a very serious look at the words of Abraham Lincoln, who when writing about those who died at Gettysburg, said that they gave the last full measure of devotion that a ďgovernment of the people, by the people and for the people would not perish from the earth.Ē Itís time for America to take out a mirror, to look at what has become of us, and realize that it is perishing now. We are not currently functioning as a government of the people, by the people, for the people. We are functioning as a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations.
And so the suffering continues. From almost one in four Americans living with medical debt, to 68,000 people who die each year from lack of health care, to 18 million people who cannot afford to fulfill the prescriptions their own doctors give them, to 12 million children who go to bed hungry in America every night, to half of our seniors living on less than $25k a year, the trajectory of despair will not be interrupted until we the people interrupt it. Leaders in Washington, with a few very brave exceptions, are divided into two major categories: those who do not care about that suffering enough to fix it, and those who do not have the spine to do so. Iím running for president with one message: let me in there. I will.
The American revolution is never over. We must constantly, generation after generation, be willing to look at our defects and pull them out at their roots. We should identify the problems in our past, but we should identify with the problem solvers. We must, in the words of Martin Luther king Jr., ďconduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.Ē But we must not tarry. For the hour is late, and the task is ours. No one effort, no one election, no one person, will save us now. Ours is an age of collective effort.
But no more pretending. No more half measures. No more pseudo-sophisticated PR from a corporatist elite who would tell us we simply donít understand, that we should sit down now, that we should sit this out and let the grownups be in charge. They are neither truly sophisticated nor are they grown up. Real grown-ups do not knowingly let a child go hungry.
President Franklin Roosevelt said we wouldnít have to worry about a fascist takeover as long as democracy delivered on its blessings. It is not delivering on its blessings now, and that is what must change.
We are six inches from the cliff regarding the state of our democracy, the state of our economy, the state of our environment, and the state of the people. We will no longer live the absurdity that only those who drove us into this ditch should possibly be considered qualified to lead us out of it. It is time for them to sit down now and let the people take it from here. We will stand up for our rights: from universal health care, to tuition-free college and tech schools to free child care to paid family and sick leave to a living wage Ė all considered moderate positions in most advanced democracies - to a 21st century Economic Bill of Rights. We will right the ship of our economic vessel, listing now so far to one side. Let the uncaring minions of a sociopathic economic order be the ones to sit down now. We the people will now stand up.
Today, I request your support. I request your donations and I request your vote. Go to Marianne2024.com and letís do this. Letís do all we can to end an aberrational, unjust chapter of American history, to disrupt the system that upholds it, and in our time, as generations before us have so bravely done, bring forth a new beginning. Itís time now. Itís time for us.
Iím Marianne Williamson, and Iím running for the office of president of the United States.
Source: Transcribed by Mike Dec