Marianne Williamson is one of the 2024 U.S. presidential candidatesJakob Schoser

Even by the standards of today’s American politics, Marianne Williamson is not a typical presidential candidate. The best-selling author, who gained fame as Oprah Winfrey’s “spiritual advisor”, is running for the highest position in the land – for the second time – despite having never held any other role in public office.

When we arrive for the interview, we’re told Marianne hasn’t yet arrived – she’s praying in John’s Chapel. This sets the tone for an unconventional interview; nothing less than we expected for the psychotherapist-turned-politician. The interview opens with the big question: why are you running for president? As if to pre-emptively shut down claims that she is quixotic, a long-shot, “bonkers”, or even a “Secretary of Crystals”. Williamson’s response is blunt: “to become president of the United States”.

"There are Nazi flags flying outside Disneyland"

We rephrase: what inspired her to make the move into politics? She tells us that in a 40-year career, she’s worked closely with people whose lives have been affected by politics. “I can write books about these things, and the system doesn’t mind. What the system doesn’t want you to do is actually try to change it”, she tells us. The promise of systemic change is at the core of Williamson’s campaign messaging. Her campaign platform includes some of the most progressive stances taken by any candidate – such as reparations for racial injustice, making ecocide a crime, and creating a U.S. “Department of Peace”.

Williamson certainly paints a grave picture of the state of American politics and society. “As we speak,” she says, “there are Nazi flags flying outside Disneyland. The only way we will defeat fascism in 2024 is if we present to the American people a genuine and compelling alternative to what they are experiencing now”.

Although only in Cambridge for a day, she describes her time in the UK as eye-opening: she says that the young people she’s met in Cambridge lack the “sense of hopelessness that you find in America”.

Her proposed solution is a radical “economic U-turn”. This includes policies such as an economic Bill of Rights, universal healthcare, tuition relief for college students, free childcare and a guaranteed living wage. For Williamson, a second term of President Biden does not present a viable path to this future. “The economic reform that would forge that opening is clearly not the President’s choice, or he would have begun doing it already”, she says.

"The malevolence that [Trump] inspired has already metastasised"

If history is any guide, the odds are stacked against her. Since the advent of the modern primary election system, an incumbent president has never been defeated by a primary challenger. The Biden administration certainly seems confident that Williamson does not present a credible challenge, with the White House Press Secretary practically laughing off the idea. But Williamson remains undeterred. “I’m old enough to remember history that goes back a little further than that”, she remarks curtly, recalling primary challenges to President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.

This is Williamson’s second presidential bid, having run an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in 2020. When asked what she learned from that experience, she parries with the comment: “I learned that the political media industrial complex is even more corrupt than I feared”.

So how has she adapted her approach this time around? She again chooses to deflect, focusing not on her own strategy, but again alluding to problems elsewhere: “many of us thought if we could just get rid of Trump, then that’ll do it and we can go back to normal. Now there is a general understanding that the malevolence that he inspired has already metastasised.”


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During her 2020 campaign, Williamson went viral for saying she would “harness love” to defeat Donald Trump. Scrolling through her social media – where she boasts 3 million likes on TikTok, 2.7 million followers on Twitter and 712K on Instagram – her message continues to circulate around peace, love, and forgiveness. One Instagram post shows Williamson, arms outstretched, asking “Could love Trump in 2024?“.

However, a damning POLITICO report released earlier this year casts doubt on just how far this ethos actually extends. Williamson was accused by former staffers of “foaming, spitting, uncontrollable rage” that made the experience of working for her “traumatic” and “terrifying.” How does she reconcile these accusations with her cornerstone values? She doesn’t. Or rather, she doesn’t see that there is anything to reconcile in the first place. “When they write articles like that about the men who are running for office, it will be a more reasonable conversation… What some people might call uncontrollable rage, I would suggest is raising my voice at the office.”

Since our interview, Williamson has lost a second campaign manager in as many months. Misfortune, or carelessness? Is the second “Marianne for President” campaign already foundering like the first did? Perhaps campaign success, or lack thereof, is less about the systemic failings that Williamson cites, and more about personal failings after all.