In Which I Sort the Democratic Candidates Into Hogwarts Houses
Okay, so as we all know, there are four types of candidate: brave, smart, evil, and miscellaneous. But which 2020 Democratic presidential candidate is which? If they were students at a British boarding school for wizards, in what house would each of them belong? It is vitally important that we sort this out because reasons. Others have done it before me, but only I come prepared with the in-depth reasoning and careful sourcing of a true Ravenclaw.
To keep things simple, I’m going to restrict myself to only the 11 candidates who currently qualify for the next round of debates, which lets me avoid explaining why Marianne Williamson is a Ravenclaw in the Luna Lovegood tradition or having to figure out where the hell to put Tulsi Gabbard. (Seriously, what is her deal even?) So let’s get sorting!
Joe Biden: Hufflepuff
“What does it really cost to take a moment to look someone in the eye, to give him a hug, to let her know, ‘I get it. You’re not alone’?”
Joe Biden, when meeting a complete stranger who has lost a loved one, will give them his personal phone number and tell them to call him, day or night, if they ever need to talk. He sometimes mixes things up or says dumb things, but does every little detail really matter when we’re fighting for the nation’s soul? He is fiercely loyal to his former boss and “best friend forever,” even when that loyalty seems… unreciprocated. He is known for being warm and affectionate. Possibly too affectionate.
Because of this history of handsiness, Hufflepuffs may balk that I sorted Uncle Joe into their house. But think about it: what flaw could be more classically Hufflepuff than failing to understand that not everybody wants a hug all the time? Let’s be real: Hufflepuffs aren’t saints. There can be bad Hufflepuffs. And when Hufflepuffs go bad, they look an awful lot like Uncle Joe.
Hufflepuff Joe just wants to get along with everybody. He misses the good ol’ days when Democrats and Republicans worked together despite their differences, and doesn’t understand why we can’t bring those days back. Now, a Ravenclaw might point out, hey, that was a negative peace made possible by perpetuating systemic racism. To which Hufflepuff Joe might respond (with a huff and a puff), “Negative peace? How can peace be negative? Systemic racism? What is this overcomplicated nonsense? Why can’t we all just be nice to each other, and that will end racism?”
Bernie Sanders: Gryffindor
“I am going to do my best to try to create a country where children are not living in poverty, in which kids can go to college, in which old people have health care. Will I succeed? I can’t guarantee you that, but I can tell you that from a human point of view it is better to show up than to give up.”
A lot of people sort Bernie into Hufflepuff because as a socialist, he… like… cares about people? Which is somewhat thin reasoning. Is he loyal like a Hufflepuff? Not judging by his on-again, off-again relationship with the Democratic party, which many party loyalists deeply resent. (And I love the man, but even I gotta admit the way he dances between Democrat and independent based on what will get him elected is some hardcore Slytherin shit right there.) Is he easy to get along with and kind, as Hufflepuffs are oft described to be? Well, his public image is that of a prickly “grumpy grandpa,” and people who’ve worked for him out-and-out call him an asshole, so no, I’m thinking not.
So what am I saying? Am I actually putting Bernie in Slytherin, noted Asshole House? No. Because while he may be a dick, he is a Dick for Righteousness, and that’s the most Gryffindor thing there is.
You want courage? How ’bout spending your youth working with the civil rights movement, protesting, organizing sit-ins, and getting your ass arrested?
How ’bout calling yourself a socialist during the Cold War, in a country where a centrist is any other Western nation’s conservative? How ’bout fighting for ideas that the people in charge flat-out refuse to even consider, and pushing them so hard, for so long, with so much passion, that you push them right into the mainstream? How ’bout spending your whole damn life fighting for the good of the people, never backing down and never giving a shit who you piss off in the process?
That’s courage, that’s Gryffindor, and that’s Bernie fucking Sanders.
Elizabeth Warren: Ravenclaw
“I have a plan for that!”
I’ll admit, I went back and forth for a while over whether to sort Liz into Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. She has fought courageously for the working class. She wrote a book called A Fighting Chance, and then another one called This Fight Is Our Fight. Clearly this woman is into fighting, which is very, very Gryffindor.
But is bravery her most prominent quality? I’m not so sure. She used to be a teacher, and she still kind of is. She’s one of those rare people who changed her worldview because she learned new facts about the world. She has distinguished herself from the rest of the candidates with her many detailed policy plans. Although she shares many similarities with Gryffindor Bernie Sanders, she avoids his combative style and instead cleverly tries to appeal to establishment Democrats — without changing a thing about her beliefs. Because to Ravenclaw Liz, courage isn’t as important as being smart about how you do things. Don’t just barge in crying “revolution”! Work from both the inside and the outside to make change. And do I even need to explain how Ravenclaw the slogan “I have a plan for that” is?
