Marianne Williamson, the self-help author and spiritual adviser who ran unsuccessfully for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, will run again in 2024, she told supporters this weekend.
“Since the election of 2016 it’s odd for anyone to think they can know who can win the presidency,” she said in a statement that was emailed to supporters and posted on Facebook. “And I’m not putting myself through this again just to add to the conversation. I’m running for president to help bring an aberrational chapter of our history to a close, and to help bring forth a new beginning.” She added, “Washington is filled with good political car mechanics, but the problem is that we are on the wrong road.”
She will formally announce her campaign in a speech on Saturday.
Four years ago, Ms. Williamson was one of more than 25 candidates for the nomination that Joseph R. Biden Jr. ultimately won. This time around, so far, she is the only candidate — entering the 2024 race before even Mr. Biden has done so, though he is widely expected to run for re-election.
Ms. Williamson, 70, became famous within the self-help world as an author of several best-selling books and a spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey. In the 1980s, she founded the Los Angeles and Manhattan Centers for Living, which supported people with H.I.V. and AIDS, and Project Angel Food, which provides free meals to people with serious illnesses.
A signature proposal in her first presidential campaign was to establish a federal Department of Peace, which would seek nonmilitary solutions to foreign conflicts and oversee efforts to combat domestic extremism, including white supremacy. She also supported reparations for slavery, arguing in a Democratic debate that they were better described not as “financial assistance” but rather “payment of a debt that is owed.”
Who’s Running for President in 2024?
The race begins. Four years after a historically large number of candidates ran for president, the field for the 2024 campaign is starting out small and is likely to be headlined by the same two men who ran last time: President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump. Here’s who has entered the race so far, and who else might run:
Donald Trump. The former president is running to retake the office he lost in 2020. Though somewhat diminished in influence within the Republican Party — and facing several legal investigations — he retains a large and committed base of supporters, and he could be aided in the primary by multiple challengers splitting a limited anti-Trump vote.
Nikki Haley. The former governor of South Carolina and U.N. ambassador under Mr. Trump has presented herself as a member of “a new generation of leadership” and emphasized her life experience as a daughter of Indian immigrants. She was long seen as a rising G.O.P. star but her allure in the party has declined amid her on-again, off-again embrace of Mr. Trump.
Vivek Ramaswamy. The multimillionaire entrepreneur and author entered the Republican presidential race with an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show and a video centered on opposition to social justice activism. He has made a name for himself in right-wing circles by opposing corporate efforts to advance political, social and environmental causes.
President Biden. While Mr. Biden has not formally declared his candidacy for a second term, and there has been much hand-wringing among Democrats over whether he should seek re-election given his age, he is widely expected to run. If he does, Mr. Biden’s strategy is to frame the race as a contest between a seasoned leader and a conspiracy-minded opposition.
Others who are likely to run. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire are seen as weighing Republican bids for the White House. The author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson could join the race on the Democratic side.
But what brought her the most attention were her spiritual pronouncements, particularly her declaration that Trumpism was a symptom of an illness in the American psyche that could not be cured with political policies.
On a Democratic debate stage in 2019, she spoke directly to then-President Donald J. Trump: “Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me, please: You have harnessed fear for political purposes, and only love can cast that out.” She added: “I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.”
In the 12 months of her last presidential campaign — from January 2019 until she dropped out of the race in January 2020, before the first votes were cast — Ms. Williamson never exceeded low single digits in polling averages. After dropping out, she endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Ms. Williamson has promoted dubious or debunked medical theories, particularly on mental illness. In books, interviews and social media posts before and during her 2020 campaign, she described clinical depression as a “scam,” argued that antidepressants were recklessly overprescribed, and suggested with no evidence that they might have been to blame for some celebrity suicides.
In an interview with The New York Times in 2019, she said she regretted the “scam” description and did not categorically oppose antidepressants. But she largely stood by her claims that they were overused and potentially dangerous, including in a message posted on Twitter after the designer Kate Spade died by suicide: “How many public personalities on antidepressants have to hang themselves before the F.D.A. does something, Big Pharma cops to what it knows, and the average person stops falling for this?”
There was no public evidence that Ms. Spade was taking antidepressants. The Food and Drug Administration has found no indication of an increased risk of suicidal thinking with antidepressant use in people over 24, and untreated depression is a major risk factor for suicide.
Ms. Williamson also drew attention in 2019 for calling vaccine mandates “Orwellian” — a reference to vaccinations against diseases like measles and polio that most schoolchildren have long been required to receive. Within days, she apologized for sounding “as though I question the validity of lifesaving vaccines,” but said that it was reasonable to be suspicious of pharmaceutical companies’ motives.
Public skepticism of science and medicine has only grown since then, coalescing into a political force with significant public health consequences. Many politicians, mainly Republicans, have stoked it — among them Mr. Trump, who is running again in 2024, and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a potential candidate.
In Twitter posts since 2020, Ms. Williamson has supported a strong government response to the pandemic, said she was vaccinated against Covid and forcefully rejected descriptions of herself as anti-vaccination, but called vaccine mandates “a legitimate civil rights issue for a lot of people.”
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