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USA Today

Alanis Morissette teams with Marianne Williamson to change Congress

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Candidates for Congress can boast their own TV ads, slogans and even T-shirts and other keepsakes — but not everyone can say they have their own campaign song by a Grammy Award winner.

Self-help author Marianne Williamson is out to instill a new political sensibility in Congress with the help of Alanis Morissette, who wrote a new song for Williamson’s campaign.

Williamson, an independent, is one of 18 candidates seeking to succeed Rep. Henry Waxman, the liberal Democrat from California and prolific legislator who is retiring in January after 40 years in Congress.  The video for Morissette’s song went live Monday on YouTube.

In her campaign, Williamson has denounced the “moneyed forces” that dominate American politics as she seeks to instill a “politics of conscience” in Washington. Morissette’s song, Today, speaks of a “revolution” to spark that change.

California’s 33rd District — which includes Beverly Hills, Malibu and Bel Air — is home to one of the more eclectic battles for Congress in the 2014 midterm elections.

Williamson, known for books such as A Return to Love, is one of the more unconventional candidates in the race. The field includes Wendy Greuel, the former Los Angeles city controller who lost the mayor’s race to Eric Garcetti last year; state Sen. Ted Lieu, who has the Democratic Party’s endorsement; TV producer Brett Roske; and Matt Miller, a radio host and political columnist who was an adviser in the Clinton administration.

Because of California’s primary system — in which the top two finishers regardless of party move on to the general election — someone with high name identification like Williamson shouldn’t be counted out in such a crowded field. Voters will have their say in the June 3 primary.

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LA Confidential

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KRUU FM Radio Show - Speaking freely

Speaking Freely talks with Marianne Williamson.


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NOT A JOKE by Joe Klein

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The New Age spiritualist Marianne Williamson is thinking of running for Congress from Los Angeles as an independent.

There will be jokes about this. She’s been a glamevangelist, with a stable of celebrities swooning over her books and lectures. She’d be running against the estimable Henry Waxman, one of the more substantive and productive members of Congress–but also a fairly strict left-liberal  ideologue who shows few signs of flexibility on issues where reform may be necessary, like Medicare.

But I wonder: Could Williamson be the harbinger of a wave of Independent candidacies in 2014? Are people so sick of the two existing parties that they’re ready to go shopping for something new? “We’re seeing this all over our polling,” says Peter Hart, who does surveys for NBC and the Wall Street Journal. “People are sick of the status quo: 60% believe that the entire Congress should be replaced. They’re looking for alternatives.”

I’ve been skeptical about 3rd parties in the past. The best of them–the Populists, Ross Perot (at least when it came to budgetary matters)–tend to have their hot ideas co-opted by the Democrats or Republicans. That may still be true…although we’ve seen everything else in society fragmented, niched and marketized.

It may be that we won’t see a Third Party, but a rash of Independents breaking out across the country in 2014. Depending on which way the Republicans go, I can see Libertarians running their own candidates in the next two cycles–and especially for President in 2016. I can also see, in certain circumstances, moderates breaking away from the GOP (and maybe from the currently smug, listless Democrats) in the near future. If this happens, I suspect it will happen from the bottom up. Some will be wealthy, vanity candidacies like Williamson. Others may come from the Millennial generation–especially the recent military veterans among them–who find that there’s a lot not to like about the existing parties…or from the tech world. Who knows?

I may be wrong about this; I’m always uncomfortable about making predictions. We’ve been doing this two-candidate thing for a long time, but we’ve reached a point of paralysis–a very un-American state of being–and something is going to come along and shock the system back to life.

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The Mindful Congressional Candidate: Marianne Williamson

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"One man with courage makes a majority." - Andrew Jackson

I recently hosted Marianne Williamson at my home so she could explain why she's running for Congress (district 33). There were about 140 people there, some of them who knew Marianne as a spiritual leader, and others that did not know her at all. What drew everyone there, whether they knew her or not, was their interest in seeing who she is as a political candidate, and when she stood in front of them and said what she would do and change in public office, she lit the room on fire with her passion, enthusiasm and intelligence. For anyone who thought she was just a spiritual guru, they were completely turned around. This was someone to be taken very seriously, and what she said resonated for everyone in that room.

