Following a moment of embarrassment when he tries to help Sally get her locker open, only to find that her problem is that she can't reach the lock, and she then drags him into class to present him for show-and-tell, Charlie Brown finds out about an upcoming election for student body president. Linus suggests that he run, feeling he would be good in the position, but Lucy, who doubts his chances, takes a survey that appears to confirm that nobody would vote for him. As a result, she decides to see how Linus would fare as a candidate and he gets better results (although, Lucy "influenced" the kids' choices). He then decides to run, with Lucy as his campaign manager and Charlie Brown as her assistant, going up against another student named Russell Anderson. Despite an number of problems and irritations that come up, Linus' campaign is enthusiastic and bigger than life enough to where he gains the lead in the polls. However, whether or not, he'll actually win comes into question when he makes a dumb decision during one of his campaign speeches, and even if he does win, he may find that he doesn't quite have the means to make good on all of his outrageous promises.
As Linus' campaign manager, Lucy (voiced by Robin Kohn) has about as big of a role in this special as her brother, maybe even a little more. After shooting down Charlie Brown's confidence to run with her poll that proves that he'd have no chance at winning, Lucy is able to convince Linus to run when a poll she conducts on him shows that he'd have a much better chance. However, most of the enthusiastic response for Linus' nomination came from physical threats from Lucy towards those she asks, making it very probable that that was also how she got the unenthusiastic response for Charlie Brown's nomination. Regardless, she does make Charlie Brown her assistant and does what she can to help Linus in the campaign, like asking him his opinions on the issues at hand, putting up with Snoopy and Woodstock's methods of making signs and banners for the campaign, and endure an excruciating call-in Q&A with him on a talk show (that's the part that made me laugh the hardest, as I'll get into later). When Linus pulls far ahead of Russell Anderson, Lucy becomes confident that they've got it in the bag, but when Linus brings up the Great Pumpkin during his last speech of the campaign, both she and Charlie Brown know that it'll mean a huge setback for them. As you might expect, she's not at all shy about telling Linus how she feels about that dumb decision, angrily calling him a blockhead afterward, but she figures they still have a chance, as he and Russell are then tied in the polls. Even though Linus does end up winning, before the results come in, Lucy laments how campaign workers are at the mercy of their candidate, as they work hard only for him to ruin it by saying or doing something stupid. She then declares, "The next time I do any campaigning, it's going to be for myself!" You don't see Lucy's reaction to Linus being put in his place by the principal but it's likely she gave him an earful as well, even though she would've undoubtedly done the same thing in his position. One last thing about Lucy here: apparently, when she whispers to Linus, it's a different person, as if Robin Kohn couldn't whistle well. That's an... odd choice.
|His size in the frame is equal to that of his role in this story.|
The first member of the Peanuts gang that the special focuses on is Sally (voiced by Hillary Momberger), who is clearly very pissed about something as we watch her stomp home from school, walk through her house's front door and slam it, and then fling her coat off and proclaim to her brother, "I'm never going to school again! I've had it!" Charlie Brown then quizzes her about what her problem is, but after she tells him that it's not her teacher, her classes, or any of her schoolmates, she admits that it's because, "I can't get my stupid locker open!" She's so deadset on this being a reason to quit school that, when Charlie Brown gets her up the next morning, she initially refuses to get out of bed. When he says he'll help her with the locker, she agrees to go and also makes him promise to help her with something else at school. I like how she gets on him about not eating much for breakfast, saying, "It's a known fact that all of our country's presidents started each day with a rousing breakfast," adding, "I don't know how they managed to get together every morning, but I guess that's one of those things about government I don't understand." Another cute moment with her is when the two of them reach the bus stop and, looking at the sign there that reads, "SCHOOL BUS STOP 100 FEET," she says, "I've been looking at that sign every day and I finally figured out what it means: it means that the bus holds 50 kids. Each kid has two feet, right? '100 feet' means the bus holds 50 kids." On their way to school, Charlie Brown tries to get the bottom of what exactly is the problem Sally is having with her locker, as she knows the combination and how to put it in, giving her suggestions as to how to deal with certain types of locks, only to find his advice useless when she reveals that the problem is she can't reach the lock. That's when she makes him help her with the other thing she asked him about: she drags him into her classroom and presents him for show-and-tell, which she says she's trying to get an A in. She furthers his embarrassment by mentioning that big brothers, "Come in a variety of sizes and qualities," and can't think of anything to add to that when she looks at him for a bit. Sally's also the one who suggests Linus run for student body president, as she's sure that he'd do something about the lockers, and cheers him throughout the campaign. However, when Linus learns the hard way that there's no way to make good on all of the promises he made, Sally throws a tantrum and calls him a sellout, ranting as she walks down the hall, "They're all the same! Promises, promises! You elect them, and they weasel out of their promises!" (Quite an ironic statement when you remember who got re-elected for a second term around this time and what that led to.) The special ends with her angrily kicking the bottom of the locker, which ends up opening it, as Charlie Brown suggested it would.
