Debates 2020

Reluctant Anarchist Marianne Williamson: 'If Your Government Does It, That Doesn't Make It Less of a Crime'

The Democratic candidate absolutely destroyed the idea that violence is OK when the government does it.


You're not likely to hear a lot of libertarian zingers at tonight's second Democratic primary debate. Fortunately, California self-help author and chemical policy skeptic Marianne Williamson offered a slight respite from the statist rhetoric with a positively barn-burning condemnation of the Trump administration's immigration policy.

"If your government does it, that doesn't make it less of a crime," said Williamson during a heated round of questioning about immigration policy.

In doing so, Williamson picked up on a theme raised by former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who said the Trump administration's family separation policy would be considered kidnapping in Colorado.

Neither Hickenlooper nor any other candidates on stage tonight, however, managed to so effectively skewer the artificial distinction between the morality of actions taken by the government and those of private citizens as Williamson did.

Other candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), promised that they would not deport immigrants solely for being undocumented. Yet none dared try to question the moral authority of the state to incarcerate people for victimless crimes.

Libertarians have long recognized that force is force, regardless of who is wielding the coercive power, and it's refreshing to hear that point being made in tonight's debate. To be sure, Williamson is no libertarian. But if she ever followed her argument to its logical conclusion, libertarianism is where she'd end up.