Yesterday afternoon, the internet and the Texas Monthly newsroom were all abuzz when we found out that Matthew McConaughey said he would consider a future run for the Texas governor’s office. Well, it was more like he said he wouldn’t not consider running for governor, and he walked back his comments the next day. But still, our eyes were starry at the thought of a potential 2022 campaign. Can you even imagine how entertaining (and lengthy!) a Matthew McConaughey stump speech would be? And what about his campaign slogan? It’s hard to imagine how it could be anything other than “Just Keep Livin’,” but maybe he’d branch out with something about how we should all vote for his hero from ten years in the future.
And what about his politics? Matthew is part of the Hollywood elite, and he makes his home in deep-blue Travis County, but it’s not clear that he actually votes for Democrats. In fact, the hardest thing to imagine about a McConaughey campaign is the idea that he would ever publicly identify himself with either the Democratic or Republican party. (He’s voted only twice since 2012, according to the Dallas Morning News.) As he’s made more than clear in his near-thirty-year career, Matthew is one of a kind. The only box he’s ever been willing to put himself in is the cage where he took peyote with a mountain lion.
And sometimes it is hard to find meaning even in Matthew’s own words. As his Oscar speech, his Instagram captions, his memoir, and literally every other medium he’s used to address the world indicate, he can take the roundabout way of getting to his point. In order to prepare the nation for candidate McConaughey, we took the liberty of breaking down some of his views into a clear policy platform that he is welcome to use, free of charge.
Back in 2018, when he was promoting his movie White Boy Rick, McConaughey spoke out about the “epidemic” of gun violence. Unlike many of his Hollywood contemporaries, though, he took a straight-down-the-middle approach: the main concern he expressed was his fear that the March for Our Lives could be “hijacked” by an anti-gun movement. “March for Our Lives was for rightful, just, responsible gun ownership—but against assault rifles, against unlimited magazines, and for following up on the regulations,” he explained.
McConaughey’s stance on guns is probably the biggest tip-off to what seems like his actual political philosophy: Over the years, he’s indicated that he thinks that most political disagreements are just misunderstandings that can be resolved by a little more coming together and a little less strife. “The two sides got to talk,” he said on the White Boy Rick press tour. “Hey, where can we reach across the aisle here? Find a compromise for the betterment of all of us?” Generally speaking, it’s hard for folks to treat complicated issues that both sides tend to view as matters of life and death as places for compromise, but that kind of “just keep livin’” appeal to a vague notion of common sense would probably be McConaughey’s whole pitch.
If there’s one issue McConaughey is passionate about and very clearly identified with, it’s weed. Matthew indicated his 420-friendliness pretty early in his career, and though certain national news outlets speculated that a 1999 arrest for marijuana possession would end his star’s rise, it didn’t. As with fellow Texas icon Willie Nelson, getting high became an important feature of Matthew McConaughey’s personal brand. If he ran for governor and didn’t try to legalize weed, what would even be the point? The only way this doesn’t make it into his platform is if he accidentally forgets to put it there while he’s high.
With several states recently legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana, and projected budget shortfalls creating an urgent need for new streams of tax revenue, the subject is likely to become a hot debate in the 2021 Texas legislative session. A regulated cannabis market could bring the state an additional billion dollars per biennium in tax revenue. Even if one’s mind is on another plane, distorted by a haze of 2 a.m. blunt smoke, laser-focused on playing bongos, running on a “Let’s get stoned” platform is a no-brainer for Matthew McConaughey. Just picture the merch: McConaughey dressed as Wooderson, holding a joint, underneath the words “It’d Be a Whole Lot Cooler if You Did Vote for Me.”
“Stick to what you know” is good advice in politics, and the star/producer of Sahara and Surfer, Dude knows film production. That’s actually a hot-button political issue in Texas, and one that doesn’t fall neatly along partisan lines—Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick advocated in 2017 for more tax incentives to bring the entertainment industry to Texas, while other members of his party have slammed the state’s cash-starved film incentive program. This controversy makes the issue a great opportunity for McConaughey to seek more of that compromise he loves. His motives might be partly selfish—he’d probably love to be able to work from home, where his Longhorns play every Saturday, more often—but if Governor McConaughey didn’t throw his weight behind trying to turn Texas into a film capital, we’d be shocked.
OIL AND GAS
Do we know exactly where Matthew McConaughey falls on the Green New Deal? We do not. Do we know what kind of car he drives? Absolutely we do, it’s a Lincoln. He could buy a souped-up Tesla Roadster or a whole fleet of Priuses (Priui?) if he wanted to signal his devotion to environmentalism, but as he intoned back in 2014, he drove his Lincoln because “I just liked it.” His policy around oil and gas is probably whatever allows him to keep driving his Lincoln. Dude loves doing that so much that he immediately followed up his Oscar win by doing a bunch of car commercials. This is just who he is.
We do not need to remind you how much this man loves the University of Texas Longhorns. He parlayed a lifetime of cheering on the sidelines into an official role as the school’s Minister of Culture, whatever that means. Remember how there were rumors that proud A&M graduate Rick Perry was sabotaging the rival UT system while he was governor? Who’s to say McConaughey wouldn’t do something similar, or worse? Lawmakers have grandstanded over Texas college football in other ways in recent years—and lord knows the Longhorns of late could use some intervention to help them succeed on the field. Maybe he cancels every collegiate football program in the state with the exception of UT-Austin’s? Maybe he promises to turn all the school mascots into Longhorns? It’s likely that neither of those things are even legally possible for a Texas governor to do. But politicians don’t have to promise things they actually expect to deliver. This would be a polarizing proposal from Governor Just Keep Livin’, but throwing a little red meat to your base is probably going to be a necessary strategy for every politician—even one who otherwise wants to keep things alright, alright, alright—in 2022.