In 1959, the Constitution called upon Americans to vote for a Peanuts character.
Now I should note that this isn’t the United States Constitution. Rather, it was the Atlanta Constitution, a popular newspaper. They wanted 25-words-or-less essays on who your favorite Peanuts character was and why. The winning character would get, I dunno, bragging rights, I suppose. But the best letter writers would also get prizes. This ran for six weeks. Each week, the best writer got a set of four Peanut dolls, which is pretty good… but the best writer over the course of the entire run got an original Schulz drawing. In fact, if the winner photo they ran is to be believed as a reference, the winner didn’t get some mere character sketch (as envious as I would be of that!), but the original art to the Sunday, June 28, 1959 strip! As a bonus, they got to designate a children’s home to receive a dozen 4-doll sets.
While Charlie Brown won the popularity poll, the best entrant award went to 11 year old Jerry Brooks, with the essay “I like Snoopy because I have always wanted a dog that was an owl, penguin, alligator, elephant, vulture, kangaroo, and eagle all at once.” Jerry chose the Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta as the recipient of the dolls. Which is a kind and touching thing, but part of me wants to envision a world where he had them sent to a children’s home in, say, Uganda, and kids with no exposure to Peanuts would be faced with an army of vinyl, blanket-wielding Linus figures.
But that’s not the only voting matters regarding Peanuts on my mind. During the 1960 Presidential election season, the Tucson Citizen columnist Don Schellie cast aside such popular choices as JFK and Nixon and ran a write-in campaign calling for Charlie Brown to achieve the highest office in the land. Envisioning a platform of a mud pie in every pot, two red wagons in every garage, and blanket (borrowed from Linus) security for all, Schellie promoted this campaign in more than half a dozen columns, and sent anyone who requested one a “Draft Good Ol’ Charlie Brown For President” card that they could pin to their lapel to spread the word.
On October 31 (according to Schellie), Charlie Brown proclaimed himself ineligible, saying that he lacked two key things a president would need: long pants, and permission from his mother. So we can only imagine the Camelot we might have had.