So what was it that struck a chord in people that night? I mean, we all know that politicians are good at telling you what you want to hear, and some of them are more charming or charismatic than others -- enough to engender your trust and faith in them. But with Marianne, it's different than rote political rhetoric, or charm and charisma, which she definitely has. There's something in her message that goes straight to the core of truth. She represents what we know must be said and done right now, and she's not afraid to talk about what we all are desperate to hear. She speaks the language of the present. Not what "could be", but what "has to be." No more "Same old, same old," as she says. That's yesterday's news. Nobody wants hand me down solutions.

When she says in her video, My campaign, in My Own Words, "We can't any longer just deal with the effects without dealing with the cause of all this. We can't any longer just deal with the symptoms without calling the disease what it is. There's a cancer that is eating our democracy. There's an issue that's underlying all these other issues, and that is the issue of money in politics. That's why getting the money out of politics is the greatest moral challenge of our generation," we know with every fiber of our being that we must take action to fight for what we believe is right, and can no longer tolerate the status quo. And if having "cancer" doesn't wake you up, I don't know what will.

Marianne is the most mindful candidate I've ever heard speak. Her awareness of what is wrong with the political system is so laser sharp that she pulls you right into the problems of the present and holds you there up close and personal to see. She has an innate ability to bring you into what's really going on, and what we need is for those of us that know and believe that change is possible, to vote for Marianne Williamson for Congress on June 3. It's time for "A new conversation for a new America," and she's the one that started it.

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Down With Tyranny!

CA-33-- One Way To Know What To Expect From Political Leaders Is To Examine What They've Already Done

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Wendy Greuel has a shocking campaign payroll. She has an army of lame, high-priced consultants from outside the area who can't seem to lessen the intensity of the negative perception their employer has working against her in the CA-33 House race. Instead, they're running around whispering their poisonous messages about the other candidates to anyone who will listen. The latest is a nasty attack on Marianne Williamson as the "Paris Hilton candidate," although it doesn't seem to be based on anything concrete other than that other Hollywood celebrities-- though not Hilton-- have endorsed Williamson and some, like Alanis Morissette and Chaka Khan, have done events for her. But the district includes the places were Hollywood celebrities actually live-- unlike Valley girl Greuel. It will be hard for her and her sleazy team of outsiders to demonize them or people who are endorsed by them.

One of the more trustworthy Members of Congress watching this race closely-- someone who admires Williamson but hasn't endorsed her (yet)-- asked me, rhetorically, I think, "What has Wendy Greuel ever done to touch anyone's life?" Good point-- and, basically, it's what a lot of Angelenos ask themselves about Greuel, including former allies who helped finance her shady, failed campaign against Eric Garcetti last year.

When I asked my neighbors, who aren't very "political," if they had ever heard of any of the candidates, they said they hadn't-- and didn't care. I mentioned Marianne. They heard of her. One of them started crying. They both said Marianne saved their lives. I assumed they meant that it was because of something in one of her books, or maybe in a one of her lectures. Her whole career has been the polar opposite of a grubby career politician like Wendy Greuel. Her career has been about reaching out and touching people and making their lives better. Maybe Wendy should try reading some of those books before she runs for her next office.

But maybe it wasn't one of Marianne's books that brought on the strong emotional reaction from my neighbors. Maybe it was Project Angel Food. Do you know what that is? While Greuel was switching from the Republican Party to the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Marianne was starting Project Angel Food, an outreach program that was an outgrowth of the Center for Spiritual Living, providing non-medical services to people with life threatening disease. People came to the center for meals and care. Then when the Aids victims started to not show up because they were too ill to leave their homes, Marianne started to deliver the meals on wheels program. That was back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When Marianne started the program, she started delivering 15 meals. It grew to 90 meals a day in 1990 and to over 1,000 meals a day by 2000. Today they have delivered over 8 million meals That's not what career politicians like Wendy Greuel do. No they're too busy climbing the ladder of political opportunism, which is, basically, all she has ever done.

"Project Angel Food emerged from a crisis," Marianne told us yesterday. "People were aware that the situation was one of life and death, and we acted because we had to. I see a crisis in America today-- not a question of life or death necessarily, but a question of whether we retain our democracy or not. That's still a crisis, and once again it's time for us to act."

