How 2016 presidential players fit in Harry Potter world
With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child now in release and the play now the hottest show in London, it struck me that there are an awful lot of similarities between the 2016 election and the magical world of Harry Potter that J.K Rowling created. So let’s get down to it: Who is who?
Hillary Clinton is Hermione Granger. I don’t know how or where it started, but several online articles and websites have equated Hillary Clinton with Harry’s classmate and good friend Hermione. Whip-smart Hermione is the best student at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, possibly the smartest one they’ve ever had. She studies constantly and searches the library for new material to devour, even reading ahead in her texts before the school year starts. She masters every class, even History of Magic, which is taught by a teacher who was so boring that he died and no one noticed. Hermione is consistently praised by all of the Hogwarts professors (except Potions teacher Severus Snape). Headmaster Albus Dumbledore and Transfiguration teacher Minerva McGonagall trusted her enough to use a time-turner in book 3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, allowing her to take extra classes that meet simultaneously. As Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Remus Lupin says in Prisoner of Azkaban, “You’re the cleverest witch of your age I’ve ever met, Hermione,” echoing Harry’s earlier assessment.
Of course she is! Like Hermione, Hillary Clinton masters policy details. She’s never unprepared. Hermione always earned extra points for Gryffindor with her vast knowledge and answers to questions; Hillary boosted the United States’ standing around the world during her time as secretary of state, impressing other nations’ leaders with her expertise. Hermione wasn’t afraid to stand up for house elves; Hillary wasn’t afraid to stand up for women worldwide. “She does her homework like Hermione Granger on an Adderall bender,” opined one website. There’s even a Twitter hashtag: #ImWithHermione.
I have finished reading Cursed Child but I have not booked a flight to London to see it (I wish! Also, I understand that tickets are harder to come by than the ingredients for Polyjuice Potion), but in the timeline of the new play, Hermione holds the highest office in the wizarding world: She’s the minister for magic. Sounds about right, and it’s only a matter of time until Hillary Clinton reaches the same level in the muggle world—until Jan. 20, 2017, to be exact.
So what about Donald Trump? Which character in the wizarding world does he most resemble?
Donald Trump is Gilderoy Lockhart. It was a hard decision: Voldemort or Lockhart? But in the end, I went with Lockhart.
It’s tempting to equate Trump with Lord Voldemort, and you could make an awfully good argument why. Voldemort wanted only pure-blood wizards, in the same way that Trump has pushed nativism, attracting a fair share of racists and white supremacists. They’ve both shown themselves to be small-minded, mean, and cruel. But while Voldemort might be evil, he also was a smart, talented, and powerful wizard. Trump doesn’t share those qualities. Also, many Republicans are giving Trump the “Voldemort” treatment (He Who Must Not Be Named).
Yet another theory, from Arianna Huffington, is that Trump is a dementor, one of the ethereal floating black-ragged beings that guard Azkaban prison and suck all of the happiness out of the world. She suggests that certain GOP leaders, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and House Speaker Paul Ryan, were the victims of the dreaded “dementor’s kiss” when they endorsed Trump, losing their souls in the process (not that we disagree about that). Not a bad theory, but I think there’s a better parallel.
No, Gilderoy Lockhart it is. He shares two essential characteristics with Trump: They are both basically snake-oil salesmen and con men, and they both are masters at playing the media.
Lockhart was the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He has an oversize ego and he can’t stop bragging about himself, always inflating his own abilities. Lockhart has made his living by stealing other people’s stories and passing them off as his own. He didn’t perform any of the magic in his best-selling books, which could just as easily be called The Art of the Magic Deal. (There’s no mention in Chamber of Secrets if Lockhart had a ghost writer, as Trump did, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Lockhart conned some other wizard into writing the books and then performed a Memory Charm to make the writer wizard forget all about it.)
What does Donald Trump do? He takes people’s money with a lot of promises and gives them little in return. He buys and constructs buildings and uses other people’s labor, walking away after a bankruptcy and leaving others with the bill. He puts his name on everything, just as Lockhart put his name all over his books.
We’ve all seen how Trump leads the media along, launching new outrages just to keep himself front and center in every news cycle. Lockhart did the same thing with The Daily Prophet, grabbing Harry for a photo to ensure front-page treatment.