Given how these types of stories tend to go, you'd expect Linus' opponent, Russell Anderson (voiced by Todd Barbee), to be a real snobbish dickhead, and such a thing appears to be hinted at when, after Lucy quizzes him about whether or not he'd vote for Linus, he says he wouldn't because he'd be the one running against him (an instance of ignorance on her part that makes Lucy blush). In the end, though, Russell barely says or does anything of consequence, as he makes a pathetically short speech at his and Linus' first address of the campaign and comes across as kind of shy and demure, and in fact it's his vote that puts it over for Linus, as he says he thinks he'd better at it. Schroeder (voiced by Brian Kazanjian), when he's appearing in the auditorium to announce his nominating Linus, decides to throw in something about Beethoven, saying, "The candidate whose name I am presenting to the electorate possesses the same unique combination of qualities as those possessed by Beethoven, the greatest of all composers, that wonderful pianist, and that tower of strength. Linus is sort of like that, too." He also has one of the funniest lines when Linus is making his first speech and, while he's going on about bringing down false idols in high places, Schroeder, looking off to the left, says, "I wonder why the principal looks so pale?" And Schroeder attempts to take a picture of Linus for the school paper, trying to make it look a little homey by posing him with Snoopy, but when Snoopy puts on his "Joe Cool" sunglasses and himself poses in front of Linus, Schroeder has second thoughts. Violet (voiced by Linda Ercoli), who works as a reporter for the paper, tries to interview him about what he intends to do if elected, but when he starts droning on and on, she decides to put down, "That you're very honored and will do your best if elected."
The nature of Snoopy and Woodstock's (voiced by Bill Melendez) appearances here actually have some note to them. In the case of Snoopy, it's the first time that he appeared in his "Joe Cool" persona outside of the comic strip, when you see him in the school hallway as he puts on a pink shirt with his name on the front and a pair of sunglasses. This persona doesn't much for him, though, as he gets the cold shoulder from two girls who walk past him at the water fountain, and things don't get much better when he goes into one of the classrooms, as we'll see later. As for Woodstock, while his first non-comic strip appearance was in Snoopy Come Home, this marks the first time he shows up in one of the television specials when Snoopy gets him out of his nest to help him in making signs for Linus' campaign, which also doesn't go as well as planned. While Woodstock only appears in those two scenes, Snoopy, as usual, has a fair amount of standout moments in addition to those I've mentioned, like his first appearance where he fixes himself an enormous breakfast (much to Charlie Brown's irritation) and fixes his and Sally's lunches, where he's running the studio where Lucy and Linus have their call-in Q&A (nearly killing Linus by yanking the cord attached to the headphones he wears and falls asleep in the middle of the show), is very happy in the audience when one of Linus' campaign promises is not to chase away dogs that wander onto the playground, and strikes out again when he uses his Joe Cool persona to pose with Linus for a school paper photo, not that it seems to bother him.
