George Boardman: Yes, America, it’s time for a hippie aunt in the White House
Observations from the center stripe: Press edition
THAT FRONT page article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the effort to protect Grass Valley from wild fires won’t help the local real estate market ... HOME SELLERS in Lake of the Pines are emphasizing their proximity to Auburn … NOT HELPING: As we encourage people to dial back this stuff, the Sacramento Bee ran an article on the 10 best fireworks packages for the Fourth … IT’S HARD to view Senator Kamala Harris as a deprived little black girl when her mother was a medical researcher and her father was a professor at Stanford … I’M GUESSING Rep. Doug LaMalfa won’t be sponsoring a resolution praising the performance of Redding native Megan Rapinoe in the Women’s World Cup …
I don’t mind admitting I skipped both of the debates involving the Democratic Party candidates for the party’s presidential nomination, a performance that prompted at least one shrewd liberal observer to conclude none of them are ready to take on Donald Trump.
The contenders will probably be separated from the pretenders by the time California holds its presidential primary next March, giving me plenty of time to figure out where the candidates stand. Besides, I avoided napping for four hours before bedtime.
The news coverage I read suggested that Senator Kamala Harris was one of the few winners in the cattle call, apparently by portraying herself as a little black girl who was bussed to school in (of all places) Berkeley. Now that Harris has surged to near the top of the heap, you can bet the party Puritans will start hammering her work as a prosecutor and attorney general.
As expected, practically every candidate had a portfolio of plans to solve the various ills of our country, most of them long on promises and short on specifics. In a refreshing return to reality, New Age space cadet Marianne Williamson pointed out this wonkish approach to campaigning didn’t work four years ago.
“I’ll tell you one thing, it’s really nice if we’ve got all these plans,” Williamson said. “But if you think we’re going to beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you’ve got another thing coming. Because he didn’t win by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying, ‘Make America great again.’ We’ve got to get deeper than just these superficial fixes.”
Williamson, a friend of Oprah and author of a couple of best-selling books who is often described as a New Age spiritual teacher, is the latest in a long line of weird, offbeat presidential candidates. David Byler, writing in the Washington Post, suggests “she’s channeling a real, and underserved, constituency in American politics.”
Byler claims this constituency is those Americans who describe themselves as “nonreligious” or “religious resisters”: They don’t believe in hell or God as described in the Bible, but are spiritual and believe that there is “spiritual energy” in objects such as crystals and mountains. Add in the “spiritually awake” and the “diversely devout” — a mixture of traditional Christianity and New Age beliefs — and you have quite a constituency.
Williamson has made a career out of spiritual teaching and writing, but it’s not easy to pin down exactly what she believes. Like many New Age teachers and self-help authors, she seems to be mystical and left-ish, focused on love and prayer but not into hashing out doctrine or dogma. None of this appeals to the Trump base.
This lack of specificity was reflected in her answers at the debate. When asked what would be her priority issue as president, she replied: “My first call is to the prime minister of New Zealand, who said that her goal is to make New Zealand the place where it’s the best place in the world for a child to grow up. I would tell her, ‘Girlfriend, you are so on!’”
Williamson did make some substantive points. She accused the Trump administration of child abuse for ripping migrant kids from their parents at the border and loading them into unsanitary detention facilities. Trump is attacking America’s “moral core” with his immigration policies, she said. “We open our hearts to the stranger.”
She used her closing remarks to challenge the president: “Mr. President, if you are listening, I want you to hear me, please. You have harnessed fear for political purposes, and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on the field. And, sir, love will win.”
Williamson’s performance got the attention of the Twitter twits, but few others seemed to be impressed. RealClearPolitics isn’t tracking her in the polls, Vogue magazine left her out of a picture of all of the female Democratic candidates, and she probably didn’t help her cause with the political reporters — who take themselves way too seriously — when she emailed them a video of herself dancing to “Runaround Sue” with a guy in a cowboy hat and urging them to “JUST DANCE.”
A second email recommended that reporters de-stress from the debates by “instead of downing a shot, do a downward dog. Every time someone talks about the green new deal, strike an eagle pose.”
Williamson is likely to drop off the radar because she lacks political contributions from enough supporters, and I think that would be a shame. I believe one of the things that gets us in stupid wars we can’t win is an excessive amount of testosterone in the White House, where John Wayne wannabes like John Bolton try to prove they’re tough guys — never mind that Bolton took shelter in law school when he could have served in Vietnam.
It wouldn’t hurt to have a hippie aunt in the White House to dial down the aggression after the Oval Office has been properly smudged, the edibles have been consumed, and the negative energy vanished. Dim the lights and put on some Enya.
I can feel the vibe already.
George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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