Feature

Halloween and democracy

What the pre-election holiday says about our political culture

Forget election day, said Matthew Taylor in The Baltimore Sun. Halloween is “one of our nation’s most visible displays of democracy in action.” Some see in Oct. 31 only “rampant consumerism” and “trivialized evil,” but on what other night can everybody be who they want to be, equal, the only barrier to success a costume? And houses have to compete for the votes of trick-or-treaters—the biggest drawers get “bragging rights,” the losers “minor vandalism.”

There are important differences, too, said Elisabeth Eaves in Forbes online. Halloween “celebrates the noble truth in artifice, but election day makes it all tawdry again.” Celebrating artifice is “soul-baring” and bracingly honest on Oct. 31. In contrast, politicians usually deploy the “lowest form of artifice”: fakery “in the pursuit of power.”

Then why do we want to dress up like them? said Sarah Hepola in Salon. I mean, “Sarah Effing Palin”!? Seriously, “I haven’t known this many friends who wanted to dress as the same person since ‘Star Wars’ came out.” Be creative—and tasteful. No blackface. Forget “John McCain chained to a bed.” And leave Sarah Palin to Tina Fey.

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