David Rafferty: Halloween treats and election tricks

October 30, 2016 GMT

Halloween is an odd holiday. A pagan European harvest festival with carved vegetables as offerings to the gods, masks to confuse the spirits of the dead and food offerings to appease those potentially nasty spirits, Halloween was later co-opted by the Christian church during the Middle Ages. Much the same way the Christmas story was massaged to make it more palatable to Druids, Celts and other assorted pagans, Halloween was dumbed down to make it more inviting and family friendly and less about all the death, dying and long cold winter stuff.

Of course now Halloween is something different altogether. It’s cute; it’s fun, and for the most part harmless. There was even a time when people baked cookies or treats to give out to children. Now mom throws away anything not individually wrapped, but whatever. Trick-or-treaters still collect change for UNICEF to help underprivileged kids around the world. Not as much as in the past, but seriously, do it tomorrow. UNICEF iss amazing.

My first Greenwich Halloween story is one of my favorite town stories. I pulled up to my driveway after work, early enough I thought to get a jump on the evening with my young son. My wife comes out the front door and shouts at me to go to the store for more candy, as we’d already run out. And the sun was still up! After a first Halloween night with more than 150 kids coming to the door in all manner of costume, with happy chatty parents in tow, we knew we were living someplace special.

So while many folks had their Halloween parties yesterday, let’s try to let the kids have all the fun with the holiday tomorrow. Meanwhile, why not channel your inner pagan a bit as well. Leave a candle burning in memory of any recently departed family spirits. An offering of peanut butter cups to appease poor Uncle Sal couldn’t hurt either.

But if adults do want to be scared, there’s still the election. I’ll finish today with a note to the young folk voting next month for maybe only the first or second time. Statistically, that demographic no longer read newspapers so if someone can post this somewhere online where they’ll see it, that would be great.

For those who are sure they’ll be voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein in November I just want to say: I’ve been there. I’ve thrown away my vote on a fringe candidate as many of us are inclined to do when young and unenthusiastic about the other options. It feels good sticking it to the man and showing everyone how you won’t settle for the same old same old. Except sometimes it has consequences. My vote for John Anderson in 1980 ultimately meant nothing, but when millions voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 it meant everything.

We rail against Trump, wondering how a man this unqualified could be this close to being president. But the truth is, so are Johnson and Stein. Johnson supports Citizens United, opposes sensible gun legislation, wants to privatize K-12 education, would increase the minimum age for social security to 72, wants states to manage federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid, even though he admits that some states would be “horrible” at it. No minimum wage. No net neutrality. He is indifferent to climate change. And he’ll call for the old right-wing dream of a flat consumption tax which would make me richer, and you poorer.

He’s not a younger Bernie Sanders. He’s Scott Walker in sneakers, Rick Santorum without a religious ideology. Look, it’s your choice. But if you want change in this country it has to come from within, it always has. Vote next week, then do what the conservative and religious right did in this country 40 years ago: start working hard from the bottom up. Take over politics at the local and state level getting councilmen, mayors, school boards ... selectmen ... elected who mesh with your values. Join your local Democratic or Republican party and take it over. Keep moving up the ladder getting people elected and policies put into place until no one can ignore your voice any longer. Because hashtag activism alone gets you nothing.

David Rafferty is a Greenwich resident.