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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Politics


Ron Black August 31st, 2006

I confess: I am a 42-year-old "Harry Potter" fan. My son is also a "Harry Potter" fan, but I am willing to admit that my appreciation for the J.K. Rowling series goes beyond paternal duty, and, like m...

I confess: I am a 42-year-old "Harry Potter" fan. My son is also a "Harry Potter" fan, but I am willing to admit that my appreciation for the J.K. Rowling series goes beyond paternal duty, and, like my son, I jump up and down on the couch and squeal when a new installment is released.
 
I am not afraid to admit that I find the series to be metaphoric, particularly where politics is concerned. The characters, the nuance, the story lines are a page right out of a Karl Rove or James Carville playbook.
 
Take, for example, the four houses of Hogwarts (the seven-year school where Harry and other magical folks attend): Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Regardless of whether you are a Republican, Democrat, independent, Green Party member or Libertarian, more than likely you will find yourself assigned to one of the four houses.
 
Let's don the Sorting Hat and see under which house of Hogwarts you belong, shall we?
 
Hufflepuff: They are just, loyal, unafraid of working with their hands and exceptionally diligent. They vote during important primary seasons but find runoff elections to be a bore. They typically vote for the last name they heard or saw on their way to the polling place and are often heard muttering under their breath, "I don't care where you go to church, just make sure my darned garbage is picked up on time."
 
Ravenclaw: Very wise, intelligent and engaged in the process, these people get their political insights from National Public Radio. Television is little more than a distraction to the members of Ravenclaw, and they read Oklahoma Gazette online first and then pick up a copy at their favorite bookstore where they are known on a first-name basis.
 
Gryffindor: Harry Potter's fraternal hangout. Members of Gryffindor hold virtue to be the gold standard for every aspect of life. Party affiliation is only moderately important because, for a Gryffindor, politics is all about the individual " about which candidate identifies closely with his or her core values. A Gryffindor never misses an opportunity to vote on any and every issue because it is a civic duty and moral responsibility. The archenemy of a Gryffindor is a Slytherin. 
 
Slytherin: All political parties have members in the Slytherin House whether they like to admit it or not. Slytherins are very cunning, end-justifies-the-means types. They love the dark arts including deceptive robocalls against Mudbloods (a "convert" to current party affiliation, born to non-magic parents or simply someone whom they find distasteful) and Muggles (independents). They are the quintessence of ideological fanatics who would rather see the devil himself in office if he were a member of their house (which I am pretty sure he is) than a saint from one of the opposing houses. They are the modern-day equivalent of political pharisees who would travel land and sea to gain one proselyte, and when they do, they make him twice the son of hell as themselves. Slytherins are usually single-issue voters. It is only fitting that a serpent is the symbol for Slytherin.
 
The beauty of this metaphor is that it is playing out before our very eyes, and the next installment in the series will be released in November. - Ron Black 
  
 Black, the artist formerly known as "The 400-Pound Gorilla," is a former talk show host and political consultant.
 
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