Something else that's noteworthy about this special in some capacity is that, save for the opening with Charlie Brown and Sally, the entire thing takes place at either Birchwood School or the studio where Linus and Lucy have their call-in Q&A. Normally, you get at least two or so scenes set in and around the kids' homes or in town but here, due to the story, we're almost entirely confined to the school and the area around it. As usual with these specials, the environments and backgrounds are hardly the most detailed ever seen in animation, often nothing more than a big void of one color (such a thing comes up out of nowhere during a cut in the scene where Sally makes Charlie Brown her assistant; we go from the exterior of the school and the steps leading up to it to just a yellow background), but it's always nostalgic for me to see anything set in an elementary school, especially since the classrooms and hallways look identical to the way they were when I was going to school in the 90's. That, plus the look of the schoolyard and playground (I guess architecture for schools didn't change much in 20 plus years), and the fact that it's clearly fall or winter, really takes me back. I also like getting to see the Peanuts' take on a talk-show studio which, again, isn't anything that mind-blowing to see but it's still something we don't get that often in these projects.
In 2006, ABC began airing You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown immediately after their annual airing of The Great Pumpkin and in order fit both into an hour time-slot, they either cut or trimmed sections of this special, meaning that some of the scenes I'm about to go into detail here don't appear in the annual syndicated versions. Case in point, the very opening of the special (which features a shot of kids pouring out of the school that, when you look close, is the characters being repeated over and over and was reused later in Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown), where Sally walks home with a very irritated expression on her face and slams the door to her house. Following the title card, she proclaims that she's never going to school again and when Charlie Brown asks her what the problem is as he follows her up to her room, she finally tells him that it's because she can't get her locker open. The next morning, Charlie Brown has to coax her out of bed by promising to help her with the locker, as well as with something else that she's yet to name, and they go downstairs to the kitchen, where Sally lectures her brother about not having more for breakfast. That's when Snoopy comes in, groggy-eyed and yawning, and proceeds to use everything at hand in the kitchen to make himself an exorbitant breakfast that consists of a short stack of pancakes, bacon and eggs, and toast, as well as coffee from the looks of it. This seriously annoys Charlie Brown, who decides to go ahead to school with Sally, with Snoopy giving them their lunches as they go (I know I'm not supposed to think too hard about it but, seriously, where are their parents?) Upon making it to school, and learning that Sally's problem is that she can't reach the lock, making his advice about how to deal with locks completely pointless, Charlie Brown is then dragged to class, where Sally presents him for show-and-tell and embarrasses him out of his mind. When he leaves, his head hung low with sweat pouring down his face, he proclaims it to be, "The most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me in my whole life," which I seriously doubt, given the crap he goes through on a daily basis. And like I was saying, save for the bits with Snoopy in the kitchen, all of this is cut from recent airings.
As the kids are looking at the flier announcing the upcoming student body election in the hallway, Snoopy walks by them carrying some books and slips into his Joe Cool persona by a water fountain, putting on a shirt and a pair of shades as his theme song plays. However, he's anything but cool to a couple of girls who walk past him, as they turn their noses up to him as he runs the water fountain while smiling a cheesy grin (one looks grouchy to begin with when she walks by), and he then takes the shirt and shades off and actually goes to class. Sitting down at a desk, he takes out a textbook, a pencil, and a three-ring binder, only for the latter to snap closed on his fingers (I can sympathize with Snoopy, as that happened to me a few times), causing him to jump up in his seat and yelp in pain until he pulls his red, throbbing finger out. Once he's composed himself, he gets up, walks to the blackboard, which has the problem, "34+7+3," written on it, and he solves it by putting a paw-print of chalk dust from an eraser below it. This leads to him literally getting thrown out of school, along with his stuff, and the binder snaps shut on his foot this time when it's tossed out with him, causing him to jump up and yelp again. This sequence was redone somewhat for The Peanuts Movie, which wasn't unheard of as some of the previous movies and specials often recycled gags and scenes.
