Bringing Soul and Integrity to American Politics

“We don’t need just another technocrat or political car mechanic…we’re on the wrong road.” —Marianne Williamson

Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is astonishing in her openness, authenticity, and candor in this moving conversation that enlightens on a spiritual level as well as a political one. First, we learn why she is running for president, and how she thinks she can help America. As Marianne explains it, her talent lies in translating what is happening so people can grasp the full picture. “Everybody sees it,” she says, talking about our money-driven culture and corrupt political system, “but not everybody can put the pieces together.” She adds that if people were to fully understand what is going on, it would create a space for transformation to occur. Marianne’s remarkable ability to consider all sides of an issue and look beyond symptoms to the root cause of some of our greatest problems is also evident, from calling on liberals to assume their share of responsibility for allowing this country to decline morally in the way that it has to her understanding of the political and psychological forces driving the Israel-Hamas war.

More than a political talk, Marianne reveals a psychological and spiritual portrait of the United States, referencing the brilliant vision of our founding fathers, Martin Luther King’s goal of Beloved Community, and telling a stirring story of the way Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration reflects the high morality of the populace at that time. On a personal level, Marianne’s uncompromising path towards growth and transformation is both clear and inspiring—she talks about the importance of taking 100% responsibility for one’s experience, about practicing what you preach, living a life of service, and the reality of love. The only thing that is missing from any situation, Marianne tells us, is what we can do about it.

Recorded January 9, 2024.

Topics & Timestamps

  • Introducing bestselling author and 2024 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (01:10)
  • On the importance of practicing what you preach, living a life of service (02:06)
  • We’re living in a very mean-spirited time: people smear, lie, and ruin others very casually (03:50)
  • The division now is more between decent and indecent than left and right (04:55)
  • The effects of social media and the argument Trump created of “why not?” Now everything is a mud bath (06:18)
  • The commodification of our culture: everybody sees it (07:06)
  • Marianne is running for president because she can translate what’s happening to people, thereby creating a space where things can actually transform (07:58)
  • The lack of values we need to concern ourselves with is neoliberalism—by our own passive permission, we are on some level acquiescing, making way for demagogues (10:17)
  • We made a businessman (Trump) a god and now we see the consequences (13:44)
  • The American people are not the problem (15:22)
  • Take 100% responsibility for your experience or you won’t be able to change it (16:45)
  • Running for president, waking up to the ugliest things you can imagine, has been Marianne’s greatest spiritual crucible: what an opportunity to forgive herself and others (18:31)
  • How Marianne addresses symptoms and problems but also their underlying psychological and spiritual roots: “We’ve got to address root cause” (24:01)
  • The Israel-Hamas War and unprocessed trauma: if your own trauma is unprocessed you are incapable of being present for the suffering of others (26:50)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King on the political externalization of the goal of desegregation versus the ultimate true goal of Beloved Community—then and now in Israel and Palestine (29:03)
  • John’s comparison of Marianne and Abraham Lincoln (32:00)
  • Why politicians have become wooden and inauthentic (33:22)
  • What Marianne has learned personally and a message to the people (35:49)
  • The second election of Abraham Lincoln: amazingly, the people voted against their best interest to free slaves
  • An idea grows stronger when it is shared—and the Deep Transformation podcast (41:02)
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I just fast forwarded to “American people are not the problem”. Because to me, this is the crux of the issue. Marianne does not give firm support for this besides some spiritual bypassing manifestation mumbo jumbo “People appear at the level you speak to.” I’m perfectly fine with that community having those beliefs, but having those beliefs does not make them valid as facts any more than MAGA’s beliefs are real because they believe them.

When looking at the state of American Politics, Americans are 100% the problem from beginning to end. The failure of Americans to take accountability for the results and consequences of their own beliefs and actions both as individuals and collectively is entirely 100% of the problem. Refusing to recognize this and refusing to be accountable only drives the problem deeper into the shadows the higher one gets along that spiritual path. Such a path isn’t “awakening” - it’s putting blinders on.

Having said that, I would vote for Miriam for President just as I have voted for other Presidential candidates whose core beliefs were not the same as mine.

Forgiveness does not eliminate accountability. Forgiveness is only withdrawing personal judgement of and emotional enmeshment with an act. Forgiveness becomes harmful when it denies responsibility and accountability for actions that harm. For example, if a friend or family member votes for Trump and MAGA I can withdraw emotional judgement and maintain compassion, but at the same time state clearly that supporting Trump and MAGA is supporting the worst of humanity and I choose not to associate personally with people who do so just as I do not associate with any addict who refuses to accept accountability for the consequences of their addiction.

American Politics sprouts out of American Culture and American Culture derives from the desires of the American People. The only way we will ever have a political system that is sane is if American desires become sane and become a driving force for a sane culture.

