My kids are aged 12, 10, 7 and 3. With the exception of the 3 year old, my kids are bit over this election.
To be fair, it really has been a campaign for the last 3 years since a hung parliament was declared in 2010 and with hysteria ramped up at the beginning of the year with then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announcing the election date months in advance.
Once again, language has played a huge role in this campaign. How many times I have wanted to scream at my screen “cut the bullshit rhetoric and discuss details”. But I bite my tongue. I’m positive as a consequence it is now a little shorter.
If my kids were voting, they’d vote for Kevin Rudd. Abbott just looks a little freaky to them. They’ve watched the live debates, and the nuance of each policy is a little beyond them, but they think Rudd just comes across better.
I’m happy that they are taking somewhat of an interest in the election, even if at their age it’s just about who presents better.
Because the last thing I want is for my kids to turn 18 and not care about politics in this country. There are people dying around the world fighting for their right to vote and I refuse to let my kids be flippant with theirs when their time comes.
In the last couple of days the kids have asked who I will be voting for and I have said Kevin Rudd. They nod, almost satisfied with themselves that they got it right.
It’s interesting isn’t it? As their parent they think I have all the answers. That’s what kids thinks right? (Well until teen years :P)
They think I have the right answer and if they came to the same conclusion on their own then they are on the right track. They’re on their way to being independent thinking beings while constantly making sideways glances in my direction to see what I’m doing, you know, just to make sure.
The first election I remember is the 1983 election where Bob Hawke romped it in over Malcolm Fraser. Now I liked Bob Hawke because, to me, he presented better than Malcolm Fraser. Old fuddy duddy.
But appearances aren’t everything, because today Fraser is championing the rights of asylum seekers with such fervor and I admire him for that.
So my message to my kids is this.
Appearances do matter, but on the grand scheme of things, listen to what they are saying. Always be aware that even the most charming speaker can just be using fancy words without actually saying anything constructive at all. By the same token the freaky looking speaker can use scaremongering tactics without achieving much more. Or someone who may sound bland and boring may actually be saying something quite insightful.
Use your brain and trust your instinct. Never be afraid to question everyone and everything. Read widely. Talk to people who hold ideologies opposite to yours; nothing bad ever comes from hearing what the other side has to say. It will either strengthen your personal position or give you the opportunity to make a change. Seeing that other people live differently, think differently helps you make sense of the world you live in.
Most importantly, don’t fall into the trap of “what’s in it for me?” Sometimes you just have to be principled and stand for something that benefits the country as a whole for now and the future; not necessarily for something that will benefit you directly right now and only for the short term.
And if at the end of all that, you and I end up voting for the same party, then great. But if not, that’s fine too. Just don’t waste your vote; even if you do get election fatigue. Remember, your vote is worth the same as Gina Rinehart’s, Dick Smith, Clive Palmer, any political figure and more importantly, it’s worth more than Rupert Murdoch’s.