The Boo! of Politics
Halloween is our American celebration that best reveals politics.
Thanksgiving, with succulent turkey, pumpkin pie and kaleidoscopic family collisions, is our sensual political fete. Memorial Day is a red balloon more dependent on intellectual construction than emotional content. The Fourth of July lights political sentiments with children's sparklers and volunteer fire department starbursts in the summer night sky.
None of them beats Halloween for dramatizing the essence of politics. Halloween's slogan says it all: Trick or treat!
Halloween is Transaction City.
A knock on your door whether or not you're home.
Halloween proves that We Are Not Alone.
And dooms us to act accordingly.
Just picture who haunts America's streets come Halloween.
Vampires in kitchen-cut capes and vamps cut by K Street consultants. Pretend princesses and princesses of pretense. Jedi warriors and warmonger Siths. Headless Hulks wrapped in dads' coats, and heartless haters wrapped in red, white and blue. Angels. Devils. Firefighters. Cowboys. Doctors and nurses and invisible insurance executives. Bonnies and Clydes, bankers and Bernies. Congressmen and cat people, senators and superheroes, governors and Gumbies. Ghosts with white sheets around their tiny bodies. Ghosts with white sheets around their tiny souls. Robots and zombies and werewolves who howl at the TV moon, the undead, the dead who shouldn't be, the dead who will be. Rumbling up your street come a rubber-masked Frankenstein creation and an army Humvee our troops "Frankensteined" with armor beyond that provided at its low-bid government-contract factory.
They all want something: a bite-sized Snickers or an election vote, a can-do for their cause or a Hershey Kiss, a shiny dime or a signed check, a blind eye or a sly wink, our chilled approval or our approved children, for us to applaud their parade or allow their stampede.
They want, we got.
And on Halloween, at least we're (sort of) honest about that.
They couldn't have America's Halloween parade without us. We like to pretend that it's a one-way street. That politics' spirits need us, but we don't need them – indeed, we pretend we'd be better off if they left us alone.
But those are our fears out there in the dark American night – and our hopes and dreams – costumed so we can see them.
We must deal with Who Shows Up and Who We Send Out There.
Sometimes we're not home when Halloween comes to call.
Sometimes we hide from the ring of our doorbell.
Sometimes it's a joy to see who's come to let us sweeten the night.
Sometimes we give away everything we've got, hoping – praying – that no matter who's behind that mask, the phantom will take what we offer and just go away, leave us alone, not burn down our house.
Sometimes we stand up to the has-to-be-a-teenager muscling out a wide-eyed waif to demand our last mini-pack of Peanut M&M's. Sometimes we tell the TV commercial star that we see the shark hiding inside his or her humble servant of the people suit and give our vote or support to Some Other Seeker.
Sometimes its us out there in America's streets, holding an optimistic pillowcase or our happy child's hand, us slouching through politics wearing the costume of the Marines or Peace Corps, the mask of an Uncle Sam bureaucrat or a PTA activist, a statistical label as a taxpayer or an economic stimulus supplicant.
In those moments, perhaps it's easiest to understand the political essence of Halloween. Because even if the living flesh officially celebrating Halloween belongs to somebody else, it's ultimately always us inside politics' costumes.
And if we don't pay attention and pay our just dues, our sacrificed tribute, our engaged attention, our candy offerings, then our streets will seethe with hungry monsters.