Mike's Soapbox

Welcome back to the third week of Mike’s Soapbox. For differing reasons I won’t go into, I’ve scrapped the idea of an ongoing panel for the column. It’ll just be me. Hope you set your clocks back. Amazing what that extra hour can do. Reminds me of that episode of “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” where big Pete goes on a date with Ellen and messes it up, but because it’s Daylight Savings Time, he gets to relive the hour again and make things right. Man, I miss that show.

Before I begin this weeks topic main topic I’d like to wish everyone a happy Halloween. Any holiday that endorses free candy and scary movies is okay by my book. Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a child and it still is today. I’d like to give a special “f*ck off” to all the milquetoast pussy parents that want to take this holiday away from kids and also to the few juvenile delinquents who mess it up for the majority of decent kids.

Halloween isn’t what it used to be, and it’s not only because I’m getting older. I can sense the holiday slowly fading away, soon to join the corpses of Columbus day (which used to be might important and Flag Day). T. V. stations for instance are airing new episodes. They don’t do this on Thanksgiving or Christ-mas, so why do it on Halloween? Maybe what I’ve dreaded all along is true: That Halloween is slowly being taken away from the kids and is transforming into another useless adult holiday. Adult holiday’s generally consist of people getting drunk and”¦No, they just get drunk. There didn’t even seem to be as many new Halloween specials or Halloween episodes of shows this year. We still have the always reliable “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and a new installment of “The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror” but the latter doesn’t even air till November!! Gadzooks!!

We can’t let Halloween die. It is every child’s right to knock on the doors of their neighbors and score free candy. It is their right to have stomach aches the next morning, and to trade those crappy black and orange peanut butter things for something better with a gullible friend. Didn’t you love turning on to an October episode of “Roseanne” and see the Conne’s in full costume? We take enough freedom from our children as it is on a daily basis, and I’ll be damned to see this, a beloved institution go the way of the pog as well.

And speaking of being pissed, I’m steamed about something else as well.. Not just marginally steamed, I mean Howard Beale level mad as all hell not going to take it anymore blood running out the ears steamed. You can’t go anywhere without being reminded of the election. Admittedly it’s a little worse here in Florida since we’re the kid who ruined it for everyone last time, so I don’ t know how bad it is in other states, but here, it’s damn ridiculous. I was watching the news the other night and they had five political ads in a row. You wanna know what the ads tell you? That both candidates agree that they see each other as douche bags. At one point an anti-Kerry ad was followed right afterwards by an anti-Bush ad.

It’s like this everywhere. I can’t go to school without getting swarmed by activists, flyers in hand, waiting to dispense them on some poor gullible schmuck. I feel like I’m in a role-playing game, trying to avoid the roaming monsters in the forest so that I don’t have to engage in a battle. The Move On Pac asked me if I wanted to call people and remind them that there was an election on Tuesday. Does anyone need that?! Do we need to be informed that an election is about to take place? We’ve been reminded of it since January, ad nauseum

In one of Andy Rooney’s more recent ever-rambunctious rants on “60 Minutes” he mentioned that he’s also sick of all the pressure to vote going on and gave a list of criteria as to whom shouldn’t vote. I disagree with some of what he says (for instance he doesn’t think non-English speaking citizens should vote), so I would like to lay out some of my own rules-

If your mind is changed by something you heard from a celebrity please don’t vote. Bruce Springsteen exists to entertain us by singing songs. You shouldn’t need him to decide on who your voting for.

If you are judging a candidate based on his physical appearance, please don’t voice. John Kerry may look like a tree, and George Bush resembles a gremlin, but this has nothing to do with how they run the country.

If you are persuaded by political ads, please don’t vote. Both sides have used despicable tactics. Read facts, and look things up for yourself. I appreciate the McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act in that it makes the candidates flat out admit that your listening to a biased source.

If your thinking of voting because everyone else is doing it, please don’t vote. This isn’t getting your navel pierced. It’s shaping the future of the country.

If you truly feel that your vote makes a difference and it feels good to participate in the democratic process, then you should probably vote. We all want to believe this, and even after the disillusionment caused by my state’s massive blundering, we have to have at least an inkling of faith in our democracy.

Personally, I hope you vote, not for me, not for P. Diddy or a relative who’s nagging you about it, but for yourself. And please, vote for who you feel is the best candidate. If you agree with Bush and his policies and are pleased with how his tenure in office has been, vote for him. If you want a change don’t. Heck, if you don’t like either, vote third party. It’s a shame we can’t evolve into something more than a two party system, but still a vote from the heart is the best kind of vote there is.

If you do want to vote and still aren’t sure about who to choose, turn off the T.V., block out the ads and the pundits and follow the clarity of your own thoughts.

And for those reading this in other countries, sit back on Tuesday and enjoy the show that is an American Presidential election. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Till next week, put on your costumes, and hand out some candy, it’s Halloween after all!