Donald Trump – your newest Lucy Van Pelt

Posted on January 31, 2016


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Everyone that grew up with

Charles Schulz’ Peanuts cartoon strip and the animated specials, recognizes someone like Charlie Brown, the earnest, good hearted, self conscious and regretfully easily duped, little fellow that really wants to believe. He’s also mildly neurotic and tortured by insecurity and doubts. Many of us even see a bit of ourselves in him and his wistfulness and disappointments.

We also know Lucy Van Pelt and what she’s all about. The Lucy character is the opportunist that will always represent that she has a broad grasp of the world and for a nominal commitment, will point you toward the answers- hence the frequent meme of the “Psychiatric Booth”, where her answers are dispensed to those less certain about the world and their role in it. There isn’t a scintilla of self doubt in Lucy’s mind. Therefore, she cheerfully yields to the calling to the role of leader and authority.

Christopher Caldwell, journalist, author and contributor to the Weekly Standard describes Lucy:

“Lucy is no “fussbudget.” She’s an American nightmare, a combination of zero brains, infinite appetites and infinite self-esteem, who is (for that reason) able to run roughshod over all her playmates. At her best, she is the most terrifying character in the history of comics [strips].”

One of the signature, re-occurring situations in the comic strip and the cartoons, is the pledge by Lucy to act as place holder and allow Charlie Brown to place kick the football. She unfailingly pulls the ball aside at the last minute and leaves Charlie whiffing the kick and landing ass over teakettle. She is successful at repeatedly convincing him that despite the many times this has happened, this time it will be different. This time, she will really give Charlie the set up.

Charlie isn’t just a three-time loser, he is a several dozen times loser. He’s outwitted.

Who is the Charlie Brown in the American Electorate and who is the Lucy Van Pelt? Charlie Brown is the GOP “base” voter. The Tea Party, Liberty minded, grass roots, conservative voter. This Charlie has been serially deceived and goes back for more. Who is Lucy Van Pelt? Lucy Van Pelt is the GOP itself, broadly speaking; the party establishment, the incumbent member of Congress, the hired guns of the ranks of campaign managers and the political consultant class and the party sponsored newcomers.

These ‘Lucys’ have promised many things to Charlie. They’ve promised lower taxes, reduced spending, slimming down the morbid obesity of the Federal government, filing down the fangs of Washington D.C. and championing the social values of Charlie – just to name a few of the many pledges to give Charlie a role in the game as placekicker. They always pull the ball away, but Charlie’s hope springs eternal. It could happen.

A new Lucy Van Pelt has arrived on the scene. His street name is Donald Trump. This Lucy has cast a new spell on Charlie. This Lucy known to Charlie as ‘Donald’, has convinced Charlie that he, Donald, is the “Anti-Lucy”. He pumps Charlie full of new faith and optimism. “Finally, someone who will stand up to all the Lucys that have bitterly disappointed and failed me time after time.”, Charlie tells himself.  This Lucy in Wolves’ clothing reminds Charlie of all the screw jobs he’s been getting – up, down and sideways. “They’re taking us to the cleaners folks. They’re laughing at us.”

Better yet, Lucy in the guise of ‘Donald’, the long awaited Knight in Shining Armor, on a White Charger, wearing a Golden headpiece, who has demonstrated mastery in the world of business (by his own lights) – proclaims to Charlie that he will make deals that will beat the pants off of the Lucys’ that have punked Charlie so frequently and endlessly. Not only that, but Donald will give Charlie’s tormentors a good poke in the eyeball while he does it.

No more losing, Charlie Brown. No more pulling the ball away at the last moment. From now on there will be winning, Charlie. So much winning Charlie, that you just might get bored with the frequency of this winning.

All of this is music to Charlie’s ears and he begins to make a deep, emotional investment in Donald. But Donald is a charlatan. Donald has been painting a fictional picture of himself and his Knightly skills and exploits. However, Charlie is in too deep. Folks who recognized Donald for the Lucy Van Pelt that he really is, began to try to break the spell and warn Charlie of Donald’s real history of chumminess with the very Lucys that Charlie is relying on Donald to subdue and defeat. They try to show Charlie the evidence that Donald has never until recently even supported his values and ideals.

It’s too late. Charlie won’t hear of it. Not only will he not hear of it, he has stopped listening to anyone but Donald.  Charlie’s friends are trying to cheat him out of his first opportunity to kick that football. Charlie begins to resent any questions about Donald’s motives and resent anyone who posed those questions. Donald’s detractors are “losers” and doubters and Charlie is going to hitch his wagon to a winner and follow Donald where ever he leads. Trump is a kind of Heroin that can be bought for the meager price of a cup of illusion.

Donald is no longer merely a commander and captain – he has transcended that. Donald is the Heavenly Leader. Now that Donald has Charlie so completely in a catatonic stupor, nothing and no one can break the spell. Ironically, the cynical Donald can’t even do it. Donald tells Charlie to his face that he plans to partner with Charlie’s antagonists, the Lucys. “I can tell you, they like me, those guys,” Trump says. “And there’s nothing wrong with that, folks. We’ve got to make deals.”

Charlie denies what he is hearing. Donald even goes so far as to mock Charlie to others. “I could stand on 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” He even tries this line on Charlie himself, and Charlie not only doesn’t flinch, but applauds his role as chump.

Nothing breaks the spell. Not indecency, not vulgarity, not deception, not duplicity, not glaring contradictions. Not even evidence that Donald has operated in a manner entirely contradictory with the image he sold Charlie.

There are millions of Charlies. They are not bad people – they are good people. Well intentioned. Not all of them have succumbed to the swoon completely. Some are discomforted by the warning alarms that are going off in their minds and hearts, but they can’t fold their hand, collect the few poker chips they still have and walk away from the table, where they suspect the game is crooked. For these Charlies are a captive of the speculation they have invested in. To dismiss their false prophet, they fear losing face. They fear it even more than the inevitable pulling away of the football. Offer them a seat on the life boat and they will disdain it for their place on the deck of the Titanic.

But I love Charlie Brown. I will never call him a blockhead (to his face).