According to Vox, people are donning some new politically-based merchandise. However, the name that is decorating pins, T-shirts, stickers, hats, and mugs is not a name that you are likely to see on your ballot or even a debate stage. “Hermione 2020” is a new merchandise-only campaign sweeping America.
The merchandise was created by the Strand Bookstore in New York City, the city’s largest, but has been seen in countless cities, appearing on the streets and on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Those who are purchasing and wearing “Hermione 2020” merchandise believe that they are promoting feminism and a woman, however fictional, in the White House. The message is not to have a character from Harry Potter in the Oval Office, but rather to highlight her intelligence, power, and overall tenacity.
— NYC Minute (@IHaveHadItNYC) April 1, 2017
However, not everyone views “Hermione 2020” as something positive. Some critics of the movement believe that promoting a fictional character the same way a real politician is promoted is dangerous and discouraging, especially for women. According to Kaitlyn Tiffany at Vox, “Hermione 2020” sends a larger message that a woman in the White House is as fictional as Harry Potter. Additionally, merchandise like this only reinstates the apparent entertainment-based political system currently in place.
It is important to note, however, that Strand did not create this merchandise to distract from current politics or to genuinely promote Hermione as a political candidate.
“‘Hermione 2020’ is rooted in the canon of the Harry Potter universe” where in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, “Hermione Granger is the Minister of Magic,” a position which is the fictional, magic parallel to the president of the United States. Thus, the “Hermione 2020” merchandise was intended to allude to a deeper storyline in J.K. Rowling’s world.
It was Strand’s hope to give readers and buyers someone “relatable and easy to champion,” but Tiffany believes that is an even bigger problem. While Hermione’s character is quite easy to root for and relate to, Tiffany believes that there are countless other real women that could be promoted on merchandise.
However, Leigh Altshuler, the head of marketing at Strand, said that “Hermione 2020” was created to “[take] the edge off, or the pressure off. [She] think[s] [Strand] really [was] trying to maybe help people not feel so down.'”
There is no surprise that in a highly polarizing political climate, even fake, fictionalized politics fail to make everyone happy.