At this moment, there’s only one confirmed Democratic candidate for president in 2024: Marianne Williamson. The self-help author, New Age guru, and spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey confirmed her candidacy in a Facebook post on Saturday, writing that she was running for president a second time to “bring an aberrational chapter of our history to a close.”
Williamson’s intent to run was first reported on Thursday by Northwestern University’s Medill News Service, which wrote that Williamson had responded to a question about her candidacy by telling a student reporter, over the phone, that she was winking. “I wouldn’t be running for president if I didn’t believe I could contribute to harnessing the collective sensibility that I feel is our greatest hope at this time,” she said in that interview.
Williamson ran a longshot campaign amid a crowded Democratic primary field in 2020, gaining much attention for her plan to disburse up to $500 billion in reparations for the descendants of enslaved people as “payment of a debt that is owed.” In speeches and on the debate stage, she described national politics as a battle between love and fear, criticized other candidates’ emphasis on “plans,” and cast the fight against then-President Donald Trump in spiritual terms.
“We need a politics that treats not just symptoms, but cause,” she wrote in her campaign announcement this weekend. “If we neglect a child today, we should expect to see more prisons later. If we don’t provide for people’s needs today, we should expect a mental health crisis later. If we don’t preserve the blessings of democracy today, we should expect the threat of authoritarianism later.”
Williamson dropped out of the 2020 race before the caucuses and primaries began, after receiving scrutiny for her past skepticism toward vaccines and antidepressants. The next month, she endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
On Saturday, she acknowledged the widespread doubt about her ability to win the presidential nomination. But, she added, “I’m not putting myself through this again just to add to the conversation.”
President Joe Biden, 80, is widely expected to run for reelection, and there’s talk that he’ll officially announce in April. In an interview on Saturday, First Lady Jill Biden told the Associated Press that essentially all the president has left to do is figure out when and where to announce his reelection campaign. (“God love her,” Biden said when asked about his wife’s comments. “Look, I meant what I said, I’ve got other things to finish before I get into a full-blown campaign.”)
For now, the only confirmed candidate is Williamson, 70, whose formal campaign announcement will come on March 4. As a 1997 profile in this magazine put it, she’s “the perfect priestess for a culture steeped in pop”:
As with many New Age programs, the particulars are not as important as the intent, and that may be part of Williamson’s appeal. She doesn’t demand critical thinking. Never mind, for instance, the centuries of religious history that separate Jews like her from Christians. Sure, Jesus was the son of God, she says, but then so are you and you and you. All of us have messianic potential. Williamson makes the holy hospitable, and she has made the ultimate truth relative as well as negotiable.