Nobody wants to be a buzz-kill when it comes to Halloween. I love my candy corn as much as the next grandma, but recent events seem to have sucked the fun out of being just a little bit afraid.
The thrill of Halloween — the walk down the block in the dark, the horror masks and the strangers at the door — all seem a good way for the little ones to venture out. Especially after the locked-down years of the pandemic, children need to go door to door in their gaudy costumes. They need to fill up their goodie bags with a dentist’s dream of hard sugar candies. They need to feel a little scared and gain some mastery over the unease.
It’s a fun time for our children, but the over-the-top marketing, the commercialization of the holiday, the orange cupcakes and pumpkin lattes feel lame. This year especially, real life is so scary that Halloween seems meh. I may feel some good jitters on Halloween, watching kids scoot through the darkness, but I will be deeply anxious a week later, on Election Day, if the pillars of our democracy start to wobble.
The political boogeymen and women of our time — Herschel Walker, Mehmet Oz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kevin McCarthy, Kari Lake, Lauren Boebert, John Gibbs, Doug Mastriano, Joe Kent, Ron DeSantis and dozens of others — could be swept into office, or into more powerful positions, with a strong GOP showing.
Ironically, many of them, avowed anti-maskers when it comes to Covid-19, are wearing masks of duplicity these days, peddling lies and disinformation. Some are promising to challenge unfavorable election results. I’ve been scared watching Halloween horror movies, but I am terrified of losing our democracy to extremists with an authoritarian agenda.
Even pumpkins aren’t pumpkins anymore. No Halloween pumpkin in the history of the world can compare with American’s Great Pumpkin, the former president. Really, could you make up the Orange Menace if he didn’t already exist?
There’s that tape out there with him bragging about grabbing women’s genitals and getting away with it because he’s a star. There is the subpoena last week from the Jan. 6 committee, requiring him to testify about events surrounding the insurrection. There are the many recordings of him demonizing minorities and insulting women, especially those who accuse him of sexual misconduct.
Halloween just cannot compare to a former American president who has indicted himself in his own words as a profoundly uncouth, blatantly racist xenophobe still trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Sorry, Halloween, you’ve been hijacked by facts on the ground. Nothing can possibly be as scary as the regular news.
Like a poison tree, Donald Trump has sent roots out all over the country, with once highly respected officials, like Army Gen. Michael Flynn, becoming acolytes and servants to the cause of white Christian nationalism.
Since the ascendency of Trump, certain bedrock beliefs, such as the peaceful transition of power in presidential elections, have been challenged. Halloween, can you really do better than that? Fake Freddie fingernails and monster teeth just don’t cut it anymore.
When I was a child, we felt nervous, in a good way, when the big kids in creepy costumes rang our doorbell. Now the kids are polite and sweet and most always accompanied by parents. The trick-or-treaters are all well-behaved, Halloween, but we still have Trump huffing and puffing and trying to blow our house down.
And about the whole trick thing? Egging a car? Toilet paper in the trees? You call those tricks? They’re lame when compared with the cyber wars flashing across the internet. Who can battle back against the tricksters who commandeer our social media to spread lies?
As for ghosts, Halloween, I’m seeing the spirits of Mussolini and Hitler dancing across America.
According to the Associated Press, “Michael Flynn, who just eight years ago under President Barack Obama led the U.S. military’s intelligence agency, now is at the center of a far-right Christian nationalist movement based in Florida. He urges his supporters to get involved in local politics as a way to change the country from the bottom up.” In Sarasota, Flynn’s school board picks — backed by the Proud Boys — won.
Clearly, this year the former president and his MAGA tribe trump Halloween. Maybe next year, fright wigs and skeleton costumes will be amusing again. Being a little afraid is cool. Being afraid that the country as we know it is about to implode is terrifying.
Copyright 2022 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.