Political Expert Explains Why Matthew McConaughey Is Likely To Win If He Runs For Governor

Celebrities going into politics is no new thing. Ronald Reagan had quite the career in Hollywood before serving as governor of California and later president, while Jesse “The Body” Ventura traded the squared circle for the Minnesota governor’s mansion. The way he’s teasing it, there may even be a chance we could smell The Rock’s cooking in the White House kitchen someday, and surely nobody’s forgotten a certain former reality TV star who went from hosting The Apprentice to holding forth in the Oval Office.

It shouldn’t come as a shock, then, if actor Matthew McConaughey is serious about running for governor of Texas in 2022. Not only is it his actual home state, so no allegations of carpet-bagging, but he wouldn’t have a tough act to follow. Current governor Greg Abbott’s catching some flak for rolling back his state’s mask mandates at a time when COVID-19 still poses a threat, while state senator Ted Cruz continues to make head-turning decisions. As for McConaughey’s own politics, he’s not as conservative as those currently running the red state, but then, neither is he as left-wing liberal as you might expect a Hollywood A-lister to be. He describes himself as an “aggressive centrist” (via Forbes), and is a vocal opponent of cancel culture, something that may appeal to potential constituents. For some insight into McConaughey’s gubernatorial aspirations, Nicki Swift reached out to psychologist and political advisor Dr. Reneé Carr for her take on his candidacy.

Why does any A-lister want to run for office?

To put McConaughey’s run in context, Carr addressed the broader phenomenon of celebrity involvement in politics, particularly when it extends so far as for them to seek elected office themselves. She says that celebrities generally run for office because of two main reasons: either “they truly desire to make a change, and believe their fame can increase their success in being elected,” or else “they have elevated levels of self-esteem and ego-centric thinking that convinces them that they can — and should — win.” She does say that in both cases, the fact that celebs are most comfortable being on-camera or on-stage at all times is “a strong draw” when it comes to them seeking the spotlight in the political arena, as well. “Elected office,” she explains, “provides the energizing excitement that comes from always being the center of attention.”

Carr also points out that the political life, as opposed to life in Hollywood, comes with certain perks, those being “a relaxed freedom from a constant focus of staying in shape or staying beautiful,” two things that become increasingly difficult with age. As Jay Leno used to say (via The Washington Post), “Politics is show business for ugly people.”

Matthew McConaughey's own politics may be motivating him

Carr recognizes that, in McConaughey’s case, the actor has long been outspoken on social issues, saying he’s “expressed strong political opinions in the past, with criticism for both Republicans and Democrats.” She also points to an increase in the number of political candidates who come from non-political backgrounds, and says that many such candidates appear to be winning in landslides. She says this is giving many of us ideas about how democracy may be meant to work, and thinks that McConaughey, like many others, “may be strongly considering a run for politics with the hopes of making a change and impact.” One additional factor to consider is the affect the pandemic has had, not only on individuals but on entire industries. Even the entertainment industry has been impacted, and while McConaughey himself likely didn’t suffer too much from any hiatus in work, still, he, along with numerous other people, has had ample time to “reconsider… career choices and what could truly make [him] happy..” She feels that this could be an additional motivator driving McConaughey’s possible desire to change jobs.

McConaughey might have a real shot

In Carr’s opinion, McConaughey “has a very strong chance of winning,” and she brings up several other actors, including Reagan and former California “Governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’ve not only run but won. The latter, especially, may have served as a role model of sorts, as Carr thinks it “likely that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s success as governor has inspired Matthew to think he, too, can leverage his movie fame for politics.”

Carr says it’s not only name recognition that McConaughey’s got going for him, since “in political history, most successful male politicians and political candidates are also attractive… [with a] handsomeness that is appealing but not intimidating.” She adds that “in addition to his looks, many voters are looking for something and someone they can believe in and they are eager to see a change from status quo politics,” and feels that “an actor, a creative, an artist can offer that hope.” Should he wind up on the campaign trail, Carr expects that McConaughey will prove to be an especially effective speaker, as his acting skills will allow him to “appeal … to the hearts of voters who are fatigued or disheartened by polarized political battles.”

So are Texans ready to say “howdy” to a governor who once got busted for playing the bongos in the buff while whacked on weed? Sure, why not? No reason politics should be the sole province of the well-behaved and boring.

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