Even her most famous misstep is a shining example of Ravenclaw reasoning. “I know what’ll solve this problem: a DNA test!” It’s a hard pill to swallow for a Ravenclaw, but sometimes science can’t fix everything.
It’s a close call, but I put her in Ravenclaw (even if just barely).
Kamala Harris: Slytherin
“I’m obviously a top-tier candidate, and so I did expect that I would… take hits tonight because there are a lot of people that are trying to make the stage for the next debate. Especially when people are at zero or 1 percent or whatever she might be at.”
Generally, if you have a candidate about whom people wonder, “What does this person actually believe, under all the pretty words?” you’re dealing with a Slytherin. And, uh, yeah. You might remember her from her star performance in a debate a few months back, raking Biden across the coals for opposing busing in the ’70s. So does that mean she supports busing? Well… it’s complicated.
She has a history of talking the talk but not walking the walk. She has some alarming stuff in her record that she’s now trying to distance herself from. She is exceptionally cautious in the positions she takes, seemingly saving up her political capital… but for what purpose? No one knows. All of this just screams Slytherin.
Pete Buttigieg: Slytherin
“It’s important that we not drown people in minutiae before we’ve vindicated the values that animate our policies.”
Supposedly, “Mayor Pete” took the official Pottermore quiz, and supposedly, he was sorted into Hufflepuff, but I’m calling bullshit on that. No 37-year-old who runs for president of the United States is a motherfucking Hufflepuff. And for that matter, no Hufflepuff would order a bunch of poor minorities to fix up their houses to look prettier for tourists, then, when they couldn’t afford to do that (because, uh, poverty), kick them out onto the street and demolish their sinfully unpretty homes.
Is Pete Buttigieg fundamentally motivated by helping people? Or gaining knowledge? Or facing his fears? Can you even tell what has motivated him throughout his life, aside from sheer ambition? Do you know what he stands for? What he actually stands for? Will he tell you what he stands for, or does he wriggle and squirm like some kind of reptile that hasn’t got any legs?
More to the point: the two other exercises in sorting the candidates happened in response to Buttigieg’s own sorting, and both of them just accepted its legitimacy on face value. How convenient. Let me ask you: if you were a Slytherin running for high office, which house would you claim to be in? Would you boldly claim Gryffindor, at the risk of drawing scrutiny? Or would you humblebrag that you got sorted into House Cinnamon Roll?
I’m just saying, he speaks a lot of languages. Has anyone checked to make sure parseltongue isn’t one of them?
Beto O’Rourke: Gryffindor
“Courage makes victory possible.”
Anyone who loses a senate race and then immediately turns around and goes, “Okay, time to run for president!” is automatically either Gryffindor or Slytherin. And I don’t think he’s cunning enough to be Slytherin.
Beto was fairly aimless in his youth, playing in punk bands and occasionally getting arrested. He came to political ambition late, and seems genuine in his progressivism. None of this sounds like a cold, calculating Slytherin, who would have taken fewer risks in his youth and skewed further right to win a state like Texas.
But more than anything, it’s his charisma and love of attention that tips Beto into Gryffindor. Also he swears a lot and for some reason I feel like Gryffindor would be the sweariest house.
Cory Booker: Gryffindor
“What more could you ask for in life than to be given an impossible challenge?”
I mean, he literally saved a woman from a burning building. He has personally come to the rescue of snowed-in citizens — more than once. Cory Booker loves playing the hero and loves being the center of attention — which is so Gryffindor.
But for all that, he’s not exactly a champion of the people. He routinely accepts more money from Wall Street than literally any other senator, and more from Big Pharma than almost any other senator. So he’s not a Gryffindor like Bernie’s a Gryffindor. Bernie’s a hero for the people and a dick on an individual level, whereas Cory’s a hero on an individual level but will then turn around and take a bunch of money from big pharma and banks. I mean, he’s not a conservative or anything — mostly, he’s a middle-of-the-road liberal, but when it comes to big business, we see what side his bread is buttered on.
So he’s far from a consistent champion for the people. But you don’t need to understand and battle systemic problems to be a Gryffindor; you just need to be heroic on some level. And Cory Booker definitely is that.
Andrew Yang: Ravenclaw
“If you go deep into a problem, you’ll find most all of the time that there are yet more problems to be solved from the ground up.”
