“Potter” and Politics: Why Hope Prevails
It has recently come to light that reading Harry Potter makes a person less likely to vote for Trump. I’m just here to explain how that makes me feel.
The world has been in a bit of a predicament for a while now, and while it could be easier to let all of the hope be sucked out of us as if we were in a room packed full of Dementors, I’ve still seen many demonstrations of good and loving words and actions. That’s just one thing that the Harry Potter series has taught me, to look for the hope amidst all the bad.
As a disabled female, I do have certain odds stacked against me, but I recognize my privilege nonetheless. I know there are struggles I will never have to face, struggles that friends and loved ones do have to deal with on a daily basis. Struggles of racism, homophobia, religious persecution… the list goes on.
Certain people (candidates included) have demonstrated their feelings of sexism, ableism, racism… this is yet another list that can go on. Any candidate or group of people who has condoned hateful speeches, laden with terrifying themes of bigotry and enmity, is something that the Potter generation is all too familiar with. The news and social media has shown the horrible acts of people during these presentations, cheering at the most obscene statements and treating protesters as inferior, as “other,” creating a wide divide that so many have tried bridging.
Sure, some of these candidates have assigned themselves to a specific party and share similar viewpoints as those of the majority in that demographic. That’s one reason why individual voters may lean more toward them for President while trying to look past the less admirable qualities of these people.
This is where Potter comes in for me. I think back to my favorite book of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. While it may have been the book that ended with Voldemort’s public arrival, there was a very different villain throughout the book that shook me to my core: Professor Dolores Umbridge.
Umbridge, of course, was a woman employed by the Ministry of Magic and eventually sent to Hogwarts to seize control over Dumbledore’s “reign.” She strongly detested anyone or anything that wasn’t “pure,” but the important thing to note here is that she wasn’t a Death Eater. She did not follow Voldemort, despite sharing similar ideals. No, she was simply a hateful person in a position of power, unafraid to induce fear into the masses and strike down anything she deemed unnatural.
One of my favorite quotes came from that book as well: “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” (Although Sirius was not known for taking his own advice, these words come from Jo herself, who has been quite politically active and recently vocal against certain presidential candidates.)
So many characters within the series demonstrated hatred, but they were always overcome by the characters with kindness. Hermione Granger, brightest witch of her age, still valued friendship and bravery over her own intelligence. Luna Lovegood, outcast and oddball, stood firm in her beliefs and never once treated anyone badly despite her own mistreatment. Remus Lupin, pariah of the wizarding world, still fought for what was right, for his loved ones to live in a better world than he did. Rubeus Hagrid, a half-giant wrongfully expelled as a child, showed Harry the very first acts of kindness within his life and continued to do so all throughout. Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, made that life matter and fought for love, as his parents did before him.
It is because I know these characters and how they all had to deal with someone powerful and hateful that I know the outcome in the real world is a lot more detrimental. This isn’t something within our favorite book, where we can close the pages when the story gets too scary. As Dumbledore once said, “Dark times lie ahead of us, and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
When these dark times did come to a head, Lee Jordan made a statement at the end of the secretive Potterwatch broadcast. I believe it is always relevant, but especially now. “Keep each other safe. Keep faith.“