The insanity of American culture has a few core causes. I would venture that one of the key aspects of this is consumption based values. As soon as I step a single pinky toe into even spiritual communities I feel the drive of consumption values behind it. In the Marianne’s community this often takes the form of “manifesting”. If you want something (usually material goods and money) just manifest it. Just keep manifesting stuff and as you obtain more stuff this will reinforce you as a spiritual being. If you do not have stuff that means that you are in some way not spiritual enough. This is what I am greeted with every time I step into these spaces. More traditional Judeo-Christian spiritual communities are usually worse and in the form of “give money to the Church so we can build buildings and you will be rewarded after you die”.
It’s only rarely that I find an actual spiritual person and even never more than one individual at a time who has removed enough fetters of desires that they actually have an spiritual viewpoint untainted by the desire to consume more and more and more and more endlessly without accepting the consequences this has for the individual, society and the world.

A while ago I read an integral-influenced book on politics (Steve McIntosh, Developmental Politics) in which the author parsed the electorate into four worldviews: Progressive Postmodernists, Liberal Modernists, Fiscally Conservative & Libertarian Modernists, and Socially Conservative Modernists & Traditionalist. McIntosh details the value systems of each of these groupings, but what got my attention is that under the category “Potential Deficiencies & Pathologies”, he listed “cultural bias and tribalism” for all four groups.

To me, that’s a key to the situation. Although various ideas are what people say, what they feel may well be more significant. The most crying need may be for belonging. By being in opposition to one or more these groups, people get to belong to another of those groups.

My thinking is that improving politics for a large nation like the US may require regeneration of smaller, more localized community substructures. (Feel free to apply the word “holonic” to this if it helps to visualize it.) The way to kick the habit of defining ourselves politically by who we oppose may be in cultivating a stronger sense of who we embrace. Not proposing any fast, easy, or “by-passing” ways to get this done. It just seems like cognitive development for more constructive politics needs a foundation in emotional development to really get anywhere.

My take is that tribal was a step in a direction more than a wrong turn. Tribal is what social animals do when they get started with culture. To evolve more abstract cognitive capabilities, we needed to evolve beyond tribal also, which is the plotline of world history in a nutshell.

I don’t think we ever leave anything behind, though. Not our animal bodies, certainly. Not our emotions. And not our basic need for smallish, immediate social groups. Sometimes the pursuit of some shiny new thing - reason, technology, economic expansion - leads us to forget where we came from and how we are actually put together. I believe we have reached a moment where recollecting our past and recentering on our full evolutionary legacy is essential to take the next steps forward.

Arguing with Krishnamurti seems ill advised, so I’ll pass on that. But I do believe his interpretation can co-exist with mine. If my view is correct - and that we all carry multiple simultaneous evolutionary layers all at once, that does not mean that coordinating, orchestrating, and integrating those layers is easy, obvious, or commonly accomplished with any great skill. Getting stuck in the tribal - as opposed to embracing and extending the tribal - is a fairly common pitfall.

Where I and I have no quarrel at all is locating the seeds of effective action the UL quadrant. Raw material swirls in from others and from nature, but distinctively human activity involves a personal synthesis.

First we have to say what we mean by “tribal”, then we have to decide if the characteristics are “all or nothing” or “Ala Carte”.
When people in Integral describe Tribalism, they seem to primarily imply only the variety that is all or nothing and also mutually exclusive. If you were a Celt living in the1st to 5th Century, You could not be a Roman, for example.

We know this to be historically inaccurate. Historically, this was simply not true even tribes in the “Tribalism” level of “Development” either individually or collectively. Anecdotally, while my genetics are 99% British Celt (Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Britannia) my family name is derived from the Latin “Benedictus”. At some point during the Roman Occupation an ancient ancestor of mine was bestowed Latin bona fides, bridging the tribal gap. This kind tribal merging was commonplace all throughout history. Indeed, “Bennett” is a common name, suggesting this multitribalism was common practice. Just as one could be in both in one of the many “British” Celt tribes and also Roman “tribe” simultaneously, this was possible in every epoch of human history.

Fast forward to 2024 and today and it is possible for me to simultaneously be in several “tribes” that many believe are not possible, or choose to ignore. For example, it is possible to be in the Military and strongly support the military and also be Democrat. It is possible to be Democrat and anti-trans, and so forth and so on.

There is a certain perniciousness in saying we “Know” that we are “tribal”.

First we would need to know what exact meaning of “tribal” we unequivocally “know” ourselves to be. If it is a kind of “multi Tribalism”, then I would agree and say this is not even unique to the postmodern age. Yes, the Nationalism that developed from the 19th century to the present made it appear that we were “developing” from an exclusive tribalism into the postmodern multiculturalism but this ignores that the ancient world was multicultural in ways that postmodernism can’t even begin to fathom.

I now return to dividing everyone up into four basic world views. I have to say it’s time we transcend this kind of simplistic categorization of people. Is it not far more likely that a person will have one orientation with the self, a second orientation with the nuclear family group, another for the extended family group, a variety of mixing and matching depending on the community dynamics of all the myriad of communities we engage with in our daily life, another with our Local City / County government, and then finally more than likely different “world views” for State, National and Global Governments. We will also vary according to if it is a Government, professional organization, social group, hobby, and so on.

