Most people thought Marianne Williamson was a kook. During the early Democratic debates, the author was memed constantly for her seemingly bizarre statements, casting politics as an emotional game and her repeated references to love.
It might’ve taken a little while, but the message stuck. Now, even Joe Biden agrees with her.
Joe Biden: “Let us begin you and I together, one nation under God. United in our love for America. United in our love for each other, for love is more powerful than hate, hope is more powerful than fear and light is more powerful than dark.” https://t.co/6DLWHOY082 #DemConvention pic.twitter.com/aFx4EKk6qw
— ABC News (@ABC) August 21, 2020
The DNC’s final night was an ode to Biden’s empathy. It’s one of the biggest factors differentiating him from Donald Trump, and the Democratic Party knows it. They brought back a number of high-profiled failed presidential candidates—sans Williamson, unsurprisingly—to talk about how good of a person Biden is and how much he cares about regular Americans and the country as a whole.
But for all the Biden back scratching from the likes of Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg, it was Williamson’s messaging that influenced the Democratic nominee most. His acceptance speech was heavy on emotion, appealing to Americans’ better nature and portraying the election in stark emotional terms: light vs. dark, love vs. hate. That Biden made it the core tenet of his acceptance speech shows how deeply he believes it.
Williamson likely won’t get any credit beyond the occasional thinkpiece or fawning tweet. Her politics don’t exactly align with Biden’s, either—she endorsed Bernie Sanders after dropping out herself and has become somewhat of a progressive darling. Williamson’s emotional, empathetic politics line up more with policies like Medicare for All and universal basic income that make things more equitable for everyone. Biden’s politics don’t, and the DNC’s final night was notably bereft of policy specifics to combat the number of crises America now faces. It’s not clear if politics of love will get Biden over the top. Still, it’s easy to cast yourself as the light against Trump’s dark when the president’s incompetence and brutal leadership has led to so much pain.
For now, hopefully, that’s enough. It’s not difficult to find a group of people who can testify to Biden’s resilience and personal empathy. He’s been at this for nearly half a century, and even though his record is shaky and his overall worldview skews right, he’s clearly big enough for the moment. Trump staked a ton of time and campaign resources on portraying Biden as suffering from severe mental decline and being unable to speak in public; the former VP blew past that low bar just minutes into his acceptance speech.
It was Biden’s (and really Williamson’s) messaging playing out in real time—his light shining through Trump’s dark portrayal, overcoming conservatives portraying him as a hateful extremist. The ugly part of the election is just getting started. The attacks and slander will only get worse, especially if Biden continues to exceed the low expectations Trump sets for him. Regardless, Biden will continue appealing to Americans’ emotions, because in many ways it’s the best argument he’s got.