Election day! Mary is giving a speech about how honored she is by the nomination. She references the conversation she had with Pa regarding campaign promises and refuses to make any. “If you do vote for me, I’ll appreciate it,” she says meekly. Mary Ingalls sucks at stump speeches. Hmm, the class disagrees with me on that one since they give her a healthy round of applause. Nellie is up next. See Mary, Nellie actually stepped onto the dais that Miss Beadle’s desk is on to make her speech. Oh, but she blows her goodwill by referring to her classmates as “fellow Americans.” Miss Beadle actually has to look down to stifle a chuckle. As Nellie confidently blah blah blahs, Laura whispers to her sister that Nellie is really giving a list of reasons to punch her in the nose. Hehe.
Meanwhile Elmer, still muddy from the bay of pigs invasion, is walking up to the school. He stops when he reaches the steps and considers whether or not to enter. He decides to walk in just as Nellie is finishing her speech. “And finally,” she says “you should vote for me because my mother will give a party if I win.” I’ve always been dubious about student government and this is pretty much why. When Nellie steps down, the only person to applaud at first is the girl who seconded Nellie’s nomination. A few other people catch on and politely clap, but it is not as rousing as Mary’s support.
Elmer finally enters the classroom and Miss Beadle is shocked by his appearance. The kids laugh at him. Shut up, children. The teacher asks what happened, but instead of telling the truth Elmer opts for the “Luka” defense and says he slipped and fell. Miss Beadle asks if the other boys were responsible but Elmer is all mum. She tells Elmer to go home and get cleaned up before making his speech, offering to postpone the vote until the afternoon. Elmer thanks her then says he isn’t going to run for president after all. He goes on to say that he is now in on the joke and he’d rather not waste the time. The kids laugh and Miss Beadle tells them to stop. Elmer says it’s fine since he knows that they don’t think much of him anyway. “I don’t even know what a class president is supposed to do,” he says. I bet if you ask your fellow candidates they wouldn’t know either, Elmer.
Elmer goes on to say that he does know what’s right and wrong and that he doesn’t think the older kids should be picking on others. It looks like Joel is taking the words to heart but Kenny still has a stupid look on his stupid face. “And it ain’t right to give someone something to make ‘em vote for you,” he says directly to Nellie. She promptly makes her bitch face (no, the other one). He adds “no pushing people into mud” to the list and that finally makes Kenny reflective. “My mother made me this shirt because she loves me,” Elmer says. “You probably all think that’s dumb. But that’s what’s wrong around here: people don’t pay no mind to other people’s carings.” Ooo, establish that narrative. My government professor from undergrad would be pleased. Laura is starting to get choked up and Mary is already glassy-eyed. Oh, there’s the tear.
Miss Beadle, who is also choked up, thanks Elmer. Mary raises her hand but Miss Beadle says the time for speeches has passed. Mary says she doesn’t want to make a speech: she wants to withdraw. Mary then throws her support behind Elmer. “I know you’re not supposed to run,” Mary says, “but you have to cause you’re the only one that really knows what a president should do.” First off, “not supposed to run”? Based on what criteria? Second, unless a president is supposed to shame people for their bad behavior, I fail to see what Elmer has done to demonstrate a total grasp of the job specifications of the nebulous “class president” position. Anyway, Elmer thinks about it for a moment and decides to stay in the race. Time to vote.
Laura gets her Jeff Probst groove on and tallies the results. The last two votes are for Elmer, making the final tally twelve for Nellie and twelve for Elmer. Ooo, now we get to see a fire-making challenge. Miss Beadle declares a tie, but Mary says there should be twenty-five votes. Nellie points out that Willie went to the outhouse. He couldn’t have voted before leaving the room? Or they couldn’t wait until he came back? Willie comes back in and everyone stares at him. Miss Beadle asks for his vote. Nothing like a secret ballot. Laura tallies the last vote: and it’s for Elmer. Nellie asks how her brother could betray her like that and he says “you’re always picking on me and Elmer won’t let you.” Nellie screams and runs out of the classroom. I just don’t get Minnesota politics. The class cheers for Elmer.
After school, the Ingalls girls rush out of the building and make a bee line for the mill. They cannot wait to tell Pa the news about Elmer’s victory. Mr. Dobkins is at the mill and overhears the story. Laura is beaming that Elmer beat Nellie despite the candy-based disadvantage. Elmer is now walking towards the mill and sees his Pa. Mr. Dobkins excuses himself to meet up with his son. They stare at each other for a moment before Pa Dobkins takes off his hat and says “Congratulations, Mr. President.” They both smile and hug. Aww. Congrats Elmer! This is your first step on your way to becoming Super Nintendo Dobkins!
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