So close that they could kiss, Halloween and Election Day are similar in a significant way: they draw the attention of both The Far Right and The Far Left, who rarely, if ever, kiss.
On Election Day, the two camps are polarized, snarking and snarling at one another, but on Halloween, the two extremes unwittingly hop together in the same bed, with the conjoined goal of dismantling one of the most uniquely American of our holidays.
That’s right — not Thanksgiving.
Despite its legendary antecedents, Halloween has morphed and evolved into a Fun Day, free from religious or secular moral teaching, wrapped around both children and adults dressing up, the former to hit the streets, frequently with their parents, to knock upon the doors of the latter and demand, politely, candy.
In comtemporary politico-business-speak, it is one of those win-win situations: the adults giving out the candy smile as much as the children receiving it; the guardians standing proudly in the shadows wave at the homeowners; the children for a night are princesses and pirates and dinosaurs and pumpkins and bunny rabbits.
This is, however, in Middle America — which although it makes up the largest population of our country, seems to have the littlest impact upon it.
The Far Right hates Halloween because it is “of the devil,” a day encouraging young innocents to dabble and delve in the world of witches and warlocks and wizards. So, many religious institutions, in an effort to blunt this message, assemble youth group outings to corn mazes, where black clad youths with chainless chainsaws run after screaming teenaged girls (and boys).
In an additional effort to counteract the perceptions of moral turpitude, some less than popular households pass out tracts in place of candy (this really softens the hearts of the recipients). My favorites are the families who shut off, not only the porch light that informally announces “Trick or Treaters welcome here!” but ALL of the lights, descending to the basement where they hope the blue flicker of their television doesn’t alert the rabble outside to their existence.
So much for, “This little light of mine/I’m going to let it shine.” Not on Halloween, kids. It’s all dark then.
The Far Left, while it has no qualms about potential links to Darth Vader’s side, shrieks like the girls in the corn maze about Safety — the streets are dark, the houses are filled with strangers, the childrens’ masks affect their ability to see and their shoes might be untied — and does its best to corral wayward urchins into school gyms for the evening, playing innocuous games and eating “healthy” treats. Another school carnival. How exciting.
Speaking of health, the Left slaps down the obesity card, decrying Halloween for its impact upon children’s weight and the status of their teeth. Personally, I think high school football, involving still-growing, underaged young people smashing into one another under the eye of a coach who was initially hired as the German teacher (never having set foot in a German-speaking country) and who teaches Art and works with the cross-country track team on the side, has more to do with messed up teeth, and vertabrae, and skulls, and knees, than a collection of fun-sized candies.
Both sides, especially around Election Day, invoke the term “community,” citing the importance of us All Working Together for the Common Good, and yet it is on Halloween, this year two days before Election Day, that community is most evident — in the parents and children working together to create a costume; in the groups of children and adults walking, generally on the sidewalks from door to door in actual neighborhoods; in the people in the houses pretending to watch television or read a book while they’re really waiting for that doorbell to ring so that they can exclaim over the green chicken (or is it a very small Incredible Hulk?) and hold out the giant bowl of chocolate.
Our own children, when they were little, spent hours preparing themselves for the big night, attacking the Norwegian Artist as soon as he stepped over the threshhold at 5 p.m., proudly marching to the web-decorated door where they argued over who was responsible for knocking, and nudging the youngest to make sure that she said “Thank You!” loud enough, while the Norwegian and his Pole stood in the background, warm despite the cold.
I do not know whether the people giving out the candy are Republicans, Democrats, or Independents. They do not know how the parents of the children they exclaim over will vote a few days’ hence. We are united as children, parents, siblings, grandparents, neighbors and friends in the common goal of one side asking, the other side giving, and both sides receiving.
It’s give and take.
Maybe the Far Right and the Far Left could learn from Halloween, instead of trying to destroy it.