Career politicians like Greuel, who have never done anything for anyone on the planet earth, need to understand what service means before they offer themselves to the public. People don't like politicians because so many of them are just like Greuel. So few of them are anything like Marianne Williamson. If she wins this congressional seat, that could change. Thats' what people mean when they say Williamson's campaign is transformative. If Greuel wins, I can assure you nothing will change; everything will continue on its dismal downward spiral. -

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Houston Chronicle

Houston-raised Marianne Williamson Eyes A California Congressional Seat

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Marianne Williamson is on the phone from Los Angeles explaining how she had the nerve to do what she had long urged other women to do and throw herself on the mercy of voters.

Her decision to run for Congress after two decades as a best-selling author of spiritual books came in part from her upbringing in Texas, where she saw a respect for independent women, learned admiration for anyone who showed strong entrepreneurial drive and got her first taste of progressive politics, once very much a part of the state's political scene.

It came from her family, where strong women were the norm and children were encouraged to do something with their lives to make the world a better place.

And it came from her generation, imbued with a sense of mission and free of the limitations sometimes placed on their parents and grandparents. She remains very much a proud boomer.

"I think there are many of us - and we aren't gone yet - who still want to make good on the promises imprinted on our hearts," Williamson said.

And so, with the same chutzpah she showed when moving from Houston to LA to reinvent herself as someone with a message about God and love, the 61-year-old Williamson declared her independent candidacy for the seat held by Henry Waxman, the stalwart California Democrat who had rarely faced serious opposition. Her announcement was met with plenty of smiles and raised eyebrows. The "New Age Spiritual Guru" goes to Washington? Seriously?

Political analysts quick to discount her perhaps should have taken a second look at her résumé since she closed her Heights bookstore, said goodbye to family and friends, and headed west in 1983. On her own, with no money or experience, she started a charity that fed and offered spiritual comfort to people with AIDS, in so doing attracting the attention of everybody who was anybody in Hollywood.

Then she became one of the nation's most highly sought spiritual speakers and widely read spiritual authors, with 13 books to her credit, six of them best-sellers. Her message resonated with millions of people less interested in religious doctrine and theology but eager for a way to have God make sense to them and to transform their lives. She even headed a large Unity Church in Michigan for five years. Not for nothing did a 2006 Newsweek poll name Williamson one of the 50 most influential baby boomers.

Maybe she won't win. But maybe she's no joke, either. And with Waxman's unexpected decision to retire from Congress, who knows?

"It is definitely not a symbolic thing," Williamson said of her campaign. "This is not a time for symbols. I am not naïve about power and the limits of power of any one particular congressman. One woman will not change things. We need a movement of independent-minded candidates around the country to change things."

Early wandering

If only her parents had lived to see her on the stump, passionately arguing for social change in much the same way they did 50 years ago. Sam and Sophie Williamson never doubted their daughter's intellect or potential, only her commitment. After graduating from Bellaire High School in 1970 and then leaving Pomona College with a lot of course credits but no degree, she wandered. For years.

Williamson was bright enough to have followed her dad into law or make her mark in a dozen different ways. Other young women from her Braeswood neighborhood were becoming doctors, businesswomen, architects. And it wasn't as if she lacked the drive that usually translates into achievement. She was nothing if not driven, as she later showed. But she lacked both path and destination.

This child of the '60s found herself, as she later described it, sidetracked by "bad boys and good dope," spinning her wheels in jobs that never translated into any purposeful career, moving from city to city and relationship to relationship. Nothing clicked, including a short-lived career as a New York cabaret singer.

Her cousin, Martha Kaplan, who has been close to Williamson since they were girls, was in New York attending law school during the 1970s and spent a lot of time with her. The lack of any discernible career path did not keep Kaplan from remaining impressed, by Williamson's potential if nothing else.

"She was just this brilliant, beautiful, funny, charismatic, popular person - you knew she was a leader," said Kaplan, who moved to Houston after law school. "What she can take in and process is just amazing. She is not limited by any particular strain of thought."

But being open to anything made it harder to settle on something. Williamson's funk widened and she slid toward despair. More than ever, she later wrote, she felt like an "alien," someone who could not crack the code of "making it" in the modern world. When her brother mentioned one evening that people thought she was weird, that she suffered from some unconventional "virus," the description pushed her close to panic.

