Back in 2019, Marianne Williamson—self-help guru, author, and spiritual advisor to Oprah—ran for president with the assertion that “love will win.”
Four years later, love has not won. While Donald Trump and the “dark psychic force” he represented were physically removed from office, the last few years under Biden’s presidency have failed to facilitate the radical recalibration our nation needs. The Biden administration just approved the massive Willow oil drilling project on federal land in Alaska, asylum seekers who enter the US illegally will now be deported, and the $7.25 minimum wage is nearing its fourteenth birthday. Voting accessibility, reproductive freedom, protection of LGBTQ+ identities, and so many other rights remain under active threat. And this is happening with a Democrat as president.
Moderates at the helm of the Democratic Party fearmongered against candidates like Marianne Williamson and Bernie Sanders back in 2020 for being too disruptive and radical. DNC leadership promised us that a moderate choice like Joe Biden would bring about change that would calm our tumultuous nation, such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half, modernizing our immigration system to welcome asylum seekers, and implementing the $15 minimum wage. Essentially, centrism was conflated with stability.
Yet Biden has done very little to mend the Trump administration’s tear in the fabric of our nation. Trump is more than a slate of policies; he represents an ideology that persists even after losing political office. Rather than four more years of Joe Biden’s empty promises, the US needs someone who will end the war on our democratic values. Only then can we implement policies to protect our future. Marianne Williamson’s 2024 presidential campaign offers this breath of fresh air.
Admittedly, Biden has made some headway by reversing Trump’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim nations, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, and rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. Despite this, white nationalists, climate change deniers, and other Trumpist ideologues have not ceased in their assault on our democracy. This is because our nation is not being torn apart simply by policy action––there is a much larger war of values underway. The true weapon is rhetoric––Republicans simply mechanize it through legislation. The Biden administration’s response of repealing flagrant laws while ignoring the culture war only goes as far as putting Band-Aids on bullet holes.
Our government and its institutions are a manifestation of public values. If Trump has distorted our value system, he has corrupted our nation in ways that cannot be sufficiently addressed by policy alone.
This was the basis of Marianne Williamson’s presidential campaign that was mocked out of contention in 2020, by everyone from meme lords on Twitter to party leaders. She ran, very simply, on “love.” While she had a policy platform, Williamson claimed that the need to rebuild the moral framework of our country superseded discussions about specific policy issues. This moral sentiment is growing among young voters across the country, who are some of the strongest proponents of radical changes yet seem disillusioned when it comes to actually voting. 56 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 believe that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.” Only 1 percent of that same age group strongly approve of President Biden’s job performance so far.
In the world of the modern Republican Party with the far right at the helm, Democrats take their left wing for granted by assuming they will automatically vote for anyone even marginally left-of-center. Despite growing identification with the left wing in America, many young people are expressing doubts that they will even vote in coming years because they do not want slightly liberal policies––they want drastic change. As someone who once called for us to “completely recreate human civilization,” Marianne Williamson seems more than ready to finally lead this charge.
To Williamson, this movement looks like rejecting a free market mindset, career politicians with a “predetermined agenda,” and corrupt political systems. It looks like promoting unity, honesty, pluralism, sympathy, and opportunity––all values that are waning under our current hyperpolarized system. And while Williamson still centers her 2024 platform around these broader values rather than specific policy ideas, she supports a new Whole Health Plan, billions of dollars in reparations for Black Americans, proper enforcement of the Clean Water Act, and the creation of a Department of Peace.
Laughing off candidates like Marianne Williamson who advocate for radical change, albeit in metaphysical terms, delegitimizes these potential strategies for remedying the status quo and pushes young Americans away from the ballot box. Evidently, the Biden administration’s rejection of progressivism only further empowers centrist politicians who renege on their promises the second they get into office.
It is unlikely that these radical candidates will get elected. But giving them a platform from which to challenge the moderate establishment creates a crucial mechanism for people to express their discontent. This forces the center to stop taking the left for granted, and instead actually earn its vote by engaging meaningfully with progressive policy proposals. Moderate Democrats should have to fight for re-election, rather than having political office handed to them simply because they are not Republican.
Right now, the slate of socially acceptable policies is shifting rightward. Even Medicare-for-All—which was seriously debated following Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016—has fallen out of favor within liberal circles. Political conversations need to start elevating a greater swath of voices, especially from the left, if we truly want to defeat Trumpism. This is especially true as we attempt to re-engage young voters on the left, who feel dismissed by the political establishment.
As young voters enter adulthood with little faith in politics and the power of the vote, they will not develop the habit of civic engagement, making it that much harder to engage them in politics later in life. Continuing to demonize the left while centrism fails time and time again is a dangerous strategy that threatens to lose an entire generation of leftist voters. Salvaging our democracy will require buy-in from Generation Z voters, who will, after all, soon lead our nation.
In the wise words of Marianne Williamson as she announced her bid for the 2024 Democratic nomination:
“The status quo will not disrupt itself. That’s our job.”