Do I even need to explain it? He’s a tech entrepreneur who’s obsessed with robots and wants to use 3D holograms for remote campaigning. The Sorting Hat shouted, “RAVENCLAW!” before it even touched the top of young Andrew Yang’s head.
Amy Klobuchar: Gryffindor
“Am I a tough boss sometimes? Yes. Have I pushed people too hard? Yes. But I have kept expectations for myself that are very high. I’ve asked my staff to meet those same expectations.”
Much as Joe Biden is a bad Hufflepuff, I’d characterize Amy Klobuchar as a bad Gryffindor. She takes that Gryffindor passion and hotheadedness and turns it against her employees. Klobuchar is Gryffindor as class bully.
That bullying can sometimes extend to the people as a whole, as she historically supported the sort of “law and order” policies that worsened mass incarceration and the war on drugs.
But unlike her fellow “tough on crime” former prosecutor, Slytherin Kamala Harris, Klobuchar isn’t trying to distance herself from her record in the more conservative ’90s. She’s never tried to pass herself off as more progressive as the party has moved to the left. She’s a genuine moderate, and stands by her moderation, which is pretty brave in a party increasingly taking its cues from Bernie Sanders. So: Gryffindor, if a jerky Gryffindor. (Which is totally a thing — hi, James Potter!)
Julián Castro: Slytherin
“I have learned in life that the best way to create a great future for yourself is don’t forget what’s in front of you. And so I’m trying to do a great job at HUD.”
I wasn’t sure where to put Julián Castro until I read this profile of him and his twin brother and saw this sentence: “Their precipitous rise has been the result of lofty aspirations, careful calculation, ferocious loyalty, and deep political pragmatism — qualities the brothers have long shared and mutually cultivated.” I mean, that’s just like a straight-up description of Slytherin.
He’s got a neoliberal record, a history of helping Wall Street over the poor, and a minor ethics violation under his belt. But that wouldn’t necessarily make him Slytherin all on its own. As I mentioned in the case of Amy Klobuchar, above, if you genuinely believe in neoliberalism (for some reason) and don’t hem and haw about it in front of more progressive crowds, that’s not Slytherin.
More than anything, I think Castro is kinda Slytherin by default. He’s Slytherin the way that all politicians are inherently Slytherin, the way you pretty much have to be at least a little bit Slytherin to run for president. It may not be fair, but there it is.
Incidentally, his mom is totally a Gryffindor and much cooler than he is, but I get that he’s probably more electable than a firebrand activist (even if I’d kinda rather vote for his mom).
Tom Steyer: THE SLYTHERINEST
“I said at the time I think [Need to Impeach] is the most consequential thing I can do. We’ll see. This is a fast-moving thing. Stuff happened today. Stuff happened yesterday. Stuff happened the day before.”
Man, fuck Tom Steyer. The hedge fund billionaire started out as a supporter of noted Hufflepuff cinnamon roll Jay Inslee, and said he wouldn’t run himself. But then Inslee’s campaign flagged. So instead of, like, helping him or something, Steyer decided to jump in the already-crowded race himself! Because what America really needs right now is another billionaire president with no political experience. He has since managed to buy himself onto the debate stage by shoveling $10 million of his own money into Facebook ads. Oh yeah, and he’s supposedly all about climate, but his hedge fund has invested in coal mining and oil exploration, as well as private prisons.
For his lying, betrayal, ambition, and unseemly wealth, I hereby sort Tom Steyer into House Slytherin.
Jay Inslee: Hufflepuff
If Joe Biden is a bad Hufflepuff, then Jay Inslee is the rare-among-politicians True Hufflepuff. He ran on climate change, not because he thought it would win him the election, but because it’s the literal end of the fucking world, and somebody had to. He knew he most likely wouldn’t win, but he wanted to keep people talking about the worst threat humanity has ever faced — and from the beginning, he freely offered his climate change plan to whomever ended up winning.
Amid constant demands for all the interchangable white men at 1% support or lower to drop out of the race, he was one of the first to drop out, at which point everyone who’d actually been paying attention cried: “Wait, we didn’t mean you!”
The instant he dropped out, glory-hound Gryffindor Bernie Sanders leapt in front of the cameras to unveil his ambitious new climate plan, while clever Ravenclaw Elizabeth Warren simply adopted parts of Inslee’s plan wholesale. Both seem determined to grab Inslee’s sweet, sweet 1% of supporters for themselves, and speaking as someone in that 1%, let me just say it is working. But so far, though he has been much imitated, Inslee has definitely not been duplicated.
At the risk of further woobifying the governor of Washington, let me just say that I will always have a special place in my heart for Jay Inslee, that patient candidate who’s true and unafraid of toil.