Making the Grades
School elections might not be as grand as US presidential ones. But big race candidates could still learn a thing or two from them—like don’t promise what you can’t produce. That’s what Charlie Brown (voice by Chad Webber) and his friends discover in the animated television special You’re Not Elected Charlie Brown.
After conducting a totally unscientific poll of the student body, Lucy van Pelt (voice of Robin Kohn) determines Charlie Brown doesn’t have a hope in heaven of getting a single vote if he runs in the upcoming school election. But by flexing a little of her muscle, she believes her brother Linus (voice of Stephen Shea) could win. The lovestruck Sally Brown (Hilary Momberger) agrees, but for obviously different reasons. Charlie adds his support by offering to be one of Linus’ campaign managers.
Russell Anderson (voice by Tom Barbee) is the running opponent, the only competition Linus has to defeat.
With the final vote only days away, Linus seems to be trending toward a win. But the heady atmosphere of the election soon has him promising things like wage increases for all school personnel, the elimination of dance parties and an overhaul of the educational system during an exuberant speech in front of his classmates. But when his final address to the students wanders off onto the topic of The Great Pumpkin, his campaign committee fears the worst.
Originally airing on October 29, 1972, days before the presidential election between Richard Nixon and George McGovern, the film gives kids a peek into the electoral process. However when the winner discovers he has no power to actually enact any changes, one of his voters responds with a tirade about the ineffectiveness of some politicians. While it’s a harsh lesson for kids to learn, it is also a wise reminder that big election promises are useless if you don’t have the wherewithal to follow through.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about You’re Not Elected Charlie Brown.
What lessons about the political process illustrated here, could be applied in a real election? Although this animation looks mostly at the candidates, what part do the voters play in the process? What are their responsibilities?