by Daniel Kalder
Wednesday, 21
April 2021
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08:30

Will Matthew McConaughey become Texas’s next Governor?

The actor's blank slate politics has drawn many admirers
by Daniel Kalder
Matthew McConaughey said that it was time for an “aggressively centric” approach to politics

Everybody knows that stupid polls are very popular with the media. So when I first saw headlines declaring that Matthew McConaughey leads incumbent Greg Abbott 45% to 33% in a hypothetical grudge match over who ought to be the next governor of Texas, I assumed that’s what I was looking at: a stupid poll.

It turns out, however, that it was serious enough . McConaughey may be the juicy attention-getter but the pollsters also asked about guns, Roe vs. Wade and included the resolutely non-sensationalist question: “How important is it that the Public Utilities Commission provide greater oversight of ERCOT?” (Spoiler alert: 56% of respondents say “very”).

And it is Matthew McConaughey himself who is fuelling the speculation surrounding a potential gubernatorial run: last month he told the Austin American-Statesman that he was giving the idea “honest consideration”. In the same interview he described politics as “a broken business,” and said that it was time for an “aggressively centric” approach, praising values held by those both on the Right and on the Left.

This indicates that he dissents from boilerplate Hollywood progressivism, yet the precise details of that dissent are a mystery. In his recent memoir, Greenlights, McConaughey describes himself as coming from a line of “outlaw libertarians who vote red down the line because they believe it’ll keep fewer outlaws from trespassin’ on their territory”  but remains tight-lipped about his own political views.

Meanwhile, according to The Texas Tribune, he hasn’t voted in a primary since 2012, and has never donated to a state or federal campaign. For all anybody knows, McConaughey may have voted for Ted Cruz over Beto O’Rourke in 2018.

To make it to age 51 in Hollywood without becoming an irritating celebrity gasbag shows impressive restraint and is not (I would suggest) something to be thrown away lightly. Within Texas, McConaughey enjoys the status of a huge star with deep local roots who annoys nobody. This is a select group that also includes Willie Nelson, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and…. perhaps no-one else. Like Nelson and Gibbons, he is laid back, genial and quirky — “a character”. Combine that with the blank slate of his politics, and it is easy to see why he is polling so well.

The problem, of course, is that if McConaughey does throw his hat into the ring, he will have to declare positions that will immediately start alienating people, even if he runs as an independent. Any stance on the Second Amendment that is even halfway electable within Texas will make him deeply unpopular with his Hollywood peers. Or it could turn out that his centrism is not that centric after all, and he could run a Beto-style hyper progressive campaign that gets high approval ratings from Oprah, but which ultimately flops at home.

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Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago

Matthew McConaughey is articulate, smart, fair and brave. And gorgeous. Old school. He seems to lean conservative but I suspect is open and liberal in many of his views. He could definitely capture a centre ground. I like him, I think he’d be a breath of fresh air in politics so long as he keeps his head and doesn’t let Washington corrupt him. I could see him getting on well with Dan Crenshaw and Tulsi Gabbard whom I think are cut from the same cloth.

vince porter
vince porter
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

The old left/right, liberal/conservative, divide does not seem to define people very well anymore. So many of us have become a la carte, picking bits and pieces from left and right. Who would have thought, for instance, that the Republican Party would someday declare itself the party of the working class while actually using that old Marxist description!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  vince porter

I find ‘Biden/Trump’ divide to be about like Mars/Venus, different to the core. I actually do not know real centrists as they would be rather like someone in 1939 who saw both sides as having persuasive arguments.

The lines are drawn, one side wishes to destroy what America always represented and make some entirely new nation, the other wants to save it.

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

He would not be going to Washington if he does run/win.
He’d be in Texas state government in Austin, where he already has a home (which I’m pretty sure is his primary residence).

Phil Bolton
Phil Bolton
1 year ago

I don’t know Matthew McConaughey at all but reading the article I do wonder how someone could possibly become Governor of a US state when you have no idea of his political stances and his only qualification seems to be that he is a Texan and a nice guy ?

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Bolton

So many people now mistrust politicians I think it’s probably a huge plus for a candidate to seem as far away from it as possible.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

Actors and pop stars who go into politics tend to disillusion their fans pretty quickly as rhetoric meets reality.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

‘California Does Texas’ a new movie coming out. I lived for a wile in the Kalaspell/Whitefish part of Montana and watched these Californians streaming in, same as I saw in Idaho, Washington, Oregon when I lived in those too, it is like locusts, they fly in, gnaw away all the goodness, and leave it a wreck.

I have a tiny piece of land in the Mountains of North Carolina and every week I get a letter from some smarmy land buying investing company asking if I want to sell it – this Never happened before covid. The New Yorkers are on the move.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Well this will be one to watch – and easy on the eye to boot! I had already downloaded Greenlights and will move it up my list to read, just because.

Rob Nock
Rob Nock
1 year ago

Interesting, and fine, that both you and Cheryl comment favourably on his looks.