When Sally suggests that Linus would make a good candidate, Lucy decides to conduct another poll to see whether or not he'd be a popular one and we see how she goes about it. The first kid she comes up to is sitting on a bench, eating a sandwich, and when she asks if he'd vote for Linus, she grabs him by the top of his shirt and shakes him to get him to agree. She then approaches two other boys sitting nearby and when she asks them the question, the one kid answers, "Yeah, I remember one time he gave me half of his peanut butter sandwich. I'd vote for anybody who took me out to lunch." (Really effective bit of sly subtext there.) The next kid she asks in the school has to stop and think about it for a second, prompting her to help him in his decision by shaking her fist at him, to which he shakily responds, "You bet!" She's then got another kid cornered against a wall and when she glares at him, he says, "How can I help it?", and when she literally corners one after that, he goes, "Linus all the way!" In the last bit in the schoolyard, she asks a blonde kid who's eating his lunch if he'd vote for Linus if he knew he'd, "Going to straighten out the whole educational system," and, "Solve all of the problems of the whole world," and when he says no to both, she asks why not. The kid then answers, "'Cause I'm the one who'd be running against him," revealing himself to be Russell Anderson, the other candidate, much to Lucy's embarrassment.
Once he's given the job of being Lucy's assistant, Charlie Brown makes Snoopy his own assistant and tasks him with getting the signs necessary for the campaign. To that end, Snoopy gets Woodstock to help him and the next time you see the two of them, they're working on the signs, with Snoopy hammering some nails through the back of one while Woodstock walks back and forth between writing on one sign to dipping his paintbrush in a nearby can. As he's walking directly across the back of Snoopy's sign as it lays on the floor and Snoopy is hammering with his eyes closed, he, inevitably, gets whacked on the head by the hammer. Snoopy has a hilarious, "Oh, crap!" reaction when he hears the soft thud, gulping and face-palming, looking down as the irritated bird rubs the top of his head before getting back to work. Another little bit of paint and he finishes his sign, only to turn it around to show that the "words" are nothing but a bunch of vertical slashes (the way his "dialogue" in the comic strip is written as), which exasperates Snoopy and makes him slap himself, while Woodstock celebrates what he thinks is a good job. Snoopy grabs his sign, walks over, and uses the paintbrush to finish it up, but when Lucy comes by to check their progress, he reveals that his sign is nothing but a red-colored paw-print, which makes her react in the same way he did to Woodstock's sign and, unlike the bird, he's rather crushed by this.
Next, we get the call-in at the talk-show studio, and once he and Lucy arrives, Linus starts to get the short end of the stick when Snoopy plops a set of headphones on him, connects them to a line, and then pulls on it to see if it's secure, yanking Linus off his chair in the process. Linus gets back up and sits down next to Lucy at a desk, unaware that the headphones are now crooked on his face, and in the booth, Snoopy gives them the okay to go ahead. Lucy tells Linus he's on and she let's the first caller through, only for the two of them to repeatedly ask if they can be heard and if anyone's talking to them. Lucy, seeing what the problem is, straightens the headphones by smacking them back around straight, hurting Linus' ears in the process, and asks the kid on the phone if he has a question. The kid, calling himself a first-time caller but a long-time listener, says, "I want to know what the candidate plans to do about the rivers." Annoyed by this, Lucy responds, "Rivers? Our school doesn't have any rivers," and cuts him off, going to the next caller. This caller is even worse because, when Lucy asks him what his question is, he starts yammering on and on, "Well, you know, I just called up, you know? I have questions, you know, and you know how it is when you're a voter, you know? And, you know, I just wanted to ask. I just wanted to talk to the candidate, you know? 'Cause you know how it is when you're going to vote for somebody, you know? You sort of like to talk to them..." Lucy finally loses her patience and slams the phone down, freaking out Linus. As for the third caller, when he's connected, he actually asks, "Who is this?" Perplexed, Lucy asks if he wants to talk to the candidate and he says, "What? No. I'm calling Harold in St. Paul. Is Harold home? I want to talk to Harold?" Lucy tells him he has the wrong number and goes to the next caller, who's about as bad as the second in terms of rambling: "Hello, I have a question. I want to ask this question, and I want to talk to the candidate. Can I ask the candidate a question?" He's then connected with Linus but continues to go on, "Yes, well, I have this question that I thought, maybe if I called, I could ask you the question. Because I know that if you're going to vote for a candidate, I'm kind of glad that it's good that you're having a talk-show like this. Because it's kind of nice that we can call in and ask our questions, because you really can't ask questions of candidates. I don't know how you can vote for somebody and I'm glad that I have the chance to ask this question." (At this point, Lucy really starts to get irritated with this kid's continuous yammering, grimacing and groaning.) "And I hope you don't mind, because I thought about this question and I think it's good to be able to ask questions of a candidate." Having had enough, Lucy asks the kid what his question is, which she has to ask him twice. His response? "Question?! Oh, my gosh! I forgot what the question is!" With that, Lucy slams the phone down in complete fury, causing me to explode in laughter, and wraps it up, giving an outgoing message about how important something like this is for good government. Once it's over, Snoopy disconnects the headphones by pulling on them, again yanking Linus out of his chair.
