early and often

Marianne Williamson Will ‘Harness Love’ Again and Run for President

Photo: Mike Jordan/Getty Images for SXSW

President Joe Biden has his first primary challenger for the 2024 election. On Thursday, lifestyle guru and activist Marianne Williamson confirmed that she is again seeking the Democratic nomination, this time to try and oust a sitting president who remains quite popular among the party’s base.

If you’ve forgotten the early days of the 2020 Democratic primary, Williamson was among the two-dozen-plus candidates who tried to get some momentum going into the Iowa caucuses. Williamson, who made her name writing best sellers on the power of love and prayer (and occasionally on weight loss), took an outside route in the primary: As other candidates laid out detailed policy plans that would never be enacted, the self-described “bitch for God” focused on the spiritual ailments and historical forces weighing down the nation. “If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that [Donald Trump] is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days,” she said at one debate. She called for reparations for slavery and radical changes to American foreign policy after decades meddling in Latin America, and vowed to “harness love for political purposes” to win the election.

It didn’t happen. Aside from the obvious uphill battle for an outsider candidate, Williamson’s campaign was undermined by her own outsider-ness — tweeting false info about Charles Manson and dabbling in the language of the anti-vaccine movement. (Williamson states she is not “anti-vaxx.”) After two debates, Williamson failed to gain enough support to make it to the tighter debate rounds and dropped out in January 2020. Still, she hung in the race longer than the current vice-president.

This time around, Williamson appears to be taking a similar approach, stating in a recent interview that she wants to harness “the collective sensibility that I feel is our greatest hope at this time.” She also intends to challenge Biden’s message of a strong economy, which she recently said is disconnected from “the struggle of everyday Americans.” After her formal announcement on March 4, she will reportedly travel to the early-voting states of South Carolina, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Nevada to campaign as an alternative to Biden.

Will it work this time? With the party apparatus in lockstep with the president, almost certainly not. But that may not be the point: In 2020, Williamson called out the “sickness” of the American health-care system months before it collapsed under the weight of the pandemic. Could she identify a similar ailment in the nation? Who knows? But she does have a knack for catching a glimpse of political attention: You don’t see last cycle’s also-rans like Deval Patrick or Tim Ryan going for it in 2024.

Marianne Williamson Is Running for President Again