Halloween vs. Election Day

In which our man Durst draws some spooky parallels between the the night of the undead and the day of democracy’s dispensation.

Hey, what ever happened to the fist-in-the-buffalo’s-face pioneer spirit that jump-started this country? First it was mandatory bicycle helmets. Now they’re ruining Halloween for kids by making them go out trick-or-treating during the daytime. That is so weenie. You can’t look scary during the daytime, even in really good Newt Gingrich makeup. You know, with that gray-felt helmet hair and the multiple chins.

Of course I may be dim, but not overwhelmingly dim. So I can figure out why they’re doing it. Because there’s weird people out there. Especially around Capitol Hill during business hours. But let’s be honest, there have always been weird people out there. Every neighborhood had ONE house you did NOT go to. And everybody knew whose house it was, too.

“Oh Jeez hey, don’t go to the Giuliani House. Ol’ lady Giuliani put syringes in the brownies, and she’s not even trying to hide them. The points are sticking right up out of the crust. I’ve gone through three pillow cases. My mom is going to be pissed.”

Back at the Westward Ho subdivision in New Berlin, Wisconsin, we organized our own nocturnal pre-Internet. Me, Jeff Treadl, Bob Bielefeld, and John Kashian would divvy up the subdivision into quadrants and later we’d reconnoiter and ascertain who was giving away regulation size Snickers bars. Not the phony, toy sub-one-ounce minis, but the standard, 1.75 ounce size. We’d line up and go back over and over. Switching masks. Affecting limps. “Drag your foot, you’re a crippled space man now.” Then we’d resell the stash in the teacher’s lounge. We were apprentice capitalists.

I don’t know about you, but to me its always seemed more suspicious than a brown towel in a prison hospital ward that Halloween, the holiday celebrating malevolent demons and the walking undead, means Election Day is the following Tuesday. The two scariest days of the year — Halloween and Election Day — have much more in common than sharing the same linear space of a calendar page. There’s the smell of desperation as the evening wears on, and the giddy excitement of pre-pubescent revelers. Ill-fitting hair, and make-up applied with trowels. You got your fiendish door-to-door solicitations, the eerie temporary abandonment of common sense, and the nascent fear that Sam Donaldson may be lurking behind the next tree. Then there’s the remorse and the bad taste in your mouth upon waking the next morning.

Politicians are simply trick-or-treaters who never grew up. There are other ways the two days are symbiotic which is a fancy word to describe alike. Don’t thank me, I’m just here to help.

  • The people who are best at pretending to be somebody else obtain the mostest bestest goodies.

  • The really hard work goes on where darkness and secrecy reign.

  • The scariest folks don’t even know they’re wearing costumes.

  • If you don’t come through with the right favors you run the risk of getting TP’ed.

  • The major focus of the event surrounds orange-skinned vegetables with the smiles carved on.

  • Greed is not only encouraged, but rewarded.

  • Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon are perennial favorites.

  • Well-meaning warnings not to get involved are continually made and go continually unheeded.

Will Durst lives in San Francisco, where Halloween is redundant. Durst Case Scenario appears every week on the MoJo Wire.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.