Marianne Williamson: Presidential hopeful winning Reddit votes

By Tom Gerken
BBC UGC & Social News

Image source, Getty Images
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Marianne Williamson said she would take on President Trump with a campaign of "love".

Marianne Williamson is not a typical candidate for US president.

But after taking part in the first Democrat primary debates, Ms Williamson has found a set of devoted fans online.

The self-help guru has found fame for her spiritual tweets as well as her suggestion that Avatar director James Cameron deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

This has led to a sudden surge of support on Reddit, with thousands of people flocking to support her campaign through spirituality and memes.

Image source, Reddit
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The community is represented by an orb due to its connections with spirituality

The r/Marianne2020 Reddit community, set up on 9 February 2019, had amassed a grand total of 36 subscribers by 26 June 2019.

Immediately following the Democrat debate, hundreds of people subscribed to the subreddit, and those hundreds quickly became thousands.

As of 1 July 2019 Ms Williamson has 2,400 fans on the page, posting positive messages and sharing memes honouring the 66-year-old presidential candidate.

She may not have the decades of political experience that can be touted by Democrat front-runners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, who topped the polls as of 26 June 2019, but she does have the personality.

Ms Williamson has earned huge credence within this community for engaging with their jokes and even retweeting some of the memes herself.

Image source, Marianne Williamson/Twitter
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The memes Ms Williamson retweeted refer to her politics, orbs and a desire for her to qualify for the next debate

She has gained a reputation for engaging with memes on Twitter, such as this mash-up of a quote from her debate and a line from Avengers: Endgame.

Image source, Abhi Agarwal/Twitter
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Ms Williamson simply replied to this post by asking, "what's an infinity gauntlet?"

Meanwhile, one of the most popular posts from the r/Marianne2020 subreddit is a meme labelling Ms Williamson as comic book character Spider-Man.

Image source, Francis Tsai
Image caption,
This art was originally drawn by comic book artist Francis Tsai before it became a popular meme template

The r/Marianne2020 subreddit has only two rules: "no bad vibes" and "be radical to each other".

The group's description labels Ms Williamson the community's "orb mother", and says she is "dedicated to a proposition, which was true in my time, just as it's true today: be excellent to each other and party on, dudes".

Aside from the memes which made it to Twitter, posts on Reddit typically compare Ms Williamson to President Trump or reference her past tweets about James Cameron film Avatar.

But the sudden rise of this subreddit draws comparisons to one other politician in recent history who found success on Reddit - the 45th president of the United States.

Mr Trump is the focus of the r/the_Donald subreddit, which began its life in a very similar way. Having gained a handful of subscribers over a series of months, the subreddit suddenly picked up 3,000 followers in January 2016.

What happened next was a surge. The forum gained 35,000 followers in February 2016 after Mr Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary, and went on to over 300,000 in 2016 as a whole.

Mr Trump encouraged this growth by doing the same thing that Ms Williamson is doing - engaging with the community - so do not be surprised if there is a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" with Ms Williamson in the next few weeks.

Whether Ms Williamson's devoted fanbase will continue to grow remains to be seen, but if it is to happen she will have to rely on what makes her different.

After all, Marianne Williamson is not a typical candidate for US president - but neither was Mr Trump.