When Politics Meets All Hallows Eve

Christina Ruffini is a CBS News broadcast associate based in Washington. As of yet, she is uncommitted ... to a Halloween costume.
It's down to the wire. The big day is rapidly approaching. You know there is a choice to be made, but you just can't stomach your options. It's the same recycled characters, the same hackneyed ideas, the same old party lines. There is no new blood, just the familiar red corn syrup and painted vampire fangs of Octobers past.

But with all you've had to think about lately, your Halloween costume might be pretty far down on the list. It is difficult to justify the purchase of full-body Stormtrooper armor or a historically-accurate Scarlett O'Hara hoopskirt when your 401(k) just dropped 30 percent. And how can you be expected to choose which Power Ranger or Teletubby you want to be when the only colors on your mind are red and blue?

The impending election has possessed many to pick politically themed day-of-the-dead duds. After all, what more colorful characters could there be than the ones running for office? Latex masks of Barak Obama and John McCain are popping up faster than plastic yard signs, and if the sale of beehive-ish wigs is any indication, bespectacled Sarah Palins will be as ubiquitous this season as sexy nurses and sultry cats.

But those of who don't want to end up just another Democratic doppelganger or Republican running mate must find a way to rise above the partisan pack. An Obama mask is nothing new, but pair it with a suit covered in pennies, nickels and pages from an old atlas and you can be "Obama's Map for Change." McCain's mug is musty, so combine him with a large Stetson, six-shooters and a Mel Gibson DVD, to become a cinematic as well as congressional maverick.

In my humble opinion, dressing as Governor Palin is a far too obvious choice. Be a lipstick-laden hockey mom or pundit-pouncing Pit Bull instead. Guys can go as the "First Dude" or "Joe Six-pack." You can even grab ears of corn, the first article of the constitution and some art supplies to become a "Congressional Ear Mark-er." Just stay away from anything involving teen pregnancy, baby Trig or life-threatening snowmobile accidents. Such topics are tacky and likely to get you punched out before you've had your first blood-orange martini.

Even the socially co-dependent can take solace in some of the great couples' options that have presented themselves lately. Dressing like the Brian Setzer Orchestra while carrying signs that say "Virginia," "Florida," "Colorado," etc., makes you and your significant other "Swing States." The Donkey and Elephant thing has been done, so choose other antithetical pairings like Cindy and Michelle, Kayne and Hank, or Jeremiah Wright and Jerry Falwell. As for "Joe the Plumber," he can hit the town with anyone from "Josephine the Electrician" to "Joanna the Paleobotonist."

If you really want to frighten people, however, go as a member of the media. An evening gown, back copies of the New York Times and a grandma wig makes you the Gray Lady. A set of furry ears worn with a glue-on tail, toy merry-go-round and small plastic scale translates into "Fox, Faire and Balance." Borrow the wires from behind your television and paint the letters "CNN" on a nautical themed t-shirt to become a "Cable News Anchor." Just be sure to spend the evening narrating every move of the replica McCains, Palins, and Obamas to a weary and rapidly-shrinking audience.

However you choose to dress on Halloween, be sure to give it some dutiful deliberation. This is your opportunity to show your co-workers, ex-lovers and possible future someone-specials that you are more than a buttoned-up, over-caffeinated workaholic. It is your constitutionally-protected right to step into that changing booth, pull the chord and make your choice. Embrace it.

After all, what you wear on an evening of no limits probably says more about you than who is getting your vote. So make it relevant, make it original and, for the love of God, make it comprehensible. Otherwise you will waste your entire holiday trying to explain to drunken partygoers why you came as "Lipstick on a Pygmalion."