Harry Potter and the American election
A high-level study has come to the conclusion that Harry Potter fans won’t be voting for Donald Trump today.
The Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics (a non-partisan research institute at the University of Pennsylvania) have noted that almost from the beginning of the campaign there have been Potteresque overtones. Some Democrats have compared Trump to Lord Voldemort, an idea also embraced by some Republicans. There have been posters featuring Trump in front of an American flag with a quote from the Dark Lord: There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it. Chilling in a children’s book, absolutely horrifying on an election poster.
There’s little firm evidence to suggest that fiction can influence politics, especially if the book is not about a political issue, but the Institute argue that the Harry Potter series is in a class of its own. After all, the books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide. Most readers and critics agree that its ideology can be boiled down to three main themes:
the importance of tolerance and respect for those who are different
opposition to violence
the dangers of authoritarianism
In case you’re not up to speed (or forgotten) Lord Voldemort’s basic platform: he wants the eradication of mixed blood wizards (half bloods) as well as muggles (non wizards i.e. us), mudbloods (muggle born wizards) and squibs (wizard born non wizards)
The study – which you can read in detail here – provides “some of the first evidence outside of a laboratory” that a fictional story can have a sustained effect on how people vote. It turns out that the more Potter books someone has read, the lower their opinion of ‘Trumpdemort’ will be.
If that gives you a warm glow, I have to point out that research carried out by The New Statesmen writer James O’Malley indicates that people who gave five stars to Trump’s book Crippled America also liked Harry Potter. So, maybe the Potter effect doesn’t work for everyone or maybe, just maybe, when they are in the polling booth the face of Voldermort will appear in front of them…and they know Harry would want them to do the right thing.
I first heard about this study in Mslexia’s email newsletter