President Matt Damon, a reality?

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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Could Matt Damon be the next candidate to jump into the race for the presidency? The Guardian’s Paul Harris seems to think the idea isn’t so far out.

Harris cites a discussion liberal filmmaker Michael Moore recently had with Firedoglake, a left-leaning political blog. During the conversation, Moore expressed frustration with President Obama, echoing the sentiment of many on the left who feel the president has ignored the wishes of his liberal base in the interest of compromising with Republicans. (Michael Moore throws weight behind Matt Damon for president)

Damon, though, has caught Moore’s attention. The documentarian said the actor has taken courageous political positions as of late, and even invoked conservative hero Ronald Reagan while making his case for Damon.

“The Republicans have certainly shown the way that when you run someone who is popular, you win. Sometimes even when you run an actor, you win,” he said.

Harris believes Damon could actually challenge Obama from the left for the Democratic nomination for two reasons.

First, Damon has “emerged as an eloquent and fierce spokesman for a slice of liberal America.” The actor has voiced strong liberal opinions on issues ranging from education policy to the war in Iraq, and has been a vocal critic of President Obama on a number of occasions. Damon made headlines recently for a confrontation with a reporter over the plight of American public school teachers. He said: “A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a shitty salary, and really long hours, and do that job, unless you really love to do it?”

The encounter turned him into a hero of teachers’ unions.

Second, America, “more than any country in the world, has a fluid boundary between the worlds of entertainment and politics.” As an actor, Damon understands how important appearances are, and would follow in the footsteps of a number of celebrities who have gone political, from Reagan to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Al Franken to Jesse Ventura.

Damon, who went to Harvard University before dropping out to pursue an acting career, also has high name recognition, something Syracuse University Professor Robert Thompson says is key. But Damon has to be careful should he decide on a presidential bid.

“Celebrity can be a blessing or a curse,” Thompson warned. “You are able to get people to listen to you, but you need to have something they want to hear.”