How Far Can Love Propel Marianne Williamson?
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Marianne Oprah’s spiritual advisor?”
It’s 8 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and I’m sitting on my bed in my dorm room while looking nervously at my pre-interview notes. On the phone with me is Juliet Jarmosco, the Iowa Field Director for Marianne Williamson’s presidential campaign.
Before calling Jarmosco, I had researched Williamson’s unique candidacy, so I felt certain the question wasn’t unfounded. ABC News has referred to Williamson as an “author, spiritual teacher and Oprah Winfrey confidant.” NowThis News called her “Oprah’s spiritual guru.” But when I ask the aforementioned question, Jarmosco adamantly shakes her head.
To her credit, she also laughs. “Absolutely not.”
I start to apologize, but she waves me away.
“People introduce her like that all the time. I think that sometimes that title is a way to mock her. It’s a way to say, ‘oh this is cute.’ They’re minimizing what she’s about.” She grows more serious. “ The political establishment made up that title.”
After a couple of minutes of small talk, I learn she moved her family of eight— six children, her husband, and herself— to Fairfield, Iowa as part of a spiritual journey that Williamson was involved in from the start.
“Marianne became one of my teachers about eight years ago. I started to read her books and found them very transformative … It changes your worldview. When I heard she was running [in 2020], I just knew right away she was my candidate.”
Before Williamson, she explains, she wasn’t tuned in to politics. However, her distinct campaign message convinced her to get on board the campaign.
“Her message is love, and that is so abstract to some people. I don’t even think people even understand how powerful love is,” Jarmosco says. “It makes people do things that don’t make any sense. We can all agree that love exists. Most people believe in some kind of God… what is real is what you can’t see. When 9/11 happens, nothing matters. It doesn’t matter if your enemy was right next to you, love comes out. Love is the core of everything.”
While speaking, she begins to tear up.
I came into our conversation expecting a lot of shop talk or minute campaign details. But our conversation quickly veered into something more meaningful. It was obvious how passionate she is about her work. But only when she becomes emotional do I realize that for her, Marianne’s message is not simply a slogan that appears on a bus or a billboard. She uprooted everything in order to make a lifestyle change. For a more major candidate, something similar is less unexpected: more money behind the candidate, more grassroots organizers, and fundamental basics like name recognition. Top-tier candidates have a certain gravitational pull that lesser-known ones lack. Despite this, Jarmosco believes in Williamson, which at the end of the day, must count for something.
Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight finds Williamson peaking at zero percent in virtually every Iowa poll. Despite the low figures, Jarmosco is unconcerned.
“I don’t really look at the polls. I think every poll showed that Hillary was going to win, and I think [Williamson] can go all the way. I know that may sound naive, but I wouldn’t be on her campaign if I didn’t think she could. The polls don’t stop me.”
Hope is a powerful thing, indeed.