The Berkeley Forum hosted Marianne Williamson, 2020 presidential candidate and bestselling author, Thursday to discuss the state of American politics, from corporate influence in government to forms of resistance.
Over the last few decades, the United States has changed drastically with differences in the mindsets of those from the 20th and 21st centuries, according to Williamson. While the previous century viewed the world through a mechanistic lens as a big machine, the current outlook is more holistic, integrated and inclusive, Williamson noted.
“Americans are not the problem,” Williamson said during the event. “Politics is the container for our collective behavior, and politics is one of the few institutional sectors in the United States that is stuck. It is stuck back in the 20th-century model.”
Williamson discussed former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election as a turning point in American history. The birth of trickle-down economics, which states that the benefits of the wealthy will trickle down to everyone else through job creation, resulted in a massive transfer of wealth to the 1% and a corporate aristocracy in the United States.
Trickle-down economics introduced the idea that a corporation’s only responsibility was dedicated to their stockholders, regardless of its impact on workers, communities or the environment, according to Williamson.
“There were so many ways that money was taken away from things that could actually make people’s lives better, and instead were used to advocate for those who could afford to have the ungodly influence that they could then have on our government,” Williamson said at the event.
She also spoke about her presidential campaign and the difficulty in breaking into politics due to corporate influence. Even at the primary levels, Williamson noted the suppression of progressive voices in senatorial and congressional races.
Ultimately, Williamson underscored the importance of “intergenerational dialogue.” She said those in the older generations have the role of story keepers, sharing stories about their personal experiences in a United States the newer generations did not live in.
For Williamson, this means looking back at her college days in 1970, where she felt more of a social consensus that prejudice should not exist. Against the backdrop of anti-war protests and the Civil Rights Movement, people generally felt that the country was changing for the better despite its past struggles.
Williamson said she hopes people can do the same and rise to the occasion, whether the issue is mass incarceration, police brutality or fossil fuel regulation.
“Politics affects our lives whether we wish it did or not,” Williamson said. “No matter what the issue is — no matter what the public issue is, it will make its way through your private door.”