Describing herself as a "total mess" by her mid-20s, Williamson careened toward a nervous breakdown. As it happened, that confused bottoming-out is what paradoxically saved her, preparing her for a new life that was as much calling as career. Seeking a purpose that went beyond a paycheck and an upward ladder, she came across "A Course in Miracles," a self-help spiritual guide by Helen Schucman and William Thetford that, loosely speaking, reinterprets Christianity in a nontraditional way to achieve personal transformation. The effect was profound.

"This was my personal teacher, my path out of hell," she wrote in "A Return to Love," her best-selling first book.

When she opened a bookstore in the early 1980s after returning to Houston, it was less a typical retail shop than a venue for a new brand of spiritual authors, many of whom had gained a wide audience as the New Age movement began to spread across the nation and Unity Church provided venues for alternate religious worship. Williamson eagerly brought them in for book signings and lectures.

Houston, however, offered a less than ideal environment to pursue her newfound passion. As with many new trends and movements, California was ground zero for a changing religious landscape. So Williamson closed her store and packed up what she had once again and pointed her car west on Interstate 10. She did not have a precise plan when she got to LA, but she did have something close to a sense of mission.

"A Course in Miracles" not only brought clarity and peace to her life, it set her on a path that allowed her to put incomparable speaking skills to good use. What started as simple lectures to explain "the course" became increasingly popular. She was charismatic and self-deprecating, with a stand-up comic's sense of timing. Her informal and impromptu speaking style connected immediately with an audience open to her simple, personal spiritual scheme that emphasized love, the unity of all people, the corrosive and self-destructive effect of guilt and judgment, how to bring God into one's life in a transformational way, and, of course, how to see the self and the world around us in different ways.

Her brother, Peter Williamson, recalled being shocked when he heard her speak at Houston's Unity Church.

"It was the most unusual damn thing I'd ever seen," he said. "She just walked out and started talking, like she was talking to some old friends. She never stumbled. She never looked at any notes. But the connection she made to those people was incredible. I saw some in tears. This is why I say she would be dangerous if she had a different message."

Raised in a Jewish family that was mostly secular save for the High Holy Days, Williamson's spiritual message draws on Eastern religious philosophy, psychotherapy, metaphysics and 19th-century New Thought notions on the universality of God and the dwelling of the divine in every person. At the same time, she accepts many Christian precepts and terminology, albeit as interpreted in "A Course in Miracles."

In LA, the growing audiences for her lectures began to be sprinkled with Hollywood actors and producers and industry executives. She gained exposure from her work with the gay community and especially those suffering from AIDS, whom she embraced with compassion and spiritual support. She started a program, Angel Food, to deliver meals to those too sick to go out or too financially strapped to afford it. Word spread quickly, and it became a charity of choice for many in the entertainment industry.

By the time she came out with "A Return to Love" in 1992, Williamson was gaining celebrity status of her own. Oprah Winfrey's early endorsement of the book cemented its popularity, and Williamson was a regular guest on her TV show. She became an officiant of choice for the weddings of a number of Hollywood folk, including Elizabeth Taylor (and scores of regular, unknown people, too, her staff says). Many of the stars who have been fans of her work over the years have been significant supporters of her candidacy.

The candidate

In recent years, Williamson has become a very public advocate on certain issues, especially empowering women to seek public office.

Which perhaps makes her political pursuit less shocking than it might be. Williamson is confident in what she knows and is comfortable in her own skin. Part of her effectiveness comes from a breadth of knowledge that she can tap at a moment's notice. Her brother said that goes back to the family dinner table. Their father had little use for idle chit-chat about the day's events. Their dinner conversations were serious: politics, current events, civil rights, international news, religion, the life of the mind.

Even as the youngest child, Marianne more than held her own. She was smart beyond her years, widely read, with a catholic taste for knowledge and a curiosity beyond belief.

"She would talk about things kids her age never talked about," recalled Peter Williamson, who, like his father, is an immigration lawyer. "She was marching to her own drum even then. We always knew she was different."

Williamson is not fazed by those who don't take her seriously. With Congress receiving such low public approval ratings and unable to agree on most anything, she decided to present herself as a sane alternative, knowing that some would dismiss her as an unqualified flake.

