A new media-related study by a professor at the University of Vermont claims that the seven Harry Potter books “played a small but not insignificant role” in the election of President Barack Obama.
Political science professor Anthony Gierzynski is the man behind the novel argument, reports The College Fix. He asserts that Millennials — the generation of Americans born from 1980 onward — have supported Obama in massive numbers because they were brainwashed by the moral lessons contained in British author J. K. Rowling’s mega-best-selling fantasy series chronicling the adventures of a young wizard.
“The lessons fans internalized about tolerance, diversity, violence, torture, skepticism and authority made the Democratic Party and Barack Obama more appealing to fans of Harry Potter in the current political environment,” Gierzynski said in an email to The Fix.
Gierzynski reached his conclusions concerning Harry Potter’s political influence by surveying over 1,000 Millennial-aged college students at seven universities around the country.
Among the people he surveyed, 60 percent who had read Rowling’s books said they voted for Obama in 2008. A whopping 83 percent who read the books had unfavorable views of the Bush administration.
He notes that a potential weakness in his research is that college students are generally more likely to vote for Democrats regardless of having read Harry Potter books.
Gierzynski, who boasts degrees from Northern Illinois University and the University of Kentucky, published the results of his research recently in an 82-page, peer-reviewed book. It’s called “Harry Potter and the Millennials: Research Methods and the Politics of the Muggle Generation.”
The professor suggests that the moral lessons in the Harry Potter books are plentiful. For instance, he argues, the villains in the world of Hogwarts “quite vocal in their bigotry” toward non-wizards and half-wizards who have lesser social positions. Harry, on the other hand, is a powerful wizard who makes friends with outcasts such as elves.
Gierzynski has previously headed up research seminars at the taxpayer-funded University of Vermont on Star Wars and South Park. He is currently researching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as well.
He was coy about whether he believes Harry Potter is a Democrat and Harry’s arch enemy, Lord Voldemort, is a Republican. He would only admit to The Fix that some aspects of the fantasy series “tend to line up with certain sides in the current climate.”
In the books, Voldemort is a dark wizard who aims to become immortal, conquer the whole wizarding world, subjugate muggles — non-magical people — everywhere.
Impressively, Gierzynski managed to relate his Harry Potter theory to George W. Bush’s anti-terrorism policies—but not the Obama administration’s identical policies. More impressively, he somehow managed to tie in gay marriage and immigration reform.
“Attitudes in opposition to the use of violence, torture and deadly force came to be associated with the Democrats at the end of the Bush years, mainly in opposition to Bush administration policies and failures in these areas,” the professor told The Fix. “The opposition to equal marital rights for same-sex couples and immigration reform by the Republicans put those who support political tolerance … and those who are more accepting of diversity on the side of the Democrats.”
In order to win support among Millennials who have been influenced by Harry Potter, Gierzynski suggests that Republicans “move away from the far right side of their party.”