I would also find it fine if Matthew was Mary but suspect many would not. Standard hypocrisy nowadays but…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Nock

I threw the hook and bait and someone took it!

Mary Jones
Mary Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Nock

McConaughy’s ‘good looks’ have an appeal similar to that of a favorite pastry in a great bakery. I wouldn’t vote for him or the pastry for governor. Because of his Hollywood history, he will have to be very clear on his politics. He will need to try harder for many of us before he earns any credence.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

McConaughey is a great actor, quirky and original. He’s not as prolific as some other Hollywood A-listers but all his work is solid.
I have absolutely no idea why he’s considering entering politics (assuming he really is thinking about doing that). He will inevitably alienate people and the political system will taint him.
Stick to acting, Matt. Let the failed actors run for office.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

2nd Amendment, I am a firearms expert but do not keep a gun for self defense, no loaded and handy guns in my house (they are put away), although I could carry one anywhere, I am not into it.
Coming from London I love the 2nd. In London the day I turned 17, or 16, I forget, I applied for my shotgun Permit and got it as getting one is automatic if you can show you have a sporting place to use it, and no negatives on your personal records. It is easy to own a shotgun in UK, (but costs a bit as you must join a club and have a safe in your house now, did not them). The difference is if you ever stated, anywhere, that you wish it for self defense you would NEVER again be allowed a permit. You may not own a gun for self defense in UK.

In USA defense is the main, accepted, reason to have one. Where I live old women, Black and White, likely keep a loaded pistol in the bedroom, and most houses have one handy. Crime is very low, no one breaks into a occupied house in USA lightly as the homeowner may shoot you, it is legal to shoot anyone entering your residence illegally in most of USA.

Without these firearms being ubiquitous USA would be a very dangerous place indeed. American toughs are not like British toughs, they are 10X more dangerious, and there are a great many more of them. Not everyone needs to have a gun, just a large minority of people, to keep the home safe.

People just do not understand how crime in USA is – it stays in its areas because the police are Very aggressive, they are needed to be that, and people may be armed. Declaw the Police and take the guns and it would be Mad Max here.

And that is the plan – to increase crime so everyone is scared, and so the Government is given the permission to have cameras everywhere, and facial recognition, and we become China with everyone tracked, and like the Sheep let Covid Lockdown destroy every right and freedom – Crime will be the virus used to take the last of your rights, if we let law and order break down. This destroying Rule of Law, destroying the Police, corrupting the courts and DAs as the trial just showed, making the Police to scared to do their job – it all is a plan, and working great!

Derek M
Derek M
1 year ago

If his recent ‘interview’ of Anthony Fauci is anything to go by he’s pretty vapid

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
1 year ago

I agree that it wasn’t a completely stupid poll, but the details of the results do make it tough to interpret. And they back up Mr. Kalder’s point that McConaughey is currently a blank slate on which many people are most likely projecting their own political beliefs. Specifically:
(1) There isn’t any named Democratic Party candidate in the poll, but merely McConaughey, Abbott, and a generic option of “I would vote for someone else”. Not a fatal flaw, but worth keeping in mind.
(2) From the linked article: “56% of Republican voters said they’d vote for Abbott, compared with only 30% for McConaughey … while Democrats broke 66% to 8% for McConaughey, and independents 44% to 28%.” This supports the “inkblot test” point of view. Once McConaughey’s views are know, surely some of these people might prefer another candidate, especially in a 3-way race.
For example, it’s easy for 30% of Republicans to say in a poll that they’d vote for inkblot test McConaughey. Not sure how that would hold once his positions are known. It also might not hold in a competitive 3-way race once people considered the possibility of a Democrat winning with ~40% of the vote. He almost certainly wouldn’t get 60% of the Democratic votes in a 3-way race. He almost certainly wouldn’t get 30% of Republican votes if he was the Democratic party nominee. In that case he’d of course win more than 60% of the Democratic vote, but…
(3) Also from the linked article: “twice as many Democratic primary voters — 51% — said they wanted a progressive candidate for governor than wanted a centrist — 25%”. Which very likely means that, to win a Democratic primary, McConaughey would have to take positions that are tough to square with his currently vague “aggressively centric” label.
I’ll never say never, as I was one of the many people who thought that Trump had close to zero chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination, much less the election. The details indicate, though, that McConaughey still faces the core problems that bedevils centrist, 3rd-party candidates in the U.S. Lots of voters will reliably go for one of the major party candidates when push comes to shove, and it’s tough to win a party primary as the “centrist”.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

McConaughey has been on all the talk shows etc in recent months and he speaks very sensibly about many things. I still cannot recall having seen him in a single film or TV series.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Your really missing something there. Try True Detective, or the recent Gentlemen.

Rob Nock
Rob Nock
1 year ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Gentlemen is great entertainment.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

He is a personable actor who is also way smarter than most of the scripts he’s given, albeit that sets the bar rather low.

David D'Andrea
David D'Andrea
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Dazed and Confused is a masterpiece