The next major scene is when Charlie Brown introduces both Linus and Russell Anderson in a packed auditorium for their first speeches of the campaign. Following Russell's short, weak-sauce speech (all he says is, "I'm very honored to be running for student body president. If I'm elected, I promise to do the best I can. Thank you,"), Linus takes the podium and launches into his melodramatic, overdone speech about purging the kingdom, releasing them from "spiritual Babylon," doing away with cap and gown kindergarten graduations, and that in his administration, "Children will be children, and adults will be adults!" Said speech goes over well with the students (the shots of them clapping and cheering is an example of the more fluid bits of animation you sometimes get in these cartoons), but the same cannot be said for the second one we see, which is his last of the campaign. It starts off fairly well, with Linus thanking everyone for their support and talking about how much he's enjoyed it, which has Lucy and Charlie Brown sitting back confidently in the audience... and then, Linus decides to bring up the Great Pumpkin. The minute they hear that, Lucy and Charlie Brown both let out the customary Peanuts, "Augh!", and they have good reason to because, as soon as Linus talks about how the Great Pumpkin goes around on Halloween night, giving gifts to children, he's literally laughed off the stage. He realizes he's probably blown the election, and after Lucy chews him out for it afterward, she announces that she still thinks they have a chance to win, if Linus doesn't do something else that's stupid. In a scene after that, where she, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock are staring mournfully at the pile of campaign signs on the floor, Lucy laments the tough job they have and how all of their hard work can be undermined by their candidate doing something ill-advised. This prompts her to decide to campaign for herself next time.
The day of the election, the gang's counting the votes and Linus and Russell are neck-and-neck the whole time, with one gaining a vote over the other only to be immediately overtaken. When Charlie Brown sees that Russell himself is the one who cast the last vote, he pulls the ballot out with trepidation, gulping loudly as he expects it to put Russell over the top, but is pleasantly surprised to find that he voted for Linus. Russell admits, "I think that he would make a better president than I would," and with that, Charlie Brown happily announces that Linus has won the election. The victory is short-lived, though, as the ending has Sally dragging Linus to the principal's office to make good on the promises he made, but a while after Linus goes in (having done so very nervous and reluctantly), he comes back out, sweating bullets, and tells the principal he won't do anything without his approval. He admits to Sally that he got put in his place and Sally storms off, loudly proclaiming him to be a sellout, while all Linus can do is nervously suck on his thumb.
As per usual, composer Vince Guaraldi provided the special with the Peanuts' feel of mellowness, often through an electronic keyboard, and he also makes use of his classic "Linus and Lucy" theme near the end when Sally drags Linus to the principal's office. He also came up with a couple of little songs, such as You're Elected, Charlie Brown, a very inaugural-sounding ditty that's sung by some kids over the title and only has only three verses: "You're elected, Charlie Brown; you're the biggest man in town; tell me, how do you like it now?" Too bad it only adds to the confusing nature of the special's title, as it was clearly done before the title was changed (in recent airings, the Linus and Lucy theme is used in place of it). The more notable song, though, is a little theme Guaraldi came up with for Joe Cool, which he sings himself. It's a smooth, low-key piece, with lyrics like, "Joe Cool, back in school; hangin' 'round the water fountain, playing the fool; Joe Cool, takin' it light; if the principal catches you, you're out of time." Guaraldi throws in some offhanded comments in the lyrics like, "Take those shades off; walkin' 'round the hall," as Snoopy does just that, and when he walks up to the blackboard with a math problem on it, Guaraldi sings, "Better learn to add now." Joe Cool would get another song in the next special, There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown, and Guaraldi would sing again in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, both of which were produced the following year.