It’s obviously not a perfect parallel. Although they both have memorable blond (well, orange-blond in Trump’s case) hair, Lockhart is described as handsome, and Trump is no Kenneth Branagh. Trump’s support comes mostly from men, while Lockhart is swooned over by several female characters. While Lockhart is an obvious phony, he at least tries to be nice to people, until he’s exposed as a fraud. Trump doesn’t even bother with niceties.
So what other parallels do we see in 2016 politics and the Potter world, as we reach further into Potter geekdom?
Bernie Sanders: Xenophilius Lovegood, father of Hogwarts student Luna Lovegood and editor of The Quibbler. Lovegood is often thought of as eccentric and a loner. Much of what Lovegood publishes is considered nonsense until it turns out to be true in the end (OK, there’s no such thing as a Crumple-Horned Snorkack).
Tim Kaine: He’s definitely in Hufflepuff, probably Ernie Macmillan, who joined Dumbledore’s Army.
Paul Manafort: There’s no doubt that the Trump campaign chairman was in Slytherin. I see him as Lucius Malfoy, Draco’s father. Lucius always thought other foreign magical schools were superior to Hogwarts, such as Durmstrang, from the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In the same way, Manafort was once (still is?) on the payroll of a Vladimir Putin plant in Ukraine.
Ted Cruz: Draco Malfoy. There’s no doubt that the Texas senator would be in Slytherin. Even though many hate Cruz, there’s likely a grudging recognition of his influence, just as there was for Draco, even if that came from his father’s money.
(Come to think of it, most Republicans would be in Slytherin. Except congressmen like Louie Gohmert. He’d be a Squib and wouldn’t even have made it into Hogwarts.)
Chris Christie and Marco Rubio: Also in Slytherin. They remind me of Draco’s sidekicks, Crabbe and Goyle.
Newt Gingrich: Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge. It’s probably the closest Gingrich would ever get to real power ever again.
Jeb! Bush: Poor Jeb! is Nearly Headless Nick, aka the ghost of Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington, who died in a botched execution that almost but not quite removed his head. Because of this, Nick isn’t allowed to join the Headless Hunt, despite his blue-blood background. Just like Jeb! was shut out of the Republican primary, spending some $40 million per delegate for the three votes he got at the convention.
Rudy Giuliani: Definitely a Death Eater. Perhaps Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf.
Barack Obama: Harry Potter. Because, come on.
Joe Biden: Neville Longbottom. Joe Biden experienced tragedy early in his career with the loss of his wife and child; Neville’s parents were tortured with the Cruciatus Curse and were lost to him forever. Like Biden, Neville is famous for “gaffes,” but in the end, there’s not a truer or more effective friend and wizard than Neville. Or Joe Biden.
Bill Clinton: Ron Weasley. President Clinton’s intellect is far beyond Ron’s, but remember that Ron is the best player of wizarding chess, as is shown in the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Bill Clinton always strikes me as someone who plays long-term strategy for long-term wins.
Maureen Dowd: Rita Skeeter, the Daily Prophet reporter with the Quick-Quotes Quill and acid-green ink, was famous for her sensational exposés throughout the wizarding world. In Goblet of Fire, she twisted Harry’s words and deliberately made up “facts” about him to sell her stories. Despite her years of experience and expertise at The New York Times, many are disappointed in the columnist for her obvious biases against the Clintons.
Just for fun, you might enjoy this take on which Democrats are which Potter characters, even if I don’t agree with all of the characterizations. The writer thinks Hillary Clinton is Albus Dumbledore, Bernie Sanders is Remus Lupin, Elizabeth Warren is Hermione Granger, Wendy Davis is Nymphdora Tonks, and Barack Obama is both Rufus Scrimgeour and Kingsley Shacklebolt.
If you’re forgetting your Potter lore, Scrimgeour takes over the Ministry of Magic in book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Shacklebolt becomes minister in the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, after Voldemort is defeated.
Plus, Kingsley Shacklebolt is just is the coolest guy in the entire Ministry of Magic. So that works.
Originally published on Daily Kos on Aug. 7, 2016.
NOTE: When this ran on Daily Kos, readers offered their own takes on parallels between presidential players and Harry Potter world. Here were a few fun ones: Bernie Sanders as Mad-Eye Moody; Carly Fiorina as Delores Umbridge; Sarah Palin as Moaning Myrtle; Elizabeth Warren as Professor McGonagall; Warren and Tim Kaine as Molly and Arthur Weasley. My favorite might have been Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as Fred and George Weasley.