By Gary Bai
Marianne Williamson, progressive activist and author of multiple self-help books, became the first Democratic candidate to enter in the 2024 presidential race on Thursday.
“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,” Williamson told the Medill News Service in an exclusive interview published on Thursday.
The political outsider will likely face incumbent President Joe Biden, who is expected to announce his bid in the coming weeks, in the primaries. No other Democratic candidate has officially announced a presidential bid.
She hinted in a Feb. 19 statement that she’d make an “important announcement,” likely referring to her presidential bid, on March 4. But her Thursday announcement appears to indicate that she decided to move earlier.
In the Feb. 19 statement, she listed three motivations that “propelled [her] to explore the possibility of running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2024.”
“I am motivated by: a commitment to the tenets of liberty espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address; a realization of the Democratic Party’s shift away from the party of President Franklin Roosevelt; and the economic injustices endured by millions of Americans due to the influence of corporate money on our political system,” she said.
Williamson, an author of 14 books, began a long-shot run for the commander-in-chief in January 2020 with the message, “turning love into a political force,” and exited the race with the message “love will prevail” after realizing she would not gather enough votes. She endorsed then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a rally in February 2020.
In her 2020 run, she proposed “six pillars for a season of moral repair,” including an “agenda for economic justice,” creating a “Department of Children and Youth,” creating a “Department of Peace,” giving reparations to “descendants of American slaves,” and a universal healthcare plan she calls a “Medicare-for-All type system.”
A major part of Williamson’s 2024 platform will likely include heavy criticisms of “trickle-down economics,” or economic policies that supposedly unfairly benefit the rich.
“Trickle down economics has been a disaster for this country. It has completely destroyed America’s middle class,” she said in a Feb. 20 statement on Twitter. “Democrats won’t win on the message that we can help people survive the disaster. We will win by saying we’re going to end it.”
In the same post, she laid out a list of social services that she thinks should be a part of an “advanced democracy.”
“Universal healthcare, tuition-free state colleges and universities, a guaranteed living wage, free childcare, paid maternity & paternity leave & guaranteed sick pay—like in every other advanced democracy!—will begin to right the ship,” she wrote.
In another Twitter post, Williamson said she identifies as an “FDR Democrat”—with a reference to former Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt—and that Wall Street “owns” the Republican and Democratic parties.
“FDR Democrats work unapologetically and unabashedly to support the working people of the United States,” she wrote on Feb. 22. “But we are only part of the Democratic Party today, as the corporatist wing of the party is all for making people feel better—but only so far as it doesn’t challenge profit maximization for their major corporate donors.”
“Wall Street clearly still owns both major parties—and while the Republicans are definitely much worse, that cannot remain our excuse forever,” she added.
In 2019, Williamson faced criticism from those supporting vaccine mandates when she said the issue of vaccine mandate is “no different than the abortion debate” in her opinion.
“The U.S. government doesn’t tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child,” Williamson said at a June 8 event in New Hampshire, according to a tweet from an NBC reporter.
She later apologized in a statement on Twitter and said her comments made her appear skeptical of “the validity of life-saving vaccines” and that she “misspoke.”