"I believe the U.S. needs a completely new conversation," she said. "Looking to the status quo to deliver us to that conversation is completely naïve. Monied forces control the institutions of government, so much so that it means that democracy itself is in peril."

Williamson, a single mother whose daughter is now grown, is running as an independent, which might doom her candidacy in many states but is less of an obstacle in California, which has an open primary system. The top two vote-getters June 3 will square off in the general election, regardless of any party affiliation.

When Waxman called it quits, two "conventional" Democratic candidates jumped in, both well-known. But Williamson suddenly did not seem quite so far out in left field, her progressive agenda notwithstanding. She said she noticed a burst of enthusiasm immediately - bigger crowds, more signs, more volunteers.

She has raised slightly more than $1 million, enough to be credible but perhaps not truly competitive. She said she needs close to $1 million more, a sum she acknowledges as "obscene." She is not accepting PAC money or corporate contributions, so every check matters, including those coming from friends and family back in Texas.

Williamson remains closely tied to Houston, where much of her family and many of her closest friends still live. She thinks of herself as a Texan in an essential way. You can take the girl out of Texas ... , she said.

It is Los Angeles, however, that provided the venue for her success.

"I have always felt philosophically and emotionally welcomed in Los Angeles," Williamson said, praising the city's openness to new ideas. "The city gave me my career, and, obviously, I am hoping it will give me a new one."

Progressive agenda

For the next two months, Williamson's message will concern American politics and reflect an ardently progressive theme, much of it centered on a desire to replace what she calls narrow corporate economic values with humanitarian values. Her speechifying is well-honed and at times not distant from her spiritual messages. And, in theory, it could sell well in California's liberal 33rd Congressional District. Party loyalty could cost her the votes of some who may like her rhetoric, but she hopes to tap into a reservoir of people who have been turned off by what politics has become.

"So many Americans have been sitting out the process for so long, thinking that it cannot be relevant to their lives," Williamson said. "This two-party duopoly that so dominates government sucks the energy out of public discourse."

She admires the fierceness, if not the point of view, of the tea party movement. But it found its place on the right wing of one of the two big parties. For now, she remains a long shot whom the more conventional candidates are largely ignoring. The fact that other unconventional candidates such as Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Sonny Bono found success in California gives her hope that the state will be on the cutting edge of another new trend - the citizen legislator.

"California doesn't do same ol' same ol'. California specializes in starting new conversations. It likes to hear somebody that is different," she said.

For better or worse, that's always been something she has been good.


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Katy Perry, Nicole Richie, Kourtney and Kim Kardashian Attend Political Campaign Event

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Kim Kardashian donned a dramatically different ensemble to an event for self-help author-turned-Congressional candidate Marianne Williamson last night in Los Angeles. The E! reality star wore a pair of black silk harem pants with a black tank and blazer.  Kourtney Kardashian joined in on the fun and opted to wear a decidedly more feminine outfit for the evening outing.

The mother of two was very on trend as she mixed prints by wearing a striped blouse, floral knee-length skirt, and a pair of floral pumps. Cute! But the Hollywood star power didn't end there…

Katy Perry was also on hand to support Williamson and her close gal-pals.

The "Dark Horse" singer showed off her newly-dyed green hair and looked adorable in a floral cut-out dress. Perry evoked '90s grunge glam by pairing the frock with a pair of clunky black platforms. Nicole Richie also showed off her colorful coif as she mingled with politicians and pals.  Dressed every bit the part of the fashionista, Richie wore a white monochromatic getup comprised of a turtleneck, blazer and pair of trousers.

The star of the upcoming VH1 show Candidly Nicole tweeted out her support and a video endorsement for Williamson. "I support Marianne Williams because I think that America is ready for positivity, strength and enlightenment," she says in the clip.

Williamson is currently running for California's 33rd district after Rep. Henry Waxman retired last year.


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Gossip Center

Kim, Kourtney, Katy & Nicole Show Support for Marianne Williamson’s Congressional Bid 

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There’s nothing like having a few high-powered ladies behind you to really get momentum going, and Congressional hopeful Marianne Williamson welcomed some of Tinseltown’s hottest stars at her campaign press event in Los Angeles last night (April 8).

The 61-year-old candidate for California’s 33rd District received support from Kim and Kourtney Kardashian as well as Nicole Richie and Katy Perry as she mingled with guests at Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery.





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