Please, make it stop…
It’s true that Williamson had many bestselling New Age books … twenty or so years ago. Her fame, such as it was, has declined since then. Now, why does Alex Pareene think we should take her seriously?
If you were going to imagine a Democratic version of Donald Trump, what would it look like? …
We might say … that a Democratic Trump would be a proper outsider, with a great deal of TV experience giving her both name recognition and some degree of respect among the “base” despite the “establishment” not taking her seriously. She may have been initially a fairly apolitical figure, but she is canny enough to understand that entering politics means not promising to be above the fray, but acting determined to defeat the villain occupying the White House. She could dabble in fringe views—she may even have a history of dubious tweets the elites send around to scoff at—but her pre-politics status as a mass pop cultural figure has the odd benefit of inoculating her against the political media’s attempts to define her as outside the mainstream.
Let’s unpack that. First, Williamson was never “a mass pop cultural figure” in the way Trump was. Trump had a network TV show that was, at least for a time, quite successful. Williamson had … a few bestselling books (a bestselling book is rarely as popular as a hit TV show, especially one from the days before streaming), as well as some guest appearances on television.
A certain segment of the populace, which may include a number of Democrats, likes (or at least used to like) Williamson’s ideas. But most of us don’t. Pareene’s link on the phrase “a history of dubious tweets the elites send around to scoff at” goes to this tweet:
Alex, most Democrats believe in science. We reject the idea that you can beat swine flu with divine light. We reject Williamson’s vaccine skepticism.
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The larger point here is that there’s no evidence that Democrats want a Trump of our own — a standard-bearer who flaunts ignorance (or a belief in misinformation) as a middle finger to “the elites.” We like people who know stuff. Even when we’ve rallied around a candidate with a relatively short political résumé — Barack Obama, Bill Clinton — we’ve wanted that person to demonstrate knowledge and a sophisticated understanding of ideas. Among the politicians in the current field, Beto O’Rourke is losing favor precisely because he doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on the issues, while Pete Buttigieg has gained ground because he seems to know what he’s talking about. Democrats don’t like know-nothings. Unlike Republicans, we don’t believe that supporting a know-nothing is the best way to smite our enemies.
And while it is fun to scoff at her hokey spiritual woo and self-help bromides, it is easy to forget that hokey spiritual woo and self-help bromides are extremely powerful and popular among a massive subset of Americans, many of whom represent the exact sort of voters who decide Democratic primaries.
You know who decides Democratic primaries? Older black women. New Age nostrums aren’t what they’re looking for in a candidate. Even in Williamson’s home state — California, the epicenter of “hokey spiritual woo” — she could do no better than fourth in a congressional jungle primary. She’s not going to be a contender in this race.
Published with permission of No More Mr. Nice Blog