J.K. Rowling’s famous literary creation, Harry Potter, has been casting a spell on readers and moviegoers for many years. Simultaneously, Harry has been casting a spell on individuals and groups who want to claim the young wizard as one of their own.
Even though Harry’s story has been told and the final movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” will be released this week, this franchise isn’t going to disappear with the wave of a wand. The main character’s appeal is so strong that the slightest hint of an endorsement or rejection of an idea or philosophy can trigger a massive public reaction. Harry might be a fictional character, but his “opinions” and “beliefs” are worth their weight in gold.
Let’s speculate about Harry’s political ideology. Is he a conservative, liberal or socialist?
To be fair, Ms. Rowling is reportedly nonpartisan and none of her books dealt with either British politics or student politics. Even so, this shouldn’t stop us from taking an educated guess - and all signs point to Harry being a conservative.
The ideological underpinnings of the “Harry Potter” books were rather clear early on. Harry, an orphan, lived with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley in the Dursleys’ comfortable, middle-class home on Privet Drive. The Dursleys held conservative values on tradition and society, and subscribed to a right-leaning tabloid, the Daily Mail. They treated Harry like a second-class citizen, meaning he had to fend for himself. He therefore learned the route to success was through hard work, not handouts.
Harry went to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, located in a medieval castle. This school, along with the rest of Ms. Rowling’s imaginary world, existed in a High Tory setting. The headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, along with Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape, all supported Victorian values and maintained law and order. Meanwhile, Diagon Alley, where the students bought school supplies, could have easily been plucked out of Charles Dickens‘ classic tale, “Oliver Twist.”
What about Harry? He had a keen interest in maintaining the wizarding world’s history and revered role. Hogwarts’ grandeur, including traditional paintings, sundry ghosts and constantly shifting staircases, intrigued him. He liked his school’s traditions and felt comfortable in the wizarding community’s very British mannerisms and atmosphere. Unlike his close friend Hermione Granger, who gradually supported leftist causes such as the overall treatment of house elves at Hogwarts, Harry seemed to be content and rather conservative in his approach to change.
Another important conservative trait was Harry’s astute awareness of his role in society. Unbeknownst to Harry, he was already a legend in the wizarding world, having briefly vanquished the evil wizard Voldemort as a baby. When the truth was finally revealed by the time he reached Hogwarts, Harry knew what he had to do - and realized he had no other choice but to fulfill his destiny.
Harry didn’t perceive himself as a hero. He wanted to be treated the same as his fellow students and respected and admired their skills and talents - especially those of his closest friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione. He was always the first one to help his comrades-in-arms in various battles and conflicts, including: fighting off a troll; combating rival Lucius Malfoy at Hogwarts; attempting to clear the name of his wrongfully imprisoned godfather, Sirius Black; and defeating Voldemort in a titanic struggle of evil versus good. Long story short, he nearly sacrificed his life to protect the values he treasured and the wizarding world he loved from certain destruction.
Many conservatives - and quite a few libertarians and classical liberals - would applaud Harry’s selflessness. In fact, they worked hard to find political and personal connections between Harry’s virtues and their own. For instance, Warwick Cairns mused in the British-based magazine Spectator in July 2000 that Harry might be a Euroskeptic. Why? Ms. Rowling is an honorary member of the British Weights and Measures Association, a group typically supported by Tories that opposes shifting to the metric system. Harry also could be a fan of the royal family, after Ms. Rowling acknowledged the queen was “appreciative of Harry” in 2004.
It’s not so far-fetched, when you think about it. If John Lennon, of all people, can be outed as a Reagan Republican (if his last personal assistant is to be believed), why can’t Harry Potter, the creation of a single mother on welfare, be a British Tory? Anything is possible, folks.
Michael Taube is a columnist and former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
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