In my personal example, my career is bound by laws and regulations and the goal is to make money. When I attend seminars and continuing education I am socially and economically conservative. There is zero room in my professional career for “progressive” interpretation of tax law and practicing such can literally land you in prison.
The term “Socially Conservative” is itself a moving goal post and what was true even 20 years ago is no longer true now. 20 years ago being openly trans was outside the realm of believability for 99.99% of the population while now it is almost ubiquitous and being surprised by transgeder is now equated with transphobic. We could go down the list.
Added to this is that apparently we have nothing beyond modernism in the 4 category model, and even if we add postmodernism, well, that beings us up to around the year 2000. Who can describe what has been growing for the past 20 years since postmodernism peaked?
Today we have economic conservatives with traditional family values who can also comingle with extremely radical subcultures. Anyone who has ever participated in these radical subcultures knows this - there are always those who are not yet ready to “come out” and let their freak flag fly in public. An example of this is 16% of the people who attend Burning Man lie about where they are going that week. A simple Google search “Republicans attending Burning Man” reveals this 4 quadrant identification hasn’t been valid for quite some time. I could go through several so-called “radical” lifestyles and find a similar percentage of conservatives hiding out, lol. Then at the other end there are those with openly liberal lifestyles who for some reason participate in conservative politics (like LGBTQ Republicans, for example).
Bringing it back to the original topic, The community that Marianne Williamson is a member of is also a hybrid of Christian and Eastern Mysticism in some ways similar to Gnosticism but following a slightly different evolution.
All this shows me that the models we are using are grossly lacking in describing society in 2024.

I just mean small scale human groups organized around extended kinship. Also, metaphorically, any human groups with strong in-group/out-group boundaries in which in-group members have strong ties to one another. Studying archeology, anthropology, and history, it’s clear that human tribalism has evolved considerably over the millenia and any current cultural formation exhibits layer upon layer of transformations accumulated over time.

On your larger point about multiple identities and affiliations, my preferred model to map this sort of thing is the Circles of Belonging diagram from Global Bildung (see p. 4 on this link):

That can map to holonic AQAL charts easily enough, but the Bildung version is clean and to the point. Sure, all of us stack identities from self to family to local community right up the line. Also, the larger imaginal communities (nation, religion, profession, etc.) are not strictly holonic to one another. They often overlap in complex ways.

On the four category thing, here is a 7 category version based on empirical market research: But it’s fairly easy to aggregate some of this into McIntosh’s 4, so it does not strike me that McIntosh is wildly wrong (at least up through 2023).

I do agree with you that identities and alignments are now in flux, and what comes out of 2024 is unlikely to resemble what goes into 2024. The right-left and progressive-conservative polarities seem especially dubious, especially given that the “progressive” left assumes some inevitable arc of history in support of all their favorite ideas. Some of the most regressive people I know self-identify as progressive, so the words and labels are generally untethered.

My main idea is simply that everyone needs an emotional center, so start the analysis there. Larger scale politics can be quite transactional, and ideology is often a fig leaf for more tangible, localized interests.

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I have to agree with Ray on this one, although I’m not one to give 100% blame to anyone for anything, the American Political Establishment has spiraled downwardly over many decades into a cesspool of pathological corruption and the masses have succumbed to the indoctrination of this dark evolution through its calculated propaganda campaigns which have highjacked every avenue of influence that could be pursued. I hold my fellow American responsible as well!


I’m a very forgiving person yet that walks “hand in hand” with a “Warrior sensibility” and I will stand up to anyone that needs to be given “Pushback” for their “lack of accountability/Moral Bankruptcy” be they a CEO or a street criminal! This is what I’ve been doing for decades.

American Culture is tremendously externally driven and hyper-materialistic. Most people, be they educated or not, aren’t even aware of how much they’ve internalized the “exteriors” of their existence and have fallen into a slumber of belief in the “American Dream.” George Carlin nailed it when he said 30 years ago, “You have to be half asleep to believe in it!”

I gave up on all that shit decades ago and have been considered a heretic by many for a long time! I’ll likely be retiring in Portugal or South America but while I’m still here I’ll keep giving pushback to every person and institution I can!

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Thanks for this recording … but I’m not really impressed. First, I don’t think she really represents an Integral view; she doesn’t seem to focus as much on the systemic sociocultural dynamics as she does on individual agency.

Second, she seems to have some ‘mumbo-jumbo woo’ material that I don’t think is helpful. She can translate what’s happening so people can transform? Hmm. The American people are not the problem? That’s a simplistic view that omits much, it seems. (Of course, all politicians want to say the people are not the problem; it’s political suicide to say otherwise.)

Third, characterizing Trump as a business man who has become a god misses the problem: his horribly deficient character. Yeah, she mentions the 'ugly, perverted face of one," but that still misses the mark. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to frame him as evil (and, admittedly, one of the greatest conmen of all history).

Fourth, at the right time, Marianne could be a valuable national leader. Now is not that time; this election is not that time. A vote for her (or Kennedy or Phillips) takes away a vote for the only person who can possibly defeat Trump–Biden. For me, the stakes are that high. If Trump were not a factor in this race, I’d consider her. I know this sounds like a cop-out, but Trump is unique in recent and perhaps most of American history.

Yes to soul and integrity in American politics.