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Matthew McConaughey loves Texas, but enough to join the political "bag of rats" and run for governor there? He's not yet sold on the idea.
The Oscar winner was on the New York Times's Sway podcast and host Kara Swisher got a bit out of him regarding where he stands on hot-button issues, like the state's abortion ban. But he makes it clear he still isn't sure about getting into the "broken business" of politics, despite favorable polls. After all, he "could arguably have more influence" in an informal role.
The Dallas Buyers Club star, 51, said he's still "measuring" a run and that involves "learning about politics." He has "people and mentors that I’ve talked with and seek counsel from," but when asked to divulge who, insisted, "I’ll keep those to myself."
He did say that if he ran, he would want to "make real change," but thinks right now, "It's a fixed game. [Politicians] go in there [and] just put on a bunch of Band-Aids in four years, and walk out, and they rip ’em off when you’re gone. I’m not interested in that. Does politics itself need such repurposing right now that it’s like, don’t get into that game? They’re lost."
He called politics "a broken business. And it’s getting dangerous now when both parties on their own would claim themselves to be democracy itself. And your party’s identity is more based on invalidation than any vision or validation of what they’re about. And right now they’ve run to such extremes."
So he's faced with the dilemma: "One side of the argument is: McConaughey ... that’s why you need to go get in there.' The other side is: 'Pfft, that’s a bag of rats, man. Don’t touch that with a 10-foot pole... You have another lane. You have another category to have influence, and get done things you’d like to get done, and help how you think you can help, and even heal divides.' Maybe it’s much better outside of politics."
He added, "I could arguably have more influence as an informal leader than a formal leader."
Swisher tried to pin down the star on where he stands on issues. He still wouldn't declare a political affiliation, describing himself as a centrist.
"This friend of mine, who’s a very smart Southern boy, goes, 'Yeah, you know, about that middle of the road stuff, ain’t nothing in the middle of the road but yellow lines and armadillos,'" he recalled. "I was like, 'Hey, bud, I’m over here in the middle of the road right now. I’m walking these yellow lines, and the armadillos are running free. You know why? Because the left and right traffic is so far to the edge, their tires are not even on the pavement.' ... [They're] not riding the road of democracy, I don’t believe."
He did touch on the state's controversial abortion ban.
"I’m not going to come out and tell you right now on this show, here’s where I stand on abortion," he said. "We’ve been trying to figure out that, and how to play God with that situation, since the beginning. But this latest move by Texas? It ... feels like a back to front sort of Roe v. Wade loophole that they’re trying to get into. It feels a little juvenile in its implementation to me. Like, 'Hey, we’ll pay for bounties if you call in and see somebody going in there."
The actor also took issue with the fact that the law doesn't make exceptions for rape or incest, noting, "I got a problem with that."
Not to mention the ban starting at about six weeks of pregnancy. "Six weeks? If you're saying that your discussion of abortion is even on the table to consider, six weeks does not really make that a honest consideration."
As for the Republicans’ legislation to restrict voting in the state, he said, "I think it should be easier to vote."
McConaughey, who wrote about taking ecstasy in his book Greenlights, also talked about states legalizing psychedelics for therapeutic use, saying he is "interested," but doesn't "know the data."
McConaughey said whether or not he does run, he thinks there's an opportunity for the people to bring about change outside of the political realm.
"I do not think we’re in a good place," he said of the country. "Do I think it’s doomsday? No. Am I an optimist? Yeah, you damn right I am. Do I think that there’s opportunity for the Renaissance after the plague? Yes. Do I think ... when we understand how much we’ve lost and we’re losing, [that] will that bring us a greater appreciation for what we have in the future, and we’re going to damn well hang onto it, and we’re going to not be so damned lazy with the privileges that we have? Yes."
He said he thinks it's the role of government "to help lay out paths to be able to pursue that happiness." However, "I go to the individual. How are we going to change things? You and I have got to look in the mirror. That’s where it starts. And enough of us do that? That’s how collective change happens. It’s not going to happen by a policy. No, it’s going to have to be a personal choice that more of us are going to have to make on our own. And that, collectively, will build the army that will get us out of this, not just to survive, but thrive."