Marianne Williamson Emerges as Democratic Challenger


Photo Credit: Flickr By Marc Nozell

Miles Meschter (he/him), Staff Writer

On March 4th, author and political activist Marianne Williamson announced before a crowd of supporters her Democratic candidacy for president in the 2024 election. “We need a politics that treats not just symptoms, but cause,” she stated in a Facebook post on February 25, 2023. The former 2020 presidential candidate has laid out a broad vision that seeks to address the root health issues in the United States. In her statement she also embraces her position outside elected office, writing, “My qualification is not that I’m experienced at running that system, but that I’m best qualified to help transform it.”

Williamson is a spiritual author who has founded multiple organizations from food charity to social justice work. She first entered politics in 2014 with an independent congressional campaign in California District 33, finishing with 13% of the vote. 

In 2019, Williamson initiated her first effort for president as a Democrat, campaigning on a theme of love and compassion. She gained attention for her unique personality and progressive stances. Her platform, although self-described as ‘straight-line progressive,’ included proposals like distributing more than $100 billion to Black Americans as slavery reparations. She also voiced support for the Green New Deal, free college tuition, and universal healthcare, among other plans. 

She was featured in the first Democratic presidential debate, and received mockery from cable news and established media for several ‘bizarre’ statements. Williamson ended her campaign in January of 2020, a month before the Iowa caucuses. She later endorsed fellow progressive candidate, Bernie Sanders. By the time of conceding, her campaign had raised roughly $8 million dollars.

This is the first notable campaign for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination. She is seeking to challenge Joe Biden and be the first candidate in U.S. history to unseat the incumbent president in a modern primary election.

President Joe Biden has indicated since the 2020 race his openness to seek a second term. When asked in a 2021 ABC interview on his plans, Biden responded “Yes, but I’m a great respecter of fate. …If I’m in the health I’m in now; if I’m in good health, then, in fact, I would run again.” More recently, First Lady Jill Biden has in effect stated her husband’s reelection announcement is only a matter of time. Surveys show the president in solid standing among Democrats, winning every poll from June 2022 to March. 

In the most recent data from Morning Consult, Williamson received 4% and Biden 77% favorability among more than 800 voters. Yet as a relative political outsider, Williamson has months to increase her name recognition among primary voters. She will likely have the advantage of being one of few, if any, competitors to President Biden. This contrasts her 2020 campaign among more than 20 other Democratic candidates, where she was repeatedly placed on the end of the debate stage. 

Williamson may gain the voter enthusiasm to present a serious alternative to the president from the Democratic Party’s progressive wing. In the last election Biden was projected to lose the primary to Bernie Sanders, before the Super Tuesday state primaries saw a number of other candidates withdraw and endorse Biden. Despite this, Sanders has stated he would support Biden over Williamson, yet also stated that her 2024 effort would “raise very important issues.”

Williamson’s announcement follows weeks after former ambassador and governor Nikki Haley announced her challenge to Donald Trump in the Republican primary, which polling has shown to be more unpredictable and competitive than the Democrats. A major question with the 2024 presidential election will be whether Americans have to choose between incumbent Biden and a second attempt by Trump, or see the two major parties break to their alternative factions.