Richard Dreyfuss Explains Why He’s No Longer a Democrat

The Oscar winner tells TheWrap why he went to Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina rallies

When the famously liberal Richard Dreyfuss attended a Ted Cruz rally in Iowa last month, the backlash from the left was swift, and conservatives delighted in it.

“Left Eats Their Own: Goes After Richard Dreyfuss for Attending Cruz Rally,” said a headline on the right-leaning site Breitbart.

But Dreyfuss knew some things that his critics didn’t.

First, he didn’t support Cruz. Second, he hadn’t just attended a Cruz rally.

And third: He hasn’t been a Democrat in more than a decade.

Dreyfuss tells TheWrap he had hoped to see Donald Trump in Iowa, more out of curiosity than anything else.

“I was there to hear any and all that I could hear, and I was hoping to meet or experience Trump,” Dreyfuss said. “I went to a [Marco] Rubio event, I went to a Carly Fiorina rally. Trump wasn’t there.”

We spoke with the star of ABC’s “Madoff” about his headline-grabbing Iowa visit, why he’s so disillusioned with politics, and his plans to try and fix what he calls the “invisible curse on America.”

TheWrap: So why did you decide to check out Ted Cruz’s rally?

Dreyfuss: I had accepted an invitation from my friend, [conservative pollster] Frank Luntz. He and I have been friends for a long time and and he asked if I wanted to experience the caucus. And I said, ‘Yo, baby.’ Frank is a great companion. He was nice enough to introduce me to a level at the caucus that most people don’t get to see. So, I’d be an idiot to turn that down.

Did any of the candidates you saw impress you at all?

There is no politician in America anymore that impresses me. I haven’t been a Democrat since 2004. I am pre-partisan. I mean that for real. I will not participate in discussions about partisan issues.

You must have known you were going to ruffle some Democratic feathers by attending a Cruz rally, no?

Actually, no, I didn’t expect it… My son Ben, who is an editor for Mother Jones, said “Don’t ever read the comments.” But I did. … The fourth comment was something along the lines of, “Who would have thought that that Jew bastard communist Dreyfuss would think well of Charlton Heston?”

Could you see yourself ever voting for Cruz?

Most likely not… at least not in the manner in which every politician’s positions are presented. They’re just presented as headlines and nothing deeper. Ted Cruz and Rubio sound as if they’re picking certain sections of a grand master speech and they just take paragraph four and just slip it into whatever audience is in front of them.

What are your thoughts on Trump?

He’s defied everyone’s laws and everyone’s predictions. It’s amusing, amazing and horrifying. I don’t know if anyone realizes that Donald Trump has revealed a fundamental flaw in the Constitution, which is that there should be a bar one never goes below in terms of intelligence for office holders.

You want an intelligence test for those running for office? Are you saying Donald Trump has an intelligence problem?

It’s more of an education problem. You can have the greatest education in the world and not have the education that is appropriate for the presidency… You’ve got to keep some modicum of intelligent thoughtfulness in talking about thoughtful issues.

Any thoughts about the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders?

It’s interesting but I wouldn’t want to get into a discussion about it now because it’s going to end up sounding like an endorsement.

Fair enough. Have you decided who you’ll be voting for yet?


Sounds like you’re disappointed with our political system. Are you?

That’s an easy one! [Laughs.] Yeah, I would say that I’m disappointed and disgusted… I started a non-profit [] to bring the teaching of civics… I think it is the invisible curse on American and I think it is the cause for every problem that we have… We no longer feel connected and responsible for keeping the country in any state of excellence, we’ve abandoned it… it’s not about getting a 4.0, it’s about learning how to think clearly.